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.

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.’’


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 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!

Dog Park Season

scottsdale dog park

Phoenix weather, especially at night and in the mornings, appears to be cooling off so now is a great time to introduce (or re-introduce) your dog to the neighborhood dog park.

These dog parks provide a great way for dogs to meet other dogs and people and well, frankly, for people to meet other people.

Here’s a list of metro Phoenix dog parks. If you know of any others, please let us know. We are trying to update our list!

Also dog parks allow our little friends to get some physical and mental exercise. That running around makes them less likely to destroy the house.

But — and there is always a but — there’s always a chance of your dog getting in fights or picking up strange parasites and diseases as a result of going to the park.

Our friend Abby Quillen has come up with some terrific tips on dog-park etiquette. She covers getting your dog dog-park ready, health hazards, behavior and general do’s and don’ts at the park.

Important reminder for all Phoenix peeps and dogs! Bring water — just in case. The weather hasn’t cooled off that much. And you never can be sure about the quantity and quality of water at any park

Check out Abby’s nifty, visual dog-park primer:



More dog foes

seasons greeeting use for now

Seasons barkings!

It’s not your imagination. The dog is barking more than normal and it is because of the UPS and FedEx trucks that are trolling the neighborhoods dropping off packages for good little boys and girls or least those whose credit cards aren’t maxed out yet.

Your dog may as a matter of course bark at the mail carrier. A point we have already discussed. But the Fed Ex and UPS trucks provide even more reasons for Fido to throw a fit.

Both carriers’ trucks are designed to run on diesel and because their engines are designed differently than regular passenger vehicles, they give off a different sounding hum. A hum that is apparently the canine version of nails on a chalkboard. Humans can detect any sounds less than 20,000 Hz; dogs can detect frequencies as high as 45,000 Hz. So your dog can definitely hear the UPS truck coming down the road. And, chances are, she can hear the Amazon drones when they approach.

But a Bigger Question is “Will she hear Santa?’’ I am guessing she will and she may bark but that’s OK because Santa, being Santa, just has to be a dog lover.


Death by blankie?

4250877391_ab139f5749_bHow do dogs sleep under the covers and not suffocate?

This question comes to us from a Very Important Five Year Old and we needed to get on it pronto.

Also, since

Phoenix is experiencing its own version of Artic weather (32 degrees – how can we stand it?), dogs are now getting under the blankets with the rest of us.


So, now is a great time to discuss dogs’ enjoyment of tunneling under the bed covers. For some, it comes naturally. Dachshunds and terriers, bred to burrow underground to dislodge varmints, love crawling under the blankies. Huskies, who are genetically programmed to burrow because of true Artic temps, do it as well.

For the rest of the breeds, it comes from a desire to be back in the den, warm and safe from intruders. And it fits in nicely with their strategy for complete Bed Domination.

For most, sleeping under the covers isn’t a problem. They move so much during the night in their efforts to control the bed that they shift the covers and create fresh air supply. Being squished by others in the bed can be a greater hazard to smaller dogs than suffocation.

But people with brachycephalic breeds such as bulldogs may want to discourage their pups from long periods of hibernation under the blankets, just to be safe.

All in all, canine death by blanket suffocation should not even be on your list of things to worry about. Just cozy up with your favorite hound and let sleeping dogs lie.

Your dog’s nemesis


The Dog hates the mail carrier.

Is it the shorts? The pinched-off little vehicle? The Clipper Coupon magazine?

Whatever it is, our mail carrier – and it doesn’t matter which one—really sets off the normally mellow dog.

And while it is easy to be snarky about the carrier’s shorts and sensible shoes, it is pretty easy to figure out what is going on here.

The carrier comes to the house; the dog barks, barks, barks. And just keeps barking and the carrier leaves. In your pooch’s mind, she has won. Barking herself almost hoarse means the intruder has been scared off until the next day. Once again, the dog has earned her keep and maybe an extra peanut butter chew.

Well, at least the dog is happy with this scenario. It’s amazing annoying to everyone else of course but as long as you keep her inside and away from an actual encounter with the carrier, there is no actual harm.

In 2013, Phoenix was ranked 11th in the country for dog bites of postal workers, with 32 attacks. If you are worried that your dog may go from barker to biter, here are a couple of tips:

  • If a letter carrier delivers mail or packages to your front door, place your dog into a separate room and close the door before opening the front door. Dogs have been known to burst through screen doors or plate-glass windows to get at strangers.
  • Parents should remind their children not to take mail directly from letter carriers in the presence of the family pet as the dog may see handing mail to a child as a threatening gesture.

So let’s be safe out there, everyone! Including that  little noisy dog at her post