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Does Your Dog Have What it Takes to Be An Assitance Dog?

Have you ever thought your own dog would make a great assistance dog? That crosses many of our minds. Although you may have an amazing dog, not every dog makes the cut or is right for the task.

From August 7-13, we celebrate International Assistance Dog Week (IADW), which “was created to recognize of all the devoted, hardworking assistance dogs helping individuals mitigate their disability-related limitations,” according to the IADW website. These amazing dogs help “transform the lives of their human partners with debilitating physical and mental disabilities by serving as their companion, helper, aide, best friend and close member of their family.

There are some things to take into consideration
when deciding whether your dog should become an assistance dog. According to Assistance Dogs International, a variety of dog breeds can be good service dogs, even though many programs use Golden Retrievers and Labradors. The website said, “A good service dog is not protective, is people orientated, not overly active, confident but not dominant or submissive. Service dogs should not require complex grooming as this could be a problem for their owner.”

When it comes to what makes a good hearing dog, there are programs that have used shelter dogs that are mixed breeds, and therefore of various sizes and shapes. Requirements include a good temperament and personality as well as energetic and “ready to work in an instant when a sound occurs,” the website said. “They must be friendly and people oriented.”

It is very important to note that assistance dogs are not for protection. Their job “is to make a disabled individual more able,” the website said. “The dog’s presence is a natural deterrent. Because disabled people take their Assistance Dogs into public places and many are not able to physically restrain their dogs, the Assistance Dog must be safe for the public.”

Monsoon Season Is Here! Be Aware of Valley Fever and Your Dog

Here in Arizona, we have many things of which to be aware and watchful. Along with excessive heat and scorpions and snakes, Valley Fever can be cause for concern in humans and pets.

Valley Fever is common to Arizona and “is a disease caused by a fungus that gets into your body through your lungs,” according to WebMD. It is contracted by breathing “in the fungus (Coccidioides immitis) that causes the disease.” Since it is found in the soil, it is easily contracted when the soil is disturbed, such as by dust storms and during monsoon season.

Although cats can contract Valley Fever, dogs in Arizona are more susceptible, especially those dogs who spend much of their time outdoors in dusty and dirt-filled areas, according to PetMD. The condition can go from mild to severe and be extremely costly for pet owners. “It is estimated that valley fever costs all Arizona dog owners at least $60 million per year,” according to The University of Arizona, Valley Fever Center for Excellence.ff896351-f297-422d-a1e2-664f9a99d638

According to PetMD some of the symptoms include, fever, lethargy, lameness, coughing and difficulty breathing. Because Valley Fever can be very serious, it is important to have your dog (or cat) under your veterinarian’s care. “Your veterinarian will want to monitor antibodies every three to four months, or until they are in a range that can be considered normal,” according to PetMD.

It is also important to keep your pets indoors, especially during dust storms and monsoon season, and, of course, when it is very hot

FIV in Felines: What It Is And What You Should Know

Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) “is a lentivirus, the same class of virus as HIV,” according to Best Friends. It lives in various tissues in the body and weakens a cat’s immune system, the website said.

However, it is not necessarily a death sentence. Cats who have the disease can live long, productive lives if under the care of a vet and living in a safe, clean, indoor environment.

According to the ASPCA, symptoms may not show in cats for many years, but once they do progress, it is important for your cat to be under a veterinarian’s care. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Anemia
  • Weight loss
  • Disheveled coat
  • Poor appetite
  • Diarrhe
  • Skin redness or hair loss
  • Wounds that don’t heal

FIV is determined by a blood test, and every cat should
have one. It is transmitted from cat to cat and cannot be passed to humans. Prevention can begin with keeping your cats indoors so that he or she does not come in contact with felines who are infected. If you bring other cats into your home, make sure to have them tested first, according to the ASPCA website.

With regard to FIV treatment, it “focuses mainly on extending the asymptomatic period or, if symptoms have set in, on easing the secondary effects of the virus,” the website said.

The ASPCA recommends keeping an eye out for any changes in your cat’s health and/or behavior, keep your cat inside, feed a nutritionally balanced diet, keep up on vet visits, and, as always, make sure your cat is spayed or neutered.

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Celebrate the Fourth Of July And Keep Your Pets Safe

The Fourth of July brings many things, from picnics and barbecues to swimming and fireworks. What’s often fun for humans can be a nightmare for animals. From dangerous foods and excessive heat to loud fireworks that can frighten dogs, cats and other animals, it’s important to have safety measures in place when it comes to our pets.

We deal with it year after year, but every year we hear the horror stories of pets panicking and running away due to the loud noises of the fireworks, which can start weeks before July 4 and go for weeks after.

What can you do to ensure your pets are safe this time of year? The American Veterinary Medical Associaton (AVMA) has some great tips to help prepare your animals ahead of time and keep them safe during the July 4 festivities as well:

The following safety tips from the AVMA include:

  • Ensure your pets wear ID tags with current information.
  • Microchip your pets and keep information up to date.
  • Keep current photos of your animals.
  • Keep your home and yard safe and secure.
  • If you’re attending a party, parade or other gathering, leave your pets home. Consider keeping your pets in a “safe, escape-proof room or crate during parties and fireworks.”
  • If you’re hosting, alert guests to the dangers and let them be part of keeping your pets safe.
  • Keep your pets indoors.
  • Keep your pets away from the sparklers, fireworks and other dangerous items, and don’t feed them harmful foods
  • Pets don’t do well in the excessive heat and humidity, so keep them inside in the A/C with fresh, cool water.

