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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Product Review: OutFox Field Guard

The OutFox Field Guard is a protective mask designed to protect your dog's ears, nose, and eyes from nasty foxtails and other evil weeds. This mesh hood allows your dog to see, hear, pant, drink, sniff, swim, play, and herd sheep without fear of icky burrowing plant bits. It is available in five standard sizes, and can also be made in custom sizes for very large or funny-shaped dogs. My girls wear a size small.
Protective foxtail hood

We have a massive foxtail problem in southern California. These nasty little grass spikelets actually burrow through your dog's fur. They expand and contract, pushing themselves into the worst possible places. Plenty of dogs have been killed by foxtails in their ears, noses, or even lungs. They've been known to burrow into a dog's heart, or spinal column. My vet treated a dog that had a foxtail enter a rear paw and burrow so far it came out a front paw.

I check Zip and Godzilla carefully for foxtails (and cactus spines, because cattledogs are crazy), but I still have to worry about the ones I miss. I wish that we could avoid them altogether, but here in southern California pretty much every outdoor area is filled with them. Fortunately, neither of them has a coat that picks up a lot of nasties.

The OutFox is a brilliant piece of protective gear. It's surprisingly unobtrusive, most of the dogs we've tried it on haven't minded it. The hood is essentially a shaped bag with an elastic drawstring at the neck. A pair of velcro tabs attach it to the dog's collar for security.
Protective hood for dogs

Pros

  • Protects eyes, ears, and noses from foxtails
  • Allows normal rage of outdoor activity
  • Makes my dog look kinda scary to grumpy sheep
  • Custom sizing available
  • Very easy to use
  • Easy to condition reluctant dogs to wear it

Cons

  • Mesh tends to collect slobber and dog snot, gets gross pretty quickly
  • Looks kind of weird, takes some getting used to
  • Collar straps aren't strong enough, ours is now missing in the field
  • Only available from the manufacturer unless you live in northern California

Bottom Line

These are becoming standard equipment on the ranch, and we now use them every day. Unfortunately, we lost our first one despite properly attaching it to Zip's collar. When she came bounding out of the head-high weeds without it, I almost panicked. It has taken us three days to get a replacement shipped here, and I've been worried the whole time. I might stick a TabCat tracker on it...

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