The Foxtails are Coming!

Your ultimate guide to a foxtail-free summer.

By SCRUF Safety Committee

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Foxtails are a barbed grass seed that can get into your dog’s body through orifices and skin. A foxtail seed can cause your pet great discomfort, infection, and in rare cases can cause long-standing injury. Foxtails typically need to be removed by a veterinarian and can cost upwards of $400.

While we can’t hike in a 100% foxtail-free environment, we do everything in our ability to prevent your dog getting a foxtail on their hikes with SCRUF. And there’s GOOD NEWS! Foxtails are mostly PREVENTABLE. This newsletter gives more information on what SCRUF is doing to keep your dog hiking all summer long, and information on what you can do at home to keep your dog safe and healthy.

What does SCRUF do to prevent foxtails?

On SCRUF hikes, we:

  • Change our routes to less foxtail-heavy parks and trails
  • Work on pack management to keep dogs with us and out of the grass
  • Prevent our dogs from running around or rolling in foxtail fields
  • Help acclimate them to their foxtail hoods
  • Check their eyes, ears, nose, and paws after every hike

Tips to keep your dog hiking all summer long

  • Purchase a foxtail hood so we can use it on our hikes.
  • Keep fluffy dogs’ feet groomed so it’s easy to check for foxtails in between their toes. Can also have your dog wear shoes or booties on their hikes.
  • Check     your dog’s eyes, nose, ears, fur, and paws for foxtails after each     hike. Your SCRUF service provider will do the same.
  • Sign up for pet insurance, to relieve some of the stress and expense of a foxtail incident. Foxtail incidents typically cost upwards of $400 per visit.

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What happens when a dog gets a foxtail?

When a dog gets a foxtail, it can be extremely uncomfortable for them. They usually will sneeze, shake their head, and paw at their face profusely. They may have bloody discharge from their nostril.

If a dog starts sneezing or shaking their head, we immediately inspect the dog for a foxtail and see if we can remove it. Occasionally the dog will sneeze it out and we can go along with our hike. Because of the shape of the foxtail seed, it is very easy for the seed to go deep into the nose, ear, or eye in just a moment.

If we suspect a dog has a foxtail, we leash the dog and monitor them closely. WFoxtailNewsletter_ImageP3e often also end the hike early, because a foxtail can be very uncomfortable and distressing for the dog. That means if one dog inhales a foxtail at the beginning of the hike, all six dogs miss their hike that day.

As soon as it’s safe to do so, we contact the dog’s owner. If the dog needs emergency medical attention, we will take them to the emergency vet. Usually a foxtail is uncomfortable and urgent, but not an emergency, and so we ask our clients to please help us with preventing foxtail incidents, and to please be prepared to take their dog to the veterinarian should one occur.

How do I get my dog used to the foxtail hood?

Most dogs get used to wearing the foxtail hood within a few minutes of having it on, and totally forget about it. The more you acclimate your dog to the foxtail hood at home, the easier it will be for them to enjoy wearing it on the trail.

The first time you acclimate your dog to the hood, hold the hood still and let them put their head in and out on their own. Put treats (or their kibble) inside and offer it to them. They will most likely put their head in the hood voluntarily to get the reward. Repeat this several times for multiple days. Avoid going toward your dog with the hood in this initial phase. Encourage the dog to come toward the hood instead.

Keep the sessions short and avoid letting your dog take the hood off themselves, especially by shaking their head or using their paws.

When we use the hood on our hikes, we will reacclimate your dog to it in the new environment. If your dog is uncomfortable wearing the foxtail hood on the trail, your SCRUF service provider will help develop a strategy for how we can get to maximum fun with maximum safety.

My dog usually wears a muzzle on hikes. How can we protect them from foxtails?

Check with your SCRUF service provider if your dog usually wears a muzzle on their hikes. With some dogs muzzles are precautionary and the protection of a foxtail hood may be a higher priority.

Sign me up! Where can I buy a foxtail hood?

You can buy a foxtail hood at Pet Food Express, and they can help you find the right fit. You can also get them online at www.outfoxfordogs.com . Foxtail hoods cost about $47 each.

Foxtails in the paws and skin

All dogs, including those with “painted-on” coats, can get foxtails in their paws. We check their paws after every hike, and we highly recommend our clients to do so as well. Check the skin pockets in between their toes, and under their paws in the spaces between their paw pads.

