Snow dogs!

emma the dog playing in snow
Photo by Randy Binting

Like OMG, there’s snow – and a lot of it — only two hours away from Phoenix. Flagstaff has gotten three feet of the cold, white stuff in the past six days.

Should your weekend plans include a trip to the mountains for you and the dog to play in the snow?

Absolutely! Dogs love the snow – for them, it’s just a new way to play. It’s like a gigantic cardboard box that they can  shred, only it is colder and whiter.

Fun for the dog in the snow

So romp away — just keep these tips in mind when taking your desert dog up to the High Country:

  • Elevation: Just like you, your dog may need a way to adapt to the higher elevation before doing a lot of exertion.
  • Temperature: Ditto for the cold weather. Again just like you, your dog is going to need a thicker coat to hang out in 20-degree daytime temps. Choose a bright colored doggie coat for easier spotting in the snow.
  • Temperature (part 2): Even the coziest coat can’t prevent frostbite on ears, paws or tails. Try getting the dog out in late morning or early afternoon when temperatures are warmest. If you notice the dog is whining, shivering, appearing anxious, or looking for places to burrow, take him indoors.
  • Watch out for toxins: Always keep an eye out for any antifreeze spill. Take your dog to the vet immediately if you think he has lapped up some of the sweet poisonous stuff, take him to the vet immediately.
  • Paw protection: Help protect his dry and sensitive paws by coating them with a small amount of paw protectant (natural cooking spray works too!) before walkies.
  • Easy clean-up: Keep containers of warm water as well as clean towels to spruce up the dog before he gets back in your vehicle.

Going up to the cold climate for outdoors romps may not be a good idea for your older or more fragile dogs –may be leave them behind on this trip.

Where to eat after you and the dog play in the snow? — We have some suggestions for dog-friendly restaurants in Flagstaff!

Road-trip tips

Also, remember there’s basically only one road from Flagstaff to Phoenix and it can get backed up. Make sure you have some extra water and snacks for dogs and humans alike in case of traffic jams and accidents. Call 511 or go to az511.com for road conditions before you head out

Stay safe! Stay warm! Go snow!

 

 

 

Treating your dog’s cold

can the dog get your cold?
Every other member of the house has gotten my infuriating and mind-numbing cold – does that mean the dog will get it too?

Good news, even though Phoenix is going through a rainy and chilly phase this week, your dog will not get your cold. As one veterinarian put it, “the dog is not going to get your cold and you are not going to get mange.’’

Whew

But that doesn’t mean your dog can’t come down with “crud.” Our four-legged friends can suffer from the same symptoms of sneezing, coughing, runny or stuffy nose, watery eyes. Like humans, their colds can run from seven to 10 days.

Treating your dog’s cold

It’s the TLC that is the same as humans: Lots of liquids and lots of rest in a nice, warm spot. Also, chances are, the dog wouldn’t mind some chicken soup. Really. Just like it does for humans, the warm liquid of the chicken broth can help open their sinsus. Or at least try warming up their wet dog food in the microwave 10 to 15 seconds; it will make it easier for them to smell the food and help improve their appetite.

Also, if you are using a humidifier for your cold or allergies, share some space with the dog. The moist air will benefit them as well.

Keep an eye out

Be on the lookout for more dangerous conditions that could masquerade as a cold in your dog. Kennel cough for example, is a common cause of dry coughs and is contagious among animals.

There are other highly contagious, cold-like illnesses to be familiar with, as well, says PETMD.com. The influenza virus, parainfluenza virus, adenovirus, and tuberculosis are all illnesses that can be transmitted by infected dogs. Another potentially life-endangering viral illness is canine distemper. A dog exhibiting symptoms of distemper will usually have coughing, vomiting, high fever, and a thick discharge from the eyes and nose.

In any of these cases, take your dog to the vet pronto

But if it just an unsufferable cold, don’t forget the chicken soup for the dog and you!

Baking for Beagles (and other canines)

One of our favorite holiday traditions is baking – baking for the dogs, of course.

