Author Archives: AZPetVet

What You Need to Know About Fleas & Ticks

Nothing feels quite as good as scratching an itch, but when the itch keeps itching, it can drive you batty! Just imagine what it’s like for your pet – they rely on you for their needs, so be aware of their scratching – it may be the first sign of a nasty problem – mainly, fleas and/or ticks.

Fleas and ticks are the two most common external parasites found in dogs and cats, and both will cause your pet to scratch themselves more frequently. These nasty little guys survive by feeding on the blood of dogs, cats and sometimes people. Flea and tick bites can lead to health problems including constant itching, hair loss (alopecia), hypersensitivity (allergic reaction), as well as infections and transmission of disease.

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Common Myths About Ticks and Fleas

1/ A flea collar is all you will need to prevent problems. Sorry, no. Most flea and tick collars do not work well, and allergic reactions are common.

2/ Garlic is an effective dietary aid for preventing fleas and ticks. Feeding your pet garlic will not prevent flea and tick infestations anymore than you eating garlic will protect you from vampires. Fleas and ticks will bite anyway because they find you and your pets delicious.

3/ Fleas and ticks are normal parts of life and won’t hurt my pet. This is not true. Ticks can transmit many diseases, including canine ehrlichiosis (tick fever). Severe hypersensitivity (allergic) reactions may develop after even a mild flea infestation. Fleas can also transmit tapeworms to dogs and cats.

What to Do In Case of Flea and Tick Infestation

Step 1: Treat the pet’s environment.
You must kill fleas and ticks where they live when they’re not on your pet. Hire a professional exterminator. Be sure to explain that you have a flea or tick problem and that you have pets.

Step 2: Kill fleas and ticks that are on your pet.
When used as directed, flea and tick control products are safe and effective at preventing re-infestation of your pet. There are several excellent products available for cats and dogs. Ask your vet for a product recommendation that will be suitable for your pet.

Step 3: Prevent re-infection.
Treatment with a product like Frontline Top Spot will kill and repel ticks for one month, and fleas for up to three months. Frontline Top Spot is a topical treatment that can be used on dogs as young as ten weeks of age and cats as young as twelve weeks of age. Pet beds, carpets, blankets and other items must also be sanitized to kill any eggs that may be hiding.

Step 4: Break the reproductive cycle of fleas.
In the past, controlling fleas and ticks has been difficult, however, new products are available which make external parasite control manageable. Your vet can recommend a safe and effective product for your pet.

Remember – fleas and ticks are NOT just summer time problems. While it does get cool enough during the winter to decrease flea and tick activity, it does not get cold enough to kill them. Fleas and ticks can live very happily indoors during the winter months, so be aware and check your pets frequently year round.

Dog Park Etiquette

Proper ways to run, play, and behave at your local dog parks

 

With temperatures cooling down, now is the best time to take your dog to the dog park. While rough-and-tumble is generally accepted between dogs, there are a few things that owners should still keep in mind. Here are a few tips to ensure the dog park is a fun and enjoyable place for dogs to roam freely.

Follow the Rules

Maricopa County requires that all dogs be licensed and that any dog over 4 months of age is current on their shots. Before venturing out to play, it’s essential to make sure your dog’s license and vaccinations are up-to-date. Contact your veterinarian to schedule an annual exam and ensure your dog’s license is renewed.

Any dog over the age of 3 months is additionally required to wear a collar or harness with a valid license tag. Tags help identify your four-legged friend in case they wander off during playtime or get lost.

Many designated off-leash dog parks have their own rules, but some general rules apply to every park. Arizona State law requires all dogs to be on a leash until they’re inside a park’s off-leash area, and the gates are completely closed. It’s recommended to first familiarize your dog with other dogs while on a leash before letting your pet run freely.

Keep it Clean

Making a visit to your area park (or neighborhood sidewalk) shows us that some people need to be reminded to clean up after their pets! Always bring a waste bag with you as a backup in case the park doesn’t supply bags (or they’ve run out for the day). In addition to being courteous, cleaning up decreases the spread of water contamination and infectious diseases.

Some cities have even taken matters into their own hands to make owners responsible for cleaning up after their pets. Mesa, for instance, enacted a city ordinance requiring owners to pick up dog waste and subjecting violators to fines. Regardless of your city, be courteous of parks and others – always scoop the poop.

