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Foxtails in Dogs: What they are & How to protect your pet

Updated: Mar 28

Foxtails, also referred to as mean seeds, is a term used to describe several plants with barbed seed heads which can get caught on skin. They grow from late spring through early summer, eventually drying up and detaching from the grass tips that they grow from. Dogs are most vulnerable to these while roaming in areas where they grow. Places to look out for include:

  • Hiking trails

  • Parks

  • Open grassy Fields

  • Meadows

  • Flatlands

Foxtails can attach to any part of your dog's body and begin the burrowing process, digging deeper under the skin and causing discomfort and infection. They can also be swallowed into the abdominal cavity or inhaled into the lungs, causing severe infection, which can sometimes be fatal.

Places to check for foxtails on your pet include:

  • Eyes

  • Eyelids

  • Ears

  • Mouth

  • Spaces in between toes

  • Nostrils

How do I know that my dog has foxtails?

When determining whether or not your dog has foxtails, here are the signs you should look out for:

  • Headshaking

  • Limping

  • Snorting

  • Sneezing

  • Excessive licking of specific areas of the body

  • Bloody nose

More severe signs include:

  • Inflammation

  • Lumps

  • Bumps

  • Areas of redness or tenderness

  • Draining Tracts

  • Decreased appetite

  • Depression

How to prevent your dog from getting foxtails

There are many ways to reduce the risk of your dog picking up foxtails during the time outdoors. These include:

  • Trimming their coats during foxtail season

  • Avoid taking them through hiking trails or areas with a lot of foxtails

  • Clean your yard of foxtails and cut tall grass

  • Check your dog's feet, coat, mouth, ears, and face for any foxtails after taking them outdoors

  • If a foxtail is burrowed into your dog's skin and starting to get swollen, take them to the veterinarian immediately

  • If your dog is starting to show any strange symptoms such as heavy breathing or sneezing, take them to the veterinarian immediately

Examples of Foxtails Injuries


While foxtails can be scary, there are many ways to avoid and treat them if your dog comes into contact with them. Contact your local veterinarian if your dog has contracted any foxtails and needs them to be removed, or contact us at 559-434-5470 to book an appointment today.



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