Last night I spent a good 20 minutes going through Beowolf’s feet and fur plucking out FOXTAILS! The previous years have never been this bad with foxtails and Beowolf has always been lucky about not collecting foxtails but I find myself picking them up around the house as he drops them.
Given my experience at the clinic, I know just how nasty a foxtail can get. Abscesses and infections lead to expensive vet visits and weeks of antibiotics. Well, the good thing about foxtails is they are predictable and work in the same way, their anatomy is designed to “dig” with reverse burs that hold it in place which is why they don’t fall out on their own sometimes.
They can burrow into the skin and work their tract anywhere in the body, leaving room for infections to fester and grow. Sometimes they can work their way out, but it’s not often we see that. Usually once a foxtail burrows and hides it takes a trained hand to remove it, so address it early on before it becomes a problem.
Luckily they are easy to remove!
**If a foxtail has gotten in your dog’s Eye(s), Nose and/or Ear(s) do NOT try to remove them yourself unless you are a trained professional. Please to prevent further injuries, take your pet to the vet**
Signs your pet may have a Foxtail in it’s:
You saw it go in
Tilting head to the side
Shaking head a lot
Possible pain while touching the ear
Vocalization (whining, crying, yelping, biting)
Scratching ears a lot
Inflammation/ redness in ear(s)
Sneezing a lot
Bleeding from nose
Pawing/ scratching/ rubbing nose
Removal of Foxtails from these areas requires a certain tool, a method of restraint safe for everyone or sedation, and training in the removal of foxtails by a professional. I have seen people injure their pet trying to do this at home and needed further medical assistance than they would have. Please don’t be that person. Maybe someday I will do a tutorial on how to perform those tasks at home, if I get 100 likes on this post I will do a video.
Mild soap and water (Dawn is always a safe bet, not too concentrated)
Neosporin (with Lidocaine or Pain reliever)
Hopefully, your dog will be tired during a foxtail check since he likely just came from running around outside.
First what you want to do is a thorough once over, do this in the light to make sure you catch every one of them, as just one can cause damage. Light dogs should be extra thorough, foxtails range in hues of gold and can blend in with fur quite easily! Now you can use your fingers for these but for stubborn ones you can use tweezers or hemostats. Be careful to avoid plucking any hair, if this is painful or uncomfortable for your dog this can keep them from trusting you with their paws in the first place. If you think you will need to take a chunk of hair with a foxtail, just shave between the paw pads. It’s much less uncomfortable than plucking healthy fur from between their toes!
Hot places for foxtails to live:
Between the toes, including underneath the paw pad
In the groin area or belly (longhair or double coated dogs)
Neck/ collar area
Once you’re sure you checked everywhere then it’s time to clean up. If there were spots where foxtails pierced the skin then gently clean the area with soap and water and apply a little bit of Neosporin. This should prevent any mild infection and if necessary, you can put a cone on your dog to prevent licking which can cause problems in itself.
Ways to keep foxtails from clinging:
Shave paws, even if it’s just the paw pads underneath (longhaired dogs have long fur here)
Take your pet to the groomer for a Summer cut
Brush your dog (I would never shave Beowolf, so I brush him and keep up with baths to prevent the fur from turning into Velcro)
Do a good once over after your dog comes in from outside
I hope this was helpful and will update it as more tips and tricks come!
I found this small inexpensive instrument kit that has everything you would need for at home minor treatments.
We started the day with so much potential. I got up early and got ready to take the dogs out to see the poppies… again. This time we got a hot tip on a public field with LUSH poppies! So we hit the road up to the 14 North until Avenue J exit. Go west on Avenue J until you pass the solar panel facility and to the right just before it DEAD END. You will see the large meadow of bright orange flowers!
The best part? It was totally empty! There was an elderly couple who were nice and only stayed around to say hello to the dogs, oh yeah, Valentine made a new friend!
