Springtime allergies can hurt your dog

artie with springtime blooms and springtime allergies
The good news – spring, with blessedly moderate temperatures, seems to lingering in and around the good ol’ Phoenix area. The bad news – springtime allergies are still going to be causing problems for your pal, the dog.

This winter, we had record-breaking rains and we’ve enjoyed a bumper crop of wildflowers. And the weather continues to be wonderful. Everyone’s lawn looks better and the desert is terrifically colorful with Palo verdes and cacti thrilling us with their canary-yellow blossoms and deep magenta flowers.

It’s all Technicolor beautiful except for us allergy sufferers. And possibly your dog is a victim of springtime allergies as well. Artie the Beagle had an attack of reverse sneezing and now we are giving her allergy medicine for the first time ever.

What to know about canine allergy sufferers

It’s not just Artie. Dr. Mitchell Song, DVM, DACVD, says VETMED in Phoenix near Cave Creek has been seeing a lot of pooches with problems. “We have been very, very busy with many itchy dogs,’’ says Song, who specializes in animal dermatology.

Dermatologists like Song are uniquely qualified to help dogs with springtime allergies. Usually dogs’ allergic reactions show up as itchiness in their skin or coat. So, canine allergy sufferers do a lot of chewing, licking, biting and scratching. Sometimes, they also have ear infections, says Song.

Usually only about 10 percent of dogs with allergies with have any upper respiratory symptoms, he adds.

To get a better read on what a dog is allergic to, veterinarians will perform a scratch test on them, which is similar to what humans undergo to see what is giving us a major case of the Itchies.

Once diagnosed, veterinarians can figure out the right medicine for each four-legged patient, Song says.

How you can help your dog with her springtime allergies

In addition to medication, people with pets can give their sufferin’ dog over-the-counter fish oil capsules. Essential fatty acids like fish oil can ease inflammation due to allergies, and reduce itchy skin and dandruff. Song also recommends extra bathing and grooming for your pooch to help decrease their allergies. Also: change your air-furnace filters and wash the dogs’ bedding more frequently.

Left untreated your dog’s allergies can become more difficult to treat, Song says. “It is not a life-threatening disease but it can really cause misery.’’

Song also treats frequent flyers: dogs who have spring and fall allergies. And a very small population of dogs that have winter-only allergies, he says.

Remember the old saying – misery loves company? Well, for many of us allergy sufferers, our dogs are right there with us in sharing the awfulness of being allergic. Stay well, everyone!

 

 

 

How a sick dog changed my outlook

Artie got sick and needed an IV
Why haven’t I been posting? Well, the dog got sick. She’s better now, thank goodness but her out-of-nowhere illness shattered my heart into a thousand little pieces. It is taking some time for me to return to the high-functioning writing machine that I aspire to be.

When I started Happy Dog Phoenix so many years ago, I wanted to provide accurate, reliable info for my community. Phoenix and Arizona can be weird places and I wanted to help people in a positive, upbeat kind of way. I like finding out things and I like passing them along.

I’m not sure there is any of that news you can use to this blog post. Just a personal story — as I try to make sense out of a couple things in my life – perhaps you are also trying to do that?

Being sick started in San Diego

The dog and I went to San Diego and we had a blast. So much so that I kinda downplayed her lethargy and lack of appetite as we got ready for the car ride back. She slept the entire trip but when we stopped in Buckeye for an In-and-Out burger, she showed no interest in my sandwich. Getting more worried, I floored it back home. The vet’s office was closed. I tried one 24/7 veterinary urgent care but I didn’t feel like they had any urgency about them. Blue Pearl Pet Hospital at 32nd Street and Indian School Road, however, triaged her immediately. Her temperature was skyrocketing.

They diagnosed possible pancreatitis and provided some meds. The next morning she was still wobbly and unresponsive.

I zipped her back to the regular vet at North Kenilworth who saw her immediately. When humans in the house get sick, it’s bad but we usually know what we are dealing with. When the cheerful, energetic, always-up-for-a-snack dog is sick, it’s terrifying.

Or at least to me. My father died in January after a long illness. As I watched the dog for signs and symptoms of her health, I was taken back to my father’s bedside; watching him, wondering if he was taking his last breath.

I always knew that everyday occurrences would trigger memories of his life and death. I was bracing myself for Father’s Day, his birthday, my parents’ wedding anniversary. But I just didn’t expect to be reminded of his passing so quickly and to be reminded by the dog, who was my staunchest companion in my father’s final months.

