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The Dangers of Foxtail Grasses
February 15, 2020

Did you know that foxtail grasses are extremely dangerous to pets? Foxtail grasses were once only found in the southwest, but they have now spread through the continental US. A Lewisville, TX vet discusses foxtail grasses below.


Foxtail grasses go by many names. You may also know them as June grass, Downy Brome, mean seeds, or cheat grass. (Mean seeds is probably the most appropriate name here.) The issue with these grasses isn’t toxicity. The problem is that they have sharp seed heads, or awns. These awns have a hooked barb that can embed itself in pet’s skin. They can also be inhaled. Because of the way they’re curved, the awns don’t just fall out. Instead, they keep working their way inward. They can eventually puncture pets’ internal organs. Needless to say, this is extremely painful. It can also lead to dangerous infections. Unfortunately, the awns can even be deadly. It’s worth noting that although cats are susceptible, it’s more common to see foxtail issues with dogs. This is simply because of Fido’s penchant for sniffing grass and sticking his nose into bushes.


The signs of foxtail grasses will depend on what part of your pet’s body has the awn. This will usually be either the paws, nose, ears, or mouth. However, dogs can get awns anywhere … even in their genitals. Some of the things to watch for include limping, coughing, sneezing, and red, runny eyes. Your dog may tilt or shake his head, paw at his nose or ears, or keep licking his genitals. Fido may also whine, and/or act distressed. If the awn has already worked its way under the skin, you may also just see redness or swelling. Call your vet immediately if you notice any of these warning signs, or any other signs of illness.


Check your pup daily, especially after he’s been in wild areas. If you are fortunate, you’ll spot the awn right away and remove it yourself with tweezers. Of course, this also depends on where the awn is. You may be able to get one out of Fido’s paw, but if it’s in a more sensitive area, take him to the vet. In some cases, surgery may be required.

Please reach out to us, your Lewisville, TX vet clinic, with any questions or concerns about foxtail grasses. We’re here to help!

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