I was able to let the dogs out off leash and they could run through the flowers and enjoy themselves. To my surprise, there were already trails made throughout the field, so they were pretty good and kept from being destructive.
Now I had pictures to show and was going to make a cool video and post it but when I uploaded all of my footage to my Enuoda flash drive, the DATA DISAPPEARED! EVERYTHING GONE! My laptop nor my phone can find the file! I have no idea how to fix it, yes I knew that sometimes flash drives don’t last or can break, but all of the ones I had lasted forever! I was using this one strictly for “On the Go” photos, transferring my phone images to my laptop where I can edit them. I was in freak out mode for a while but I’m holding out hope.
If anyone knows how to fix this please comment below! I’ll keep the flash drive and try it here and there by chance it will work, at that time I will upload images to this post!
So I wasn’t going to go down quite that easy, I was in such a bad mood that I lost all my photos that I knew the only thing that would make me happy are to go get more! So that’s what we did, I originally wanted to go back to catch the scene during the Golden Hour, so no time like the present. I loaded up a little after 6 and to my surprise, there wasn’t much traffic! We made it back to the field which was completely empty! Not a single car drove by the entire time we were there, we even stuck around to catch the sunset behind the mountains. The dusk was so pretty that I even got a ton of photos afterward, and yes this time I remembered Slytherin so I got great shots with him!
Just goes to show, anything can happen, but it’s all about what you do afterward that makes the difference. I learned a lesson with my flash drives and now I back up all sessions until the transfer is successful. I didn’t throw my flash drive away and will recover those images someday, but I got some killer shots the 2nd time around and I couldn’t be happier!
Spring has arrived and that means outdoor dogventures are on the rise! If you’re anything like me, spring symbolizes the time to leave the house from hibernation all winter, and into the lure of fresh flowers in the air its enough to pull you out of the sweats and strap on the hiking shoes. With the large number of wanderlusters going out that increases the number of potential dogs tagging along. If you own a dog you know that unless they are on a proper leash (Not a retractable) then they like to stray from the beaten path, this is okay if we were the only ones out in nature, but that’s never the case. Snakes are among the wildlife that you will encounter. There are many different species of snake out there.
For those of you who don’t know, here’s a quick education about snakes:
There are 2 main types of snakes:
Constrictor- These are the pythons and kingsnakes among others. Basically, these snakes catch their prey with their mouth and curl their body around them and constrict, this is how they kill their prey, suffocation. These are what are considered not as dangerous (though snakes of various sizes can be a danger to a small child or dog). These snakes are NOT poisonous, though they do have teeth and can still bite.
Handler showing children a Milksnake at a Charity event
Venomous- These are your rattlesnakes, vipers, and basically anything that kills their prey while remaining at a safe distance. These guys will strike and envenomate their prey and while they die the snake will wait nearby until they can consume them.
You can tell the difference from a distance just by looking at the snake’s head. Constrictors have a narrow head slightly wider than the body, whereas venomous snakes have a wide head at the cheeks because of the pockets of venom that are stored and it’s more triangular.
Most of the time you will HEAR the rattlesnake before you see it, their tail rattle will vibrate and sound like a buzz. All snakes have a striking distance of half their body length; math time, if a snake is 4 feet long and their striking range is half their body length then what is their striking distance? That’s right, 2 feet!
So now that you have a brief overview of the types of snakes you may encounter let’s move on to the dog facts.
We all know dogs use their nose to sniff and they are curious af! Working in a vet clinic I would see many cases of rattlesnake bites and I have personal experience with rattlesnake encounters. Typically dogs would get bit on the face, this is bad news bears! If a dog gets bit in the face the swelling can obstruct their airway through their nose and for the obvious reasons you need to see a vet!