It’s always better to keep your pets safe than be sorry later. Don’t let your dog or cat be one of the statistics who run away during the holiday.

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How to Keep Your Pets Safe Around The Pool

It’s a common misconception that all dogs know how to swim. Nor do they all love the water. Forget about cats. Surely, there are some out there who like to take a dip, but for the most part, probably not. Even if you can’t get your pets to enjoy the water, it’s a good idea to ensure they know how to swim and get in and out of a pool.

If you are going to take your dog or cat out for a swim, make sure to keep an eye out and watch for heatstroke in your pet. According to Pool Safety Tips for Cats “Cat owners should keep their eyes out for the symptoms of heat stroke in their pets, which include restlessness followed by lethargy, dullness, weakness, recumbency (lying down), excessive drooling (foaming at the mouth) and difficulty breathing (dyspnea).”

Keep the following tips in mind from “9 Must Read Tips to Keep Your Dog Afloat” when considering taking your dog swimming:

  1. Start with a kiddie pool for newbies.
  2. Research breeds and their habits around water.
  3. Don’t force your pet to swim.
  4. Teach your pet how to get in and out of the water, whether it’s a pool, lake or the beach. You may need a ramp for certain dogs and cats as well.
  5. Pool water is filled with chemicals, so no drinking! Lakes and the ocean can also be dangerous. Keep fresh water available.
  6. A life jacket is a great idea, especially “for new or non-swimmers.”
  7. “A Giardia vaccination to prevent infections” goes a long way, especially in lakes or rivers.
  8. For those with pools, keep gates closed and locked.
  9. Rinse off your pet after a swim in the pool to remove chlorine residue, and other chemicals or bacteria from the ocean or lake.


Long-Haired Dogs: To Shave or Not to Shave?

We see it all the time. People with long-haired dogs who shed think it’s a good idea to have their dogs shaved, especially during the hot summer months. Many think it keeps their dogs cool and stops the hair from accumulating in their homes.

But is it a good idea in the first place?

According to the ASPCA’s article “Heat Wave! Should You Shave Your Pet?”, “hold those clippers! While you or I would hate to sport a fur coat in 100-degree weather, your pets’ fur coats are actually providing them with heat relief,” the article said.

“A dog’s coat is kind of like insulation for your house,” explains Dr. Louise Murray, Vice President of the ASPCA Animal Hospital, in the article. “Insulation stops your home from getting too cold in winter, but it also keeps it from overheating in summer—and your dog’s coat does the same thing,” she said in the article.

The coat of your dog is comprised of various layers that help your dog in the heat; it’s an actual “cooling system” for your dog that “can lead to discomfort and overheating,” if shaved, the article said. That coat is also protection from sunburn and the possibility of skin cancer.

It is recommended to have a professional groomer trim your dog’s hair, but “never shave down to the skin or try to cut the hair yourself with scissors,” according to the article.

Dog owners can also leave their dog’s hair as is. Shedding provides a naturally lighter coat for dogs. “Remember to brush your dog’s fur and bathe her frequently as clean, brushed fur allows for better air circulation,” the article said.

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We live in Arizona, so we never run out of clichés about the excessive summer heat. With that we face numerous animal issues as well: people leaving their pets in locked vehicles, and people leaving pets outside without proper shade or water. It doesn’t matter if it’s a supposed “dry” heat. When it’s hot, it’s hot. As the temperature rises, it gets unbearable for our furry family members if left in bad situations.

One of the running jokes we often hear in Arizona is that the pavement is so hot that you can bake cookies on the sidewalk or on the dashboard of a parked car. While we know the car is no place to leave your pet, the pavement should also be off limits during the hottest hours of the paws

An article by The Humane Society of the United States advises to keep the level of exercise for your pet to a minimum when the temperatures are very high. “On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours, and be especially careful with pets with white-colored ears, who are more susceptible to skin cancer, and short-nosed pets, who typically have difficulty breathing,” the article said.

The following are some other great tips for walking your dog in the summer, as per a Banfield Pet Hospital article that said that materials such as pavement and asphalt “absorb heat from the sun and can stay hot for hours even after the sun has gone down.” According to the article, temperatures on these materials can be as high as 145 F! The article provides the following tips for your dog’s paws:

  • If the pavement is too hot for your hand or foot, “then it is too hot for your pet.” So check the pavement by leaving your hand or foot there for 10 seconds to see if you can handle it.
  • Where there’s grass, walk on that instead of the pavement.
  • Walk your dog either early morning or later at night.
  • Check out some of the available booties for your dog’s paws.

According to “10 Tips To Protect Your Dog’s Paws From Hot Pavement,” always be sure to check your dog’s paws on a daily basis to make sure there is no injury or damage. Be sure to keep your dog’s paws clean and moisturized as well. Other products you can try are disposable booties or dog socks if you must walk your dog on pavement during a hot summer day.

Put your best paw forward to ensure your dog is safe and free from harm, and you’ll both have a great summer!