Home Health and Care Safety, Emergencies and First Aid How Foxtail Can Kill Your Labrador

How Foxtail Can Kill Your Labrador


Did you know that foxtail can kill your Labrador? Foxtails are small and look seemingly harmless, but they can be a threat for any dog. These grasses with silky or bristly flowering spikes may stick in the throat of a pet obstructing the respiration and causing sudden distress. Awareness about the threat is the only way to prevent the threat posed by these harmful grasses.

foxtail can kill your Labrador

Foxtail plants look like grass, and they are found mostly in the western part of the United States. Their seeds are barbed, and they can stick or get stuck on or in your Labrador Retriever. Not only does it embed on the skin, but it can also get stuck inside your Labrador Retriever’s throat or nose and go farther and deeper into his body.

Unfortunately, foxtail seeds only move in a forward direction. When it gets inside the body, it cannot be broken down or decompose. The seed can also cause severe infection if embedded in the skin – resulting in death if left untreated.

foxtail can kill your Labrador

Most people assume that foxtails can only end up stuck in fur. However, they can do worse. They can travel inside the dog’s nose and move towards the brain, throat, lungs, and even any part of the body. These little specks can only move in a forward direction – making it hard to get rid of. They can get lodged in the skin and could cause abscesses, pain, inflammation, and deadly infection. Here are some signs your Labrador Retriever has foxtails.

Signs Your Labrador Has Foxtails in His Body

  • Eyes: When a foxtail gets inside the eyes or eyelids, your Labrador Retriever will incessantly scratch it. The scratching and the foxtail itself can cause your Labrador’s eyes to be inflamed and swollen. It may become reddish or bloody, and even produce a discharge.
  • Nose: When a foxtail gets inside your Lab’s nose, he may start sneezing endlessly that could be followed by bleeding.
  • Throat: Foxtails that pass through the nose and mouth can get embedded in the throat – causing your Labrador to cough.
  • Internal organs: After passing through the nasal cavity, foxtails can also get into your Lab’s internal organs. This can cause infection and internal bleeding. Foxtails embedded into an organ can be painful – causing your Lab to cry in pain and lose appetite.
  • Ears: Foxtails can make your Labrador’s ears itchy and painful. Not only does it feel uncomfortable, but it can also cause infection especially if it gets lodged deep inside the ear canal. Foxtails may also be present in the ear pockets.
  • Genitals: Dogs with foxtails lodged into the genitals will lick the area constantly.
  • Skin: Thick fur can hide the presence of foxtails in your Labrador. When foxtails are embedded into your Labrador’s skin, you may feel an unusual bump on the skin.
  • Toes: Having foxtails embedded into the legs can cause your Labrador to limp when walking. Foxtails can also get in between the paws, causing your Lab to lick or bite the area persistently.

Preventing Foxtails From Harming Your Labrador

It is your choice whether you will let your Labrador explore grassy fields and places. Since foxtails are mostly found in the western half of the United States, dog owners from the area should take necessary precautions, especially during the foxtail season, which is from May to December.

Labradors love exploring the great outdoors, and they can pick up foxtails from fields and any areas with high grass. So after a day out, check your Labrador’s fur, ears, nose, body, toes, and legs to see if there is anything embedded. Brushing your Lab’s coat not only helps you spot foxtails, but it can also help you find ticks and fleas that may have latched onto your Lab when he was exploring. Also, check your Labrador’s mouth, tongue and the area under it, gums, paws and in between the toes.

If you see foxtails on or in your Lab’s body, use tweezers to remove them. The earlier you find these foxtails, the lesser chance for your Labrador to experience severe problems. However, if the foxtail is embedded deeply into any part of your Lab’s body, or if they have already caused swelling, take your Lab to the vet immediately to prevent the foxtail from doing more damage.