Now some dogs have gotten away with getting bit by a snake and nothing happened, a lot of clients have told me this that their dog was bitten on multiple occasions and never sought medical attention and the dog was fine. This is your own risk! Most of these clients are ranchers and their dogs are ranch dogs, so not to say the owner didn’t love their dog, relationships are different for everyone. Dogs stem from wolves and their immune system is meant for survival so yes perhaps some dogs have a stronger tolerance of snake bites, not to mention every snake is different so please don’t base the decision for medical treatment on that.
**If your dog has been bitten by any snake please go to your nearest emergency veterinary clinic. Note: If you see the snake that bit your dog, please try and identify the snake correctly, I know you may be shaken, but knowing what type of venom you’re dealing with will absolutely help your dog’s medical staff**
How to protect your dog:
There are many ways to protect your dog this spring and summer from all types of snakes, in particular (if you are a California resident) Rattlesnakes!
Vaccines: Yes there is a vaccine for Rattlesnake. There is a company in Woodland, Ca that has formulated a vaccine the aids in the protection of dogs from rattlesnake bites. A common misconception of this vaccine is that it is a “preventative”, it is not. A preventative vaccine is like Rabies, Distemper, Parvo, and Bordetella among some others. These vaccines protect the function of cells from diseases and viruses. However, snake venom is venom, like a poison, which kills the cells in the tissue altogether. Like all vaccines though, it creates memory cells to help the immune system fight off what it can. This vaccine buys your dog valuable time to seek medical treatment when the time is of the essence in a snake bite situation.
I always told clients that it’s better to have the vaccine on board than wish you had it and you didn’t. Since there is no set time frame when the venom passes through the body it’s better not to waste or risk it, especially in the case when you are in the middle of nowhere and must hurry back to the car and race to a hospital.
Call your local clinic to see if they carry the vaccine. If they do please consider getting it for your dog. It’s a 2-vaccine series spread out 4 weeks apart, in some cases there may be a 3rd vaccine for extra large dogs, but if you stay consistent with it then you will only need 1 vaccine per year after that. My dogs are vaccinated and it’s a real peace of mind knowing they are current with the most protection I can give, especially since Beowolf roams freely about the ranch while I work. The best time to get started with the series in February and March as the peak of the snake season is April, however, you can start or booster anytime during the spring and summer, again better to have it and not need it.
*Standard reactions are a lump at the injection site that can appear anywhere between 2 days and 2 weeks from getting the vaccine, more severe cases are abscesses that appear though these are very rare but considered normal. If you see this you can apply a warm compress for 5 minutes a couple times a day and please call to notify your vet of this as they are to be reporting reactions*
Rattlesnake avoidance classes: Yes there are rattlesnake classes that you and your dog can attend together. This is held by various people with usually the assistance of a professional snake handler. Typically the rattlesnake used is alive with its mouth taped for the protection of the dogs in the class. E-collars or electric collars are used as an aid for a deterrent in the training, what the class does is it shows the dog the snake in a natural environment. The rattle begins to vibrate and as the dog pays attention to the snake the trainer hits the button on the E-collar. My dogs have yet to participate in classes, but we hope to get started soon. I know a lot of clients who love the classes and feel it has helped them and their dog in avoiding rattlesnakes.
Antivenom: This is a treatment method that is also time sensitive and must be given IV slowly. This is only administered by a veterinarian and should only be used in the event of an actual bite. Sometimes if medical treatment is immediately after a bite and clinical signs are not sever then you can get away with IV fluids and IV antibiotics and pain killers along with monitoring and not need the antivenom, but most cases do.
You: You should have known that everything with your pet boils down to you! If you know you are going out on a hike with your dog take extra precautions, this isn’t just for your dog’s safety but yours as well. People get bit all the time by stepping on a snake accidentally. So here are just a few ways that you can accomplish this.
Research- Investigate the area where you’re going and see if there are any natural inhabitants to watch out for (rattlesnakes are NOT the only ones out there to watch for).
Tools- Leashes are best with keeping your best bud close to you on the beaten path and out of tall weeds and rummaging through wood piles.
