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!

 

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!

 

 

Hiking with the dog in or around Phoenix

hiking near tortoise trail in phoenix
Went to a great presentation at the Paradise Valley REI the other night about hiking with your dog in the Arizona desert — I and several other interested dog people/hikers came to learn from the instructor, Chris, and swap stories about being out there with the dog.

All of us agreed that having your dog on the trail with you is one of the best things ever – It provides both of you with some exercise and bonding time and it is an excellent way to have some companionship without having to say too much.

Chris suggested that before you go it is a good idea to talk with your vet first to let them know your hiking goals. The vet can assess your dog’s fitness and give some any Fido-specific first-aid tips.

When hiking with the dog

He also suggested some other prep work to get you and the dog ready for a Big Outdoors Adventure:

  • Need to have a leash: Non-retractable is preferred. Rein in your dog to prevent them from stumbling onto snakes. Also, some people have gotten their legs shredded when leashes got wrapped around their legs as their dogs lurched for something. It’s good to have a leash with less “give.’’
  • Poop bags: All local trails require people to clean up after their dogs; dog poop carries several disease and viruses harmful to other dogs and people.
  • Medications: You can carry several over-the-counter drugs with you in case of emergencies – talk with your vet to make sure these are right for your dog:
    • Anti-histamines for allergic reactions or swelling. Benadryl is a favorite.
    • Hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting
    • Buffered aspiring for pain
  • Extra bandana and cool towel: Place them on dog’s neck, armpits and ears to cool your baby down
  • Tweezers, pliers, comb, Leatherman: Any of these can help do the trick when your dog dives into cholla.
  • Water: Do you have enough for you and the dog? What about if you were stranded or had to carry the dog out? What about if you ran across another dog in trouble?
  • Vet phone number: Do you have it as part of your contacts on your phone? And do you know where the nearest 24/7 emergency clinic is – just in case.

When getting ready for a hike, I always feel that I am prepping for the Apocalypse. But it’s simply preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. And usually, it is the best, when you are out there with your dog.

Where to hike with your dog?? We have some trails for you

Snow dogs!

emma the dog playing in snow
Photo by Randy Binting

Like OMG, there’s snow – and a lot of it — only two hours away from Phoenix. Flagstaff has gotten three feet of the cold, white stuff in the past six days.

Should your weekend plans include a trip to the mountains for you and the dog to play in the snow?

Absolutely! Dogs love the snow – for them, it’s just a new way to play. It’s like a gigantic cardboard box that they can  shred, only it is colder and whiter.

Fun for the dog in the snow

So romp away — just keep these tips in mind when taking your desert dog up to the High Country:

  • Elevation: Just like you, your dog may need a way to adapt to the higher elevation before doing a lot of exertion.
  • Temperature: Ditto for the cold weather. Again just like you, your dog is going to need a thicker coat to hang out in 20-degree daytime temps. Choose a bright colored doggie coat for easier spotting in the snow.
  • Temperature (part 2): Even the coziest coat can’t prevent frostbite on ears, paws or tails. Try getting the dog out in late morning or early afternoon when temperatures are warmest. If you notice the dog is whining, shivering, appearing anxious, or looking for places to burrow, take him indoors.
  • Watch out for toxins: Always keep an eye out for any antifreeze spill. Take your dog to the vet immediately if you think he has lapped up some of the sweet poisonous stuff, take him to the vet immediately.
  • Paw protection: Help protect his dry and sensitive paws by coating them with a small amount of paw protectant (natural cooking spray works too!) before walkies.
  • Easy clean-up: Keep containers of warm water as well as clean towels to spruce up the dog before he gets back in your vehicle.

Going up to the cold climate for outdoors romps may not be a good idea for your older or more fragile dogs –may be leave them behind on this trip.

Where to eat after you and the dog play in the snow? — We have some suggestions for dog-friendly restaurants in Flagstaff!

