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Foxtail Infection or Complications… Yes, those little things can cause a ton of problems!

You don’t need to be covered in fur to know that getting foxtails stuck to you isn’t fun! After all, imagine if that little “prick” you feel at your ankle when one of these guys gets such in your socks was happening to you all over!

“It would be terrible!”

But that’s only half the problem; if your dog loves the outdoors, they likely have those prickly grass plants matted into the fur at least a few times a week. If left “unchecked,” these grass awns or “foxtails,” as they are more commonly referred to, can become embedded into the furry paws of dogs and cats.

But Beware, these aren’t “just plants” – you need to remove them ASAP; otherwise, they can cause significant problems for your pup.

Clinical Signs of Foxtail Foreign Bodies – and Infections they cause

Symptoms and clinical signs are pretty varied since this isn’t exactly a disease or illness – it’s just a danger you should be aware of! These plants are more like barbed wire, so they are so dangerous.

Imagine your dog:

  • Eats some:  He could puncture an internal organ in the digestive tract or lungs.
  • Gets them in their fur:  It can cause a skin infection.
  • Sniffs up a piece of this dangerous grass: They could get a bloody nose or worse.

Here’s a breakdown of possible things to go wrong with foxtails:


A foxtail could injure the face or head, the nose/nasal passageway, hearing, eyesight (if the eye gets scratched), or tongue. Of course, bring a foxtail near the head/mouth, which could wind up ingested…leading to many other problems.


If a piece of foxtail moves through the ear or nose into the brain, several neurological problems or brain bleeding could occur.


In case they are inhaled, your dog could wind up with a respiratory reaction. It could even puncture a lung or cause other problems like pus in the thoracic cavity. You’ll notice something wrong with your dog’s thorax if they breathe roughing quite a bit.


If foxtails are embedded in the flesh, it most often happens in the legs. This can cause skin lesions, skin wounds, etc. It can also lead to further complications if not treated right away.

This may sound like a pretty “worst case” scenario type of stuff and may sound like we’re overacting…but it’s been known to happen!

And if it’s avoidable, don’t you want to make sure your dog isn’t the rare case? You should avoid any exposure to the plant, even to the seeds!

Diagnosis for Foxtail Foreign Bodies

It’s not easy to diagnose because foxtail foreign bodies can cause many problems. It’s important to tell your veterinarian about your dog for any diagnosis, including the areas in which they have been playing. If you have seen any foxtails in your dog’s coat, please also mention that.

The cost associated with Foxtail complications

The cost of treatment can vary a ton depending on what is wrong. If your dog needs surgery, that could be thousands of dollars. If they need some antibiotics, it will be much cheaper.

Which brings us to…

We like to remind folks that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians, or medical professionals; all we are is a bunch of folks who happen to be highly passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them.

In the case of a foxtail complication, this usually entails visiting a veterinarian as soon as possible so that they can minimize the damaging effects these little guys can have on your pet’s overall health. It could also save you a ton of money in the long run.

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

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