Nasal Foreign Body in a Dog: Foster’s Sneezing and Bloody Nose

Allergies in dogs typically manifest through itchy skin rather than sneezing.

Infections or foreign bodies are a much more likely culprit. Consider the season, your dog’s environment, and lifestyle as part of the bigger picture.

When your dog’s violent sneezing combines with a nose bleed, the symptoms start to paint a picture.

Common causes of excessive sneezing in dogs
  • foreign bodies
  • fungal infections
  • tumors

Further reading: Excessive Sneezing in Dogs

Common causes of nosebleeds in dogs:
  • foreign bodies
  • fungal infections
  • tumors
  • clotting disorders

Further reading: Should I Worry about Dog Nosebleeds?

Nasal Foreign Body in a Dog: Foster's Sneezing and Bloody Nose


Foxtail is a moniker used to describe grasses with dense, bristly brush-like flowering awns—they look like a tail of a fox. The genus that is most hazardous to dogs is Hordeum or wild barley.

The foxtail seeds are designed to spread by catching in the fur of a passing animal and burrow further in with each movement. Unless you find and remove them, they will keep making their way deep into the tissues, where they can cause severe damage.

Further reading: Those Frustrating Foxtails

Nasal Foreign Body in a Dog: Foxtail, or wild barley

An unsuspecting dog can get grass awns caught anywhere:

  • paws
  • eyes
  • nose
  • ears
  • mouth and throat
  • fur and skin

Symptoms of a foxtail that made its way into the nose include:

  • nose crinkling
  • violent sneezing
  • pawing at the nose
  • nosebleeds

Foster’s story

Foster was a vibrant, active Great Dane who loved his time outdoors. Foster enjoyed playing fetch, running through the fields, and exploring the countryside.

That day, shortly after they returned from a walk, Foster started sneezing. Not just a few sneezes—he went into a sneezing fit and couldn’t stop. At first, his mom figured Foster got something irritating his nose, and the sneezing would stop as soon as the irritant cleared. But Foster wasn’t stopping.

Foster’s mom had no idea how to help him and hoped that the problem would take care of itself with time. But time was passing, and Foster remained miserable. Should she call a vet over a sneezing fit? Somehow, that seemed like an over-reaction to Foster’s mom.

Foster, however, couldn’t get comfortable. He kept sneezing and started pawing at his nose. Whatever was in there wasn’t coming out. Then, Foster’s nose started bleeding.

At the veterinarian

Could have all the violent sneezing damaged some tissues and cause Foster’s nose to bleed? Either way, it was clear that Foster needed help his mom couldn’t provide. She now had a good excuse to rush Foster to a veterinarian.

After learning about the events of the day, the veterinarian had his suspect—a foxtail must have made it into Foster’s nose.

The veterinarian explained what he thought the problem was to Foster’s mom.—it was imperative to confirm the suspicion conclusively and get the awn out if possible. To do that safely, Foster would need anesthesia.

Fortunately, once the veterinarian got the scope in Foster’s nose, he could see the awn right away. It hasn’t made it’s way deep into the tissues yet and the veterinarian was able to retrieve it rather easily.

In summary

Foster was quite lucky that his mom acted when she did. The longer the foxtail would have remained in Foster’s nose, the deeper it would burrow into the tissues.

One problem with foxtails in the nose is that over time, the mucous in the nose could cover the awn, making it less irritating, That stops the sneezing but doesn’t solve the problem

The longer the foxtail remains in the nose, the deeper it travels. That can result in:

  • chronic irritation
  • secondary infections
  • tissue damage

If untreated, from the nose, the grass awn can travel all the way into the brain. Now that’s serious trouble just from a grass awn.

Related articles:
Should I Worry About Dog Nosebleeds? Does a Dog Nose Bleed Easily?
Excessive Sneezing in Dogs: How Much Sneezing Is Too Much?

Further reading:
Those Frustrating Foxtails
Sneezing Dog? Think Foxtails!
How to Prevent Foxtail Injuries and Remove Foxtails From Your Dog

Categories: ConditionsDog health advocacyExcessive sneezingForeign bodiesFoxtailsNosebleedsSymptoms

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

  1. OOOOH good grief! Something so small causes so much harm. I am so glad you have written about this – you will save lives and teach people something very important.

    I am so glad that Foster was sorted out – I sneeze once or twice and that’s enough so the poor guy had my sympathies!

  2. Great post and posted today on my FB page about foxtails to remind everyone, I watch Layla very carefully when she walks and sniffs and I pull her away from places where there might be foxtails

  3. This is such an important conversation and the perfect time to bring it up with the weather heating up! I watch closely for foxtails in our dogs’ paws after having experienced that struggle in the past, but I never considered the risks that could come from one being deep enough in the nose that I could see it. This is definitely something I will be watching for more closely moving forward!

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