Control what you can – but it may not be much

Perhaps there is news you can use in this blog: you can’t control everything; you can prepare — like I am preparing for Father’s Day. You can think about how to deal with a situation and when something like that situation occurs, you take a deep breath and follow the mental script that you have written.

But apparently you can’t prepare for every wayward circumstance like your dog eating something bad at the beach, getting sick, making you think of your Dad and then sobbing uncontrollably in the vet’s office.

Gratitude doesn’t protect you

And perhaps another news-you-can-use tidbit: gratitude may not be all it is cracked up to be. I try every night, as everyone from psychologists to gurus suggest, to list five things I am grateful for. The dog always makes the list and usually pretty close to the top.

But being grateful for her didn’t protect her. Being grateful doesn’t keep the thing that you love exactly the way it is for all time. It just acknowledges the power that thing or person has in your life. Right now, it seems to me that gratitude only amplifies your pain over your loss.

In time, I may come around to the idea that while being grateful does increase the pain; it also deepens the richness of the experience. And, while it is so much easier to have shallow, painless, disposable relationships, I don’t think that is what life should be about.

I know that you need the nourishment of hearty and sometimes heart-breaking relationships. Even though they are so painful. So very painful. I hope to figure out the right balance in all of this but for the meantime, gratitude kinda sucks.

Time vs. unresolved issues

And maybe the last lesson is that grief takes time. We know that but we do we really practice it?

For me, I want to get away from unpleasant circumstances as far and as fast as possible. I want to be productive at work and smiling to family and loved ones. Keep busy and outrace any possible depression. The world wants me to move on; I want to move on but as the dog’s life-threatening pancreatitis showed me, you can want to move on all you want but Life will pull you back to deal with unresolved issues. Like grief over your Dad’s death.

After lots of money for vets’ bills (which I gladly paid for a healthy dog); lots of hand-fed meals, bowls of boiled chicken breast, white rice, splashed with chicken bouillon (the new cuisine and its presentation is Pinterestworthy); sleepless nights and rejiggered work days to accommodate lots of vet visits; the dog is fine.

I’m not sure who was more ecstatic to go on our nightly neighborhood walks, her or me.

I guess a non-dog person could read this post and point out that the biggest takeaway from all of this is: don’t have a dog. Too much heartbreak. But as I look in my dog’s gentle, trusting eyes and smile at her still-bouncy walk, I realize that is a lesson that I will never learn.

Pottio Boxes for dogs on the go

Daisy checks out Pottio Box as a place to pee
Everywhere in metro Phoenix these days developers are building apartments or condos. And many, many dogs are living in these high rises.  So the big question becomes what to do when Poochie needs a patch of grass to use as her bathroom and you are eight stories up? Where does the dog pee?

Enter the Pottio Box – please don’t confuse it with a Bark Box!

What’s a Pottio Box?

Stephen Brandt got the idea of providing grass potty boxes and delivering fresh grass to replenish them after seeing a definite need for relief among people and their dogs.

The former forest-fire fighter hotshot moved to Ahwatukee more than a year ago. He quickly noticed how people in metro Phoenix love their dogs. He also noticed how stressed these folks were as they raced home to take their dogs out for a good walk and a pee.

Why does my dog want to pee on the grass?

And for many dogs, peeing on rocks just isn’t the way they want to ummm, go.

Dogs’ upbringing plays a large role in whether they select grass, gravel, concrete or your pajamas as their place to pee. Doggos start figuring out a preference as early as eight weeks old, says, Daily Dog Discoveries.

Brandt believes his grass boxes are better for dogs than synthetic grass because they eliminate the need for chemicals. The grass boxes also pose less risk for the environment as well, he says.

Pottio boxes come in three sizes, the largest being 27 inches by 42 inches.

And Brandt delivers throughout the Valley, with Tempe being one of his largest service areas.

pottio box for when your dog has to pee

Pottio boxes’ grass doesn’t really have to be watered. Some dogs don’t want to get near mud, Brandt says. And most people don’t want mud tracked through the house.

Under normal use, the grass will eventually get saturated and will need to be thrown away after one to two weeks  (that will vary by frequency of use and size and number of dogs). Just heave-ho the grass pad into the garbage

The Pottio Box can help with the urine side of the equation. But you still need to pick up the dog poop – there’s no magic box for that!

Editors note: We don’t own stock in Pottio Box; nor are we using their products or being paid by them o write this. We just thought they were an interesting local business with a unique service!

