Vacationing with your PetThe holidays are fast approaching and you may be planning a family trip to visit relatives or an outing to the snow soon. If you are like me, you may have already started a list to remind yourself of what you need to do or buy before you leave. You can avoid rushing around last minute right before the trip and possibly forgetting something crucial if you take some steps now to plan for your travels. One of the most important items to start planning for may be where do you house your beloved dog while you are away. I recommend that you contact your house sitter, dog walker, kennel, or favorite boarding facility today to ensure that you can get in their books for the time that you will be away. Kennels and boarding facilities fill up quickly and prior reservations are highly recommended. If you are lucky enough to be able to bring your pooch with you, here are a few helpful tips you might use when vacationing or traveling with your dog.

  • If traveling with your pet by car, have a safe place for them to ride, either in a back seat and preferably tethered or seat belted in just like your children! Crates are also useful but keep them cool by using the A/C in the car or providing them with fresh air from an open window or a small fan attached to their crate. There are fans now made for crates that also have a part to them that you freeze so that the air becomes very cool for the dogs as the fans operates. Cooling mats are also available for them to lie on in their crates.
  • Have plenty of water available for them or take frequent water and potty breaks.
  • Carry extra leashes, collars and ID tags! Collars are available with their ID sewn directly into them as well or you can stop by your local pet store and make extra tags for your extra collars and leashes.
  • Carry plenty of poop bags and please clean up after your pet while taking breaks. You may need a long line (20 foot leash) if your dog is like mine and usually does not potty while on walks. The extra leash gives the dog a larger sense of space and can help them feel more comfortable eliminating while still on a leash. Please remember to always pick up after your dog.
  • Carry a current picture with contact information on it in case you get separated from your pet during your travels. Create a LOST DOG flier PRIOR to your travels with your dog’s current picture, contact info and your veterinarian’s information in case you get separated from your dog during your travels. Having one already made up will help you quickly make copies and distribute them to the local shelters, veterinarians and pet stores.
  • Make sure to remember to pack extra food and any medications your dog is currently taking. Write down all of the medications and/or supplements that your dog is currently taking and keep it with you. If your dog does require medications, include a line on your flier like “Charlie needs medications – please see a vet” so that encourages people to act quickly if they find your dog. I would also highly recommend micro chipping your dog to assist in finding him.
  • Have your veterinarian’s contact information handy and a current immunization record for your dog, especially if you are staying in hotels. Some hotels require that your dog be crated while staying with them so you may have to start introducing a crate to your dog now to ensure enough time for him to learn to like a crate.
  • Have a copy of your Canine Good Citizen Certificate or obedience graduation certificate handy (some hotels may require it).
  • Travel with a doggie sweater or warm blanket or cooling mat (as needed, depending on traveling conditions and your dog).
  • Plenty of chew toys and treats.
  • First aid kit see my website for an example of a canine first aid kit.
  • Research where the local dog parks are along the way and know where the dog friendly hotels and rest stops are before you leave from home!
  • If traveling by plane, research the airline’s requirements long before you travel as each airline may have different requirements and rules. Most airlines require a health certificate from your vet within 10 days of flying. You may have to start crate training your dog to a different sized crate or have a special vaccination. Label the crate with all emergency contact information including your veterinarian and authorization for vet services if needed. Book your flight either early or late in the day depending on weather conditions. Non-stop flights with fewer take offs and landings would be the best for your pet. If you can exercise your dog the morning before the flight they may rest better in transport. You will probably want to fast your dog 6-8 hours before flight and give water 30 – 45 minutes before flight IF you can urinate him before loading. Be very aware of short nosed breeds such as Pugs, Pekinese, Bull Dogs, Boston Terriers etc., have a harder time breathing and may have a more difficult time if stressed in flight. ALWAYS CHECK WITH YOUR VETERINARIAN BEFORE FLYING.
  • If you plan on boarding your dog, research each facility and ask family, friends and co-workers for references on where they take their dog. Visit the facilities a few times at different times of the day and ask for a tour. Leave your dog with a familiar toy and or blanket or sleep in a T-shirt and leave it with the facility for your dog and provide your own food and treats. Be sure to be honest about your dog’s needs, fears and your concerns.

Remember too that Chocolate, Poinsettia plants and the water at the base of a real Christmas tree are toxic to your dog!

Shannon Anderson
Total K9 Training

New Year’s Resolutions …for you and your dog?

