Foxtail Grass Poses Deadly Threat to Pets This Upcoming Summer Season, Veterinarian Warns Pet Owners

Foxtail grass is posing a deadly threat to pets, including cats and dogs, once again this upcoming North American summer season starting June, just like in previous years. A veterinarian, as reported earlier this week, warned pet owners that the sharp green weeds called “foxtails” can hurt or kill pets. Dubbed “foxtail season,” this period threatens pets roaming outdoors where they are at risk.

The summer season is associated with above-average warm weather, high temperatures, and humid conditions, yet it is also a time for beaches and other vacation sites. However, this season also dries up this deadly grass and make them peel off, revealing their pointy edges that can burrow through the skin of dogs and cats. In some cases, foxtails can also be inhaled and enter the nose of animals.

What is Foxtail Grass?

Foxtails Grass Poses Deadly Threat to Pets This Upcoming Summer Season, Veterinarian Warns Pet Owners
(Photo : Photo by Camilo Fierro on Unsplash)

Foxtail grass, as mentioned earlier, is an annual summer grass weed. In the United States, these piercing plants can be found mostly in the West Coast but has started to appear in other regions of the country. Also called “spear grass,” foxtails belong to the genera Alopecurus and Setaria under the family Poaceae, known as the 5th largest plant family consisting of 12,000 species.

In terms of natural habitat, foxtails typically grow in moist or dry soils. Common sightings of these summer plants range from gardens to roadsides, hiking trails, and parks. In the past, veterinarians and experts have warned foxtails are dangerous for dogs. Dogs can inhale, step on, or brush by foxtail grasses when they bloom in summer, as explained by the medical site WebMD.

Also Read: Pets Under Hot Temperatures: 5 Tips to Keep Them Safe

Summer Pet Threat

The summer pet threat posed by foxtails is imminent but can be avoided.

According to Erik Olstad, a clinical veterinary medicine professor at the University of California – Davis, the most common area of a dog’s body where foxtails can burrow is between its toes. An embedded foxtail into the skin can cause not only irritation and bleeding but also pain and infection, which can lead to death.

Olstad also adds a foxtail that can stick to a pet’s eye tissues, including in cats. Yet, one of the most dangerous repercussions of foxtails is when the said grass enters the lungs of dogs, according to the veterinary professor. In 2018, a police dog in Utah died after ingesting foxtail weed seeds. The 2-year-old Malinois at that time died during surgery as an attempt to remove the lethal plant.

Aside from pets, humans are also susceptible to the dangers of foxtails. According to experts, the inhalation of wild grass, called aspiration, can cause coughing, lung disease, and respiratory irritation. It can also cause mortality if left untreated. In a lesser severity to humans, foxtails can cause discomfort to people when they stick through clothing, shoes, or socks.

Related Article: Dogs and Wildlife: How to Minimize the Impact of Your Dog in Summer

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