SASKATOON -- A Saskatchewan man is warning pet owners to be aware of a common weed known as foxtail after he says it contributed to his dog’s death.

Darwin Wagner said goodbye to his 16-year-old Shih Tzu, Chico, on Tuesday.

Wagner said his dog had underlying issues with his heart, lungs, kidneys and liver, but that foxtail was also a factor. He said it caused Chico to make a sneezing, choking sound and made his pre-existing health conditions worse.

“It just irritated him so bad and with the stress caused from the coughing, sneezing, wheezing, whatever it is, it just weakened his heart even more,” Wagner said.

Foxtail can hurt dogs when its long hairs get lodged in a canine’s throat. If left untreated, the area can get inflamed and infected.

Signs that a dog is dealing with foxtail include coughing, drooling, swallowing repeatedly and acting anxious.

Wagner lives in Manitou Beach and said there’s an abundance of foxtail around the lake. He said he did his best to protect Chico from it, but that there was only so much he could do.

“You can only take so much precaution. All it takes is turn your head for a minute or two and he’s laying there and takes a breath and inhaling.”


Saskatoon Ward 10 Coun. Zach Jeffries said many people have expressed concern to him over the large amount of foxtail in Saskatoon this year.

On Monday, he out a motion forward to city administration, asking them to come up with a plan to limit the growth of the weed next season.

“We need a coordinated approach and to me that means we’re actually dealing with cutting some of the areas that are infested with foxtail before they go to seed. It might mean some use of herbicides in particular areas and it means enforcing the bylaws that we have in place across Saskatoon around property maintenance,” Jeffries said.

He said the goal isn’t to completely eliminate foxtail as it is everywhere, but to make sure it’s taken care of before it goes to seed and becomes a problem for neighbourhoods and pets in those areas.

As for Wagner, he said he plans on going to the village office in Manitou Beach to see if there is anything they can do to help.

“Out here, we have a lot of retired people and they have dogs and they’re walking them and I’m not even sure that they’re aware of what dangers are sort of lurking around the corner. So by making it public, people hopefully will take more precaution when they’re out walking their dogs or letting them roam in their yard.”