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Pesky plant could become painful problem for pets

Posted at 6:55 AM, Jun 20, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — If you're not careful while exploring Utah's outdoor spaces with your beloved pet, a pesky plant could become a very painful problem.

After a solid water year, parts of Utah are reportedly seeing more Foxtail plants growing.

The name makes it seem like the plant should be soft and fluffy but the weed-like grass has spiky seeds that can become lodged in a pet's body if they aren't found right away.

"Because they are arrow-shaped they work their way up a limb or into an armpit or wherever they've attached," explained Emily Ione-Kinney, a training and education supervisor at Mountain West Vet Specialists in Layton.

Ione-Kinney said she's treated more dogs than cats for Foxtails and says the best way to prevent serious problems is inspecting animals after playing outside.

"I have seen them in yards in parks, they're kind of everywhere," she explained.

That tip holds especially true if they are playing in an unfamiliar environment as the pesky plant is far and near during the warm months.

So far in 2023, Ione-Kinney hasn't seen as many pets with Foxtail-related injuries, but, she anticipates that the trend will change in July and August when the weather dries out, which will lead to the spread of more spiky seeds.