Raccoons and dogs may not mix

raccoons in central Phoenix?
As someone living in Phoenix with a dog, you tend to be worried about coyotes and javalina but what about the animal kingdom’s masked banditos, raccoons?

You could have raccoons in your neighborhood, even if you live in the middle of the city. Areas around the Arizona Biltmore, north central Phoenix and Moon Valley attract the intelligent, nocturnal, omnivorous creatures. They are drawn to these areas’ supplies of water (canals, golf course lakes) and tall trees in which they can roost.

Cue the raccoons

But what they love best is easy-to-get food. Does your neighborhood have a lot of feral cats and tender-hearted neighbors who like to feed these cats? Cue the raccoons. They love outdoor buffets and will enjoy going from house to house eating food left out for cats.

If you have a raccoon in your neighborhood, what does this mean for your dog? Aren’t raccoons vicious, dangerous and full of rabies? What happens if a raccoon bites your dog?

Well, good news. The Arizona variety of raccoons don’t carry as many diseases as their East Coast cousins, who can easily have rabies, according to Darren Julian, spokesman for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Think of it as karmic payback for us Arizonans having to deal with coyotes, scorpions, javalina and other desert threats to our dogs. At least we don’t have to freak out about raccoons.

What to worry about

However….

Although they aren’t carriers of disease, raccoons can get violent toward dogs especially if they feel boxed in. A cornered, angry raccoon can bite and scratch a dog something fierce. And while the Arizona variety may not have rabies, they can leave bites that left untreated could develop into bad infections.

If you have the critters in the area, just keep an eye on your dog at night to discourage any dog/raccoon skirmishes, Julian says.

And if you want to live in a raccoon-free area, he suggests changing the way you or your neighbors feed stray cats. One method would be to encourage the cats to come into to be fed at regular times instead of the free-feeding method.

Free-feeding can encourage free loaders, even those cute, pesky little raccoons.

 

 

 

 

Monsoons and your dog

help your dog during storm
It’s that time in Phoenix, when the monsoon storm clouds roll in and dogs sneak under beds to escape the booming sounds. Does your dog suffer during this rainy, noisy season?

Happy to report that in this house the Beagle is can hear a cheese bag rustle from three doors down but she seems tone deaf to thunder and lightening.

We asked Alexis Siler, clinical assistant professor, Midwestern University College of Veterinary Medicine and the Midwestern University Companion Animal Clinic for her suggestions on helping dogs during monsoon season:

How can I calm my dog when it thunders outside during monsoons?

ThunderShirts can be helpful if your dog is fearful or anxious during storms. They hug your dog’s body to apply gentle pressure to hopefully make them feel more secure.

Often dogs will try to hide to avoid thunderstorms. If your dog seems anxious or restless, you may want to try providing a safe place for him to go. This secure space should be readily available, especially if nobody is home. You can also try closing doors and windows. Or you can use white noise or music to block out the sounds.

If your dog is food motivated, you can engage them in fun exercises like food puzzle toys, etc.

You might try playing recordings of thunderstorm sounds and pairing that with pleasant outcomes, such as treats or a new toy, to desensitize your dog to storms.

If your dog exhibits extreme or persistent anxiety, consult with your veterinarian since these animals may need rapidly-acting anti-anxiety medications.

Are there things I shouldn’t do during the monsoon?

It’s also important not to panic or show your dog your own anxiety to avoid making it worse for them.  Any change in your behavior (holding, cuddling, consoling, etc.) can easily condition a fear response and exacerbate the anxious behavior.

If your dog’s anxiety is minimal and recovers quickly, ignore the behavior so he may adapt to storms.

Why does my dog freak out during thunderstorms?

Fear of thunderstorms is a common concern. One thought is that loud noises from overhead are difficult for dogs to orient to, which makes them anxious.  Many dogs adjust to the sounds of a thunderstorm, but some are more sensitive and the fear can become worse with each exposure. The degree of anxiety a dog feels is based on the dog’s perception of the noise as a threat.

Are certain breeds more affected than others?

Thunderstorm phobias can occur in any breed, but some believe herding breeds and cross-breeds are at an increased risk.