The end of the year is nearing and you may already be gearing up for your resolutions… I am going to lose weight; I am going to exercise more; I am going to eat better; I am going to smile more; I am going to take some time for “me”; I am going to meet my neighbors this year.

One of mine is to write more doggie tips for you and keep you thinking about new ways to interact with your dog.

Recently my husband who is a park ranger at Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve had a very unfortunate encounter with an owner whose dog had collapsed, possibly from heat exhaustion (for more info on this topic visit “How to recognize the signs for heat exhaustion” article). This was a very large dog and carrying him to safety was difficult and exhausting. If the dog had been more alert or had just injured his leg, the task would have been more difficult and probably dangerous.

When a dog is injured, they are vulnerable and most likely scared. They react differently to us handling them and can actually bite their own owner. A broken leg or even a sprained ankle can put a dog into a state of panic. How would you handle this if you were out on a walk or on a trail away from the house? How would you transport your dog from your car into the vet’s office? Could you pick up your dog in a safe manner right now and carry them without them squirming around in your arms? Are they too heavy for you to carry?

Some techniques for a safe carry of a larger dog (45 – 65 lbs) include practicing with your dog from a comfortable height, like the back of your SUV or tailgate of your truck or a picnic table or bench and a second person with lots of treats. Have the dog stand length wise in front of you as you face them so that you can use both arms to gather all 4 of his legs in the center of your arms (their hip/butt and shoulder areas will be supported by your chest and front part of your shoulders). Scoop him up and remember to bend at your knees to save your back! Have the second person feed him treats in front of his face and then set him down on the platform that you started from. I wouldn’t start walking around carrying him just yet. It may take several lifts to get them comfortable with the process. Setting them down on the ground instead of the starting platform also takes some practice – again remember to bend at your knees and use safe lifting techniques to protect your back.

Another technique involves using a beach towel or two under their groin and maybe chest. If the dog is too heavy for one person to lift using a towel to help support the bulk of the body helps tremendously in a two person lift. Practice sliding a towel under the belly and groin of your dog and gather each end into a manageable hold (trying to keep the towel stretched out enough to support the dog without discomfort) to lift straight up. A fireman’s carry with the dog draped around your neck and shoulders is another technique. Smaller dogs can be lifted with a lot more ease and the most important part to remember is to support their back end and legs while you lift them. They may already be used to being carried around but when they are injured they still may be nervous, scared and in pain and they can still bite. You might also introduce your dog to wearing a muzzle in case the vet has to put one on him to evaluate or treat him. On a side note regarding muzzles, most public transportation requires dogs to be muzzled. So the next time you plan a trip to Catalina with your dog, better make sure they are ok with wearing a muzzle for the boat trip over.

Training for emergencies includes practicing lifting your dog and muzzling your dog before an incident arises may help alleviate some of the stress of transporting your dog to safety – both for you and your beloved dog. There are canine CPR/first aid courses available for you and you can visit my website for information on how to start building a great Canine First Aid Kit.

San Diego Dog TrainingOctober in San Diego County has become a season of its own even though we do not have all of the color changes that residents of northern California or folks back East may have. We know it as the season for Santa Ana winds and the Fire Season. That brings to mind what we are all thinking now as fire season is upon us; do I have everything ready and know where everything is if we have to evacuate quickly due to fires? However, have you all been thinking; do I have everything my dog (or pet) needs or will need if we have to evacuate quickly?

Here is a short list that we maintain for our dogs ALL the time in one general location so it is easy to grab – feel free to add to it and email me if you have more ideas that I can include for my clients in the future:

  • Extra leashes and collars WITH extra ID TAGS! (we also have blinking lights to attach to the collars).
  • A lost dog flier (that you have made up previously with current photo and contact info) in case you get separated from your dog.
  • A current copy of immunization records.
  • Dry food keep in an air tight container or ziplock bags. Make sure you always have at least a week’s worth of food avail per dog. Try not to let the bag go empty before buying more each time).
  • Wet food – look at how many cans per day you need per dog and do the math for a week.
  • Raw diets – look into keeping the dehydrated version of the patties handy and do the math for how many patties per dog per week.
  • Vitamins / Medications – make sure you have more than enough at all times – again try not to wait until you only have a day left to refill prescriptions.
  • WATER (food/water bowls too)- We keep a 6 gal jug full and we replace with fresh water every couple of weeks. Our dogs need about 2 gal each per day on hot days.
  • Treats and a favorite toy or blanket or bed.
  • Crates – we use collapsible ones that are easier to pack and travel with.
  • Poop bags. Please!
  • Extra bandanas – to help keep their faces wiped clean if the air quality is bad and help keep their eyes and noses wet.
  • First aid kit for your dog too – see my website for ideas on what to include.
  • Know the signs for dehydration and heat illness for your dog – see my website for details.
  • Have a backup plan for where your dogs can go if you can’t bring them with you (some hotels may not allow for your dog).
  • Know where your dog’s hiding places are as well – you never know how the family’s running around gathering items may affect them.
  • Make an overall check list – for your family, your house and your dog and keep it handy.
  • Be safe and hug your dogs today!.

