Reminder: How to Protect Your Dog from Foxtails

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Neighbor Hugh of Precitaville writes:

With the beautiful weather we’ve been having, the foxtails are out in full force on the hill.  I’m now pulling at least one out of my dog’s paws after each walk.

You ran a great article in 2013 about the dangers of foxtails.  I remember reading it and then literally the next day having a foxtail go up our dog’s nose. When he got home and started sneezing blood, I knew exactly what was going on and was able to get him to the vet quickly. I’m quite sure that without your post I would have been a lot more freaked out. Since they’re back in force and a lot earlier this season perhaps you could run this post again?

Great idea. Foxtails are showing up early this year because of the droughtpocalypse, so let’s reprise the foxtail wisdom shared by Bernal neighbor and veterinarian Nicolette Zarday for Bernal canines (and the humans who love them):

If you own a dog, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. If you have a dog and you don’t know about foxtails, keep reading.

Foxtails are small plant awns or seed-bearing structures, usually of the genus Hordeum. Starting in the Spring and continuing through the Summer, plants shed them indiscriminately. We started to see a steady flow of foxtail cases in our veterinary practice mid-April, right after several days of heavy winds which helped yank the awns from their plants and spread them far and wide.

Foxtails are shaped like a badminton birdie, but with a pointy instead of a round end. They also have tiny barbs along their shafts. All this adds up to a unidirectional migration pattern; they go in but they don’t come out. The most common problems we see with foxtails are wounds in the paws. Often the owner will just notice a swelling between the toes and think it is a growth or a tumor. After piercing the skin and entering the body, foxtails can actually migrate up the leg, if left untreated. We also see foxtails in noses, ears, and eyes very often.

The most dangerous exposure occurs when dogs inhale them. This typically happens if a dog is porpoising through a field of foxtail plants and inhales one, mouth wide open. As the dog takes a deep breath, the foxtail bypasses all the normal barriers, so they can end up in the lower airways of the lungs. These can be difficult to find, require extensive and expensive treatment and surgery, and are often fatal. Other places foxtails have been found, in many cases post-mortem, include the brain, spinal cord, urinary tract, and abdomen.

Fortunately for dog owners, foxtails usually represent a minor health hazard, although the expense of having the foxtail removed by a veterinarian (usually under sedation or anesthesia) can be considerable. For us vets in northern California, foxtails are simultaneously the bane of our existence and a significant source of income during the spring and summer. I even heard about one veterinarian who owned a boat named “Foxtail.”

So, what can you do to protect your dog?

  • If it is a long-haired dog, keep the coat short during the Summer, especially the feet. There are groomers who will do a “foxtail cut” if requested.
  • After each walk, check your pet thoroughly and remove any plant material.
  • If your dog suddenly starts sneezing uncontrollably, squinting, or shaking its head during or immediately after a walk, there is an excellent chance a foxtail is involved. Call your veterinarian’s office.
  • Do not allow your dog to run through fields of tall grass that contain these plant awns. (This is what I worry about most.)
  • Check your backyard for plants that shed foxtails, and remove the plants completely.

There are plenty of these nasty little dudes on Bernal Hill, so keep an eye out!

Related/unrelated PS: Last week, Neighbor Nicolette sent Bernalwood this urgent personal appeal:

Geoff and I are looking to buy a house (we’re currently renting) in Bernal. Our timing is terrible. If you hear of any of your neighbors who plan to put their place on the market, we’d love it if you would put us in touch.

PHOTOS: Tabletop samples, Nicole Zarday. Wild foxtail from UCSC

 

Bernal Neighbors Co-Found High-Tech Veterinary House Call Startup

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Against the backdrop our our recent neighborly conversation about pet etiquette and urgent pet care, Bernalwood learns that a team of Bernal neighbors have banded together to launch VetPronto, a new pet-tech veterinary startup.

Neighbor Joe writes:

Hi. My name is Joe Waltman and I recently moved to Bernal Heights (north slope) with my wife (Lindsay) and two kids (Maddie – 6 months and Will – 2.5 years).

I wanted to let pet-owning Bernalese know about our company, a house-call veterinary service called VetPronto.

We would like to think that house calls are more convenient for the owner and less stressful for the pet. If your furry friends need to see the doctor, please consider a VetPronto house call. And, if you have any questions about your pet’s health, we provide free answers from licensed veterinarians here.

Folks seem to be digging it on the Yelp, and VetPronto even got a fancy write-up on TechCrunch:

A new company looking to make it more convenient for pet owners to see their local veterinarian, VetPronto, is now live in San Francisco. A member of the Y Combinator Winter 2015 class, VetPronto is offering on-demand house call veterinary services for dogs and cats, allowing customers to skip a visit to the clinic or just see a vet at a more convenient time – like on evenings and weekends, for example.

The company was founded last spring by Brian Hur, Joe Waltman, and Soren Berg, the latter two who previously sold their email marketing company to Twitter. Meanwhile, Hur is a former Microsoft systems engineer-turned-vet.

“Once I got into the veterinary industry, I noticed there were a lot of gaps in technology all the way through,”Hur explains. “And since getting out and practicing medicine, I’ve really focused on bridging those gaps and making sure that veterinary medicine can be upgraded for the dot-com era.”

A practicing vet since 2011, Hur did the first 100 or so VetPronto appointments himself, before the company contracted with other area veterinarians. Today, it has five vets working part-time and is soon adding a sixth to serve its customers in San Francisco, which is the startup’s main geographic focus for now.