Summer exercising for your dog

Vida on treadmills -- shes available for adoption

It still is hot out there and the dog is getting antsy with no exercise. What’s a good way to get her moving during the brutal Phoenix summer?

Try a treadmill. You know, that machine stationed in your bedroom that you use as a clothing rack.

Your dog can get a chance at some real activity by logging some time on the treadmill.

Dogs love their time on the treadmill, says Lost our Home Foundation, a Tempe-based animal rescue group. LOH uses their treadmill to give their adoptable dogs a chance to burn off some energy, keep trim and remain in better spirits while they wait to be adopted.

How to get the dog used to treadmill exercise

Gina Page, who oversees LOH’s treadmill program, says hundreds of dogs have stepped on the treadmill and gotten the hang of it immediately.

LOH uses a regular human treadmill — in fact, Gina loves the program so much that she donated a used treadmill to the foundation. Some dogs immediately take to the machine. Others need “treat motivation” to get on the machine, she says.

“Once they get going (whether they needed a treat or not)  it is like an epiphany.

LOH always starts dogs off with a slow pace, like half a mile an hour. Once the dogs become proficient, they get them going on a  faster clip, usually around two miles an hour.

Once dogs get used to this summer exercise

After a few weeks of consistent training, LOH’s dogs log 10 to 20 minutes.

Specially trained volunteers watch the dogs on the treadmill to make sure they moving at a comfortable speed.

LOH always has a person around to supervise the dogs and make sure they are not left unattended. They never tether dogs to the treadmill. And they leave water close by so dogs can get a big drink after their workout

Longtime LOH shelter dog Vida, a seven-year Boxer mix who is all sweetie, loves her time on the treadmill. Vida is LOH’s longest resident and she just needs a house with no other animals and a family who likes to walk.

 

Would you like to volunteer? LOH always is looking people to help “walk” the dog on the treadmill.

 

 

Dogs at Work

take your dog to work in central Phoenix
Today is National Take Your Dog to Work Day but how great would it be if you worked where you had canine companionship all the time?

Sandra Munoz and Jeremy Gunter have it. They both have work spaces at CO+HOOTS, central Phoenix’s first shared coworking spot. The ultra-friendly spot was recently named by Inc magazine as the No. 4-ranked shared work space in the U.S.

Could it be because of the dogs?

Odeen Dominguez, CO+HOOTS Foundation cofounder, says that in the sometimes lonely world of owning your business,  it’s good to have an-always loyal supporter, even if they have no checkbook.

“In a space where entrepreneurs are putting their all into building their businesses from scratch, having dogs around allows for a much needed mental break that we’re happy to provide,” he says.

Cool space for canines

Sandra Munoz, owner of the Latinaology Hispanic women website, always brings Vanilla with her when she comes to write and network with others. The Maltese/Cocker Spaniel/Papillion/??? dog loves CO+HOOTS’ cool vibe as well as its cool concrete floors.

As part of her multifaceted entrepreneurial world, Munoz also writes automobile reviews. And of course, Vanilla, comes with for test drives– what dogs doesn’t love going on a car ride?

take your dog to work in central phoenix
Dogs as work place dealbreakers

For Jeremy Gunter, finding a job that allowed his dog, Chloe, was high on his list of workplace criteria. No Chloe; No Jeremy. Ackmann & Dickenson, website designers, got it that the smallish German Shepard was part of a package deal. Now, the two come to work everyday.

Weather permitting, Jeremy and Chloe walk from home to work and back. The walk helps mellow Chloe out for a day at the office, where she hangs out in her special corner and has a small arsenal of toys.

For Jeremy, Chloe’s presence provides some steady companionship and eliminates the need for him to go home and check on her. Did you know that one in five workers say they go home at lunch to check on their dogs?

What about the rest of us?

So what if you don’t work in a totally cool place like Sandra or Jeremy?

Perhaps it is a good idea to remind your manager and those in HR that there are a lot of advantages of having doggies in the office. Canines can help break down cubicle walls. Chances are that even if that person denied your budget request, you still will like her dog. And maybe that person isn’t such a jerk since she has such a nice dog.

