Can Grass Hurt Your Dog?

How many of us have dogs who think they’re goats? [raises hand] But now that we’ve had some scorching summer temps, some grasses can seriously harm your fur-kid. How is that possible? Grass awns.

Wait…what? Did you just make a typo. Nope. Grass awns are those sharp seed heads that often are barbed and can potentially burrow into our dogs skin, nasal passages and even enter their chest wall. The Mile High City has not received much in the way of rain so walking in yesterday’s early cool morn, I began to see a lot more of this along sidewalks. Way too early in the season.

While summertime is full of outdoor fun, it also heralds the arrival of two notable things that pose serious consequences for dogs. Dogs left in cars [don’t get me started on THAT one here-it deserves a separate post] and grass awns…aka fox tails. While researching the topic of grass awns, I found this website created by Cathy Lewis to “provide a source of information around this issue and to facilitate gathering of case history data so that we can attempt to formulate an action plan to reduce the numbers of affected dogs and save others the worry and heartache that I’ve been through with my own dogs and those of my friends.” While many of the entries mostly relate to hunting breeds, I know only too well that fox tails are very much alive and well in urban settings and can easily attach themselves to a leg or paw while walking. The result can lead to infection and extensive (read expensive) vet treatment. You can read a previous post from a couple of years ago about fox tails here.

Be careful out there-it’s a real jungle. While I’d love nothing more than to let Sam and Elsa enjoy running through swaying grass and sniffing out all the smells of summer, but with those nasty grass awns lurking-just waiting to attach their barbs to my fur-kids, I’ll be keeping an even shorter leash on them as summer progresses. Stay safe, sports fans!

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

63 thoughts on “Can Grass Hurt Your Dog?

  1. OMG there IS a benefit to humidity, woulda thunk? No, seriously, I do love hearing that living in an area with humidity we are less likely to have to worry about these, especially with ALL the ridiculous rain we have had this year (yes, if I could send some your way I would!) but I HATE that we live in a space where the easiest walking areas are green spaces with those awful, short, sharp pine needles.
    They get right in Callies paws and we have to stop so I can pull them out, and they come inside with the dogs so WE end up stepping on them too. She’s cute though, once she learned the word “help” and realized we would fix it, she started holding up the paw that had needles in it and looking at us. “Help,” Callie says. And burdocks. Stupid, stupid burdocks.

  2. Thanks for raising my awareness, Monika. We don’t have awns as far as I know. However, we do have a nasty wooden prickle, which had embedded its seeds in the dogs’ fur when we went on a walk l am still finding them and Bilbo isn’t the best patient!
    xx Ro

  3. In South Australia we have a weed called Caltrop. A low growing thing with nasty burrs that can sink into a pup’s paw. It’s a great antipersonnel weapon with usually three prongs arranged in such a way that one is always sticking up. Councils spend a lot of money keeping this under control. It’s painful for all animals – humans included. I haven’t got any here and we mainly stick to the roadway when we’re out walking

    1. We walk city sidewalks but these grasses grow between sidewalk and street in the inferno strip so called because it’s hell to keep them properly landscaped and a lot of trouble for a 2m patch so too often these foxtails grow. Their graceful look in the spring when they’re green belies their treachery once the heat arrives and they stick like glue and can burrow into a dog’s skin easily. Scary stuff. Have a great weekend and give sweet Benji a nice ear scratch from his fur-iends in Denver.

  4. I don’t think we have foxtails here in TN. If so, I haven’t seen any. There are other plants that spread by the seeds attaching to whatever goes by. So, I am constantly pulling the little sticky things from Tippy’s fur, especially around the ears. She doesn’t like it one bit, but, if I leave them, they just make a mat that is harder to get out.

  5. I don’t believe we have those here, thank goodness. I had never even heard of grass awns before, but had heard about foxtails. There are so many dangers out there for our dogs – we have to always be watching them!

  6. We rarely see them here but I do keep an eye out for them. They are very common in Washington so I have warned my children. Thanks for the reminder. ☺

      1. Someone was spraying it on the sidewalk where I always walk my dogs. I wanted to strangle them, haha! The stuff should be banned. And just think, they’re spraying it on our food as well. One must buy organic these days.

        1. True. It used to be safe years ago supposedly (the San Diego Zoo used and touted it) but apparently the formulation changed in the last 15 years or so. Greed is a terrible thing but a large motivator. 😢

  7. Such good advice for those with dogs. Grass seeds can be a problem around the eye area too – we’ve got the vet bills to prove it. Thanks for posting this article!

    1. Thanks, I wish I didn’t know what you’re talking about. These evil little things are like wi-fi Nirvana to male dogs reading pee mail. They can’t help but sniff in those spots and then BAM! Ears, noses, eyes-they all catch the worst of it.

  8. Only the golf courses in Arizona have grass and we’re not close to one. The dogs aren’t interested in the Astroturf-not enough fiber, I guess.

  9. Ray chews on a very course grass (crab grass?) on a regular basis, and seemed to enjoy it so much that he now has his own plant pot in the front garden where we planted some just for him. He accepted it really well and often has a chew before we go out on a walk and/or when we return. 🙂

  10. Milo will roll in grass, eat everything including asphalt, and now I have even more to worry me! Yikes!

  11. Great reminder to thoroughly check your dogs body – especially the vey furry breeds like my Golden Kali- after walks and general outdoors time. We don’t have any Awns on the Golden K but I do see a lot along our walks. If something is dead in the brush Kali loves to roll around in it (what is that all about anyway). since I am always petting her and rubbing her belly etc. she is under constant surveillance.

  12. Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about the foxtails in our own yard. And with the CIV going around the area, Ducky and Shadow are both confined to home for a few more weeks. I won’t even take them to the ball field across the road – too many people are still letting their dogs play over there – until the vet gives the okay.

  13. we had a bad adventure with foxtail grass one sharp thingy landed under Easy’s nail… the vet had to do surgery to get it out… like the mama said, it’s better to smoke that stuff LOL

    1. I’m sure there are loads of names. Most of them are HBO words around the Ranch. They are a real challenge to remove because of the barbed ends. Then there are those heads where they stick like glue. Not sure what the technical name is…those are definitely HBO word worthy. 😬

  14. I had no idea. I went to that website and was shocked by how serious, even deadly, this can be. I am writing a post on blue green algae, and will include a link to this post, if that’s ok. Not safe on land nor water…

  15. I try to keep the ground around the house cut regularly to avoid roblems with a local plant which seems to leave its barbs in their noses and ears…
    And then the so and sos decide to hunt porcupines!

          1. First catch your dog…if you know the technique used by Alice to hold the pig babay in Alice in Wonderland you have some idea of it!
            Unfortunately while so engaged a very rude student song about porcupines and sodomy rose from the depths of memory: just as well the neighbours do not understand English…

  16. Yup, we do love to roll in the grass too. Headquarters keeps their patch of grass for that reason. No fun at all that stuff. We have sandspurs at beach too. Yikes. Benji

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