Your eyes- Nature is beautiful no doubt but try to draw your eyes to the ground ahead of you and scan the ground for anyone on the path ahead of you. Scanning for snakes can help you and your dog from accidentally stepping on a snake.
Your ears- For the obvious reasons you want to listen out for rattlesnakes, a lot of times you can hear the rattle before you see the snake.
*I do all these things when I go hiking, also when I am just walking around the ranch. I have a lot of paths that I take to get to the horses to feed them and there are plenty of places to stumble upon a snake. I am constantly scanning not only where I step but the area where Beowolf is walking around too. I am a little more lenient on Beowolf being on the property lose because his instincts are strong and he has a good sense of danger, at least keeping his distance long enough for me to get to him*
The DL on rattlesnakes:
Rattlesnakes and all snakes for that matter are not out to get you, I 100% respect the fear people have of snakes though I cannot personally relate because I love snakes. A snake will not jump out at you, they will not hunt you down or chase you unless you are really pissing it off like I’ve seen on YouTube videos with men taunting cobras. A rattlesnake out in nature will not do that, in fact, I watched a documentary of a snake hunter looking for rattlesnakes and when they found 2, the snake did nothing but curl in a ball and rattle. It wasn’t until they grabbed the snake with the catcher that it even bit the catch pole, snakes feel pain and have fears as well. They would rather stay far away from you for their own safety, it’s not until someone steps on them and messes with them that they even do anything. This is how dogs get bit, sticking their nose in their face and barking pawing or taunting them.
As a cold-blooded animal snakes like to sunbathe, and you will find them in the early mornings when it’s starting to get warm sunbathing on a rock or dirt road. Basically, they spent all night chilling out and now they want to warm up. They typically live under a large pile of wood or stick piles.
Rattlesnakes have natural predators, the most common is Gopher snakes and the California Kingsnake. Kingsnakes are cannibals and will eat other snakes, hence their name. Both Kingsnakes and Gopher snakes are relatively friendly and harmless to people, they do have teeth and can bite, yes, but the risk is much lower. I found a California Kingsnake last year, it slithered into the arena where we were working dogs and I was able to walk right over and pick it up. It tried scurrying away from fear, but I gently picked it up and relocated it somewhere safe (not around working dogs that would kill it). I have not found any gopher snakes around, but these are the GOOD GUYS! I would gladly take them as a gift and release them around the ranch, a natural deterrent, and predator to rattlesnakes is more humane to me. The circle of life. I can’t stand that people kill rattlesnakes, I understand why they do it, but rattlers have been around since before I was born, and nobody will ever completely kill them off.
California Kingsnake- Harmless to people, a natural predator of Rattlesnakes! Pictured above is a juvenile.
Donate them to SCIENCE!
Chances are if you are in an area where Rattlesnakes reside, there is a snake wrangler who will come and catch a snake if you find one and safely capture it. The snake wrangler in my area Bruce Freeman will take the snakes he captures and sends them to where they can be humanely milked for their venom. This venom is a vital ingredient to both the Rattlesnake vaccine and antivenom! Yes in order to successfully create and distribute vaccines and antivenom they need snake venom from live snakes. Rather than waste a life, call someone who will come and give snakes a purpose!
A friend recently found a juvenile rattlesnake that a kid killed for him. He brought it to me so that I could skin it after he used it to train his dogs for avoidance. He’s new to the area and terrified of snakes so I couldn’t blame him for it but still, he didn’t quite know what he was doing. Firstly they put the dead snake in a Clorox bottle and froze it. Crickets. First, the bleach will affect the scent of the snake, which he wanted to let his dogs smell the carcass and shock them to avoid the smell. This isn’t going to work, I told him that if you rely on your dog sniffing a snake and running away then you already lost. By the time a dog got close enough to sniff the snake, his face is already bitten and that’s the worst place you want your dog to get bit. Then the scent will be wrong anyway because it’s been sitting in a bleach bottle.