Need more ammo to change workplace policies? Here a list of companies that let you bring your dog to work . Maybe it is time to follow in their paw steps!

 

 

Heatwave — keeping your dog safe!

phoenix dogs during heat wave
Yea, it is hot in Phoenix now. Hot for you and the dog. Blazing, furnace-level hot. Mucho de heat.

We checked in with our friends at Blue Pearl Specialty and Emergency Vet in Gilbert for some info on how to keep your dogs safe during this excessive heat. Here’s a great Q and A with Dr. Gloriana Halterman, DVM

What should dogs drink in the heat? Anything besides water?

Water is really best. Things like Gatorade or Pedialyte have a lot of sugar. Having lots of fresh, cool water available is the most helpful thing to do for your pet. Misting sprays can also help your pet dissipate some of the heat.

My dog still wants to walk in the heat. What can I do?

It’s tough. But when it gets this hot, sometimes you have to say, “We just can’t do it.” One option may be to wait for the sun to go down. But you’ll still need to be cautious. Another option is to seek out an indoor exercise area, such as a doggie day care that is well air-conditioned.

What about booties? Do they help?

They can be helpful, but the problem is they get worn down with extended use. And we don’t want to be overly reliant on them because then we can encounter the other problems that the heat brings, such as heatstroke. If it’s hot enough, you can use them to help your dog walk short distances — just enough to get from one place to another.

How about having the dog just walking on grass when it is hot?

Grass is better than concrete. But be cautious around dry, broken grass. And especially with artificial turf — this may look like it would be cooler but it can actually get quite hot.

What else should I know dogs and this kind of heat?

One thing that we really want to stress is to take caution if you have a breed of dog that is brachycephalic, such as a pug or a bulldog. Because of their short noses, these breeds are very prone to heat-related problems. Last year, I had a horrible case of a family who had their bulldog out at 9 p.m. at night on the Fourth of July and he still got heatstroke. Just be very, very cautious if you have one of these dogs.

Also, if you suspect your dog is suffering heat-related problems, please don’t dunk her in an ice bath. You may accidentally lower her body temperature too dramatically. Instead, gently cool your dog with wet towels, a mister or a fan.

What have you seen so far during this heat wave?

We haven’t actually seen as many heat-related cases as you may think at our Gilbert hospital. We did have one case of heatstroke and another dog with bloat who had skin lesions that appeared to be heat related. It’s actually more common to see heat-related cases at the start of the summer. Right now, when it’s so brutally hot, everyone is very cognizant of the heat. It’s earlier in the season that people are generally less aware of it. But we will continue to see some cases throughout the summer.
Great advice about keeping our dogs safe when it so hot out there, Dr. H — thanks so much for the info!

Hiking with your dog in northern Arizona

hiking with dog near Prescott
How hot is it going to be in Phoenix next week? 117???? Yee-ow – time for people and dogs (and people with dogs) to get out of town and go hiking in the hills in northern Arizona.

We caught up with awesome Mare Czinar, Arizona hiker extraordinaire, to ask her recommendations on hiking in northern Arizona with your dogs.

Mare, who has eight dogs at home, shared some good suggestions.

Prep before you go hiking

Make sure your dog is ready to hit the trail. Get her vaccinated and protected against ticks, fleas and other summertime dangers, says Mare.

It’s also good to have the veterinarian give your dog the once-over before doing any serious long-distance hiking just to make sure she is in good shape.

Also,know what trails require dogs to be on leashes. That’s especially handy when you share the trail with horses; a loose dog can get a horse tangled up pretty fast and that can lead to some bad complications (true story!)

Water, water, water

The biggest problem Mare sees on the trails is that people don’t bring enough water for their dogs. It’s important that people give their dogs water before, during and after the hike.

Generally speaking, larger dogs might drink 0.5 to one ounces of water per pound. Dogs 20 pounds and lighter will be closer to 1.5 ounces per pound per day. And just like with people, it always pays to have more water than you think you will use.

Water is the best insurance you can have on the trails. If you or your dog get hurt, you will be grateful for that extra water you carried.