Stay Alert

We’ve all seen it: the owners who are so immersed in texting, reading, or a phone call while their dog is doing something wildly inappropriate. at the dog park. We all don’t want to be that person!

Visits to the dog park are a great way to meet fellow pet owners and make new furry friends. When mingling, it’s important to stay alert and not get too caught up in those distractions. As a pet owner, you are personally liable for your pet’s conduct at all times and can be responsible for any damages or injuries caused if your dog harms another dog or person. It only takes a minute for a fun, playful scene to turn awry, so always be on the lookout for those behaviors!

Behave Politely

Even as a regular visitor to the dog park, you never know what to expect from other dogs and their owners. Overeager playmates. Bullies and ball hogs. With so many individuals and dogs sharing space, there’s always the potential for conflict. It’s essential to train your dog to respond to commands, even in a distracting situation. This training can help quickly defuse potential conflicts. Teach your dog to sit or stand still when meeting new people and dogs.

If you witness your dog being territorial, marking excessively, stealing toys, ganging up on or rushing other dogs, put a stop to their behavior immediately. Leashing up and leaving the park is an excellent way to make sure things don’t escalate while teaching your pet that bad behavior has consequences.

Contact your veterinarian for recommendations on trainers and resources to work through aggressive and antisocial behaviors.

Phoenix Dog Parks 

Now that you’ve reviewed the dog park etiquette rules let’s get out and play. Need suggestions on a dog park in your area? Check out our list of Phoenix dog parks below:

  • RJ Dog Park at Pecos Park on 48th Street and Pecos Parkway is named after RJ, a police service dog killed in duty. Two acres of grass are divided to provide areas for small and large dogs. Fully fenced and ADA accessible, owners give this park high reviews for cleanliness, ample shaded seating, and friendliness of other patrons.
  • Steele Indian School Dog Park is open from 6 AM-10 PM every day at 300 East Indian School Road in Phoenix. The park includes paw-shaped pathways, chilled drinking fountains, waste bag dispensers, and ADA-compliant double-gated entrances. As with other Phoenix dog parks, they may close to allow turf to dry appropriately after heavy rainfall.
  • Cesar Chavez Dog Park is located in South Mountain. The park is open from 5:30 a.m. to 11:45 p.m., giving you plenty of time to take your dog out before or after working hours. If you’re wanting to take your dog for a scenic walk, the Alvord Lake Path located next to the park is a great place to stretch your legs.
  • Margaret Hance dog park, located in the northwest section of Margaret T. Hance Park between 3rd and 5th Avenue prioritizes your dog’s safety. That’s why this unique park separates its playing area into two regions: one for smaller dogs and one for bigger dogs.
  • Paradise Valley Dog Park is the perfect place for family and dogs alike to get outside and play. Featuring 2.4 acres of grass and 2 shade ramadas, owners can watch as their furry pals bound across the gated fields. Another perk? There are benches, tables, and drinking fountains.

Have you been to the dog park lately? If so, what tips can you share about local parks and park etiquette? We look forward to your comments!

Building or Renovating a Dog House to Improve Ventilation for Hot Weather

How to build a dog house fit for hot weather
AZPV - Doghouse

Summer is finally coming to an end; however, the temperatures in Arizona will continue to stay high despite the transition into the fall months. If you already have a dog house or are planning to build a dog house, now is a great time to renovate or create a safe space for your pup during the “cooler” months. The goal is to create a backyard escape from the desert heat in the fall and spring seasons, and other weather extremes.

Before grabbing your hammer and nails, there are various factors to consider seriously. Taking these aspects under consideration will ensure you create a safe, effective, and reliable dog house that’s built for hot weather. Best of all? Your furry friend will be sure to love their own space! Here’s what you need to know to build a well-equipped dog house for your furry family member:

Consider city requirements 

If you are building a dog house or a dog run, check your city’s requirements, codes, and specifications for permanent or semi-permanent structures. Before you begin renovating or building a dog house, double-check any building codes and processes that might have been put in place by your HOA.

Amenities and features

In addition to double-checking city and HOA requirements, there are some necessary features to consider when creating the blueprints to your beloved pet’s dog house.