first aid kit                 


Over the years, I have put together a first aid kit based on what I have seen in others and what I have used myself.  This content list will give you a place to start and hopefully give you some ideas for your own canine first aid kit.  Always check with your veterinarian before administering any medications (DO NOT give your dog Tylenol or Advil or Aleve!) AND if you have questions about how to help your dog when you are out and about ask before you leave for your trip!



  • Banixx Pet Spray – my go to for almost any scrape/cut/ itchy area/ hot spot/ ear rash etc
  • Several 4X4 Sterile gauze pads or rolls
  • Blunt-end scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Small Kelly Forceps
  • Nail Clippers (I prefer the NON Guillotine style)
  • Styptic powder (Quick Stop) with cotton pads and cotton swabs handy as well
  • Rectal thermometer (Consult veterinarian for proper use) Dog’s normal temp is btn 100.5 – 102.5
  • Sterile 3-cc syringe (for flushing wounds)
  • Instant cold packs
  • Rubbing alcohol or alcohol pads
  • Bandana
  • K9 Electrolyte Replacement Supplements for Hydration (I use C9 Hydration and K-9 Aide)
  • 2” gauze roll for bandage / Ace bandage or Vetwrap 2” & 4” wide (self adhering bandage roll)
  • Ear rinse (I use K9 Liquid Health Ear Solution)
  • Eye wash (Sterile eye drops work well too)
  • Non-cortisone based antibiotic eye ointment
  • Non – Pain relieving Antibiotic ointment like Neosporin or bacitracin
  • Charcoal tablets
  • Hydrogen Peroxide (to induce vomiting – I only use it after ingestion of chocolate– ALWAYS consult your veterinarian first!!) Has to be kept in dark bottle to prevent degradation
  • Betadine (diluted)
  • Benadryl 25 mg tablets /capsules (ALWAYS consult your veterinarian first!)
  • Epsom salts
  • Sam splint
  • All natural flea and tick spray (I like the one made by Pet Naturals)
  • Poop bags, a collapsible drinking bowl or water bottle and a loud whistle!



When considering what to use for your dog’s grooming needs, I would recommend looking at your dog’s breed, coat type, daily activities and lifestyle, and lastly your dog’s own personality.

In general, the more you brush your dog the less you have to bathe them because you are stimulating the skin cells and helping to spread healthy oils over the dog’s coat making it more dirt resistant and of course shiny. I try to use shampoos that use coconut oil and are not detergent based and I found a fabulous Tea Tree and coconut oil shampoo that is made by NuVET (  Buddy Wash/ Conditioner is another brand Lavender and Mint is my favorite scent of theirs. Other shampoos that I have found and like are: High Cascade 4 in 1 Shampoo and Conditioner which has cedar, citronella, patchouli, eucalyptus oils for bug deterrents and Emu oil for softness; Vet’s Best Allergy Itch Relief shampoo which has citrus extract, citronella oil, lavender oil, tea tree oil and neem seed oil (which is a bug deterrent); and for skin that has bumps all over it and sores from itching bumps I highly recommend BPO 3 shampoo. I also try not to over bathe my dogs, bathing only once every 8 weeks or so – unless we visit the beach. Quick tip to conserve shampoo and make bath time MUCH easier > pour small amount into a second bottle and then pre-dilute the shampoo with warm water before distributing it all over the dog’s body.

Breed & Coat Type:

Dog Grooming

Boxers, Weimeriner, Vizsla, Pug etc all have a very short coat type that most folks consider not to be brushed. Not quite true……they just need a different type of brush. I recommend a rubber curry comb (Kong makes a great one called Zoom Groom) similar in style to what you would use for a horse (only the horse one is metal) to help remove dead hair and stimulate healthy skin and coat development.

