This summer has been hot and beautiful, but also bad for the proliferation of foxtail barley in the city. Officials are warning pet owners, especially those in the southeast, to watch for foxtail barley when walking their dogs. It has a very dangerous barbed seed head that can get stuck in dogs’ fur, plus their nasal cavities and digestive tracts.
Once the seed head of the foxtail barley has managed to get its hooks in, so to speak, it can be very, very difficult to get out, resulting in an extremely sick pet and a very high vet bill.
Watch for foxtail barley mainly in empty city lots and construction zones. It requires disturbed, saline soil to grow and so is most often found where there the ground has been unnaturally disrupted. The City of Calgary is attempting to curb the spread of foxtail barley by mowing areas where it has been found, and is currently considering adding foxtail barley to its list of noxious weeds. Construction companies are also assisting by spraying areas with pre-emergent to stop the weed from growing in the first place.
Foxtail barley can also grow in alleys, so if you happen to spot some while out and about, attempt to pull it to include as much of the root as possible, place them in a plastic bag and dispose of them in your garbage, not your composting.
Try to only walk your dog on freshly mowed grass and pathways if you are not in an area where upkeep is a priority. Always check your pet’s fur, nose, and mouth when returning from a walk and take them to the vet right away if they start to cough or sneeze unnaturally.
Additional toxic plants for pets
Other toxic plants for pets (including cats) to be aware of include:
- Calla lily: Although they are beautiful and many gardeners adore them, lilies as a whole can be toxic for pets. If you have an Easter lily or peace lily in your home as a houseplant, keep your cat away from them. They can cause kidney damage and even failure. If a dog eats a calla lily they may experience gastrointestinal upset, depression, anorexia, and tremors.
- Iris: The pretty purple iris is toxic to pets, especially the bulb area. Watch for signs of ingestion, which can include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy.
- Larkspur: Toxic to dogs, cats, and horses, larkspur can cause neuromuscular and respiratory paralysis, with symptoms such as muscle weakness, stiffness, and tremors. Ingestion of larkspur can even cause cardiac failure and, sadly, death.
- Lily of the valley: As with other lilies, the lily of the valley is toxic to pets. Its ingestion will not result in kidney failure, but can cause vomiting, diarrhea, a drop in heart rate, severe cardiac arrhythmias, and possibly seizures.
- Mistletoe: It’s relatively common knowledge that mistletoe is not good for pets, which is why its use during holidays has been decreasing over the past several years. Ingestion in small amounts will lead to gastrointestinal irritation, while ingestion in large amounts will lead to an abnormal heartrate, collapse, seizures, and even death.
- Philodendron: The philodendron’s toxicity for dogs and cats is moderate, and symptoms generally appear as oral irritation, pain and swelling in the mouth, difficulty swallowing, drooling, and vomiting.
- Poinsettia: Poinsettias don’t usually appear in Canadians’ homes until as cheery Christmas ornaments, and thankfully pets are not usually interested in them and their toxicity level is only mild. If you see signs that your pets has been nibbling on the flowers, however, look for signs of vomiting, drooling, and sometimes diarrhea.
- Wisteria: Unfortunately, wisteria does not taste bad and so dogs can often be attracted to its draping purple blooms. Ingestion of wisteria can result in serious gastrointestinal issues that can end in dehydration and collapse, and symptoms are often delayed.
- Daffodil: The sunny yellow daffodil looks harmless, but is toxic to both cats and dogs. Signs of ingestion can range from vomiting, drooling and diarrhea to convulsions, low blood pressure, tremors and cardiac arrhythmias.
- English holly: English holly is also known as Christmas holly and is yet another seasonal plant that is toxic to pets. It causes an extremely upset tummy, and your pet may spend a lot of time shaking their head because of injuries caused by the spiny leaves.
- English ivy: Symptoms of English ivy poisoning in pets include vomiting, abdominal pain, drooling, and diarrhea.
- Foxglove: Foxglove contains natural poisons that directly affect the affect the heart, making it very dangerous for dogs, cats, and even humans.
- Honeysuckle: Every part of the honey suckle plant is poisonous to dogs, so it’s not recommended to plant any should you have a canine family member.
A list of 24-hour veterinary clinics is available on the City of Calgary website.
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