The Dangers of Foxtail Grass

You may have heard that certain houseplants can be dangerous to pets, but did you realize that one of the deadliest ones grows wild? Although foxtail grass was once mostly found in the southwestern states, it has now spread throughout the continental United States. A Greenwood, IN vet discusses this hazardous plant in this article.

The Basics

Foxtail grasses are not poisonous. The danger here is in the plant’s seed awls. The awls have sharp barbs on them, which are curved in a way that causes them to burrow into, and eventually under, your pet’s skin. If your pet picks up an awl, and it isn’t caught and removed, the awl will just keep working its way further and further in. Left untreated, awls can eventually damage or pierce internal organs, and can even be deadly

The Risks

We all know how much our canine pals love sniffing grass. Therefore, it’s no surprise that, although kitties can and do pick up seeds, dogs are somewhat more at risk than cats. Pets can pick up awls anywhere on their bodies. However, the awls are most commonly found in their mouths, noses, or ears, or on their paws. Our furry friends can also sit on awls, and get them embedded in their bottoms or genitalia.

Warning Signs

Scratching and pawing are two commons signs that a pet has picked up an awl. As the seed goes deeper, more serious symptoms can occur. The exact symptoms can vary, based on the location of the awl. For instance, a dog with an awl up his nose may start sneezing, while a pooch with an awl in his ear canal may paw at or shake his head. We always recommend contacting your vet at the first sign of unusual behavior.


Luckily, a few simple precautions can help you keep your furry pal safe from these deadly seeds. If you have a kitty, keep Fluffy safe and sound indoors. If you have a dog, check your yard carefully for foxtails. If you find any, pull them out by the root to prevent regrowth. Also, when you walk Fido, keep him away from grassy patches, and check him over thoroughly when you get home. Better safe than sorry!

Please contact us, your Greenwood, IN animal clinic, with any questions or concerns about your pet’s veterinary care needs. We’re here to help!

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