Long or thicker fur like what you would see on a German Shepard, Collie, Golden Retriever, etc do best with pin bristle brushes, metal slicker brushes, shedding blades and long combs. Some need the Furminator or a shedding blade but I need to caution you when using them: do not use it along their backbone as there is not very much, if any, undercoat in that area – just guard hairs. Guard hairs keep the coat more water resilient and the undercoat is the downy fur that insulates the dog from the elements, both hot and cold. The undercoat is what the Furminator pulls out and is located mostly along their back legs, butt, and chest or “ruff” around the neck. Try to use the Furminator lightly and sparingly because it can cause a type of razor burn if used aggressively or in a prolonged brushing session.

Dog Grooming

Dogs that have HAIR are definitely in a class of their own for grooming needs. Poodles, Bischons, Schnauzers, Doodles etc will need haircuts about every 6 – 8 weeks because they do NOT shed and their coats keep growing. The grooming brushes and combs that will be used are not used to pull out dead hair, rather to untangle and spread out or smooth out the coat instead. I still recommend the pin bristle and wire slickers and combs for these dogs but I also recommend that you pick up some sort of Mat Breaker tool – I used the small comb type on my Labradoodle. The mat breakers just slice through the mats that these dogs tend to get (especially around their ears, feet or tail) so that you do not have to cut the whole clump of mat off the dog that would leave an unsightly bald or empty spot. Quick tip on brushing dogs with hair…..try not to brush or comb from top to bottom. Think of that little girl with long wet hair, as you comb from the top of the head to the end of the hair, you gather and bunch knots along the way creating a big mess at the bottom. The same thing will happen with dogs or you’ll simply be smoothing the top hair and not really getting through to the hair underneath. Start low on the leg or foot and lift the hair up with one hand and gently comb the hair in small sections adding hair from the upper hand as you go. Work your way to the top and then you can use longer strokes to go from head to tail or top to bottom.

Daily Activities & Lifestyle:

Dog Grooming

If you are at the beach every day or several times a week, the salt water can be very healing for your dog. However you have to remember that hair mats easily when wet and floppy eared dogs are prone to yeast infections in their ears if frequently wet. I found a great product for ear cleaning and yeast prevention called “K9 Liquid Health Ear Solution”. It is about $15 for a large bottle and I recommend shaking it up, transferring a small amount into a small travel shampoo type bottle and work from the small bottle – storing the large bottle in a cool place. When you use the ear cleaner, shake the small bottle a little and then set it in a cup of hot water for a few minutes to warm it a bit (I also set in in the drain of my tub during the bath to warm it while I shampoo my dogs). Squirt a bunch onto a makeup cotton pad and then you can usually wipe out the dog’s ear without incident. If the liquid is cold the dogs tend to react adversely to it right away. If the dog has been swimming or has just had a bath, then you can prepare the bottle the same way and actually squirt the liquid directly into the ear canal and gently squish the base of the ear a bit and then let the dog flap out the excess moisture and dry out the rest of the ear with the cotton pad. The fluid is purple with gentian violet in it and will stain clothing so be careful where you use it. I usually flush the ears (for floppy eared dogs) about once a month or after each swim / bath and then just wipe out the ears as necessary throughout the rest of the month. Make sure you know what your dog’s ears look like normally so that you can recognize what is NOT normal.

Dark pink? Swollen? Black sludgy stuff in them? You probably won’t notice a real ear infection (yeast) until it is too late – the dog will be scratching, flapping or rubbing his ears, it may smell badly, or the dog may yelp when touched there. I have had some clients report that their dog snapped at them (seemingly unprovoked) due to the pain caused by ear infections so check their ears regularly.

Ticks and fleas are an issue for some folks and not others, so application of those preventative measures is a personal choice. I only use flea/ tick medication seasonally, but I check my dogs for ticks all the time. I have never seen fleas on my dogs where I currently live, but when I grew up I remember dealing with fleas all the time. I always encourage you to know what is normal for your dog’s body. Bumps? Lumps? Dark pigments? Rust stains at their toes (could be yeast due to allergies and licking). Poke and feel your dog all over on a regular basis and you will be much better at recognizing when the dog needs to see your vet for something new that appears. I always say…there is just petting your dog and then there is feeling your dog with intention: and see your vet at least once a year for their annual checkups even if the dog is not due for their shots. I also recommend just dropping into your vet’s office with your dog for a quick weigh in and treat so that it is a pleasant experience and not always something scary.

