Dangers of foxtail grass: How it can kill pets

A warning for pet owners: it's high season for foxtail. The grass-like weed grows all over California and veterinarians warn their barbs act like a fish hook that could get stuck in your pet's fur – or even worse – their skin or their eyes.

The foxtail fear hits home for FOX 11's Hailey Winslow – her dog had to undergo two surgeries after a possible foxtail or a similar plant got stuck in his paw.

While the plant has soft and fluffy features – foxtail is becoming the dog's arch-nemesis. 

"We'll see them form an abscess in the lung that can cause a pneumothorax or lung lobe abscess. So those dogs often come in and present very critically ill because they can't breathe," said VCA Animal Specialty and Emergency Center Veterinarian Dr. Ingrid Judge.

Judge shares this warning if your dog was outside in an area with dry grass or weeds and start sneezing.

"Bring them in immediately," she said. "Those first few hours are when we're able to recover them the best. Once they get past the oral pharynx, it's difficult to recover them.

RELATED: Foxtail grass can be fatal: Keep your dog away


Animal health specialists recommend that if your pet is exhibiting any of the above behaviors or showing other signs of an irritating foreign body, seek veterinary care immediately.

According to the American Kennel Club, trimming weeds and keeping pets away from the plant is a good start in preventing a dog's exposure to foxtails. If your dog does encounter foxtails, make sure to carefully comb through its coat, checking around the ears, mouth, nose and between toes to ensure you remove them before they have a chance to invade your pet's body.