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Grass awns: why is this plant deadly dangerous for your dog?

What do you know about grass awns? Probably not enough. Scary as it may sound, grass awns can kill your dog. Because they flourish during summer, you should inform yourself before letting your dog wander in the countryside at this time of the year.

Whether you call them awns, mean seeds, foxtails, June grass, or by any other names, they can only mean troubles to your dog.

How do grass awns exactly look like?

This is how grass awns look like:

grass awns are dangerous

They are sharp, (sometimes) barbed grass seeds which are produced by some specific types of grass.

infoGrass awns burrow into the dog’s skin causing pain to the animal


Grass awns are just one of the many danger your dog is exposed to when he or she is outdoors. Grass awns can be inhaled, swallowed and even penetrate the dog’s skin.

If grass awns are not removed in a timely fashion, they will lead to the formation of painful abscesses, which need regular drainage of fluids.

Grass awns are deadly dangerous for your dog

The problem with grass awns is that they are difficult to be located. Should you spot the grass awn, make sure to remove it as quickly as you can. A pair of tweezers will do the job.

But problems come when it’s impossible to spot the grass awn. You know your dog is in pain and you suspect that the seed has already penetrated your dog’s body, but you can’t find it.

Don’t expect X-rays to help. In this case, X-rays should just be deployed to detect the inflammation.

If the seed cannot be removed, the dog will be in need of long-term treatments to heal the pain

If that’s the case: go visit your vet as soon as possible.

It’s very likely that your vet could also have problems detecting the grass awn’s position. The dog will have to be treated with antibiotics for a long-term period .

How to understand if the dog is in danger

Depending on where the grass awn get stuck, contact symptoms can vary accordingly:

  • Hair: No infections or abscesses, matted hair only
  • Ear canal: The dog shakes the head, scratches or rubs the ears, holds his head at a slightly tilted angle
  • Between the eye/eyelid: The eyes of the dog get inflamed, sometimes including discharge or tears

Grass awns stuck between the dog’s eye can damage the corona (ulcer) and lead to vision loss

  • Nose: The dog sneezes, paws at the nose, and experiences nasal discharge
  • Gums, Tongue, Mouth:  If swallowed, grass awns may stick to the back of the throat near the tonsils and cause inflammation and swelling.
  • Lungs and Other Organs (inhalation or migration): The dog shows signs of serious sickness, which can result in short breath and vomit episodes.

Keeping an eye on your dog is the best prevention

You cannot fully protect your dog from grass awns contact. But there are some precautions you can take in order to feel safer. Grooming your dog immediately after a walk and removing residual grass on his or her coat is good practice. When inspecting your dog in such way double check the toes, the ears, and the shoulders.

Clipping the fur between your dog’s toes and paw pads can make it easier to spot grass awns. Take double care when you know your dog goes running in the tall grass or among obviously seeding grass.

Prevention starts in your yard, so when possible, inspect your dog’s favourite spots!

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Sarah is a Certified Fitness Trainer, pet lover and the happy owner of a 2-year-old Japanese Spitz named Bailey. Sarah spends a lot of time outdoors, running, hiking and biking. She loves inspiring Tractives all over the world with weekly pet tricks and tips.

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