Your Dog and Foxtail Grasses

Did you know that foxtail grasses can be deadly to our canine friends? Foxtail grasses—also known as June grass, mean seeds, Downy Brome, and cheat grass—are very dangerous to Fido! Read on as a local Plano, TX vet discusses foxtail grasses.

The Dangers of Foxtail Grasses

Toxicity isn’t the issue with foxtail grasses. Instead, the danger is the seed heads, or awns. The awns have sharp barbs that can puncture pets’ skin. They are curved in a way that allows them to work their way into dogs’ bodies. They do not fall out on their own, and will not break down. Instead, they will instead burrow further and further into their victims, and can eventually pierce pets’ internal organs. Needless to say, this is extremely dangerous, and can be deadly. (Note: cats can also get awns, but they are more common in dogs, likely because of Fido’s fondness for sniffing grass.)


Symptoms can vary widely, depending on where your pet has picked up the awn. The most common places are the paws, nose, ears, and mouth, but Fido can pick up awns anywhere . . . even his genitals. Symptoms can include limping, sneezing, head shaking, and red, runny eyes. Your pooch may also tilt his head, paw at his nose or ears, or persistently lick his genitals. Call your vet immediately if you notice anything amiss about your dog’s behavior or appearance.


If you find an awn on your canine pal, you may be able to remove it yourself with tweezers, depending on where it is. For instance, one that Fido just got on his paw a few minutes ago may be easy to remove. If you spot one in a delicate area, or notice redness or swelling, call your vet immediately. In some cases, surgery is required to remove awns.

Keeping Fido Safe

We recommend checking your furry buddy daily. It’s worth nothing that, while any pup can pick up awns, pooches with long or curly fur are especially susceptible. Also, check your yard thoroughly for foxtails. If you find any, pull them out by the root, so they don’t grow back. Last but not least, don’t let Fido explore fields or meadows that may have foxtail grasses.

Do you have questions or concerns about your dog’s health or care? Please contact us, your Plano, TX pet hospital, today!

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