Here’s the pitch video:

PHOTO: Neighbor Joe Waltman and family, via VetPronto

Ask Bernalwood: Is Stealing from Recycling Bins OK? Is Precita Park On-Leash?

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Neighbor Elizabeth is a newcomer to the Dominion of Bernalwood, but she arrives in our lands with a sincere desire to embrace the ways and customs of the Bernalese people. Specifically, she has two questions:

My name is Elizabeth, and my husband and I (and our two dogs) moved to the neighborhood just about 5 weeks ago. We are loving it so far! I have a couple of random questions and I figured I would send them your way, if you don’t mind…

Recycling Theft — this seems to happen extremely frequently. I see the same people doing it like clockwork. Recology makes it sound like it is a huge deal, is illegal, etc. What is the community’s position towards it? Are we indifferent to it happening? I know there are MANY more issues the SFPD has to worry about… But I wanted to get someone else’s perspective. From what I have read it does ultimately drive up the cost to residents, not to mention it is pretty creepy.

Precita Park — I have noticed signs everywhere stating that dogs are to be on a leash… But no dogs ever are, in fact it seems to be exactly where dog owners bring their dogs to take them OFF the leash. I don’t feel comfortable letting my dogs off-leash given it’s a new area, proximity to traffic, etc. — and it can be a little frustrating when an off-leash dog runs up to my dog who is on a leash.

Two very random questions, if you have any thoughts, I would love to hear them.

Elizabeth sent her questions yesterday afternoon, but last night she sent this alarming follow-up:

How incredibly ironic that I emailed you today… Our beagle was attacked tonight by an off-leash dog in Precita Park. (She is currently at the emergency vet having surgery.)

Yikes.

Formally, Elizabeth’s questions are matters of law, but in actual practice the answers are determined by Bernal custom and social norms. And since opinions on such things may differ, it seems appropriate to open the questions up so all Bernalese can provide Neighbor Elizabeth with the answers she seeks.

Please take to the comments, and with kindness and Bernal generosity in your heart, please answer her questions based on your own neighborly expertise.

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

Four-Legged Foodies Rejoice: Fancy Pet Food Store Opening on Precita Park

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The commercial space on the northwest corner of the Precita/Alabama intersection has seen many transitions in recent years.

That wasn’t always the case; For around 100 years, it was just a typical San Francisco corner store. That changed in 2011, when the corner store closed. Then it became an ill-fated children’s art center and gym, which was followed in by an ill-fated pet grooming shop.

Now the wheel has turned again, and 433 Precita is set to become… a natural pet food store!

The new place is called Jeffrey’s Natural Pet Food, and Bernalwood is told it will offer a mix of house-made and locally produced organic dog and cat cuisine, in all your favorite flavors. Like, for example, Canine Beef, Yams, and Broccoli

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… or Feline Turkey and Polenta:

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The full menu of Jeffrey’s house-made food is right here.

The About page tells us:

Jeffrey’s Natural Pet Foods is the best source of raw, organic and all natural pet foods, treats, supplies and information in San Francisco. At Jeffrey’s, we make our own locally sourced, fresh, handmade pet foods and treats.

Jeffrey’s Fresh Meat Pet Foods are prepared five days a week, using fresh and locally sourced ingredients. Our food contains only the highest quality ingredients: raw, free range meats free from hormones and antibiotics, fresh organic vegetables, vitamins and minerals. Our food is a great choice for your dog or cat.

The Precita Park outpost will be Jeffrey’s third; the other two are in The Castro and North Beach.

If all goes according to plan, Jeffrey’s Natural Pet Foods will be open this weekend. No word on plans for weekend brunch service; or if they do wedding, bar mitzvah, or quinceañera catering; or if reservations are required for parties of more than six.

Meanwhile, if you listen carefully, you might just hear the sound of a certain change-averse Bernal neighbor‘s head imploding just a few blocks away: “Gourmet organic pet food?  Whaaaaaaaaaat???!”

PHOTOS: Top, Telstar Logistics. Below, Jeffrey’s Natural Pet Foods

The Last Woof: Precita Bark Has Closed For Good

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Despite some initial excitement and a previous, temporary closure that was intended to revitalize the business, it looks like Precita Bark, the salon-style dog washery on the eastern end of Precita Park at Alabama, has closed for good, as the signage and interior fixtures have been removed.

Dog owners, please share your postmortems.

No word yet on what might come next to this historic corner store location. This is a sweet spot across from the playground and the Precita Park Cafe, however, so in the right hands it could be an innnnnteresting opportunity to further activate the joyfully reactivated Precita Park ecosystem.

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

You’ll Be Shocked — Shocked! — by KRON4’s Investigation of Precita Park

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KRON-4 reporter Stanley Roberts investigated Precita Park in Bernal Heights recently. His reporting yielded conclusive proof that there are many off-leash dogs in Precita Park (despite what the sign says), and that visitors to Precita Park should watch out for poop. Journalism!

For more detail, lets go to KRON’s exclusive report. Over to you in Precita Park, Stanley:

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

Good Samaritans Seek Owner of Doggie Found in Precita Park

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Neighbor Rebekah is searching for the owner of this wayward doggie:

On the full-moon evening of Friday the 13th, a dog was found roaming Precita Park. She looks like a Manchester Terrier or Min-Pin and appears to be about 9-18 months old, approx 25 lbs. Sweet and very scared with no microchip or collar. For now she is being fostered by Precita Park’s dogwalker-whisperer, Luke. If anyone recognizes this cutie, could they call Animal Care and Control or (415) 518-3984?

If the owner is not located, the dog will likely become available for adoption.