Humane Voters of Arizona and dog laws

This post is going to be a little political.

You can stop reading now. Right now. Turn back. I warned you.

All about Humane Voters of Arizona

Ok, disclaimer out of the way. Humane Voters of Arizona acts as a watchdog for state legislation involving all types of animals. If you want to learn about state laws and how they affect your dog, follow this group.

faux service dogs is one of Arizona laws regarding dogs
When it comes to dogs, the Arizona state legislature does a lot. Last year, they banned faux service dogs; in 2017, they passed Good Samaritan laws to legally protect people who break a car window to rescue a dog or kid.

This year, legislators want to fine people $100 if they drive with an animal on their laps, according to Arizona Sonora News.

Humane Voters of Arizona keeps tabs on that legislation like that by tracking bills and voting records of legislators. They also survey brand-new candidates on their views.

Just as importantly, HVA keeps an eye out for bills that could harm animals or erode existing protections.

New attempt at animal abuse laws

This year, they will be working with others to create a special Class 5 felony penalty for those who abuse animals.

Animal-rights champions and law enforcement both want to make animal abuse a felony instead of a misdemeanor. If an animal abuser was charged with a Class 5 felony, he could get mandatory counseling.

Animal lovers believe this could help reduce acts of animal cruelty. Law enforcement believe it could help prevent violence against humans.

Saying animal abuse is often comes before assaults, domestic violence and homicide, groups like the National Sheriff’s Association supports the move. It cites a landmark academic study that showed animal abusers were five times more likely to commit violent crimes against people.

The bill failed in last year’s legislature. It was opposed by the Arizona Cattleman’s Association that argued the language  was so broad that it could be used to charge ranchers with felonies if they kill dogs who chase their cattle.

What else is cooking at the legislature

This session, HVA also will look out for efforts to limit the citizen-initiative process. Unlike other states, Arizona allows citizens to propose legislation. Arizona voters have several times successfully used the process to protect animals. In 1994, voters banned leg-hold traps; in 1998, they outlawed cockfighting and in 2006, they voted down gestational crates for pigs.

Lawmakers fought against all of those animal protections but voters passed them overwhelmingly, says Karen Michaels of the HVA.

dog in hot car law

How things are improving for animals

Michaels started in animal-related legislation in the late 1980s/early’90s as she became concerned about the link between poorly treated farm animals and safe food for humans.

When it comes to animal rights, people are changing their minds, says Michaels.

More legislators vote bipartisan when it comes to protecting animal rights.

They aren’t so much wrapped in being a Republican or Democrat but just want to do the right thing for animals, especially companion animals like dogs.

Michaels said she knew things were changing when she saw staunch conservative Sen. John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) share a podium with Tucson Democratic legislator Steve Farley to support particular animal legislation.

“I thought, this is great. Now we are getting somewhere.”

Wow, Democrats and Republicans working together – it’s like dogs and cats living together!

 

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Resolution: Taking the dog

Welcome to the official Do-over Day!

Jan. 17 is earmarked as the Ditch Your New Year’s Resolutions Day, a day that gives you time to re-consider your resolutions, minus the holiday fairy dust in your eyes, and to zero in on what you really want to accomplish in 2019.

If the resolutions that you made when you were full of champagne and holiday spirits now strike you as unrealistic, may we suggest something a little more down-to-earth- — how about a resolution of taking the dog with you to more places?

Where to take the dog

There are events; dog-friendly restaurants; dog-friendly stores. Or dog parks. Or hiking trails. The Valley offers plenty of places for you and the pooch to hang out.

But how does taking the dog with me help me with my resolutions of losing weight, saving money, and finding true love?, you ask.

Simple.

Getting off the sofa and outside for a walk with the dog is a lovely step in getting in more exercise for you and the hound. Also, if you are walking the dog or at the dog park, that means you can’t be parked in front of the refrigerator scarfing down your third serving of lasagna.

How to make taking the dog fun

Speaking of lasagna, there are plenty of restaurants in metro Phoenix who are OK with having dogs on the patio. And there are some wonderful ones that really roll out the red carpet. Here are some quick tips on how to make dining with the dog a good experience:

  • Plan ahead: Call ahead to find out if the restaurant really wants your dog; also make sure the dog has had plenty of food and water before you get there.
  • Bring stuff: The restaurant may not have water bowls so please bring yur own. Also, a blankie/pad and a non-squeaky toy may help distract and calm the dog.
  • Know when to bail: Some dogs just aren’t ready for the dining scene. Realize that and know you may have to leave. Fast.