Dog Grooming


Personality is important because if you have a calm pup who tolerates everything you do to them you have no worries, but if you are like most of us who has a squirmy puppy that bites at the brushes every time they are groomed, there is some work to be done first

I try to desensitize my pups to being brushed by using a very soft bristle brush and alternate between the backside of the brush and the front bristle side of the brush with each pass on the dog’s body. I do not try to groom/brush the entire dog in one sitting. I vary the time and place of the brushing and add lots of treats to keep their mouths busy and associate a good feeling with being brushed. One of my clients told me they would smear peanut butter on the fridge and then let their dog lick it off while they brushed them – get creative and take it slowly and you will have that dog that gets excited to be brushed as an adult.

Trimming Nails:

Trimming nails is an intimidating task and you do not have to do it, however someone will have to trim your dog’s nails. If you can start getting your dog used to be handled for that task, your groomer or vet will really appreciate it!! Start by exposing the dog to the nail trimmer or Dremel tool (not turned on at first) with lots of goodies and fun games. Then start tapping and flicking the dog’s nails with the tool (or touching the Dremel – again turned off – to the nails). If you do decide to trim the nail, ONLY trim the part of the nail that is slightly hooked or curved avoiding the “quick” or blood supply. Dogs with white or clear nails are easier to see the quick on but black nails can be tough. The quick area of the nail appears to some people like a hoof of a horse – the meaty section on the inner part of the hoof within the center of the shoe. If you try to trim your dog’s nails on your own, then PLEASE have “quick stop” styptic powder and a wet cotton pad ready to go in case you accidentally cut the quick. Dip the wet pad in the yellow powder quick stop and hold/pinch it onto the bleeding nail. The benzocaine in the product will help numb it and it also has clotting factors in it to stop the bleeding. Try to only trim one nail at a sitting so the dog doesn’t start getting nervous with each additional clip of the nail. I recommend the nail trimmer that is like garden shears with the nail guard on the back side of the moving blades – NOT the guillotine style trimmers. The guillotine style tends to be difficult to hold and bends the nail as it trims. The garden shear style is easier to manipulate, allowing you to hold the dog’s paws at different angles to get an easy trim.


My best advice is to use the right tool for the job and go slowly with each step of the process. Try not to groom the whole dog all at once when you start. Desensitize the dog to the process in small steps with lots of fun and treats and they will at the very least not fear the process – hopefully even learn to enjoy it all!!

San Diego RattlesnakeAs a San Diego resident, I can agree completely with all of my clients when they say how much they love living in this community. Many speak highly of the shopping and dining as well as being able to walk to their children’s baseball or soccer games and of course the wonderful trails here to explore with our dogs. Unfortunately, those same trails are home to critters we may not be so fond of including Rattlesnakes and Coyotes.

San Diego is home to 3 of the 32 different species of Rattlesnakes including: the Southern Pacific Rattlesnake (pictured above, which is quick to react/display/strike), the Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake (which is extremely rare and prefers to live in rocky hillsides away from humans) and the most commonly seen Red Diamond Rattlesnake (pictured below, which is generally quite placid, rarely choosing to display). Learning more about rattlesnakes and their natural behavior can help you remain safe if you do encounter one on your walks or in your own backyard.

When we compare our 5 senses to a rattlesnake’s we find that rattlesnakes have a couple of extra senses to aid in their survival. They do not have any external ear flaps and they do not hear like we do. Instead they hear or sense vibrations, especially lower vibrations and the “sounds” are transmitted to their auditory nerve for processing those vibrations. In their eyes, they have a higher amount of rod cells than we do, permitting them to see better in lower light. They also have some cones suggesting that they may be able to detect colors. They do not have moveable eyelids which can pose a problem for them if they are not careful when they are striking an animal that may fight back. Our eyes have muscles that change the shape of our lenses when we focus on an object. The lenses of rattlesnakes act more like a camera lens, moving in and out to focus on the object. They do not have a fovea or focal point like we to so their visual acuity is not as defined or sharp as ours. Rattlesnakes behave as if they see shapes, sizes, lights, shadows and movements. They do have olfactory cells so they can detect faint odors; including prey, potential mates and predators (King Snakes eat rattlesnakes). San Diego Rattlesnake
Their skin is amazingly sensitive especially to temperature changes and they are most active when the weather is between 80 – 90 degrees. The last of our senses, taste, is where the rattlesnakes get interesting. They do not have any taste buds, but they possess two other features that are quite intriguing. Rattlesnakes are referred to as Pit Vipers because they have facial pits that are located between the nostril and the eye on each side of their head. These pits contain nerve endings that sense heat radiation enabling them to detect warm blooded animals. They move their head from side to side to hone in on the infrared information to help them detect potential prey. They also have a chemoreceptive organ called the Jacobson’s Organ that would be considered a combination of taste and smell in other animals. Their forked tongues dart in and out of their mouth transmitting all of the information gathered from microscopic particles in the air.

