Summer Foliage Dangers

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June 19, 2009
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June 26, 2009

Summer Foliage Dangers

We’ve been having a wonderfully wet spring and early summer here in Colorado. Mountain wild flowers are thriving and the temperatures are ideal for nature hikes. Unfortunately, with all the beauty and lushness comes some dangers for our pets.


As I’ve been out doing my routine “spring cleanup” around my property I’ve seen a lot – I mean a LOT – of wild mushrooms in the wetter areas. I don’t recall mushrooms being so obvious in years past, and it’s given me some pause as I take the dogs out for walks. My guys are not foragers as a general rule, but they certainly are curious and notice new smells. I communicate to them regularly about only eating what I provide for them, but springtime is a particularly challenging time with all the new, fresh smells to explore.

possibly poisonous Amanita mushrooms

Now that I’ve become aware of the burgeoning mushroom population, I am careful to go explore with them. My girl-dog likes to dig a little hole in which to do her business (so tidy of her!) and that’s fine, but I’m being diligent now to watch where she’s digging to make sure it is for this purpose and not uncovering some potentially harmful fungus.

There are other summertime ingestable hazards as well as dangerous weeds for dogs and cats. Every region has their own native toxic vegetation of which responsible pet guardians should be aware. In this Rocky Mountain region, for example, Foxtail (a type of weed/grass) is abundant and can burrow its way into animal eyes, skin, and paws. The offending foxtail seed is very difficult to remove and if left unchecked, can cause painful sores and a nasty infection.

File:Mallorca Mushroom.jpg

poisonous Jack-O-Lantern mushroom

A quick search on the Web for toxic or poisonous vegetation in your region will bring up several resources, most with helpful pictures of the offending item. Prepare for the summer season with good information about what to watch for in your area, and also be prepared with your emergency veterinarian phone numbers easily accessible. If  you even slightly suspect that your pet has ingested something toxic, get them to the vet right away for induced vomiting and observation.

A partial list of symptoms indicating your pet may have ingested something toxic includes vomiting and/or diarrhea, lethargy, excessive salivation, abdominal pain, and signs of hallucinations. If your pet has wandered into an area known for Foxtail or other dangerous weeds, check carefully for any visible barbs. You may need professional care to help remove these barbs with surgical equipment.

As with anything, awareness is the name of the game. Enjoy your hikes and let your pets roam in the yard if that is their normal routine, but do watch for possible dangers lurking during the summer months. Toxic foliage, dried weeds that can lodge in their eyes, snakes….. ugh, snakes. That sounds like another blog post!

Enjoy your summer.

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