Baking for dogs is one of the most stressless things you will do during the holiday because dogs, well, they are just so good natured, and non-disciminating when it comes to food.

Why bake treats for dogs?

So many advantages to baking for dogs: No being-in-the-kitchen extra weight gain for you – unless you can’t keep your hands off the peanut butter and bacon num-nums. Also, it’s nice to know exactly what is going into your dog’s food. And if you have leftover ingredients, you could bake extra goodie for some shelter dogs.

Dog-treat holiday recipes

Here’s a list of holiday dog treats to get you baking in the kitchen:

calvins-christmas-cookie-dog-treat

baking-human

baking-treats-4

  • For the bacon fiends: This comes from The Kitchn, one of my favorite sites. This bacon-treat recipe uses bacon fat to drive your dogs wild and make your hosue smell good.
  • Pumpkin anyone? We like pumpkin in our house. For dogs, pumpkin is a delicious, nutritious treat that provides a great way to sneak fiber into diets. Check out a peanut-butter and pumpkin version.
  • baking-chanukahdogtreats

    For friends who observe Hanukkah – Use blue and white icing instead of green and red, suggests dogtreaticing.com. They have some other nifty ideas for this holiday.

  • Minimalists: We are definitely trying this one this weekend. It only has five ingredients and one of them is beef broth. The dog will love this one!
  • Store bought: Not in the mood to bake? That’s OK, the dog will forgive you. Here’s some of our favorite local dog-treat folks:

Bone apetit everyone!

 

 

Doggie Gift Guide

You know you are getting the dog a little something extra this holiday.

Why not shop local?

The metro Phoenix area is home to a lot of great entrepreneurs who love dogs as much as you do and their products/stores show it!

Plus, when you visit these local stores and vendors, they welcome your dog as well as you!

 

 

In addition to the links on the slideshow, here are links to the products and stores shown:

Doggy Danger

gum dangerous to dogs
Did I tell you about the time I nearly offed the Beagle?

It happened more than a month ago and I am finally ready to write about it…

So one day, I packed the Beagle into the car for her quasi monthly trip to the vets for “nails and sacs’’ (trimming of the nails/expressing of the anal glands – yeech all the way around).

ic 4

She is always so good in the car that she was sitting in the front seat and then we had gone a couple blocks and I realized she was chewing on something. Two more blocks of chewing and I pulled over. It was gum she was chewing on!

Dangerous snack for a dog

Arrgh. One of little sticks. Or maybe two had escaped from my purse and now, the dog had suspiciously minty fresh breath.

I knew this was bad. The gum could have xylitol, which can cause vomiting, loss of coordination, seizures and liver failure, in servere cases. The chemical is found in sugar-free gums, and baked goods, etc.

So, now, we were really going to go to the North Kenilworth Vet Care. Seriously.

To check out what she was eating, I had pulled over onto a side street. I then realized to get to the vets, I was going to have to go down a street that was blocked for traffic. No problem, I just got, put the barricades to the side and kept on trucking, Sorry, Encanto neighbors – I didn’t stop to put the signs back. That was me!

Hurray for the vets!

So, we made it to the vets. They scooped the Beagle up and gave her stuff to make her throw up as well as activated charcoal so that her stomach wouldn’t absorb the chemical. By that time, they also gave her something to relax her since she was a little crabby. They decided to do the nails and sacs, so she was basically probed at all ends.

It was a bad day to be a Beagle.

The Beagle’s revenge

It’s OK – later that day, she threw up the remanents of the charcoal in very prominent spot in the house. I still feel tremendously guilty but she really tried to even the score by creating that  unremovable inky black stain on the rug.

So…. the morale of the story: switching to full-sugar Altoids. Safely locked in the glovebox.

 

Great dog photos

 

how to take great dog photos
Audrey Mead’s dog photos literally save lives.

As a volunteer with the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control shelter in Tempe, Audrey takes photos of dogs that appear on pet-adoption websites and social media channels. She knows a good photo can make all the difference in getting that dog a good home.

