Interview with the Foxtail

Original drawing by Dr. John Bialasik, DVM; 2019


Hello Madam Foxtail, thank you for taking the time to speak with us today. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Thank you for having me here today, and please call me, Foxy. I’m a little spikelet whose generations have been blowing around these parts for ages.

Madam Foxtail, I mean Foxy, can you tell us a little bit about what is happening this spring and summer?

I’ve waited all winter and have just been blooming to spread my awns and soak up some summer sunshine.  Over the winter I attended a solstice seminar to help me reach my potential and become more engaged throughout the community.

Foxy, what type of comments and remarks do you hear from the pet owners?

Oh, my favorite is “My dog won’t stop shaking his head”. That’s because I love to get into the ear canal and just tickle…tickle.

Another great one is, “ AHHHHHHH CHOOOOOOOO”. And that just goes on, while the dog is pawing at the nose or rubbing his face. When I’m inhaled in the nasal cavity that creates a lot of sneezing and irritation.

I like to get in between the dog’s paws. That is a great sweaty place to hang out. The dog starts licking a draining tract I leave behind and the next thing I hear from the owner is, “Not Again!!!”

Foxy, who are some of the other groups you have collaborated with in the area?

I’m usually hanging out single, but there are times I get together with some girlfriends and stir up some real trouble. Meadow, a little grass seedling, can be pretty rambunctious. Last year I spent a lot of time hanging out with Garrison Grass but he turned out to be a creep.

Can you share with us some of your biggest fears and concerns you have when first starting out?

I always worry that when your dog is shaking, rubbing, or licking the affected area where I have concealed myself, the owner will discover me and take their dog to the veterinarian.

I just need a couple days ignored to really be a menace leading to redness of the skin or eye; and a stinky infection or non-healing wound to develop.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today. Are there any last inspirational thoughts or words to share with us?

Long live summer.


Protect your pet from foxtails.

Look between your pet’s toes, inside their nose and ears, and also through their fur.

(You’ll want to use a fine-toothed comb if your dog has long fur.)

If you find a foxtail, remove and discard it immediately.


Squash Heartworm…

Original Drawing by Dr. John Bialasik, DVM; 2019


Mosquitoes are an essential part of the heartworm disease cycle. Irrigation, commercial and residential expansion has expanded the habitat for mosquitoes. These environmental changes and the movement of animals (wildlife and pets) support the potential for mosquito transmission of heartworm disease.


What causes Heartworm Disease?


Heartworm is a parasitic worm (Dirofilaria immitis) that can grow quite large, 14 inches. The adult worm resides in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels. The parasitic worms lead to severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body. Adult female heartworms produce microscopic baby worms called microfilaria that circulate in the bloodstream. Mosquitoes ingest the microfilaria circulating in an infected dog. Once ingested the small parasite continues to develop. The mosquito bites another dog and inoculates the animal with the small larval heartworm. The larval heartworm then migrates to the heart and matures into an adult worm.


What are the signs of Heartworm Disease?


Heartworm disease is a serious, progressive disease. In an early infection, your dog may present healthy with no apparent signs that infection is developing. As the infection persists the following clinical signs may present:

  • Mild persistent cough,
  • Reluctance to exercise,
  • Fatigue after moderate activity,
  • Decreased appetite, and weight loss.

As heartworm disease progresses to advanced stages, your dog may develop heart failure.


Prevention and Testing


Heartworm disease can be prevented with the regular and appropriate use of preventive medications. These medications are prescribed by your veterinarian and are available as a once-a-month chewable or a once-a-month topical.


It takes at least 6 months for a dog to test positive after it has been infected with heartworms. Puppies under 7 months of age can be started on heartworm prevention without a heartworm test. Adult dogs over 7 months of age and previously not on a preventive need to be tested prior to starting heartworm prevention. Testing requires a small collection of blood. This is evaluated for the adult female heartworm antigen.


Should I Continue Heartworm Prevention During Winter?


Yes, year-round prevention is recommended.

Urban sprawl has created “heat islands,” or areas that retain a warmer climate in our communities. These areas then support mosquito vectors during colder months. Your neighborhood may have a greater prevalence of heartworm disease than you realize. Stray and neglected dogs and wildlife such as coyotes, wolves, and foxes can be carriers of heartworms.


I Missed My Dog’s Heartworm Prevention for 2 Months, What Should I Do?


Contact your veterinarian, and re-start your dog on monthly preventive. It is then recommended to retest your dog 6 months later. Remember, the reason for re-testing is that heartworms must be approximately 7 months old before the infection can be diagnosed.