To make this easier, we highly recommend keeping fluffy dogs’ paw fur trimmed short. And you can provide even further prevention by acclimating your dog to shoes or booties for foxtail season.FoxtailNewsletter_ImageP2

Foxtails can also enter a dog’s skin from being caught in its coat. We recommend keeping dogs with velcro fur, like doodles and poodles, trimmed short. All dogs with a medium-to-log coat should be brushed approximately once a day to rid the coat of any foxtails.

When is foxtail season?

Foxtail season begins when the grasses start turning brown, going to seed, and shedding their seeds. It ends when we have substantive rain in the fall, so the seeds can begin to decompose. Even if the grass has been mowed, foxtail seeds are still on the ground until the rains come. Usually this is about May to September, but can begin sooner or end later depending on that year’s weather pattern.

This sounds scary, should we just cancel hikes?

Foxtails are a nuisance, but rarely lead to long-term injury. And they are largely preventable. The risk of foxtail incidents is extremely lowered with a little bit of gear, more vigilant body checks, some grooming, and teamwork. We appreciate all your contributions toward our goal of a Foxtail-Free Summer!

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Your SCRUF Pet Care Collective
Oakland, CA
http://www.scruf.coop

(We took a couple of these images from internet image search. Contact us for a copy of this blog post in PDF format.)

Shuumi Land Tax

This gorgeous scenery that we get to enjoy every day is traditional Chochenyo and Karkin Ohlone land.

SCRUF members (and your beautiful pups) have this luxury because of centuries of genocide, land theft, slavery and exploitation of indigenous peoples and resources (among many other atrocities of the U.S. government, past and present).

One small thing we can do to acknowledge this history is contribute to the Shuumi Land Tax, which supports the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust’s work “to facilitate the return of Chochenyo and Karkin Ohlone lands in the San Francisco Bay Area to Indigenous stewardship. Through public education and advocacy, the development of urban gardens, community centers, and sacred arbors, and the slow but steady transformation of our collective relationship with the land we live on, Sogorea Te’ is working to ensure that current and future generations of Indigenous people can thrive in the Bay Area.”

SCRUF just made our first contribution to the Land Trust, and we highly encourage you to participate as well!

More info here: https://sogoreate-landtrust.com/shuumi-land-tax/

You can follow the Land Trust on Facebook and Instagram @sogoreatelandtrust

Stray Poo Pickup, and the Christening of the First SCRUF Stray Poo Eradication Station!

One of the seven principles of being a cooperative is “concern for community.” And because SCRUF is your awesome local pet care co-op, we uphold this principle by throwing events in which we give back to the places we work and live in. Our goal is to have four community involvement events per year!! And we welcome and encourage all of you to join in!

Mostly this involves going to East Bay parks and planting redwood trees, cutting down non-native vegetation, and picking up poop. So far, we’ve been to Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve three times to do work, and not everyone got poison oak. Rangers taught us how to protect baby redwoods by ensconcing them in wire fences. We identified and removed teasel, one of us with a machete. We ate lots of snacks! If you decide to attend one of our events, you will get a lot of snacks. Besides the snacks, it feels really good to be outside for a few hours with a bunch of other pet lovers.

Dogs take a toll on the parks and neighborhoods in different ways, and one of these ways is pooping. Sometimes people don’t pick up their dog’s poop, so SCRUF has a stray poo pick-up policy: we bag up little stray turds that cross our path and deposit them in their forever home — the trash can.

We are bringing this policy to an even wider audience on Sunday, August 4, 2019 by installing a poop bag and trash station in a Richmond, CA neighborhood. Please join us for ribbon cutting, poo pickup, and of course snacks.

Event link here: https://www.facebook.com/events/819377725125093/

Think of it like a treasure hunt! We promise that we’ll bring hand sanitizer.

A Notable Blip on the Journey

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This picture marks a very special time in SCRUF history.

Kelly is our first candidate. We’re saying adulty stuff like “I need to run payroll.” We’re learning how to integrate a 4th person into our business (i.e. group marriage) after being 3 for so long. Kelly is the person I spend the most time with in a week at this point.

I got a 2nd dog, Beedee. He’s really a dream come true and a very special adoption. He is the product of years of doing great dog work in the East Bay, and connecting with other amazing dog people, who I can’t appreciate enough. He came with some rear-end awareness, what more could I hope for?

