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!

 

 

Keeping the new car clean

how to keep car clean with dog
Well, I never thought it would happen – I got a new-to-me car! And now the big question: How do I keep it clean and still have my best friend (aka the dog) ride shotgun with me?

First, a confession:

Pigpen in the car

When it comes to the car, I am a slob of the highest order. There’s hiking gear, a tennis bag and swimming stuff in the trunk. I believe in recycling, so there are plastic bags that need to go back to the grocery store. There’s aluminum cans for the lady in the neighborhood who collects them. And I eat in the car – and the dog has loved that because there is always a crumb or chunk of something left behind for her to graze on. And there’s coffee stains and God-knows-what stains. It’s disgusting.

And there’s dog hair. So much dog hair. Literally a forest of little, spiky white short dog hairs are stuck in the fabric car seats and won’t let go.

It was permanently filthy but what the heck, it ran. Until one day it didn’t.

But no more

And enter the new car.

And by the power of Armor-all, I will keep this one clean.

Tomorrow is a test day, I’m taking Artie to the vet for some routine maintenance (for her, not the car). I haven’t had time to get all the seat covers and floor mats that I have been fantasizing about. So I am going to rig a bed- sheet-and bungee-cord contraption to fit over the seat and floor until I can get the slipcovers of my dreams.

(The dog riding shotgun is not the best possible thing – instead she should be crated in the back or strapped in on the backseat. But her in the passenger seat next to me makes me a more focused driver — that’s my rationalization and I’m sticking to it)

Tips on keeping car clean with a dog

In writing the latest version of Happy Dog Phoenix, I interviewed a Sedona auto detailer about how to get dog hair out of the car. He suggested some great tips (the book is available in late October).

But I am looking for ways to prevent the dog hair from even coming in and taking hold – and the new car even shows the hair I bring in by the seat of my pants. Who knew a human being could be a dog-hair carrier!

There are some tips I could find about preventing dog hair in the car:

  • Brush the dog before the trip
  • Brush yourself off — I now carry around a lint roller so much it feels like my second hand!
  • Choose easy-to-wipe leather seats
  • Contain the dog to one spot in the vehicle.

If you know of any others, please let me know.

Oh, no eating in the new car!

Winner — Dog Days Summer Challenge

Ta-dah!

The first-ever Happy Dog Phoenix Summer Challenge has a winner: Gail Horton.

As you may remember, the objective of the challenge was to submit up to seven suggestions on how to keep your dog cool during the summer. Gail came out of the gate strong on this one, suggesting six keep-cool ideas in just one day – including playing “Hide the Kibble’’ and “Hide and Seek’’

And she had the photos to back up her ideas.
dogs kayaking in phoenix summer

How we selected a Dog Days Summertime Challenge

But there was an element of luck in this as well. I tallied up the names of everyone who had submitted a summer cool-down idea. Way more than 30 suggestions – so an idea a day for a month! Sprinklers, stand-up paddling, shopping, mobile gyms, frozen treats and some serious napping were among the ideas. And then I wrote out each submission on a slip of paper and then randomly smeared one slip with peanut butter and then threw the slips in the air and let Artie the dog find the peanut-butter slip.

Sounds like work but it was kind of fun on a still-hot Sunday afternoon.

So, we have our winner and Gail will be getting a gift card for $120 that she can use at a local store.

Keeping cool in the summer

I loved seeing your photos and hearing your ideas of keeping the dog cool and happy during what I think was a pretty bad summer. There were those couple stinkin’ hot days in July and while I love the rain, this year’s humidity (and the high temps that came with it) really took it out of me. That’s why I loved the contest so – it felt like we were all in this together, dealing with the heat and taking care of our dogs together — it was a great feeling of camaraderie!

So, stay tuned – our Halloween costume challenge will be here before we know it! Or if you have any other contest ideas — please let me know.

And stay cool everyone!

 

Five Ways for Photo Fun with the Dog

Here’s a great indoor activity to do with the dog when it is so hot outside: photo shoot! And with a lot of great new apps, you don’t have to bother the dog with a lot of different attempts at being creative. She can resume her position guarding her spot on the sofa and you can create some different looks just by fiddling a little bit with the phone.

If you want some great tips on how to photograph your dog

So cuddle up with the dog, break out your phone and have some chill time as you two avoid the heat and turn her into a little star:

Barkcam

There’s an app – of course, there is – for sounds that will get your dog’s attention so that she looks at the camera. I tried Barkcam and it worked fine but frankly, I can get her attention pretty well as it as and I am a little worried about having the high-pitched sound going off and annoying the crap out of her if I mistakenly use the app.

Woofie

Again a nifty little way to get your dog’s attention as you try to take a photo of her. Woofie is a pet-treat dispenser that clips onto your phone/camera.

My Talking Pet

My Talking Pet costs $4.99 for my Iphone and I think it is totally worth it to make the dog talk. You can have the dog sound husky-like, ala Barry White or you can have her sound high-pitched like Mickey Mouse. Or add sunglasses, sombrero or text to the video. So much fun!

