The Real Time Canine II

After spending 2 years writing the Real Time Canine, the adventure continues with The Real Time Canine II. Read along as I look for just the right puppy to continue the experience. After false starts with Tim and Jed, I am currently training young Tam, and Spot, which are both off to a strong start. Please visit the RTC II to read about training sessions as they occur.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Treacherous and Deadly

Here is a shot of my shoes with the infamous
California foxtail embedded in them. I just got back from picking Mirk up from the vet where he had to be tranquilized and have one removed from his ear. I had the same thing happen last year, only it was Star who caught the deadly spore that time. Mirk is fine and the damage was localized in the area of my wallet. $200.00, and I feel lucky because my dog is alive and uninjured!

Wild barley, or foxtails, is an annual weed that's soft and green from January to April. Around May, the seed heads dry out and all hell breaks loose. Literally, the seed bearing structure of the plant breaks off when dry and their sharp, pointy tip and one-way barbs allow them to work their way into a dog, but not out.

Common foxtail dog-portals are their ears, eyes, nose, between their toes, and their mouth where they can get swallowed and lodge in the throat. But they certainly don't stop there. They can simply work in through the skin where they can easily go undetected beneath a dog's fur and cause an abscess, severe infections, septicemia and death. Once a dog has internalized a foxtail, it can migrate into or puncture vital organs, and in many cases simply cannot be found at that point. Sometimes they even work themselves back out. Most times they don't.

Here's a tip for you. If your dog ends up at the vet with a foxtail in it, have them check the anus and base of the penis, if it's a male. How do I know to check there? Price has had them in both places in years past, and it was only the efficiency of a good vet that saved him. Most vets don't automatically check those orifices. Ask them to every time.

Foxtails can be excruciatingly painful to a dog. Here's some symptoms to watch for. Excessive licking in one area, redness, tilted head, head shaking, coughing or gagging, violent sneezing or bloody discharge from a dog's nose. When in doubt, I strongly recommend you go to the vet and have your dog checked. It's expensive, but better than the alternative...death.

There is a product called "Show Sheen" that is used to make show horses shiny. It's oily, and if you spray it on your dog before it comes in contact with foxtails, it can help to repel them. It's not a fail-safe precaution, but it is the best one I know of besides mowing. Obviously, mowing is the best. That or planting to eliminate foxtails before they grow. Planting is not a possibility where I work my dogs, so Show Sheen and excessive grooming is how I hedge my bets.

I can spot a foxtail a mile away and you should learn how if you have working dogs. When I see one on top of my dog's coat, I always dig deeper. Any symptomatic behavior, and I cart them off to the vet. Foxtails, thistles, squirrels, and gophers. How much easier my life would be without them.

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