Road-trip tips

Also, remember there’s basically only one road from Flagstaff to Phoenix and it can get backed up. Make sure you have some extra water and snacks for dogs and humans alike in case of traffic jams and accidents. Call 511 or go to az511.com for road conditions before you head out

Stay safe! Stay warm! Go snow!

 

 

 

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!

TV dog

artie on Ch. 12 AZ Midday show
So, Channel 12 called and invited me to be on their AZ Midday Show to talk about where to take the dog in Phoenix. “Could I bring Artie the Beagle?’’, I asked. “Bring her on down,’’ they said.

Thank goodness that I did.

Look — we are on TV! Video

The extraordinarily friendly Midday staff put us in front of a bar and had little Artie sit on top of a bar stool. “How long while she actually sit there?.’’ I wondered.

She was perfect. During the interview on dog-friendly Phoenix, she looked adoringly at me and thoughtfully at the hosts, Destry Jetton and Jan D’Atri.

And she let me pet her to death as I got through the interview. Sweaty palms and all.

Whew. It was over. Artie was down off the stool and nosing around the set, when I heard a yell across the area. “Artie!’’. It was Melissa Gable, Maricopa County’s crack PIO for Animal Care and Control.

Artie is famous (infamous?)

How does Melissa Gable know my dog?

Turns out Melissa knew Artie from the pound. I adopted Artie from Arizona Beagle Rescue but apparently before that, she was at the county pound. Melissa saw her there and had her on television in hopes that someone would adopt her. She even had a glam photo of made of her. Who knew? Artie had some showbiz experience.

Apparently, Artie’s TV debut didn’t pan out so well. And I ended up with her. To this day, I am still amazed that someone as loyal and loving as Artie was ditched at the pound. Some people.

So, the morale of the story? You never know what kind of dog you find at rescues. One may just be a born TV star.

Artie on TV Channel 12

Pumpkin-mania for dogs

dogs love pumpkin
This Fall, remember your dog loves pumpkin, too.

We’ve turned off the AC and opened the doors and windows, so that means its Fall in Phoenix. Hurray! The season only lasts for a few days here – so enjoy every minute of it.

Fall in Phoenix doesn’t involve any changing leaves. In fact, the only color we see a lot of is orange as in pumpkin as in pumpkin that everyone from coffee shops to grocery stores to soap makers are pitching this time of the year.

Your dog can get in on the pumpkin-mania, too.

Pumpkin and your dog’s health

Raw pumpkin is not great for dogs – so keep Fido away from the Jack-o-laterns!

But cooked, canned, unsweetened pumpkin and pumpkin seeds can help dogs with everything from weight loss to improved digestion. Ask your veterinarian first about any plans to make pumpkin a regular addition to your dog’s diet.

  • Regular Digestion: If your dog’s stools are either too loose or too hard, try adding one or two tablespoons of plain pumpkin.
  • Weight Loss: Mix some soaked dry kibble with a tablespoon of canned pumpkin. Pumpkin’s extra fiber boost lets your dog’s tummy think it is full faster.
  • Skin and Coat: Pumpkin seeds can help keep your dog’s skin and fur from drying out – especially nice with the area’s lower humidity.

Pumpkin treats for your dog

Here are three nifty ways to use this fall favorite as a treat for the dog:

  • Recipes: (No-bake peanut butter pumpkin rolls sounds pretty delish)
  • Pumpkin seeds: Spread raw, cleaned seeds evenly onto a baking sheet, lightly coat with cooking oil, roast in a 375-degree oven for five to 10 minutes, and cool. One or two seeds makes a great dog treat.
  • Frozen treats: The typical can of well, canned, pumpkin, is 15 ounces, which means you will have left over pumpkin at the end of the week. Instead of tossing the leftovers, freeze them in ice cube tray. Crush up the ice cube before serving or defrost it to serve over kibble.

Hope you and your pumpkin (s) have a great Fall!

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.