Dog Care

Foxtails Are Deadly For Dogs. Here's How To Avoid Them

Foxtails Are Deadly For Dogs. Here's How To Avoid Them

Written By Amica Graber

Jun 24, 2016

Ah, sweet summer! There’s nothing like taking your dog for a run in the sun. But before you let your pooch frolic free, you should know that there’s something evil lurking in the woods.

Foxtails may make you think of red fluffy sticks, but they’re far more ominous than their name would have you believe. If your dog gets too close to one of these spiny bastards, it can have dire consequences. Surgery is almost always required, and left untreated, foxtails can cause death.

What Is A Foxtail?


Foxtails are a spikelet of grass that dispense seeds. They’re found everywhere, but be especially wary in the hot spring and summer months, when they can be found in abundance in areas of dry grass. Once you know what they look like, you’ll start to notice them all over the place. But it’s the ones you don’t see that can be deadly for your pets.

Foxtails And Dogs

Foxtails can enter any orifice in your dog’s body. Commonly, they enter in between your dog’s paws, but they can also travel through the eye, mouth, nose, ears, or genital regions. Once inside your dog, they can travel almost anywhere in the body — causing abscesses and even, if untreated, death.

Recognizing The Symptoms Of Foxtails In Dogs

  • Swollen feet
  • Limping
  • Constant licking of genitals or paws
  • Sneezing
  • Nasal discharge or bleeding
  • Shaking of the head, tilting from side to side, or scratching of the ears
  • Red eyes, squinting, swelling, or discharge from the eyes

How To Prevent Foxtails From Hurting Your Dog

  • Avoid dead grass or dry patches
  • Keep a keen eye on where your dog walks
  • Examine your dog’s paws after walking
  • Pull up any foxtails that grow in your yard — don’t mow them
  • Avoid overgrown areas
  • Keep your dog’s hair short
  • Regularly brush your dog

What To Do If Your Dog Has A Foxtail

If you can see the foxtail, remove it with tweezers. If your dog is exhibiting any of the above symptoms, head to the vet immediately. A foxtail travels forward, never backwards — it’s imperative that your vet safely removes it before it becomes deadly.