“I try to take photos that capture their souls,’’ she says. “And I think it is all in their eyes.’’

how to take great dog photos

It’s tough being a shelter dog

It’s not easy taking photos of dogs who find themselves at the pound, a noisy and sad place for both human and hound. “Good’’ dogs become fearful and aggressive after having their lives upended.  Some dogs slink around their chain-link door to see if whoever dropped them off is coming back; while, others bark so much their scared sounds echo off the grey concrete walls.

Despite the at-times heartbreaking setting, Audrey still gets photos that allow individual dog’s goodness to shine through.

So, if she can get great photos of these dogs in these conditions – her photo-taking tips should really help you out.

shelter dog

Tips for great photos

Her secret to getting a good photo?

Patience and the willingness to try, try again, she says. Audrey comes to the Tempe shelter up to  five days a week. Sometimes, she has to take 20 photos to get one good shot, especially of the scared dogs.

A couple more tips on how to take the best dog photos:

  • Shoot outside if possible: Natural light works the best. Also, if the dogs can get out of their pens, they can act well, more like dogs by running, sniffing and looking around. The more relaxed the dog, the better the shot.
  • Get their attention: Audrey makes kissing sounds or uses a dog whistle to get a pooch’s attention. When a dog hears a noise, his ears pop forward and that’s when she gets the shot. At that point, the dog is just being a dog – not some scared pound resident.
  • Use what you have: Audrey comes to shelter loaded with three cameras, yet it’s her camera phone on her Samsung Galaxy that does the bulk of the work.
  • Be aware of surroundings: Audrey goes to great lengths to make sure her dogs aren’t framed with chain link in the photo. Chain link can make some viewers wonder if there is a reason why the dog is behind a fence.

Beware burnout

Audrey also has some great advice about avoiding compassion burn out, which can easily happen in a shelter where the need is so overwhelming. Just walking into the pound rips some people’s heart out, but Audrey is comforted knowing that she is using her expertise to help. It’s that knowledge that keeps her coming back to shoot even more photos.

“I’m really just trying to save some lives’’

Where Audrey’s photos can be found

Adopt a shelter dog

Halloweenies

Halloween in Phoenix for dogs
Artie the Beagle and I have a pact: We don’t tell each other what to wear. That being said, I am bummed that there is no dog in costume running around the house this Halloween. But Artie chooses nakedness over costume every single time.

Halloween is my favorite. The holiday happens just as the Phoenix weather has chilled somewhat. It involves no gift giving and it provides a chance to let your secret self shine through, whether you are a closet gore-master or wanna-be fairy princess. It’s just your chance to be someone completely different for at least a night.

Maybe we get Halloween costumes for our dogs’ so we can see their other personalities come out to play. Costume stores say their sales of dog costumes are doubling every year. Hmmm, which came first – the incredibly cute costumes or the demand for incredibly cute dog costumes – hard to say. But there are some great ones out there:

dogs enjoying Halloween in Phoenix hall-3

 

halloween for dogs in phoenix

 

I especially love this one. It’s a nice take on Artie’s relationship with the neighborhood’s UPS driver.

Halloween Dog Costume Contests/Events

And where to go once you have selected the perfect costume. The metro Phoenix weather is perfect now for nighttime events. Here’s a list of terrific Halloween spots for you and the dog that offer canines costume contests and prizes for their humans:

TV dog

artie on Ch. 12 AZ Midday show
So, Channel 12 called and invited me to be on their AZ Midday Show to talk about where to take the dog in Phoenix. “Could I bring Artie the Beagle?’’, I asked. “Bring her on down,’’ they said.

Thank goodness that I did.

Look — we are on TV! Video

The extraordinarily friendly Midday staff put us in front of a bar and had little Artie sit on top of a bar stool. “How long while she actually sit there?.’’ I wondered.

She was perfect. During the interview on dog-friendly Phoenix, she looked adoringly at me and thoughtfully at the hosts, Destry Jetton and Jan D’Atri.

And she let me pet her to death as I got through the interview. Sweaty palms and all.

Whew. It was over. Artie was down off the stool and nosing around the set, when I heard a yell across the area. “Artie!’’. It was Melissa Gable, Maricopa County’s crack PIO for Animal Care and Control.