Snakes are cold blooded which means that they do not need to eat daily to maintain their body temperatures and bodily functions. Instead they rely on the heat of sun and therefore only have to eat about 3 X their body weight annually. They feed mostly on small rodents, but they can also eat insects, lizards, frogs, bird eggs and occasionally other smaller snakes. They tend to eat their prey head first use one of two tactics for acquiring their prey. They will bite and hold onto the prey until the venom takes effect or strike and release the prey following after it to eat it when the venom takes effect. They eat their prey whole using 4 rows of single teeth along both sides of their jaw to move the prey along. Their fangs are shed about every 6 -10 weeks but only one at a time so that they always have at least one fang ready to strike with. Snakes do drink water especially during the time around the shedding process. Approximately 10 days before shedding occurs, liquid builds up between the old and new skin and clouds the eyes, impairing their vision greatly forcing them to go into hiding for safety.
San Diego RattlesnakeMating occurs shortly after the females shed and if you are very lucky, you may get to witness the “Combat Dancing” which is a display of strength between competing males. The females do not eat during their 3 month gestation and can lose up to 50% of their body weight before they give birth to a litter of 6 -10 snakes that are miniature versions of their parents ready to face the world immediately. A female may hang around the den for a few days but there is no actual parental care.

Internally, they have 160 – 400 pairs of ribs (humans have 12 pairs) and there is no sternum. They move in an undulating fashion and can swim quite well. They have a 3 chambered heart (humans have a 4 chambered heart) and although they do have 2 lungs, only their right lung is actually functional. Their rattle is made up of keratin (like our fingernails) and each molt or shed produces a new segment on the rattle. If you are thinking that you can age a rattlesnake by counting the segments, you would be mistaken as they can shed 2 – 3 X a year and sometimes the segments break off. When a snake reaches maturity, the segments are closer in size in relation to the each other without any tapering and there may be 8-10 segments. Their skin coloration or camouflage is called cryptic coloration as opposed to counter shading for dolphins or disruptive coloration for killer whales.

What to know about living with and hiking around rattle snakes:

  • Learn how to recognize rattlesnakes – gopher snakes sometimes coil up, hiss and vibrate their tail to imitate a rattler.
  • Rattle snakes have thick bodies, triangular shaped head, a distinct “neck”, openings (Pits) between nostrils and eyes, hooded eyes, and the Red Diamond Rattlesnakes have a series of light and dark bands near the tail just before the rattles.
  • Rattlesnakes are mostly active at twilight and after dark and prefer temperatures between 80 – 90 degrees.
  • Never go barefoot or wear sandals while hiking or walking on our trails.
  • Avoid tall grasses and heavy underbrush where snakes may be hiding during the day – stay on the trails and keep your dogs on their leashes.
  • Step on logs and rocks not over them (snakes may be on the other side).
  • Avoid wood piles and use gloves whenever possible when climbing around downed trees, boulders and shrubbery close to the ground.
  • Do not handle a freshly killed rattlesnake as it can still inject venom.
  • DO NOT handle live snakes (most snake bites occur while being handled, moved) try to drop a trash can over it, place a brick or rock on top of the can and call animal control.
  • Snake proof your yard with a snake fence that is a tight chicken wire with mesh no larger than ¼ inch, 3 feet high and buried a few inches into the ground, slanting the fence about 30 degrees outward may help to keep the snakes out as well. Clear away vegetation and wood plies (good idea for fire protection as well).
  • Research products like Bonide Snake Stopper – Snake Repellent which you sprinkle around the outside of your property fence line.
  • Research snake vaccines for your dog – although it is not a complete vaccine that protects your dog, it may provide you a little extra time to ensure you can get to a vet for treatment.
  • Know the contact info for your vet as well as the emergency vet hospital and CALL AHEAD to make sure that the vet hospital has the anti venom available and to give them a heads up that you are coming with your dog (provide name, age, breed, size, weight of your dog).
  • Animal Urgent Care of Escondido (760) 738-9600 2430 S Escondido Blvd.


  • Try to keep calm
  • Wash bite area with soap and water
  • Immediately remove watches or rings
  • Immobilize area
  • Even though 25% – 50% of bites are “dry” you should ALWAYS seek medical attn

San Diego CoyotesYip, Yip, Yip, Yip and a few yodels are the sounds that you will be hearing more often around the trails and neighborhoods here in your neighborhood as young coyotes start emerging from their dens to start hunting with their families.

