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)

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!

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

Emergency prep and your dog

emergency dog sticker in window

We all know bad things can happen fast.

Phoenix is far away from Tornado Alley but we aren’t immune from floods, fires and other emergencies. Electric outage anyone?

September is the month dedicated for Emergency Preparedness and it is a good time to figure out what to do with your dog in an emergency. Here’s some tips:

Get a rescue alert sticker

This easy-to-use sticker will let firefighters, paramedics know that pets are inside your home. Get your stickers here. Or here. (Or the next time you see me, ask. I have some!)

Figure out your dog’s safe haven before an emergency

Everyday emergencies — medical crises — happen, too. Before anything happens, figure out who you can trust with your housekey and your dog. Make sure this person knows your dog’s feeding and medication times and habits incase you aren’t able to make it home. Other dog emergency-preparedness tips:

  • If you use a pet-sitting service, find out if they can help in case of an emergency.
  • Contact hotels and motels outside your area to find out if they accept dogs. Ask about any restrictions on number or size and if they would change policies in case of an emergency. This is a really handy list to have if the power or the AC goes out.
  • Ask friends or relatives outside your neighborhood if they would shelter you and your pets—or just your pets—if necessary.
  • Call ahead to see if emergency shelters will take your dog. The American Red Cross, for example, doesn’t take pets, except for service animals.

Prepare dog emergency supplies and traveling kits

  • Keep your dog’s essential supplies in sturdy containers that can be carried (a duffle bag or covered trash containers, for example). Checklist of pet emergency-preparedness kit.
  •  Make sure all pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date identification information. Your dog’s ID tag should contain her name, telephone number and any urgent medical needs. Be sure to also write your pet’s name, your name and contact information on your pet’s carrier.
  • Get your dog microchipped.

If you evacuate, take the dog.

Rule number one: If it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets. You have no way of knowing how long you’ll be kept out of the area, and you may not be able—or allowed—to go back for your pets. Dogs left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost or killed.

Stay safe everyone!

 

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:

dog-play-decrypted-002-use

 

Frozen dog treats so delish

Next week, summer returns to Phoenix with a predicted 106-degree boom. Why not plan ahead and whip up some frozen dog treats (and maybe some for yourself)?

Here are some yummy, easy DIY recipes for you and your little buddy, they range from one ingredient nibbles to complicated (ok, three-item) delish treats.

frozen dog treats
Very simple treats

  • Frozen green beans, sweet potatoes (both great sources of fiber for Fidos)
  • Frozen pieces of fruit
  • Frozen chicken bouillon cubes (use low-sodium bouillon if possible)

frozen dog treats
Frozen watermelon treats

Watermelon is a good source of Vitamins C and A, potassium and magnesium for dogs. But canines can’t handle the seeds or rinds.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of  watermelon (seedless, or if not, then remove the seeds)
  • 1 cup coconut milk or coconut water
  • 1/4 cup honey (optional)

Directions:

Put all three ingredients in a blender and puree. Pour the liquid into some ice cube trays and freeze.

sanka enjoying frozen treat

Frozen Yogurt Dog Treats Recipe

Makes 30-40 Cubes

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups yogurt, plain
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed

Directions:

  1. Melt peanut butter in microwave for about 30 seconds
  2. Place all of the ingredients into a blender, mixer or food processor and mix well (until smooth)
  3. Pour into ice cube trays or Popsicle trays.
  4. Freeze until firm.
  5. Pop out of the tray (you’ll need a knife) and let your dog enjoy this frozen treat!

Let us know how these work for you or if you have any frozen treats you love to give to your dog. Want to go out for some treats – we have you covered.

Enjoy and stay cool!