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Calgary woman issues warning about dangers of Foxtails to pets

Last Updated Jul 27, 2021 at 3:42 pm MDT

Close up of foxtail grass flower

CALGARY — A southeast Calgary woman is issuing a warning to pet owners about the dangers of a weed that can severely harm their beloved animals.

Dana Burrows lost her dog last year after it ingested a Foxtail — a weed many dog walkers and pet owners would never know could cause such harm.

The barred end of the plant lodged into her dog’s throat, then made its way up to the dog’s intestines and created a backlog.

That’s not the only way a pet can be harmed either. If the Foxtail gets stuck in your pet’s paw or nose, it can make its way into the bloodstream and travel to its brain or heart.

“Once it starts to grow, it almost looks like wheat and then the little bits fall off, each stem can have 1,000 barbs and they blow around like dandelion fluff, so our yards were full last year,” said Burrows.

She says not only are Foxtails dangerous, but it’s a hassle to try and get rid of them — and they also aren’t on the province or city’s list of noxious weeds, so it’s not being managed.

“The thing with them is they don’t decompose, it doesn’t matter if you spray them after they’ve .. it’s called bloom, once they start looking pretty like weed, it’s called big bloomed. So, if you don’t spray prior to them blooming the only thing that will get rid of them is fire,” said Burrows. “Spraying them does absolutely nothing, it kills the plant underneath which then gets weak and breaks off and then the barbs just fly everywhere anyways.”

She says she’s not the only one in her community who has dealt with the issue.


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One person she knows spent close to $16,000 for surgery to try and remove the Foxtail from their dog’s stomach.

Burrows even worked with her kids to try and clean up an alley near their house, pulling in 19 bags of the weed, but even then, there was hardly a difference because the wind just blew more in.

She says she has reached out to the community developer Hopewell but not much of a solution has been offered, and she also tried contacting both levels of government to see what they can do but it seems nobody wants to take responsibility for the weed.

660 NEWS has reached out to the province and Hopewell for response on the issue but have yet to receive a response from either.