  • Ventilation – Having adequate dog house ventilation is an essential part of designing a great dog house as the fresh air flowing freely in and out of the structure helps keep it nice and cool. Since Phoenix regularly gets excessive heat warnings, poor ventilation could very quickly turn into a dangerous situation. If your pup is trying to escape the sun in the dog house, but not getting any fresh air, the house will quickly feel like an oven. When building a dog house, be sure to add an exit and entrance, plus other features that allow for air to circulate, such as windows. With these additions, your pup will be able to be comfortable when going inside their very own sanctuary.
  • Shade – Make sure there’s a solid roof on the dog house. This provides a source of shade — a welcome escape from the heat and direct sunlight.
  • Water – If the dog house or dog run is outside, be sure the pet has a way to access water. Even if you are leaving your pup inside, be sure to include a source of fresh, clean water. The water can be accessible inside the dog house, or you can make sure there’s a way for your pup to get out and get a drink quickly.
  • Cleanliness – Along with its heat, Arizona is also famous for its critters. This includes tarantulas, scorpions, and other creepy crawlers. These pests could attempt to co-habitat your pup’s outdoor dog house. Be sure you clean it out frequently to ensure they are not being exposed to an excess of pests that are also trying to find a cool place to rest from the heat.

For us Arizonans, we don’t really have the luxury of a long, comfortable fall season. Since the Summer heat likes to drag through September and well into October, outdoor temperatures can still reach heights that are dangerous for your pet. Never leave a pet alone outside for long periods. During the summer months when our highs reach 100+, keep your dog in the A/C comfort of your house, not their dog house. Take the opportunity to prepare for the fall, winter, and beyond, and build a dream dog house for your furry friend to provide an escape from the heat while keeping your furry sidekick safe and sound!

Excessive Meowing

Why is your cat meowing more than usual?

The cat’s meow: A brief history lesson

The goal of a cat’s meow changes as cats move from infancy to adulthood. In fact, a cat can be extremely noisy after birth. Indicating to the mother that they are cold, hungry or scared, kittens use their newfound voice to bring attention to their needs.

As a cat progresses into adulthood, however, the intentions of their excessive
meowing begin to change from an indication of hunger to a more distressed, or
bored nature. As the ASPCA notes, adult cats don’t meow to communicate with
other cats. Instead, they meow to communicate with people. These vocalizations
include hissing, yowling, chirring, and shrieking, each of which is designated for a
specific time of need. Meowing is generally reserved for their youthful kitten days —
and for people.

As touching as it is to be the reason a cat meows, there might be more concerning
reasons why your cat is meowing all the time, one that can’t be explained by yowls
or hissing.

Is too much meowing a bad thing?

It depends. Too much of anything can be a bad thing. Here are some of the reasons
your cat may be more vocal:

Sickness– If you are concerned that your cat may be warning you they don’t feel
well, take your cat in to see the vet as soon as possible. Many illnesses that affect cats have discomforting side effects, including hunger, excessive thirst, and even pain.
Medical conditions, cognitive dysfunction syndrome, hearing loss, and even old age
can cause meowing to increase.

Stress– Although sun-bathing and napping all day might not sound too high
pressure, cats have a way of taking in the energy of the household. Sudden
environmental shifts like moving, the addition of a new family member or the loss of
a relative can all trigger a cat’s anxiety. Left with no other way to express themselves,
cats resort to excessive meowing. Spending time with your pet during these
transitional periods to reduce their anxiety is a great way to minimize the noise.

Breeding– Cats looking to attract mates may turn to their animal instincts to attract
a potential partner. An attempt to lure a lover with a melodic meow may be the
reason your cat has been acting up. Spaying or neutering your cat can dampen their
need to mate.

Accentuate the Positive

Once you’ve ruled out any of these possible reasons your cat may be extra vocal, you
think about different ways to minimize an overly communicative cat through
positive reinforcement.

When your cat is quiet, praise her calmly and peacefully. Make sure you’re lavishing
plenty of attention on your cat throughout the day and following a regular meal
schedule. The trick to this strategy is to avoid punishing your cat for being overly
vocal—that will only induce more fear, prompting more meowing. Ensuring your cat
isn’t neglected is the top tip to reducing your chatty kitty’s tendencies.

Eliminate the Negative

Try to determine what triggers meowing. Is your cat excited? Nervous? Anxious?
Scared? If you can pinpoint the cause, your veterinarian can suggest
ways to help disrupt excessive meowing.

While there are several reasons your cat may be vocally active, pinpointing the cause
can help you keep your cat healthy and happy, and you and your neighbors’ ears at
peace.

If you’ve found ways to encourage your vocal cat to be a little quieter, feel free to
drop a comment below with your tips and tricks!