As far as the resolution of finding true love: There’s always the true love at the other end of the leash. Your dog will love you when you get her out of the house more. And as far as true love of the same-species, well, your dog is the best wingman possible. Your dog, well-trained or not, will certainly draw attention to you. And you may just get the attention of a fellow dog lover – who sounds just like your kind of person.

As for the saving-money, you and the dog are on your own on that one!

Baking holiday treats for the dog

baking for dogs means delicious treats
Once again, it is one of my favorite dog time of the year — baking holiday treats for dogs!

I love baking for dogs for so, so many reasons

Why do baking for dogs?

First, it’s for the dogs. And for the most part, they like food, so they aren’t too terribly picky, unlike Aunt Shirley, who is a real fusspot when it comes to the type of cheese used for the mac and cheese and the vinegar used in the salad dressing and the origins of the apples used in the pie.

Nope, chances are the dog is going to enjoy as is. The amount of baking powder doesn’t have to be exact; the cookie shapes not precise. The dog will just love them –and we love them just a little bit more for their non-judgey ways.

Second, you know what’s in your treats. How many times this year have you read about dog treats or dog food being recalled? When you bake for your dog, you choose what goes in the grocery cart. Organic honey? Sure.  Applesauce with no extra sugar? Check.

This year, I decided to experiment in baking with carob – which is like a cousin to chocolate. Chocolate is super dangerous to dogs but carob is free of theobromine and caffeine so it won’t harm your canine pal. Carob is also low in fat and high in fiber making it a healthy alternative to chocolate, according to our friends at the ASPCA (which runs a great poison hotline for canines).

baking for dogs means delicious treats
Baking for humans, too

Homemade dog treats also can be a great way to show appreciation to the humans around you. Most of my peeps have enough stuff. They don’t want more stuff. So that leaves experiences and consumables as gift-giving choices. But so many people are now on specific eating plans (paleo, keto, low-carb, high-fat, high-sugar (just kidding — the last one is my diet this time of year as I flit from dessert to dessert!). But your family/friends/colleagues/neighbors have a dog, chances are the dog isn’t on a diet so much – at least someone in the house can enjoy a little baked goodie.

baked goods for dog

And for personal reasons

And lastly, it’s for sentimental reasons. Once your get past the tricky math of tripling and quadrupling the recipe, baking can be pretty mindless. The repetition of kneading the dough and cutting out cookies allows me time to think about the dogs who I am baking for and the dogs who left us in 2018.

This was a difficult year for many of us who had to say good-bye to our cherished friends. Amid the flour measuring and cookie cooling,  I reminisced about those dogs and thought about the new dogs who have entered our lives in 2018 — remembering the beloved and gratitude for new  – isn’t that a big part of the holidays?

And without further Hallmark-like thoughts, here are the recipes I used for this season’s doggie treats:

Enjoy! And happy, happy baking and gift-giving!

Thanks for the Gotcha Day

artie gotcha day
Thanksgiving ranks up there with Halloween and Easter as a terrific holiday. And after the kindness of Arizona Beagle Rescue, it’s a little more special because it’s also Artie’s Gotcha Day.

Four years ago, I had just gotten over the heartbreak of losing a dog to a long illness when I contacted Arizona Beagle Rescue looking for another dog. I grieved the loss of HoneyBun and wasn’t sure I was ready for another dog.

“You know, we have a dog who is being fostered and the volunteers need to go to back East for Thanksgiving,’’ they told me. “Why don’t you just take this dog until they get back?”

Of course, we all knew what was going on – if I loved the dog (which they knew I would), then she would stay at my house for good.

Not exactly love at first sight

We all make snap judgments and the first time I met Artie, I wasn’t so sure she was the dog for me.

She slobbered so much and shed so much – so much dog hair coming off of one dog! Her tongue hung out because of a misshapen jaw.

She was nervous and understandably so. She had been at the Maricopa County pound in Tempe, which is such a heartbreaking place – it is so loud, so Spartan and so sad. My eyes tear up just thinking about how overwhelmed Artie must have been there with all of that noise and cold, concrete floors.

And she had problems with her teeth, so she must have been in pain as well. Arizona Beagle Rescue volunteers found her, paid for her dental bills and placed her with some terrific foster parents.

You know if I had just met her, I wouldn’t have necessarily picked her as the dog to take home.

Just another reason why I am thankful for Arizona Beagle Rescue: I trusted them and they led me to her.

