Foxtails are a serious hazard for any dog. During the dry season, April through October, pets are vulnerable to what we commonly call the “foxtail” which is the seed head of various grasses. They are distinguished by thin long, needle-like awns that surround the seed head. Foxtails can work their way into your dog’s skin, but like a fishhook, they cannot work their way out. Emergency surgical intervention is often necessary to remove them. Photo provided by (

To prevent foxtails from embedding in your dog:
  1. Remove all foxtails from your yard (best to kill or remove in Spring, before foxtails form)
  2. Do not let your dog walk or play in areas that contain foxtails
  3. When hiking or walking do not let them off the walkway or sniff the areas where foxtails are present (a foxtail can be inhaled in seconds!)
Check your dog thoroughly:
  1. Between the toes
  2. Behind and in the ears
  3. Combing through the coat
Some symptoms of an embedded foxtail:
  1. Rubbing the eyes or squinting, swollen eyelids
  2. Repeated, violent sneezing, nosebleed
  3. Rubbing the ears or shaking the head
  4. Raised, infected spot on skin or between toes; excessive licking of toes and feet

Foxtails can migrate through the body and are potentially life threatening. If your dog shows any signs of having an embedded foxtail, call the veterinary clinic immediately.