The Coyote (Canis latrans) is actually a member of the dog family and is found throughout North America from the deserts to the mountains. They typically weigh around 40lbs, are about 4-5 ft long and stand 15-20″ at the shoulder.

The mating season for coyotes is Jan through March and with a gestation period of about 60 days, the pups are born April through June. Although coyotes do not hibernate, they do dig out dens or enlarge existing abandoned dens for raising their pups and for sleeping. A female coyote will have only one litter of 3-9 puppies per year and spend most of the early period of the pups’ lives in and around the den. The pups are born blind but start opening their eyes after 2 weeks and emerge from the dens to explore soon afterwards. The pups will nurse for 5-7 weeks but actually start eating small amounts of regurgitated food that the father brings home after a hunt. The female starts teaching the pups how to hunt for themselves by the time they are 10-12 weeks old and by late fall they are out on their own!

Coyotes hunt for small rodents, sometimes stalking them for 20 minutes before pouncing on them. They will also eat fish, insects, vegetables, and fruits, especially berries and scavenge for leftovers from other hunters or our trash cans if we’re not careful to keep them covered well. With coyotes all around us here in San Diego, you have probably seen several small piles of coyote scat in the middle of a trail or side walk. (You may have been wondering why one of your neighbors “forgot” to pick up their dog’s poop!) Interestingly, coyotes typically poop right in the middle of a trail – this helps mark their territory – whereas our dogs usually move off to the side of the trail or walkway. If you look closely (I know, yuck!) Coyote scat is filled with bits of fur and bones and berries.

Coyotes are crafty, elusive and opportunistic; have been known to jump right over 8 ft fences and can reach top speeds of 40 mph. I am always reminding my clients to please be aware of coyotes when you are walking your small dog around the trails, especially at dawn or dusk or leaving them unattended in your backyard because little white fluffy dogs look like bunny rabbits to hungry coyotes.

If you are lucky enough to see a coyote around town or on the trails, it will most likely be a very brief encounter as coyotes are generally shy animals and keep to themselves. They spook easily so you can usually shoo them away with a yell or by waving your arms and hands at them. Younger coyotes may be a bit more curious about you and with pupping season upon us, you may actually see more of them on the trails or even down at the baseball fields!

Nutrition Talk

            We’re all accustomed to reading our own food labels but how many of you have read your dog’s food labels?  Can you decipher what’s in them?  Let’s look at a couple.

           Just like in our labels, it’s the first 6 or 7 ingredients that make up the bulk of the food.  Most store bought foods contain Meat by Products and Corn and many of the brands are still using BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) or BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) or Ethoxiquin as preservatives, which have been associated with liver, kidney and thyroid damage as well as fetal abnormalities and may be linked to cancer.  Tocopherols (Vitamin E) and Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) are natural preservatives and antioxidants to look for in your dog foods. 

Meal means reduced in size by removal of water. This enables the manufacturer to pack more meat protein into the food – which is better than plant protein overall.

Ground Corn / Corn Meal – The entire corn kernel ground or chopped, it must contain no more than 4% foreign material.   The problem with corn of any kind is that it passes right through the dog just as it passes right through us.  Corn is used as filler.

Meat By-Products – Animal protein not specified – Clean parts of slaughtered animals, not including meat.  These parts include: lungs, liver, kidneys, brain, spleen, bone, blood, stomach, and intestines freed of their contents.  It does include hair, teeth, hooves, and horns.

Poultry By-Product – Clean parts of slaughtered poultry including hearts, lungs, liver, kidneys, feet and heads.  It cannot contain feces or foreign matter except which is unavoidable during processing and then in only trace amounts.  P

Soy – Is used as a protein instead of meats – can sometimes cause gas problems in dogs


Lecithin protects cells from damage caused by oxidation

Taurine – essential amino acid necessary for the proper development and ongoing health of the heart and eyes – dogs can make taurine through the digestion of proteins – better from foods high in meat protein

Fishincludes all essential amino acids and is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, Vit A, K &E, and also contains iodine, calcium, phosphorus, iron, potassium, copper and fluoride.