What made for a great Gotcha Day

Despite what she had been through, Artie effortlessly rode in the car. She just sat in her seat and looked out the window with a thoughtful politeness about her.

We got home and she explored as we settled in. I quickly learned that she knew all about doggie doors and how to claim her spot on the sofa. On the very first night, she hopped into bed with me. The next morning, worried that she may have to pee, I tried to shake her loose from her position on the comforter. She just looked at me. Her eyes seemed to say “Woman, please. I’m in a good spot here and I’m not budging.’’

artie belly rubI fixed her green beans so she keep on her diet.

And I could tell she liked the creature comforts of my house but I just wasn’t sure….. Then while I was working on my laptop, she cantered over, plopped down and proceeded to roll on her back, wiggling on the hardwood floors. With her goofy tongue hanging out, she looked like she was smiling and emitting joy.

I know, I know, a dog lying down exposing his belly is a sign of submission. But I could tell she had a sparkle in her eye and that at that moment, she was happy. And she was home.

And then it dawned on me — here I thought I was choosing a dog but in reality, she had picked me. She’s the one who “got me.’’

Happy Gotcha Day to everyone who has ever helped a dog find a forever home. We are thankful to you all!

 

 

 

 

 

How to add some pumpkin for your pooch

dog with pumpkin
Is it time to make something pumpkin for your little pumpkin – now that a terrific Phoenix fall is happening?

I try to regularly sneak a heaping tablespoon of canned pumpkin into Artie the Beagle’s kibble just to help her little digestive system keep churning out the poop. I buy the canned version – not the pie-filling kind which can have a lot of sugar in it.

Why pumpkin is good for the dog

Cooked, canned, unsweetened pumpkin and its seeds can help dogs with everything from weight loss to improved digestion. It’s chockfull of vitamins and can be helpful when your dog is suffering from diarrhea as well as constipation. Ask your veterinarian first about any plans to make this a regular addition to your dog’s diet.

If you feel like whipping up a batch of treats for poochie but you don’t want to be rushed into the holiday baking scene – try these healthy, no-bake nutritional dog treats that we snagged from Peanut Butter and Peppers.com. (You can def. lick the spoon on this one):

Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Balls

Ingredients

  • ½ cup peanut butter, natural organic
  • 1 cup pumpkin, organic (not pie filling)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp. honey
  • 2½ cups oats (can use gluten free)

Instructions

  1. Add parchment paper to a baking sheet; set aside.
  2. In a bowl, add peanut butter, pumpkin, cinnamon and honey; mix until incorporated. Add the oats; mix well. If the consistency seems to wet, add a pinch more oats.
  3. Grab a chunk of the batter and roll into balls and place on prepared baking sheet. Do the same until no more batter remains. Perhaps use the size of a golf ball, maybe a little bigger.
  4. Place the baking sheet in the fridge to let the balls harder a bit, then store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to three weeks or place in the freezer for up to three months.

Notes

Calories: 59, Fat: 2.6, Cholesterol: 0, Sodium: 1.1, Carbs: 7, Fiber: 1, Sugar: 2, Protein: 2

But if you really feel like baking… And want to use the dog as your guinea pig for firing up the oven for holiday snacks, there’s always the baked version of Peanut Butter and Pumpkin dog treats; frozen treats and roasted seeds.

Bone appetit, my friends!

 

 

Roof rats and your dog

artie and the faux roof rat
The cooler weather in Phoenix apparently brings out more than lovely dinners on the patio and great daytime hikes with the dog – it also means the Return of Roof Rats!

My recycling can lives on the west side of my house and I usually get to it by going out the front door. A lot of the times, the dog comes with. She moseys to the neighbors, going as far as two or three house. I yell for her, show her a treat and she willingly comes back into our house. One morning, earlier this week, I took out the recycling, she went moseying and I went into the house to get her lure-back treat. I opened the front door and she was already on the porch.

And in her mouth was a dead rodent-looking thing. I screamed and slammed the door in her face. I’m sure she was thinking “Lady, what the hell, I brought you a gift.’’

I collected myself, opened the door and apologized to the dog. I then gave her perfectly hygienic dental treat. Using about three layers of poop bags, I grabbed the rodent by its long, dead tail and disposed of him in the garbage in the alley.

All day, I told myself that she brought a mouse onto the porch. A ridiculously large mouse but a mouse nonetheless. But then I remembered the long, hard tail and did enough Googling to realize it was a roof rat. They were living in our neighborhood two years ago and now it looks like they are returning. (Roof rats, fertilizer smell, coyotes – contrary to what my blogs say, I do live in a great neighborhood!)

