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Kahler: Foxtails are a danger to your dog, cat

Penelope spends her days exploring her expansive yard, which is bordered by the Stanislaus River.

About three weeks ago, Darla noticed the 3-year-old Labrador retriever spending an inordinate amount of time licking the area around her vulva. Darla took Penelope to see the veterinarian.

The veterinarian found a discharge containing some pus and prescribed antibiotics to treat the likely infection.

Penelope showed great improvement and seemed to be back to normal after the 10-day course. Three days later, however, she was back to licking excessively. Penelope was placed on antibiotics again and improvement resulted. However, Darla is concerned there may be something more than a simple infection.

I must agree. My guess is that she has a foreign body in her vaginal vault.

I suspect there are overgrown lawns along the river where Penelope plays. Many of these grasses produce foxtails, bullet-shaped seeds covered in one-way barbs.

These foxtails can imbed in the skin and cause inflammation and infection. Antibiotics will control the infection, but they seldom cure the problem unless the foxtail is removed.

In Penelope's case, another visit to the veterinarian is needed to have her vaginal vault scoped to check for a foreign body.

When the foxtail is found and removed, and another course of antibiotics is finished, Penelope will be cured.

Now those of you with dogs who are cultivating these vicious grasses in your yard need to go out and mow them down, pick them up and dispose of them so your dog does not become a foxtail victim.

Oh, and by the way, cats are not immune to these predatory seed awns, either.

Jeff Kahler is a veterinarian in Modesto. Questions can be submitted to Your Pet in care of LifeStyles, The Modesto Bee, P.O. Box 5256, Modesto 95352.

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