Petidote of the Day 2012-06-29
Foxtail, or ripgut brome
What, you were expecting a cute puppy picture? Next week! Today, is icky weeds for pets day, featuring the notorious foxtail, aka ripgut brome. Has there ever been a more appropriate name than "ripgut"? I don't think so.
Those delicate looking seed heads can be lethal to animals. The sharp, pointed ends burrow into ears, mouth, paws, and fur -- not to mention socks and shoes -- and cause all kinds of pain and infection. They can puncture the skin and work their way through an animal's body, with very nasty results. Oh, and the seed heads have some sort of stickery stickers on them so they can latch on to just about anything. It's easy for us (us = humans) to tell if we've got one stuck in a sock and pull it out. And believe me, you WILL want to pull it out; it's like having a needle stuck in your foot. Animals can't do that, but they will lick their paws, scratch their ears, cough or choke, signaling something's wrong. If the seed heads are eaten, they won't break down in the stomach, hence the 'ripgut' part of the name. In other words, these grasses are to be avoided at all costs.
But wait ... there are more wild plants that don't go well with pets, including California burclover, tribulus terrestris, and others. I'm not sure how many of these are found outside the southwest, but there are probably similar things in different regions. If you see your dog or cat licking, scratching, limping, or shaking his/her head, check to see it it's a plant-related pest that you can remove before it requires a trip to the vet. Much easier to stay away from these kinds of evil doers than to deal with them after they're embedded.
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