How to Protect Your Pets from Foxtail Weeds?

animal friendly

Many types of unwanted plants threaten your healthy green lawn which is the pride of many lawn owners. One of them is foxtail weeds, which are unpleasant on your lawn and lethal for your beloved pets.

What is Foxtail weed?

Foxtails get their names because the spikey tops resemble the bushy tails foxes have. Foxtails are weedy grasses with spikey tops that are bunches of prickled seeds, also known as awns.

Three different varieties of foxtail weeds exist in yellow, green, and giant.

Where is it mainly found?

They can be found in most of the northern part of the United States and are especially common in western states like California. It can be seen on hiking trails, roadsides, abandoned lots, and residential backyards.

Why is Foxtail dangerous to your pets?

They are not only invasive to your lawn but also can irritate your allergies and skin and harm your pets.

Foxtail has a very sharp front point, like an arrowhead, and backward spikes. Foxtails can attach to any part of your dog’s body like Eyes, Eyelids, Ears, Nostrils, Mouth, genital, skin, etc.

This can lead to much more serious conditions because internal organs may be affected. The foxtail will continue to cause problems until it is removed.

What are the symptoms if your dog has a foxtail on them?

  1. Persistent sneezing (it could be stuck in your dog’s nose or nostril)
  2. Head shaking (could be stuck in your dog’s ear)
  3. Constant gagging (maybe it’s in your dog’s throat)
  4. Extremely licking in the affected area
  5. Limping (stuck in dog’s paws)

Other signs could occur after several days later. If there’s a bacterial infection, the dog will have a lack of appetite, lethargy, inflammation, and swelling from the wound.

How to remove them from your pet?

If you live in a foxtail-prone area, always check your dog after being outside. Early removal of the foxtail is important. If you see it on your dog’s skin, you can attempt to remove it with tweezers.

Sometimes you may not be able to remove it completely because it can be deeply embedded in your dog’s skin. If you are seeing any of the symptoms listed above bring your dog to the vet immediately.

How to eliminate them from your lawn?

You can use both chemical and organic methods to get rid of foxtail,

1. Chemical herbicides— If you want to eliminate the existence of the foxtail then use Glyphosate for a complete kill. It will kill just about everything in the area you apply it in.

You will probably need to apply the herbicide two to three times, at minimum, before it wipes out the foxtail completely. Use the herbicide in a two-week gap if using a potent one like glyphosate.

2. Use vinegar-- If you do not like to use harsh chemical herbicides on your plants, you can use vinegar instead. It has been known to be an effective organic way of removing weed-type grasses like foxtail. Pour the vinegar directly onto the roots for greater effect. Wait a week or two after the first application and monitor the effects. Reapply the vinegar if needed.

3. Pull or dig them out-- You could dig out the weeds one by one, using a long weeding tool. Make sure that you remove the entire plant, including the roots, and not just the top portion, and dispose of them carefully elsewhere. Weeds are easier to pull when the soil is wet and the weeds are young. Foxtail is no exception to the rule. Wear gardening gloves to protect your hands as you work.

4. Apply mulch-- If the foxtail is still young, kill the new growth as soon as possible by covering it with some form of mulch (wheat straw, shredded leaves). Mulch can prevent sunlight and air from reaching the foxtail, which is necessary for growth.

The foxtail will need to be trimmed close to the ground before you can apply mulch.

5. Pre-emergent herbicides-- if you have dealt with foxtail already then pre-emergent herbicides are best for usage.

It should be applied to the area just before new growth would be expected to form. Apply a pre-emergent herbicide treatment in the spring. Lay it down just before you would expect the foxtail to pop up.

Several products are on the market that will work well against foxtail emergence. Be sure to check with your local extension service if you are in doubt about the effectiveness or safety of an herbicide.

6. Mow the area— Always keep your lawn trimmed by a mower so that no weeds (like foxtail) can breed. Regular mowing helps you keep the yard healthy, and a healthy yard is less likely to nurture the growth of weeds.

If you do select the mower or any weed-killer option, make sure that you clean the blades afterward to avoid the accidental spread of foxtail seed.

7. Plant lots of vegetation-- Planting more creates extra competition for nutrients meaning foxtails have less to grow with. You could also replace the grass entirely with sod or plant other forms of grass in the area. Thick grass can also be helpful for use against foxtail growth.

TIP------ If you go outdoors to walk or play with your dog just try to avoid foxtail prone areas and use a short leash if necessary. The best way to protect your pets and your lawn is by taking precautions and preventing exposure.