Favorite dog-friendly hiking trails

Two of Mare’s favorite hikes to go on with her dogs are Horton’s Creek near Payson and Parson’s Trail near Sedona. She loves these spots with with running water but she also cautions that that water can be harmful to your dog. Water contaminated by animal or human waste can contain bacteria, which can cause diarrhea and worse for your dog.

Hiking with dogs, is just like hiking with humans – a little prep work goes a long way.

Happy trails everyone!

Swimming for dogs

dogs enjoying swimming pool in phoenix
Hanging out in the swimming pool can be the perfect anecdote for the Phoenix heat for you and your dog!

Some dogs are just naturals around water; others, well, they don’t like it and they’re afraid of it. Some of the dogs I have had the hardest time bathing are the first ones to jump in the pool. Dogs, go figure!

Swimming can provide an excellent summer cool down for dogs as well as a way to burn off some pent-up energy. Teaching your dog to swim also makes sense safetywise since every year, more than 10,000 dogs drown in the United States – mostly because they easily found their way into a pool, but couldn’t find their way out.

Just like there is a right way for humans to learn swimming, there’s also a right way to get your dog to come into the pool, with you, say behavior experts.

Start in the shallow end of swimming pool

Ideally your pool has steps. Start there with your doggie swim lessons in the pool. It’s a good way to remind them that there is an exit from this big tube of water. If you have any doubt about your dog swimming in water (i.e water is not their middle name – Portuguese water dog, for example), start out by having them wear a life vest. Look for a lifejacket with a handle that you can use to guide your dog in the water and a D-ring to attach a leash. Attach a leash, and walk slowly into the water, letting him get used to having wet feet.

Bring some training treats, toys and your positive tone of voice to reinforce your dog as he enters the water. Gradually take him into deeper water until he must start paddling to stay afloat. Make sure he is using his front and rear legs to paddle, otherwise he will become exhausted really fast. To get all the legs moving, put your arm under his belly.

 After swimming activities

Remind him of the stairs as you get out of the pool. And now, it’s time for some more water: give him a good rinse with fresh water to get rid of all the pool chemicals. And some water to drink. All that moving in the water can be deceptively exhausting. And after that, it wouldn’t hurt for one more treat. And a big, big beach towel to get dried off with.  Learn more about keeping your dog safe around swimming-pool chemicals

Worried that you are not the person to teach your dog to swim? Phoenix has at least two companies that will provide dog swimming lessons:

 

Dogs and vacation

Amazingly, we are already in June and dreaming of taking time off. But, what about the dog – as we so often ask around here? If you are headed to destination that is not so dog friendly, where is Poochie going to stay?

When it comes to finding a dog-sitting place in metro Phoenix, there are a lot of options – and they all have one thing in common: book early!

Here are some choices you have in finding a place who will care for your dog while you are on R&R:

Dog-sitting friends:

Pros: Whether you drop off the dog at their house or they come over to your place to watch the dog and live off your AC while you are gone, friends make a terrific dog-sitting option. Dogs can still enjoy their favorites (the sofa, bed, stack of dirty laundry) and remain the spoiled little member of royalty that they are.

Cons: What happens if the dog pees in your friend’s house? Or rips up the sofa? What happens if the dog gets really sick while you are gone? Or if the dog escapes? Is your friendship strong enough to handle these potential crises? Talk with your friend before handing over the leash.

Professional dog sitters

Pros: If your dog has special needs (i.e. older, poor health, behavioral problems), a professional pet sitter may be for you. Your dog can still hang out where they are most comfortable. Some pet sitters come to your house twice a day; others spend the night or take the dog home with them. Many are trained in CPR and have experience in giving medications.

Cons: The rates are really flexible. Some charge $22 per 20-30 minute visit; while others charge $100 for an overnight visit. Others charge extra for holidays or more than one dog. Contact the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters or Pet Sitters International  for some suggestions. But nothing beats personal referrals. Also make time in your schedule for the prospective pet sitter to come to the house so you and the dog can check him out. That first get-to-know-your-dog visit should be complimentary.

