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Vets Warn Pet Owners About Foxtails After K-9 Death

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – As Cache County Sheriff’s deputies announced the death of a K-9 due to complications from ingesting foxtail weeds, veterinarians cautioned owners to watch closely for the common, prickly weeds that all too frequently attach themselves to pets.

Two-year-old K-9 Storm developed fluid around his lungs and chest after apparently inhaling or ingesting foxtail weeds and passed away during surgery, the sheriff’s office confirmed in a statement.

The statement said the Malinois’ handler noticed changes in the dog’s behavior Wednesday, which prompted the handler and sheriff’s office to seek veterinary care.

“Both veterinarians said our handler caught this in the early stages and we were optimistic Storm would be able to return to duty,” the statement read. “It was a very unexpected circumstance that he passed away during surgery.”

Veterinarian Sherri Edgar said the Sugar House Veterinary Hospital, which was not involved in the K-9’s treatment or surgery, sees one to two deaths per year as a result of complications from foxtails, and the hospital gets cases daily involving pets that have encountered foxtails.

“It’s a horrible thing,” Edgar said. “They’re just designed to grab in that fur.”

Edgar said pet owners should inspect dogs after every walk or hike and actually feel for the foxtails.

“A lot of times, you don’t even notice it until they’ve got a big abscess and they’re in a lot of pain,” Edgar said. “Every time you go into an area you know they are, you need to check your dog over and make sure (foxtails) aren’t there, because they often won’t tell you — even if it’s hurting them.”

The Cache County Sheriff’s Office said it was planning a memorial service in the near future to honor Storm.

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