Close Encounters of the Feline Kind

Original Drawing by Dr. John Bialasik, DVM; 2019


Close Encounters of the Feline Kind…
Has your cat’s behavior recently changed with no explanation? In a recent
publication released from the FBI (Feline Bureau of Investigation) an astounding
number of indoor and outdoor cats were reported missing in the last 9 years. Of the
fortunate cats recovered and returned home, families reported strange behaviors
and events displayed by their kitty. While the discussion of alien encounter and
abduction is not being proven with these cases, the probability and possibility is a
strong theory.
If your cat has recently gone missing and then returned, we encourage watching for
the following behaviors:
You may feel that your cat is always in your head, a constant meowing may
penetrate your sleep, day dreaming and break through your concentration. An urge
to constantly fill and refill the food bowl may be experienced. You may notice
yourself purchasing tuna fish at the grocery store for no apparent reason.
Many family members experienced disturbed sleep and paranoia. They described
intense feelings of being watched. Other owners woke to find their cats staring at
them through the night.
Electronic Anomalies
Computer crashes and glitches may increase with the return of your cat. The “Geek
squad” reported an increase to the 4 th power of cell phones failing, power cords
splitting and light fixtures breaking. Cities with large populations of cats have
experienced unexplained surges through their entire power grids occurring during
times of feline disappearance and reappearance.
Paranormal Activity
More frightening, be aware of sudden bursts of activity, scientifically referred to as
freak-outs, displayed by your cat. This may present as sudden and explosive jumps,
running, or skidding through the home; hissing at unseen objects, and/or hair
standing on end and dancing on toe tips.
Be cautious, the government may want your cat.
If you have a problem…if no one else can help…and you can find us…maybe you can hire…”A” Street Animal Clinic.
Microchip Your Pet for a Safe and Speedy Recovery!

Lower Urinary Tract Disease

Original Drawing by Dr. John Bialasik, 2019

During seasonal and drastic weather changes, it is not uncommon to see an increase in urinary tract infections with cats and dogs. In an otherwise healthy individual with normal urinary tract anatomy and function, a bacterial infection is often the leading cause of urinary disease in dogs. In cats the initiating factor is often inflammation of the urinary bladder initiated by stressors.


The urinary tract is composed of the kidneys, ureters, the urinary bladder and urethra. The kidneys function to filter urine and moves urine through the ureter, a tube that carries urine to the urinary bladder. The urinary bladder holds urine and allows for excretion from the body through the urethra. When a pet is said to have a urinary tract infection it is often referring to an infection within the urinary bladder. With persistent infections of the bladder or left untreated these infections can progress to affect the kidneys.


Clinical signs suggestive of a urinary tract infection include the following:

  • Urinating frequently in multiple place or inappropriate places (outside the litter box)
  • Urinating small amounts at a time
  • Inability to hold urine
  • Urine that appears dark, discolored, blood tinged or foul smelling
  • Excessive licking of the genitalia


Other diseases and illnesses such as diabetes or kidney abnormalities, bladder stones or incontinence can present with similar signs. For this reason, it is important to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to have your pet examined.


With male cats, abnormal urinary signs can be much more concerning and lead to a potential emergency. Male cats can develop a condition in which their urethra for excreting urine from the bladder becomes obstructed or “blocked.” Mucus, urinary crystals and even tiny bladder stones can collect in the narrow male cat urethra preventing urine flow. Unable to urinate, pressure builds in the bladder leading to damage to the bladder and critical, life-threatening electrolyte imbalances.


A male cat that is straining to urinate, vocalizing while urinating, or unable to pass urine is considered an emergency.


Mo’s Winter Safety Tips

Original drawing by Dr. John Bialasik, DVM; 2019

Wintertime is here…


The weather can change drastically through the next months, so, monitor it closely and make adjustments. If it is too cold for you, it’s likely to be too cold for your pets. When pets are left outdoors without appropriate protection, pets can freeze, suffer frostbite, become disoriented, lost, stolen or injured.


Mo has some important tips and reminders from the ASPCA to keep your pets warm and safe.


Prevent Itchy, Flaking Skin

When pets are going in and out of the home, from cold temperatures into the dry heat, their coats and skin can become dry and irritated. Keep your home humidified and dry your wet pets as soon as they come indoors.


Reduce Washing and Bathing

This is not the best time for baths. When necessary, be sure to completely dry them and limit the times this is done. Frequent baths can remove essential oils for protecting the skin. If your dog or cat requires frequent baths, ask about a moisturizing or non-rinsing shampoo.



Remove clinging ice crystals from between paws. These can become irritating and painful.


Antifreeze (ethylene glycol)

This is still toxic. Be sure to clean up any spills and avoid leaving containers lying around.



A cozy bed with a clean, dry and warm blanket is perfect. If outside, be sure there is shelter protecting from drafts, precipitation and the cold. Feeding a little bit more for outdoor pets can provide much-needed calories. Make sure there is plenty of drinking water available. Check the water frequently to make sure it is not frozen.


Dogs Off-leash

Dogs can lose their scent in the snow and easily become lost or disoriented. Make sure your pets’ id tag is current and if they have a microchip it is currently registered.


Ice Melts Caution

These are commonly made of different salts. The most common side effect seen when your pet ingests ice melts from treated snow or licking their paws is vomiting and diarrhea. How much they consume, size and health can lead to other concerns such as electrolyte imbalances.

  • Avoid your pet eating any snow treated with ice melt.
  • Wipe your pet’s paws when coming in from outside.
  • Paw wax or doggie booties can provide an excellent barrier to minimize risk to sensitive paws.
  • Keep ice melt packages out of paws reach