It’s county fair time – and watch for foxtails - The Gilroy Dispatch: Pete Keesling

It’s county fair time – and watch for foxtails

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Posted: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 1:00 pm

Every year, it’s the last, but certainly not the least. We’re talking county fair time once again. And this final one is the San Benito County Fair at the Bolado Park Fairgrounds, just south of Hollister.

Even if you went to another county fair this year, you really ought to make it to this one. Lots of animals, food and fun. And a bunch of good old-fashioned entertainment today through Sunday. Yours truly will be there sometime during the festivities. I’ll be the guy with the corndog and cotton candy in each hand. Let’s get together and talk pets and eat some tasty fair food!


We just had our labradoodle, Artemus, into the vet for a swelling on his back. It was soft and it hurt when we touched it. The vet lanced and drained the fluid, but it came back two weeks later. So we made another trip to the animal hospital. This time, the vet found a second little blister three inches away, near his rump. She probed the second spot with a long instrument and pulled out a foxtail three inches deep from right under the first swelling! The foxtail had traveled that far under his skin. I was amazed. You should remind everyone of the danger these weeds make for our pets.


You just did. And Artemus is one lucky dog, because that foxtail could have done a lot more damage. It only migrated under his skin and didn’t dive deep into his abdominal cavity. Every year, veterinarians remove thousands of foxtails from between toes, in ears and eyes, and under the skin. But occasionally, one of these pesky weeds makes its way deep into the chest or abdomen or worse. Deep penetration like this is dangerous, sometimes even fatal because of the infection carried with that foreign body. I’ve seen a foxtail in the bladder of a dog, and yes, even one in the lumbar spine causing severe pain and fever.

Foxtail season will last a few more weeks until we get some good rain. Until then, check your dog’s fur and feet every single day. Better yet, get out there and clear your yard of these dangerous weeds. You just might save yourself an expensive vet bill.


How many different dog breeds are there? How many cat breeds?


There are more than 490 different breeds of dogs in the world, based on differences in appearance, behavior and size. But not all of these are recognized by the kennel clubs of different countries. For example, the American Kennel Club acknowledges more than 160 different breeds as legitimate, while the Canadian, New Zealand and United Kennel Clubs recognize at least 200 different breeds.

Now how about those kitty-cats? Well, it depends on where you go for reference. The International Cat Association (TICA) recognizes 55 different breeds for competition at cat shows. The International Progressive Cat Breeders Alliance (IPCBA) recognizes more than 80 breeds. But the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) gives recognition to only 41 breeds. The CFA has stubbornly refused to admit certain “wild stock” breeds like the Savannah or Bengal, which are listed by TICA and IPCBA.


Dr. Pete, do you have a favorite pet? You’ve talked about your family animals over the years. Which one was your favorite?


We’ve been blessed with lots of animal companions. Besides many dogs and cats, there have been horses, burros, cows, sheep, goats, pigs, a llama, rabbits, cavies, ducks, chickens ... you get the idea.

I have no real favorite out of all of these. But I do have some favorite stories, many of which I’ve shared over the years. And that’s where we’ll leave off this week. Next time, I’ll share a story about a kitty-cat that changed the life of someone I know. And how about you? Send me a story about one of your pets and we’ll put it here for others to enjoy. I look forward to hearing some of your pet tales. ’Til next time ...

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