Rampant foxtail weeds pose danger to dogs

By: Kelly Asmuth Email
By: Kelly Asmuth Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Cheatgrass or foxtail weeds can cause your dog major pain, if its coat catches one outside. After a wet spring, foxtails are growing rampantly this year.

“Once they sprout and dry out, the weeds become a sharp arrowhead that will penetrate into ears, eyes, the skin, the mouth,” says Dr. Tom Suplizio, a veterinarian at the Animal Medical Clinic.

Foxtails can trigger an excruciating, infected abscess on the skin or inside the body. “We may pull them out an inch or two deep in the foot. But I have seen them migrate into the blood vessels,” says Suplizio.

Sandy McFarland breeds golden retrievers, and has experienced the danger of cheatgrass, which surrounds her home. “One of my dogs inhaled one, and a couple days later, she got a big abscess in her throat. The vet had to lance it,” says McFarland.

Luckily, the spike worked its way out and her dog survived, but it was a tough warning about seemingly harmless weeds. “We stay far away from them at this time of the year,” says McFarland.

May through July is the prime season for these foxtails to dry up, and act like daggers toward your pet. The consequences for dogs can not only be seriously painful, but sometimes even deadly.

“I knew a dog that died. She rolled in it. It got through her coat, into her skin, into her spinal cord and killed her,” says McFarland.

Trimming your lawn and your dog’s hair is critical. “We recommend doing the pads of the feet. That's one area where they get them a lot,” says Lorianne Campbell, a groomer at The Pet Spa.

Check you pet for thorns after every walk, especially between their pads, and in ears and eyes. Experts say if your dog is scratching a lot or seems irritated for several days, head to the vet. Most importantly, don't let your best friend frolic anywhere near the weeds.

“There are dog parks, use them,” says McFarland. That way, staying away from foxtails means happy tales all summer.

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