Not alone –Roof Rat City

Turns out our little central Phoenix neighborhood isn’t the only one facing down roof rats. In 2017, Phoenix was named 12th Roof-rattiest city in the country in a study done by Terminix.

Roof rats aren’t native to metro Phoenix; they were first discovered in the Valley in the Arcadia area in 2002. Most likely, they were inadvertently brought here from a neighboring state. Apparently, they like to hitch a ride and have been known to travel cross country on commercial trucks. Yech.

They also like to climb. They’ll move along power lines and can climb up brick and stucco. When they reach their destination, they can enter homes through any nickel-sized opening. And true to their name, they like hanging out in  attics.

Roof rats can move 200-300 feet at night and are most active in the cooler months of the year, according to the City of Tempe.

Roof rats and your dog

What does the Return of the Roof Rat mean for your dog?

Chances are the rats will try to avoid your pooch as much as possible. (which is a good thing since rats carry around a lot of diseases, some that can be harmful to your dog). In fact, the dog may figure out the rats have re-located to your house before you do. Your dog’s sense of smell and hearing are far keener than yours. If she starts fixating on a spot or making a lot of trips into a room she never spends much time in, something could be up.

And it’s ironic that while rats will try to avoid your dog, the rats do think of your dog as a food source – anything from dog food that is left out to the dog poop that hasn’t been picked up in the yard. Yech, yeech.

And now, if you will pardon me, I’m calling an exterminator!

 

Fertilizer blues and the dog

artie trying to sample fertilizer on winter grass
Ah, fall in Phoenix. Can you smell the Pumpkin Spice Latte? Actually, in our neighborhood (and possibly yours) the smell of fall comes more from the fertilizer on people’s new winter lawns and less from brewing coffee. And that winter grass means all kinds of problems for my dog when we go on our daily walks.

In our neighborhood, many people over-seed their Bermuda grass with perennial ryegrass which grows lush and deep during the winter. Yes, those lawns do take a lot of water to maintain but geez, they look so nice!

But for my dog (and possibly yours), over-seeding time seems like an early Halloween, especially if your dog likes to eat poop. (No judgment here: dogs eat poop because well, they just do.) Think about it: Like Halloween, over-seeding time comes in the fall; one of the best parts is going house to house for “treats’’ and there can be a stomachache at the end. Sounds like over-seeding in my hood!

Protecting your dog from poop and pigeons

So this time of year, my neighbors mow their grass really low and clear out dead and unhealthy Bermuda grass with de-thatchers. The optimum time to over-seed in Arizona is right now, the first two weeks of October, or when the evening temperatures consistently stay below 65.

After the scalping, my hard-working neighbors throw grass seed over their now-naked yards.

Then problems begin. Pigeons flock into the yards to eat the grass seed; some OD on the stuff, and become sluggish and easier for dogs to bring down. (The previous beagle could bring down a pigeon and basically eat it in one gulp; the Current Beagle is a little more finicky.) But still the dog is now fixated on those plump, slow-moving pigeons. She tries to chase down every single one of them.

Compounding the problem is that after the pigeon-stuffing grass seed goes down, fertilizer is piled up high on the lawns. Most gardeners use a starter fertilizer that is a 6-20-20 (6-percent nitrogen, 20-percent phosphorus, 20-percent potassium) or 15-15-15 (15 percent each of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) mix.

Whatever the chemical composition is, it spells deliciousness for the Beagle, who is always willing to sample some new delicacy that could involve poop of any kind, regardless of which animal it came from. So, invariably, we bound into the neighbor’s newly fertilized yard. The string-and-tinfoil concoctions that neighbors put up to scare away pigeons are no match my determined beagle. Poop, pigeons, here we come!

Fertilizer: gross but is it dangerous?

Turns out the Beagle isn’t alone. Dogs eating fertilizer is pretty common, reports the Animal Poison Control Center run by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. In fact, calls about pets eating lawn and garden products were among its top 10 toxin calls in 2007.

Some dogs will tear open fertilizer bags to eat every last morsel. Most fertilizer ingestions cause mild GI upset and are not a huge concern, according to ASPCA. But the dogs who chow down on the whole bag can get bloated or experience some muscle stiffness or soreness after ingestion.

So, bottom line: the fertilizer may be dangerous and it is definitely kinda gross.

Happy Fall everyone; watch out for the poop and pigeons!