Foxtail Grass and Your Pet

Did you know that foxtail grass can be extremely dangerous to pets? This harmless-looking plant poses a serious risk to our furry friends! Read on as a local Temecula, CA vet discusses foxtail grass.

Dangers of Foxtails

The seed awns of this plant have sharp barbs that can penetrate your pet’s skin, causing severe damage and even death. The angle of the barbs ensures that they do not come out, but will continue moving into your furry friend. Left untreated, the seed awns can penetrate a pet’s internal organs, causing discharge, abscesses, infections, swelling, and pain. Left intact, foxtails can eventually reach pets’ vital organs, which can prove deadly. Although cats can pick up foxtail seeds, issues are more common with dogs, because Fido’s love for sniffing grass and exploring new places puts him at increased risk.


The signs of foxtail grass injuries will vary, depending on where the seed is. With dogs, the paws, nose, mouth, ears, and throat are prime targets. Fido may shake his head, sneeze, cough, tilt his head, or try to scratch his ears. Lethargy, loss of appetite, swelling, and redness can also indicate that your pet picked up a seed awn. Contact your vet right away if you notice any of these symptoms, or any other unusual behavior.

Keeping Pets Safe

Keeping Fluffy indoors will protect your feline friend from this dangerous plant. As for Fido, to keep him safe, we recommend doing nose-to-tail checks whenever you bring him inside, especially after going hiking or walking through wilderness or overgrown lots. Certain products, such as doggy shoes, can also help. If you find an awn, contact your vet immediately.

Finding Foxtails

While foxtail grass used to be located only in the Western states, it is spreading. The plant has been reported throughout the US and even Canada. The prime season for foxtails is late spring to early summer, but they grow from May to December. If you have a yard, keep an eye out for foxtail grasses, and pull them out by the root if you find any. However, the grasses also grow in urban areas, such as around street lamps or on medians, so keep an eye out when you are walking your canine pal.

Please call us, your local Temecula, CA animal clinic, for all your pet’s veterinary care needs. We are always here to help!

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