Meet a few of the BARK-iest Dog Breeds from Bloodhounds to Pinschers

What is the BARK-iest dog breed?

As dogs, barking is undoubtedly part of the job description. However, some breeds of
dogs just can’t help but bark more than others. From a bloodhound bark to a
chihuahua bark, no matter the size, every dog barks. It’s always a good idea to know
in advance whether your eardrums are compatible with your four-legged friend. If
you’ve found this out too late, you could always buy earplugs in bulk packets to hand
out liberally to family, friends, and neighbors. Better yet, the best bet is to nip this
habit in the bud. Take the time to work with your dog to teach them to control this undesirable behavior. Here are some of the barkiest breeds and insights into why
they bark as much as they do.

Chihuahuas – One of the barkiest breeds out there, chihuahuas are most definitely known for their shrill yip. This behavior is more common than you’d think, however.
Because of their size, chihuahuas are often mistaken as not needing much exercise.
Instead, the breed’s highly enthusiastic demeanor warrants loud barks to release this
pent-up energy.

A result of their territorial nature, chihuahuas also bark to warn others of their presence. So, while these cute and tiny little terrors may let loose with a string of
brain-shattering barks that could raise the dead, the bark often has the most sincere
intentions to protect.

Terriers (except for bull terriers, who are quiet in comparison) – Terrier breeds are dogdom’s kings and queens of barking, with honorable mentions going to Schnauzers and beagles, who, during the contest, were clearly barking up the wrong tree.

Although they might not look the part, terriers were bred to hunt, which is why their barking habits can be attributed to their acute animal instincts. When they’re not
out in the woods sniffing for small game, these pooches are guarding the home.
Even a little noise might trigger these terriers into a barking frenzy. Next time your
terrier barks, try making a distracting noise of your own to get your dog to stop
barking. Reward the silence and repeat.

German Shepherds – The handsome and intelligent policeman of the dog world has
a deep, throaty howl that could scare even the spookiest of monsters. Loyal and
affectionate in nature, German shepherds use this low bark to draw human
attention or to express their anxiety and yearning for their owner to return home.

Bred to herd (and to be heard), German shepherds fulfill their duties by barking
orders at those being herded. Proud of their success, a German shepherd bark also
indicates pride and confidence.

Regular exercise and training can help them learn to control their instinct to bark.

Miniature Schnauzers – Like many of their larger dog-relatives, a miniature
schnauzer is bred as a guard dog. Their bark can be triggered by sounds coming
closer to the home.

One way to get your miniature schnauzer to stop barking is to reduce your
dog’s view of the outside world. This way, they won’t feel so intimidated.

Bloodhounds – A bloodhound’s bark is instantly recognizable. Distinctive and deep,
it’s no wonder why this dog was bred for hunting and search-and-rescue. Not only
do bloodhounds use their bay to sound the alarm, but they also bark when they feel
lonely or anxious. Giving your dog plenty of exercise can help curve this loud habit.

Huskies – While huskies rarely bark, these dogs are quite vocal and will provide
endless rambling commentary about their day. Because huskies were bred as wild
dogs, they are often non-territorial, leaving them feeling like they don’t need to
protect much. Instead, they are passionate about sharing their opinions using
alternative howls and grunts.

Alaskan Malamutes – Similar to their close cousin the husky, the malamute name is
a lie. There is no “mute” in the Alaskan Malamute. They’ll hold entire conversations
with anyone who will listen. Often, their vocalizations are playful and asking for
attention. When an Alaskan Malamute barks, you can be sure there’s something
awry.

Miniature Pinschers – “Min Pins”, as they are affectionately known, are actually
willful little dictators that are determined to bend you to their wishes. A big dog in a

small body, miniature pinschers bark to assert their power…even if they are only 11
pounds.

If pinschers are not active enough, they will bark just to hear themselves bark. It’s
essential to train these dogs early on so that their nuisance barking doesn’t become
a habit.

Great Pyrenees – Bred to guard flocks of sheep and cattle, Pyrenees use their bark
language to express alarm at everything from a light breeze blowing to actual
predators afoot! Unfortunately, it’s all the points in between alerts that will really test
everyone’s patience.

While we’ve poked fun at the topic, no matter what the breed, excessive barking can
be a severe problem, for you and for your neighbors. With a little bit of training and
lots of rigorous exercise, your dog is sure to wag more and bark less.

The American Humane Society: tips to curb excessive barking.