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.
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.
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.
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.