Next, the most effective method of avoidance classes is the live rattle, the sound of the rattle will carry and will warn a dog before he’s within striking distance. Snakes like to warn you to KEEP away, not just get away, so if the dog hears the rattle chances are they are in a safe distance to warrant a warning, not a bite.
I then explained to him about Bruce Freemanwhich he didn’t know he could call a guy to get the snake for him. I also told him about the work Bruce does and the importance of the live rattlesnakes to the vaccines and antivenom we use to protect our dogs. He had just got his dogs vaccinated and so it was perfect to point out that if not for live rattlesnake venom his dogs wouldn’t be able to get a quality vaccine. I hope next time he calls Bruce instead of letting some idiot kid lie to him that he can train his dogs for rattlesnake avoidance with a dead rattler.
Slytherin hanging out with us and playing with our Valentine’s Day Backdrop at the clinic.
I really hope this post helps you in both understanding the nature of snakes and tips to keep your dogs and yourself safe this summer!
Ok first of all if you sang that headline to the jingle of “We’re off to see the Wizard” then 10 points to Gryffindor!
I don’t know about you but I always wanted to lay in a field of poppies just like Dorothy did, okay she was high from the poppies, but you get my point. there’s something about laying among fragrant flowers. I love the smell of flowers, it’s one of my favorite things to shove my face into a bouquet of wildflowers and just inhale. The sweet earthy smell takes me to a place where nothing else matters. So last weekend when I was driving to Mount Pinos I could see the pre-spring bloom on the hillside and that’s when I got the brilliant idea to go see the poppies. If you haven’t seen the blog about that trip check it out here https://wordpress.com/post/iwildwolves.wordpress.com/26 So I invited my family to go with me and started my research on a short day trip. Here are just a few bullet points of what I look for in my research.
What I usually focus on is:
Location and directions- Because duh.
Price of admission- Whether I’ll need to pay for parking or need a certain amount for entry. Also whether I need cash or can use plastic.
Pet policy- Probably the most important information to research considering their presence is the entire concept. Some places only allow service animals and others allow pets. I also look to see if there is a leash policy, I carry mine regardless but still I find inspiration here and there to let them off leash.
Site policy and rules- In the case of a state flower reservation there are strict guidelines to adhere to for the protection of the flowers and environment.
When it comes to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve the rules are as follows:
Come dressed to hike- Antelope Valley is a desert so it is dry, with lots of sun and very little shade (none on the trails). Bring water. I would also bring a hat and/or sunglasses. Make sure you bring comfortable shoes too.
DO NOT STRAY FROM THE TRAIL- Honestly, all caps is necessary. The California Poppy is a State Flower and damaging the flowers can result in a fine! Not to mention it’s rude to every and Mother Nature.
Parking- Parking is free on the main street but is $10 in the lot.
Don’t pluck the flowers- Refer to number 2.
Only services dogs allowed– Refer to number 2.
To be honest, I originally wanted to go to Walker Canyon Poppy Field by Lake Elizabeth, its a more lush field where the flowers grow a little taller. Dogs are allowed on leash and there are no rules about sticking to the trails. Granted you shouldn’t damage the flowers or pluck them for sake of preserving nature. But I was good with optical illusion and just finding a thick spot of flowers would give me what I needed for pictures. Unfortunately, the family preferred to stay close to home and reviews of traffic were bad, so it was off to the desert again.
“If you love a flower, don’t pick it up. Because if you pick it up it dies and it ceases to be what you love. So if you love a flower, let it be. Love is not about possession. Love is about appreciation.” — Osho
My aunt decided to drive and we all gathered into her vehicle and drove north to the reserve. Traffic wasn’t bad at all, in no time we could see the reserve and we slowed as we got in line to find parking, we were at a consistent low speed and there was plenty of parking on the side of the road. The parking lot was full but that’s okay the walk up to the entrance wasn’t bad and we didn’t have to pay, and there is a big sign at the entrance where you can take a picture; otherwise, you would only get one from your car as you’re waiting in line for the lot. and chances are there were people standing in front of it to get a clear shot.
