A Lesson in Keeping Your Pets Safe

Each area that we have traveled to has posed different risks for our pets and ourselves. We were familiar with the many risks of living in Minnesota and tried our hardest to keep anything bad from happening.

In Minnesota, we knew that two of the biggest risks to our pets were fleas and ticks. We knew to use a preventive treatment to keep our pets safe.

Traveling South, we learned about animals that might harm our pets as well. We learned the hard way about how painful stepping on a fire ant colony could be–while in Arkansas on the side of the road.

We learned about the different spiders and snakes of the South that might be harmful. And about the potential risk for infection that other animals, such as armadillos, can have on our pets.

Armadillo we met in Missouri.

We knew that cacti were supposed to be avoided but our dogs didn’t, so we had to teach them, or they learned the hard way.

Traveling to the West, we familiarized ourselves with the different rattlesnakes we might see while hiking. We learned to tell the difference between venemous and non-venemous species of snakes from a distance to protect everyone whenever we could.

We found out that black widow spiders were common in our area of California, having run into multiple and hearing the lack of surprise from the locals.

Black widow we found in a trash can.

We slowly learned about toxic plants in each area but had a difficult time identifying them during our short visits. Though our animals like to eat plants outside, we prevented them from eating anything we weren’t familiar with–basically anything other than grass.

What we didn’t know, until now, is that innocent-looking weeds can cause huge health effects.

There is a plant, commonly called the foxtail, that grows in the Western United States. It looks like an innocent plant, fairly similar to barley of the Midwest. It is far from innocent.

This morning, I found Theo licking his paw rather excessively. Upon closer inspection, I found that he had a good sized sore in between the pads on one back foot. I called three different vet clinics and found one who could see us on this busy holiday weekend.

I figured he would just need some antibiotics and we would be good to go. I was wrong.

Foxtails drop seeds that are like little barbs. They work their way into the skin, or eyes, or noses, or ears, or into genital areas. Then they travel through the body of the animal. They do not break down. They will not back out of the skin. They cause infections and other health problems. If left untreated, they can supposedly travel through the body, into the brain, and kill your pet.

One example of a seed.

I am so thankful that I chose to bring Theo into the vet. I did not know any of this information, had never heard of it before. We try to be so careful to know each new area we travel to, looking up risks, etc. We didn’t know that a common weed could potentially kill our dog, one that didn’t even need to be ingested.

$300 in vet bills later, Theo is done with his traumatic experience. Two types of antibiotics, pain meds, and a wrapped up paw, and he is back home.


Now we have to go through our yard and check for this plant. We have to watch for it closely on hikes. We have to comb out his feet everyday, check his eyes, ears, and nose for any signs. We have to protect them from something we are now very familiar with. Because he is part of our family and he deserves the best care that we can provide.

It just goes to show you that you can never be too careful. You can never know too much information. I’m glad I listened to my gut and brought him in.

Lesson learned: know all the risks of the area where you live and the areas you travel in. Both for your own safety and that of your pet’s.  Your only other option is to live in a bubble.


8 Comments Add yours

  1. Karen Ames says:

    I enjoyed your article immensely. I am so proud of you for making your life what you want it to be.

    My husband and I travel much of the time in our MH about the size of your Dolphin. I can totally relate to your experiences. We are like the ones who waited but regardless of age all rivers have the same goal, exploration, adventure and learning something new.

    Please keep writing, it is good for the soul and you have the ability to inspire others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the kind words! We always love to hear about other travelers, regardless of when they choose to start their adventure. It is fun to learn from other people’s experiences. Thank you for the encouragement!!


  2. Jackie says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about what happened to Theo! I’m glad he’s doing better! Don’t beat yourself up so much about the foxtails. I didn’t know about them either until very recently when I was searching around Pinterest. They can be pretty terrifying. So glad it was caught when it was before it could become a much larger issue.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jackie!! 😊


  3. Emily says:

    Wow, thank you for alerting me to this information. Being from the east, I didn’t know anything about foxtails. My husband and I are now traveling full-time in our RV with our Boston Terrier. I need to find out if we will be in areas with foxtails. Time for Mr. Google! Hope Theo, who is adorable, by the way, is all better now!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If I can prevent even one person/pet from going through the scare we just had then I am happy! Good luck on your travels; I hope you guys and your little Boston are having a great time exploring. Thank you for commenting, we love hearing from others. I am happy to report that little Theo is healing up like a champ!


  4. Rhonda Habel says:

    I’m a new follower, huge animal lover, live in MN, and inspired by your adventure. Hugs to Theo.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for checking out our blog! I am pleased to report that Theo is doing much better:)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s