The Dangers of Foxtail Grass

Did you know that foxtail grasses are extremely dangerous to pets? Although once found mostly in the southwestern states, foxtail grass has now spread throughout the continental U.S., and can be found almost anywhere, including here in Ohio. This innocent looking plant can cause pets some serious health issues. In fact, foxtail grass can even be deadly! Read on as a Pickerington, OH vet discusses foxtail grasses.

What Is Foxtail Grass?

Foxtail grass isn’t dangerous because of toxicity: the problem here is with the seed awns. The awns are very sharp, and have barbs that allow them to burrow into and under pets’ skin. Because of the way the barbs are curved, they do not work their way out, but keep moving deeper and deeper into the body. If not removed, they can cause severe internal damage, and can even be fatal.


One of the reasons that foxtails are so dangerous is that the symptoms can vary greatly, depending on the location of the awn. We all know how much dogs love to sniff—and sometimes eat—grass. If Fido inhales or swallows foxtail grass, he could get seeds stuck in his ears, nose, throat, mouth, or eyes. This can cause a variety of symptoms, such as sneezing, coughing, wheezing, tearing, and swelling. Fido may also shake or paw at his head, and could have mucus running from his eyes or nose. If your pet steps on a seed, he may start limping or licking his paws. It’s also possible for pets to get awls in their genitalia, which can cause extreme pain. Just keep a close eye on your pet, and watch for signs of sickness. Contact your vet immediately if you notice anything unusual. Ask your vet for more information.


When it comes to caring for our furry friends, an ounce of prevention can be worth several pounds of cure. Inspect your yard, and make sure it’s free of foxtails. If you find any, pull them out by the root, burn them, and plant a different grass in that area. When walking Fido, keep him away from areas that could have foxtails. We also recommend checking your dog thoroughly after you bring him in. If you do see an awn, contact your vet immediately.

Do you have questions about your dog’s health or care? Contact us, your Pickerington, OH pet hospital!


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