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Foxtail likely to blame for young dog's death

Vivian web.jpeg

(KUTV)-- A small seed found in Utah can cause major problems for pets.

Foxtails are grow all over the state, especially during the summer months. The barbed seeds of the grass-like weed can imbed themselves into your pets.

A Utah family believes a foxtail is to blame for their dog’s death. Vivian, the Norwegian Elkhound Poodle was only one-and-half-years-old when she died in March. Owners Ali Decker and Jay Thompson noticed a lump on her chest in January. They took Vivian to the vet the next day.

“They sliced it and they drained it and the vet wasn’t concerned at all,” Decker said.

But, weeks later, Vivian still didn’t seem like herself. They took her back in for x-rays and found the problem was much worse than they expected.

“That’s when they saw her chest cavity was filled with fluid. She had pneumonia,” Decker said.

The vet told Decker Vivian’s illness likely started with a foxtail.

“They determined it was a foreign body, like a foxtail or a prick of some sort that had gotten infected and had traveled to her chest cavity and her lungs,” she said.

Once they finally caught the infection, it was too late.

Gary Peterson, a veterinarian at Town & Country Veterinary Hospital in Salt Lake City said foxtails are extremely common.

“They can migrate anywhere and finding them is sometimes like looking for a needle in a haystack,” he said.

Peterson said in summertime he sees several cases a week where a foxtail has worked its way into a pet’s skin. While he’s seen serious infection, he’s never had a dog die from foxtail.

“You need to keep checking your pet if you’ve been out where they are and boy they seem to be everywhere," Peterson said.

Decker now does things differently after Vivian’s death. She said she makes a habit to check her other two dogs for foxtails every time they come indoors.

“If it was a foxtail, if we would have seen it in her fur the day of,” Decker said, “we could have saved her.”


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