Dog moms and dads, be on the lookout for foxtail seeds

May 31, 2024, 8:00 AM

Foxtails are seeds dropped by wild grass. They can become easily attached to dog fur, as well as th...

Foxtail seeds are dropped by wild grass. They can become easily attached to dog fur, as well as their paws, ears, mouths, and even eyes. (Tammy Kikuchi, KSL NewsRadio)

(Tammy Kikuchi, KSL NewsRadio)

SALT LAKE CITY — Wild grass seeds from the foxtail plant are showing up on pets that are, in turn, showing up in Utah veterinary offices.

Wild foxtail grass drops foxtail seeds. They have barbs, and can easily become attached to dog fur, as well as their paws, ears, mouths and eyes. 

“They can sometimes get caught in the genitalia, especially of female dogs,” said Jessica Love, a veterinarian with Pet Care Animal Hospital. “I’ve actually pulled one from the temple of a dog, after it was caught in the eye.”

If your dog is limping or licking excessively, especially its paws, it may be a foxtail seed. They’re no joking matter, foxtail seeds can work their way up your dog’s legs and can require surgery to remove.

Preventative measures against foxtail seeds

There are a few things that an owner can do to help prevent a painful visit to the vet.

Dogs with curly fur, like doodles, can get a poodle cut to keep foxtails at bay. 

“They have a normal cut to their ankles, and then from (their ankles) down they have pretty much no fur,” Love said.

And owners should carefully check their dogs after taking them for a walk. It’s not a bad idea to check your shoes and socks, too.

“Due to their design, these ‘grass ons’ like to migrate into shoes,” Love said. “So while they may have started off between a toe they may wind up further up the leg.”

Cat owners can be a little less vigilant. Love said cats don’t usually have problems with foxtails because they are meticulous groomers.

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Dog moms and dads, be on the lookout for foxtail seeds