Doggie daycare

Pros: Some of these places are palatial — your dog may stay at a  swankier resort than you do.  Some doggie day care places go all out with a swimming pool, play spaces, Animal Planet on the flat-screen and lots of doggie camaraderie. So if your dog loves other dogs, check this out.

Cons: Paradise is never cheap. Daily rates can range from $40 to $70.  That can add up if you are gone on an extended va-cay. Many of these new-style boarding facilities also offer day care, which means your dog could be boarded at a place she already knows.

Alternatives? Your veterinarian’s office can offer boarding as well. It may not be fancy but your dog will be monitored by professionals. 

No matters which option suits you for this vacation, act fast. Good places book up; others charge last-minute-appointment fees. And if you are taking your dog to a place with other dogs, you may to have make sure she is up to date on her vaccinations.

And what about the hardest part—saying goodbye? Experts say avoid long, emotional farewells that could only upset your dog. Instead, bring back treats (lots of them!)

Happy vacationing!

 

Hikes, dogs and the heat

dog hike on hot trail

Want to take your dog out for a hike?

Just do it before it gets to be 100 degrees out – that’s the law now in the city of Phoenix.

The city of Phoenix changed what had been an interim policy into a permanent ban and now dogs shouldn’t be on th trails once the temperature is 100 degrees or more. Phoenix is the first city in the country to have laws like this on the books.

New hiking rules for dogs

The new rules cover all city of Phoenix trails; however there are certain Phoenix trails that dogs can’t go on no matter what the weather is.

Under PCC 24-54 (failure to comply), people who hike with their dogs when it is 100 degrees or hotter could be subject to a Class One Misdemeanor that could include a fine of up to $2,500 and six months jail time.

Why do we need such a rule for hikes?

Anyone who hikes in Phoenix knows the answer to this. We’ve all seen dogs on out on trail when it was just too hot for them. It’s one thing for dumb humans to go out when it is too hot but it’s just unconscionable to bring a dog out in the heat like that.

Phoenix veterinarians who practice near popular city hiking trails report they frequently treat hiker dogs who have been overheated. And, vet warn sometimes dogs brought in for heat exhaustion don’t survive the ordeal.

While the city of Phoenix didn’t have any statistics on the numbers of dogs affected by heat in the mountain preserves , the city of Glendale reported in 2011 that three dogs passed away on trails. The only way the city knew about those deaths was because the fire department was called to help the dogs. “For everyone incident reported, we believe there are dozens of animal fatalities that we don’t hear about,’’ said Sue Breding, Glendale spokeswoman.

Heat is dangerous for dogs

Dogs can’t cool off as easily as humans because they don’t sweat like we do.

Dog lovers who want to get some exercise with the dog, should do it early in the morning or in the evening and bring plenty of water. And know the signs of heat distress in your dog.

Let’s stay safe (and legal) out there!

 

 

 

 

 

Play (dog) baseball!

dog days at Arizona Diamondbacks baseball in Phoenix
Photo courtesy of Arizona Diamondbacks baseball

Baseball is back and that means you can have a hot dog with your dog at an Arizona Diamondbacks games in downtown Phoenix this season.

Last year, the Diamondbacks became the first of any kind of baseball team to offer an entire dog-friendly seating area through its Dog Days of Summer promotion. And because many of those games at the PetSmart Patio were sell outs, they are expanding it Mondays this year.

That means you can take your dog to 12 Sunday afternoon games and eight Monday night games at Chase Field this summer.

What you get at the baseball game

Dog Days offers a semi-private space with all the comforts for four people and one dog. You get All-You-Can-Eat hot dogs, soda, water, popcorn, peanuts, and chips. There’s also dog-friendly ice cream.

Dogs can also run around and play in Chase Field’s outdoor and indoor (air-conditioned) dog park.

In addition to having sellout games, the Dog Days of Summer were a success in another way: onsite adoptions held during the event allowed 58 dogs to find forever homes.

Check out the schedule if you are interested in taking the dog to the D’back ball games.

Does your love of dogs and baseball go even farther? Many teams in the National League West are sponsoring dog-day events. You and the dog could hit the road to catch a game in cooler place this summer.

Check out this list of dog-friendly games across the country

See you at the ball field!