Destroying Foxtail Weeds Can Protect Your Pet's Life

Posted on: 27 January 2015

Weeds are a nuisance that mar the beautiful appearance of lawn, trigger allergies and can get stuck to clothes and hair. But did you know that a specific type of weed, foxtails, can also put your pet's life at risk? This guide will explain how your pet can be hurt by foxtails, and what you can do about it.


Foxtails are named for their bushy, tail-like appearance. Foxtails cover the seeds of wild grasses and are designed to easily stick to anything that touches them so the seeds can be spread wherever they're carried. You may have found them stuck to your clothing or your pet's fur after a hike, but they can do far worse than simply being a nuisance.

The Danger

Foxtails may not seem dangerous at first glance, but their barbed ends can create serious problems if your pet encounters them. If a foxtail gets stuck to your pet, it can eventually work its way through their skin as they walk and flex their muscles, creating an infected wound. Unfortunately, pets may respond to this by scratching or grooming themselves, which can drive it in further. Left untreated, the foxtails can eventually puncture your pet's organs, which can lead to severe, life-threatening infections.

Foxtails can also be inhaled, where they can adhere to the nasal passages or throat, or even become lodged inside the lungs.

How To Destroy Foxtails

The best way to protect your pet from foxtails is to make sure to destroy any that are in your yard. All your pet has to do is go outside to relieve themselves and they could end up inhaling a foxtail that seriously injures them, so kill any foxtails you find.

There are a few ways you can kill foxtails:

  • Chemical Herbicides  - Herbicides are effective, but make sure to use one that won't affect other plants in your yard.
  • Vinegar - Spraying vinegar on immature foxtails that aren't fully grown may kill them. This isn't effective on adult foxtails, though.
  • Removing Manually - You can, of course, dig up the foxtail at the root and destroy it that way. Before digging it up, pull off the barbed seed head and dispose of it to prevent seeds from dispersing over your yard.

Once the foxtails are dead, maintaining a healthy lawn may prevent further foxtails from appearing. Unlike some other varieties of weeds, foxtails need barren ground for their seeds to germinate, so a lush, thick lawn should help to prevent foxtails. If you need professional assistance, contact a weed control expert like Snyder's Weed Control.

Foxtails can be a menace to pets, so strive to destroy any in your yard and avoid walking your pets on trails that may have them. If you find a foxtail lodged in your pet or they're sneezing repeatedly after being near grass and weeds, take them to a veterinarian immediately for treatment.