Then the not-so-fun part

…continued from previous post

After watching Opie trying to ingest as much greenery as he could find, I watched him throw it all back up. Opie enjoys eating small amounts of long-bladed grass and it will pass through his system without any issues. I’ve also seen him frantically eat grass one or twice and throw up his food, I’m assuming, when he had an upset stomach. I figured this must be one of those times until I saw him throw up and immediately start grabbing at more greenery. I pulled him away and took him back to Rover where I gave him some hydrogen peroxide mixed with ice cream (tip for dog owners: carry hydrogen peroxide, it’s a safe way to make a dog vomit; the ice cream makes it palatable) in case he had eaten something poisonous. After vomiting again, I brought him back into Rover and watched him carefully.

His throat muscles would spasm sporadically and when he would eat food, it would spasm more often. However his disposition seemed completely normal so I was completely stumped and a bit (ok, a lot) freaked out. The worst part of this whole thing is that the closest city was about 45 minutes away and we had no cell signal or internet connection at the National Park. We bundled Opie into the car and headed for the closest city, hoping that we could find a vet that would see us.

Once we got cell signal in town, we started frantically calling vets in the area. None were able to see us, and they said the closest emergency vet was in San Jose, another hour away! Opie’s disposition still hadn’t changed, with the exception of the throat spasms he seemed fine so I figured it was not life-threatening. We spread our search further and finally found a vet that would see us, about 30 minutes further in Gilroy. Dr. Kayashima at Orchard Veterinary Hospital listened to me and watched Opie closely. After a few minutes, she thought he might have something caught in his tonsils and was trying to eat anything to dislodge it. Apparently in California, foxtail grass is a real menace to dogs’ throats, nostrils, lungs, and feet. The foxtail grass dries and the seeds break apart but they have small barbs that hang on tenaciously and can work themselves deeper into the body. She would have to sedate him and use a scope to check his tonsils and throat to see if there was anything lodged there. They rescheduled the rest of their afternoon appointments so she could go straight into surgery with Opie.

We grabbed some food and came back an hour and a half later to a furiously barking Opie (apparently the sedation drugs really made him hyper after he woke up). Dr. Kayashima did not find foxtail seeds but she did find a lot of sharp long grass blades lodged in his throat. She pulled them all out and scoped down his esophagus to make sure nothing else was stuck.

Opie was given a clean bill of health and we got to take him home with us that evening. I’m definitely pleased with how quickly the clinic was able to get Opie on the table and fix his issue. It was pricey, as expected since it’s surgery. I guess we’ll be eating bread and water for a while to balance the budget!

Opie relaxing on the couch.

Opie relaxing on the couch

It appears that Opie takes after his Mom when it comes to drugs. I have terrible nausea to anything stronger than Advil and apparently Opie is the same way. He spent the entire night just laying in a sphinx position with his head up. When he would get tired and his head dropped down to the bed, it would only be for a few minutes, then his head would come back up and he would be drooling with nausea again. We ended up kicking Mike onto the couch to sleep (since one of us would have to drive Rover the next morning) while I spent the night keeping Opie calm. The meds finally left his system at 5am and both of us were able to catch a couple hours of sleep before morning.

It took Opie almost two days to recover from the drugs, lack of sleep, and soreness of the scoping. I was sad to see Opie so subdued but once he was fully recovered and energized again, I kind of missed the subdued Opie! He has fully recovered at this point and needless to say, his grass-eating privileges have been completely revoked indefinitely.

Back in Virginia, we didn’t have these types of grasses but apparently in California, it’s a well-known danger for dogs. Sheesh, each new state has given us new challenges for the dogs. Sand spurs in SC, FL, and TX; javelina in TX and NM; pneumonia in TX; rattlesnakes and lizards in AZ; and now grass in CA. At least while the dogs haven’t escape unscathed, they’ve been able to recover after each adventure.

If you’re planning to visit California with dogs, be sure to read this article from the L.A. Times for more information!


  1. Cindy   •  

    Poor Opie! I was actually wondering if he had eaten a bad squeasel. I’m glad things are looking up!

    • Kat   •     Author

      LOL, I got someone else to use the word squeasel! :) Course that means we’ll just have something else to giggle about the next time we see each other. Hope RI is FINALLY getting warmer!

  2. Dave & Diane   •  

    Oh man!!! That’s terrible but we are glad he’s on the mend. And thanks for the heads up.

    • Kat   •     Author

      Thanks! Course I’m curious what heads-up you are referring to. The peroxide, foxtail, or knowing that I get nauseous easily? I’m sure it’ll be good knowledge next time we get together. :)

  3. Gray Jones   •  

    Maybe Technomadia can add common pet hazards to their State Lines app….

    • Kat   •     Author

      Now THAT is an awesome idea. Time for you and Mike to make a new app?

  4. Wheelingit   •  

    Glad your boy is ok! Having lived in CA for over 15 years I know the Foxtail well. It’s nasty stuff. You want to try and keep doggie from walking amongst them too since they will attach themselves to fur and burrow into the skin.


    • Kat   •     Author

      Nina, thanks! I can’t believe grass is a danger in CA! We were talking to a friend in PA who said she’ll never come to CA with her dog now. How do you keep your dog from inhaling or walking in it? We see it everywhere now.

  5. Vicki   •  

    So sorry to hear about Opie’s run in with that foxtail grass. Thankfully, it wasn’t even more serious than what you ALL went through. How scarey, being almost in the middle of nowhere, and not knowing where to get help. I can imagine how nerve-wracking that must have been. I’ve begun to jot down our GPS coordinates in the event I ever need to call 911 (if and when we have a cell tower in the area) and Google the closest 24-hour animal hospital for our 13-year old cat. I’m glad to hear that Opie is on the mend.

    Enjoy your time in California!

    PS: I love that portable arm rest you have on the arm of the sofa. If you don’t mind my asking, where did you get it? I’m so missing a place to put my glass of wine in our 36 LA.

    • Kat   •     Author

      Vicki, I’m also relieved that it turned out to be a relatively easy fix. GPS coordinates sounds like a fantastic idea. I think we take the internet and cellular for granted so often now that we don’t think of the times when we don’t have it. We got the arm rest on Amazon, Unfortunately it looks like it’s not available in walnut color anymore, but they do have it in white. And you might be able to find it online somewhere else too. It’s a little unstable, but works well for wine, soda, and small snacks. We’ve definitely been happy with having a little extra spot to put our snacks.

  6. Kida Hari   •  

    Sounds like someone should create a new app showing dog/cat/pet dangers by state for travelers with pets.

    If someone use that idea, I’d accept a cold beer as royalty payment.


    • Kida Hari   •  

      Oops look like someone else had the idea before me. Oh well no cold beer.

  7. Pingback: Life Rebooted – 2015 Year In Review

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