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Ticks, snakes and fox tails, oh my!

March 19, 2013

If you’re like me and love the outdoors, one of the perks of having a dog is taking them hiking. Although my dogs no longer go hiking with me due to their age and various orthopedic problems, I frequently hike with client dogs along horse trails in some of our “nature” areas.


While spring can be a great time to get out and enjoy nature’s finest, it can also pose some hazards to your dog.

Spring is the start of tick season, as ticks start emerging with the warmer weather. Combine that with the lush growth of green grass and they have a perfect place to wait for a host to come by. After a morning hike this weekend, I pulled four ticks off one of the dogs. Your best defense is to keep your dogs on a flea and tick preventive.

Spring is also the time when snakes become more active and baby snakes start hatching. Fortunately in my area there’s only one kind of snake we need to worry about, the rattlesnake.


Look closely…

One day last spring, I was out hiking with Bentley along the horse trails when I noticed a rattlesnake stretched across the trail. Fortunately Bentley was on leash and I was able to pull him back just before he walked on top of it. It was a scary reminder to always keep your eyes open, even in the middle of the city. If you spend a lot of time hiking in rural areas you may want to consider an anti venom vaccine. Although it’s not a cure if your dog gets bit, it will buy you some time before you can get to the vet.

While I was hiking this weekend, I noticed that the fox tails are starting to come to head. Although they are green now, it won’t be long before they dry out and become a real danger to your pet.


Whenever possible, avoid areas that contain fox tails. If you can’t avoid them, be sure to inspect your dog thoroughly after your hike. Dogs with longer or thicker fur are more likely to pick up fox tails, but all dogs are in danger. Be especially vigilant about checking their ears and nose. If your dog starts sneezing after hiking through an area with fox tails, it’s a good chance he may have one up his nose.

The added dangers of hiking in the spring doesn’t mean you should stop altogether. Use caution on the trails, and inspect your dogs afterward for ticks and fox tails. Most importantly, go out and enjoy some quality time together!

One Comment
  1. I would be too scared to jog in an area where rattlesnakes dwell. I have a cat, and ticks are a huge problem. Since the warm weather started he comes home with a tick every single day.

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