Christmas in July

It’s not too early to start thinking about the holidays. Either the cards you want to send out or the personalized gifts that you would like to give this season. Set up that photo studio and get this task done! Looking for inspiration?

Stamps or shoesfun with dog photos

And what to put on those cards that you send out five months from now? Dog stamps! Put her photo out there so that everyone from the mail carrier to Aunt Sue sees her lovely mug. Don’t use stamps anymore? How about shoes? You can make flip flops with your dog’s photo.

 

 

 

 

Coyotes in Central Phoenix

coyotes in central phoenix

We face a problem in our central Phoenix neighborhood: coyotes.

Amid all the new condos being built, there is a den of coyotes living on the Encanto Park/ Encanto Park Golf Course. And me and my other dog-loving neighbors worry about it.

Technically speaking, coyotes are part of the dog family but they also have been known to kill their canine cousins, especially smaller dogs.

If coyotes are in your neighborhood

In writing Happy Dog Phoenix, I contacted Arizona Game and Fish Department for advice about coyotes in the neighborhood (never thinking they would make it my central Phoenix ‘hood). They told me that if you see a coyote yell at it, wave your arms, make noise to scare it off. And remove all sources of food and water.

All fine advice.

Except I live next to large fields with plenty of hiding spots and small lakes. And lots of feral cats. I have good-hearted neighbors who feed stray cats, some of whom inevitably will become coyote food. There’s also other good-hearted neighbors, who see coyotes as just another one of Nature’s creatures and say we should just let them be.

I wish I could be so good hearted

But instead I selfishly worry about my little roly-poly potential coyote entrée, the Beagle, who would have no idea how to protect herself if attacked. She’s a goofball, not a fighter.

Would coyotes go after her? If the supply of feral cats decreases and the number of coyotes increase, they may.  Also, these coyotes are not afraid. I yelled and screamed at the coyote lounging on my front yard, and he just gave me a look, a shrug and sauntered off into the neighbor’s yard. Another neighbor has to charge them with an air horn to get them to move.

 What I am doing

Normally when I write a blog, I try to offer a solution. Right now, I have none. Except carrying a used golf club when I walk the dog, further cementing my reputation as a neighborhood eccentric.

On Monday, I contacted Phoenix Parks and Recreation. The first woman asked me to repeat my address because she couldn’t believe there were coyotes this far south. She transferred me to another woman who explained that they had unsuccessfully tried  to capture the coyotes but they can’t do anything more until the coyotes become aggressive.

I explained that I thought that was just waiting for trouble, especially if the coyotes are living on Encanto Park, which can be filled with children during weekends. By her silence, she indicated that it wasn’t her decision.

Then, I then called my City Council representative, Laura Pastor and spoke to someone who promised to get back to me. For the past two days, we have played phone tag — not his fault.

I’ll let you know what I find out.

In the meantime, beware of coyotes in central Phoenix and of strange women walking dogs and carrying golf clubs.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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!

 

Dangerous-to-Dogs Desert Plants

dog with dangerous plant
Springtime is busting out all over in metro Phoenix-land and the industrious among us are taking advantage of great weather to plant trees, vegetable gardens and landscaping — but what about the dog?

No, you really can’t get the dog to shovel the dirt for you (of course, they can dig – boy, can they dig) but you should think about the dog when choosing what is going into the ground at your house — surprisingly, a lot of common desert-garden mainstays can be poisonous to your four-legged buddy.

Plants poisonous to pooch

    • Aloe: Causes vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, depression, tremors, change in urine color
    • Bed of paradise: Nausea, diarrhea, lack of coordination, increased heart rate
    • Lantana: Bloody diarrhea, frequent urination, shock, vomiting
    • Oleander:Vomiting, diarrhea, loss of coordination, shallow/difficult breathing, cardiac failure
    • Sago palms: Black (tarry) stools, jaundice, increased thirst, bruising, liver damage

 

Our friends at Sonoran Foothills Pet Clinic have a very comprehensive list of plants that can be dangerous to your dog’s health. The chart also includes photos so you can easily ID plants. So check it out before heading to the nursery!

Keep your dog out of the plants

Follow these simple strategies to help prevent your dog from being accidentally poisoned:

  • Vigilance: Keep an eye on your dog while they are outside
  • Alternatives:If your dog loves to dig, set up an alternative spot where they can dig to their heart’s content.
  • Alternatives (part 2): Be liberal with the dog chews and chewing toys. Make your garden less attractive to your little digger.
  • Exhaustion: Exercise the dog more often; a tired dog is going to be sleeping inside instead of heading out to the Great Outdoors.

It’s also a great idea to keep a list of important phone numbers in a visible, easily accessible location and at the ready on your cell phone. Dial in:

  • Your primary veterinarian
  • One or more nearby 24-hour veterinary emergency clinics
  • ASPCA Poison Control: (888) 426-4435 (possible fee)