This living room is in a major transition. The Feed This Inc. boxes in the background, because yeah there’s a lot of raw meat in this house, and because soon everything will be cleared out to make room for a beautiful future. Lots of hard work, support, strength and resolve from all corners of my life went into this transition. The level to which I have felt loved and supported over the past couple months is immeasurable. It has only (re-re-re-)confirmed my desire to Be in Oakland. Everyone’s kind gestures, checking in, listening to my venting, helping me strategize options and understand what is even happening, and telling me to stay… I am in awe of my own life and the people in it and I appreciate all of you very, very much.

Also we voted to invest in group snacks and markers for our meetings, pictured. Thanks Kelly for coming through.

– Esra

A Few Safety Tips

1. Sago Palm trees are highly toxic to dogs. Sadly of our friend Dublin retrieved her ball from one of these plants and had to go to the ER with liver problems. She recovered but it was very scary!

Check your home for Sago Palms and get rid of em!

2. Foxtail season is in full swing, and a foxtail in the nose is an expensive procedure. All for sniffing some grass. We highly recommend using a foxtail mask such as the one made by Outfox.

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3. When you’re picking up poop, are your dogs running around behind your back? Why not use that as an opportunity to practice holding sits and downs? Great way to practice obedience and add in some distance, distraction, and duration! And safety on top of it all is always a good thing.

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Love you guys, be safe.

SCRUF loves fanny packs

Every time I step out the door to walk my dogs, I’ve got a lot to consider when it comes to gear. Is it hot enough to take off my windbreaker? Should I wear my regular hat or my sun hat? Do I need to put on a warmer jacket? Do I need to put on a rain jacket? Will normal shoes work, or do I need my hiking boots on? Heavy work pants, or shorts for jogging? Amidst the winds that whip and howl through this garden of decision there is one constant, one tree with its roots plunged so deep in the soil of “walking dogs” that, were I ever to go out without it, I’d feel its absence like I would a missing sock, or perhaps a tooth. Ever since I started wearing it, I’ve had it on every single one of my walks. It helps me to stay organized, frees up my hands, and makes it easier to pay more attention to my dogs while we’re out.

Any guesses yet? (it IS in the title of the post 😉 )

That’s right. I am, of course, talking about…

My fanny pack! This particular one was gifted to me by a friend, and once I snapped it on I never looked back.

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Not walking with a fanny pack yet? Let me talk it up a bit! Mine has:

  • A round pocket on either side: Perfect for water bottles, suncscreen, and yummy treats.
  • A small zipper pocket right along the band: In here I keep small necessities like extra tags or rubber bands.
  • A zip up mesh pouch in the front: Safe and secure! A nice spot for keys and poo bags (two rolls – nobody likes getting snuck up on by an empty roll in the middle of a walk!)
  • A large, zippered pouch behind the mesh pouch: A foster home for bagged up poos. It’s spacious and, when zipped up, doesn’t let the smell out. Perfect for transporting poos to their forever home in the trash, and approximately four thousand six hundred and ninety three times better than carrying the bag by hand.

With all this, I am able to not only keep my hands free of poo bags, but also to make sure that everything else I need is in one convenient spot.
If you find one you like, I wouldn’t hesitate to snap it up and snap it ON – you just might love it.

SCRUF Loves Biothane Leashes

You’d like a bit more control of your dog off-leash.

He does pretty well, but once in a while…

Or your dog is terrible/terrifying off-leash.

But you feel bad restricting his life so much.

So, why not use a biothane leash?

It’s a long(er) leash. But not the kind that sits as a stinky wet knotted mess on the floor of your car.

It’s kind of rubbery. It cleans easily. It doesn’t stink or rot. It only gets tangled about 2% of the time compared to a normal nylon leash.

And it’s WAY safer than a flexi!

SCRUF uses them alllll the time!

A 20′ long leash is great for teaching better off-leash skills, and giving your dog a bit more freedom.

Having your dog drag a 6′ biothane leash is great for quick leash-ups and last-second control. Using a drag line is one of the safest ways to hike.

*And* you don’t have the carry the leash!

We also use 10′ biothane leashes for dogs who are too wild for a full 20′ but do well with some extra sniffing and grass-rolling privileges.

You can pick up one of these cool biothane leashes, custom colors and sizes, at www.palominelines.com

We recommend the 3’8″ width for any size dog.

Any color will do. 🙂