Artie is famous (infamous?)

How does Melissa Gable know my dog?

Turns out Melissa knew Artie from the pound. I adopted Artie from Arizona Beagle Rescue but apparently before that, she was at the county pound. Melissa saw her there and had her on television in hopes that someone would adopt her. She even had a glam photo of made of her. Who knew? Artie had some showbiz experience.

Apparently, Artie’s TV debut didn’t pan out so well. And I ended up with her. To this day, I am still amazed that someone as loyal and loving as Artie was ditched at the pound. Some people.

So, the morale of the story? You never know what kind of dog you find at rescues. One may just be a born TV star.

Artie on TV Channel 12

Election cure?

elections and dogs tshirt

t-shirt available here

Can a dog help you deal with this year’s beyond-insane election?

This weekend I reached an end point with politics. Of course, I will vote. I picked my presidential candidate  awhile ago and shared my decision with anyone who asked. My friends, family and colleagues have already decided as well. And there’s no budging them either way.

So instead of watching last night’s “presidential” Town Hall, I walked the dog. I recommend it heartily. It provided the mental-health break I needed and it gave me a chance to avoid any more political discussions.

Don’t have a dog? Or have one that is not that jazzed about a stroll? How about volunteering to walk one?

It may be a little naïve, but what would happen if instead of reading one more political (and perhaps totally inaccurate) Facebook posting or listening to one more infuriating video clip, we all just did something for someone else. Helping a dog seems like a good starting point. So, instead of reading the Town Hall reviews, I just went ahead and saved you the time of Googling to find out which animal shelters need volunteers.

Here’s a lovely list of metro Phoenix shelters in need of someone to walk a dog or socialize with animals:

 

Election three weeks away

I’m not advocating burying your head in the sand and ignoring all election-related news. What I am suggesting is that if you are feeling overwrought about it all, just take an hour out of your day and step away from the computers and phones. The news will be waiting for you when you get back and in the meantime, you have made a puppy pretty happy.

The dog, by the way, seconds the motion.

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin-mania for dogs

dogs love pumpkin
This Fall, remember your dog loves pumpkin, too.

We’ve turned off the AC and opened the doors and windows, so that means its Fall in Phoenix. Hurray! The season only lasts for a few days here – so enjoy every minute of it.

Fall in Phoenix doesn’t involve any changing leaves. In fact, the only color we see a lot of is orange as in pumpkin as in pumpkin that everyone from coffee shops to grocery stores to soap makers are pitching this time of the year.

Your dog can get in on the pumpkin-mania, too.

Pumpkin and your dog’s health

Raw pumpkin is not great for dogs – so keep Fido away from the Jack-o-laterns!

But cooked, canned, unsweetened pumpkin and pumpkin seeds can help dogs with everything from weight loss to improved digestion. Ask your veterinarian first about any plans to make pumpkin a regular addition to your dog’s diet.

  • Regular Digestion: If your dog’s stools are either too loose or too hard, try adding one or two tablespoons of plain pumpkin.
  • Weight Loss: Mix some soaked dry kibble with a tablespoon of canned pumpkin. Pumpkin’s extra fiber boost lets your dog’s tummy think it is full faster.
  • Skin and Coat: Pumpkin seeds can help keep your dog’s skin and fur from drying out – especially nice with the area’s lower humidity.

Pumpkin treats for your dog

Here are three nifty ways to use this fall favorite as a treat for the dog:

  • Recipes: (No-bake peanut butter pumpkin rolls sounds pretty delish)
  • Pumpkin seeds: Spread raw, cleaned seeds evenly onto a baking sheet, lightly coat with cooking oil, roast in a 375-degree oven for five to 10 minutes, and cool. One or two seeds makes a great dog treat.
  • Frozen treats: The typical can of well, canned, pumpkin, is 15 ounces, which means you will have left over pumpkin at the end of the week. Instead of tossing the leftovers, freeze them in ice cube tray. Crush up the ice cube before serving or defrost it to serve over kibble.

Hope you and your pumpkin (s) have a great Fall!