I put on Beowolf’s service vest and we started our walk, of course, I got a shot of Beowolf in front of the sign. There were portal potties waiting halfway up to the fields which were nice since I had to go already. Afterward, we made it to the entrance where a security guard stopped us, apparently they don’t allow service dogs into the reserve, which is false because it’s the law. To be honest, I don’t think this kid even knew the laws, he was likely high and got hired on seasonal for the spring bloom. So I cut him a break, I reassured him that Beowolf is a seizure alert dog and if I for whatever reason have a seizure he is to notify me so I can sit or make it to safety. I don’t get them all the time, but enough to wanna ensure my safety as well as others, it’s also genetic my sister gets them worse than me. The guy finally backed off when I reassure him my dog is trained and won’t “stray from the trail”, which when I turned around and head up the hill the first thing you see is people sitting in the middle of a bunch of flowers! He was harassing me when there were people behind him doing what he was already accusing my dog of doing!? (For the record Beowolf didn’t step foot off the trail and was gentle with flowers he sniffed.)
Nobody was policing the trampling and plucking of flowers, blatant disrespect of nature to be honest. Being a lover of nature preservation it broke my heart to see the defilement of precious flowers and not say anything, but oh I wanted to and my personality won’t allow me to talk under my breath so I let the comments slip here and there.
We walked along the trails, it was beautiful but there were lots of people, I think there were more people there than flowers. There were more weeds than anything, and the ground was very dry and barren. I couldn’t even really do optical illusion photography because there weren’t enough flowers.
For it to be a super bloom it was really a letdown, but overall it was a nice day. I was dying for water, I never got an opportunity to fill my water bottle and it was a hike at first leading up to the peak. I decided to go check out the information center and see if they sold water, or in the least had a water fountain.
The information center was smaaaall. But it was clean and very nicely put together, adorned with beautiful pictures and displays. He got our fill of water and I restocked my water bottle and did a little more walking, but there really wasn’t much reason to go down a lot of the trails. In most of the park, there were huge fields where there were NO flowers at all, I’m sure we’re still early in the season but I came today.
Bored, hot and tired we went and rested by the picnic area where my cousin Mia and I waited for my Aunt to rendezvous, as they went on the more extensive hike earlier. I’m definitely going to make another trip to the poppy fields, but next time I’m going to Walker Canyon Poppy fields. Traffic I can deal with if the environment I’m going to is nicer, all I want is flowers as far as the eye can see, not dry desert.
By the way, I don’t mean to offend anyone who is a desert lover, I can definitely see the beauty to the desert and all it’s living beings, botanical, mammalian and reptilian. Just I live in the desert mountains of Santa Clarita and I love lush GREEN!
I would rate this trip a 2.5/5.
Depending on the time of the season you can probably see more or fewer flowers, as of this time of year and post weeks of rain and a recent week of sun there was only 18% flowers on the fields. There were actually more patches of flowers off the side of the road, lush and thick where everyone was getting pictures in. Although if given the option, I should have had my aunt drop me off there so I can see the flowers and they can pick me up when they leave the reserve. Oh well, future lesson.
Roads: Pretty much paved the entire way up. Clean and free of rocks.
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Beowolf didn’t need his boots for this one, but any later in the season, I would start carrying them on the trails. I’ll be in the market soon for new dog boots for both Valentine and Beowolf, I’ll do a blog about that and post it HERE for you to see. Subscribe to my page to be updated when I post that. I also had a hat and a knitted sweater.
Weather: Caliente! Ok no, it wasn’t, it was hot b the sun was beating down on you but it was a little windy which cooled you off.
Hope this helps you with questions you would have about going to Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve. Subscribe to my page to see when I post about my next trip to the Walker Canyon Poppy Fields.
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