Omega 6 – essential fatty acid found in plants such as FLAXSEED, evening primrose, black currant. (good for skin and coat)

Linoleic Acid – found in safflower plants and fish oils (sometimes used in place of Omega 3 & Omega 6 sources)  (good for skin and coat)

Omega 9 – found in olive oil  (good for skin and coat)

Biotin (AKA Vit H) – Biotin is a water soluble vitamin that is a member of the B-complex group; helps body use protein & other B vits & helps synthesize & oxidize essential fatty acids (good for skin and coat)

Folic Acidaides in cell development and preservation

Chelated Minerals – minerals bonded with amino acids (protein) that aids in absorption into the animals system.

Now…how is dog food made?

In 1957 Purina Laboratories invented the extrusion process and introduced the first extruded hard kibble “Purina Dog Chow” and life in the dog food industry has never been the same! 

Most of the major pet food companies in the US are subsidiaries of major multinational companies : Nestle Purina PetCare (Alpo, Bakers, Chef Michael’s Canine Creations, Felix, Gourmet, Kit & Kaboodle, Fancy Feast, Friskies, Mighty Dog and Ralston Purina products such as Dog Chow, Proplan & Purina One); Heinz (Nine Lives, Gravy Train, Kibbles-n-Bits, Nature’s Recipe); Colgate-Palmolive (Hill’s Science Diet Pet Food); Mars (Kal Kan, Pedigree, Iams, Eukanuba, Whiskas, Royal Canin, California Naturals, Caston, Cesar, Chappi, Dreamies, Sheba, Temptations).  With the large buying power of these parent companies comes the risk of a dip in quality and larger chances for cross contamination (Like the widespread Salmonella recall of 2012).

Other Big Names in the business:

Blue Buffalo (Blue, Basics, Wilderness, Freedom, Life Protection Formula, Naturally Fresh and LifeSource Bits)

Diamond Pet Foods (Diamond, Diamond Naturals, Diamond Naturals Grain Free, Nutra-Gold, Nutra-Gold Grain Free, Nutra Nuggets Global, Nutra Nuggets US, Premium Edge, Professional, Taste of The Wild, Kirkland) (which was a big part of the 2012 recall)

WellPet (Old Mother Hubbard, Sojos, Wellness Natural Pet Food, Holistic Select, Eagle Pack Natural Pet Food)

I like to look for foods that come from a company that owns their own manufacturing plant and does not co-pack so that the integrity of the production is consistent.  I also look at Dog Food Advisor for recall history (you sign up for email alerts to recalls).

Midwestern Pet Foods who makes Earthborn Holistic and Champion PetFoods who makes Orijen (Canadian) and their US counterpart Acana are two companies that (although a bit pricey – amazing ingredients) are among my favorites.  They have never been involved with a food recall – (The litigation against Champion PetFoods and heavy metals is not an accurately depicted argument – do your due diligence and research from reputable sources) Another great food is made by Open Farm.

Grain Free diets being linked to Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) are also still under study, including looking at genetics and Taurine deficiency as other possible causes.  Look at the studies carefully understanding the sample size and the fact that in the reports dogs that were given RAW as well as grain filled foods were also reported having DCM, so it is not necessarily grain free foods causing DCM.  There is a lot more research that needs to be completed to get a clearer picture of what is leading to the cause of DCM.

Regardless of what food you choose,remember to look at your dog’s treats with the same scrutiny and if you want to be extra careful…

  • Always try to store your dry foods in their original bags inside an airtight container or at least make sure to cut and save the lower part of the bags that have all of the packaging information with the date codes on it for future reference if you need it.   Pet food companies will need that information from you when trying to track down any problems with the food.
  • Rinse and keep any canned food cans for about a week for the same reason.
  • Don’t feed your pet anything that looks or smells funny to you.  Watch out for molds and mildew.  Extruded foods have oils sprayed on them for flavor and can go rancid.
  • If your pet suddenly stops eating his food LISTEN to him!  Even if the bag is now half empty and all was fine the week before.  You never know what happened to the bag during the week or during packaging. 
  • Feel confident to contact the food company and report the issue.
  • Try feeding your dog from a new bag to rule out bad food or upset tummy issues.
  • Use Stainless steel or glass bowls and ALWAYS clean them after each meal

Summertime is here, the heat is upon us and you may be planning vacations, weekend getaways or just some fun hikes with your dogs. You may be able to recognize the dangers of heat exhaustion or heat stroke in humans (i.e.: headache, dizziness, fatigue, disorientation, hot DRY skin, rapid heartbeat) but how do you recognize it in dogs? How is heatstroke in dogs prevented? How is it treated? Help your dog this summer by educating yourself and becoming aware of your dog’s surroundings and by using preventative measures to ensure your dog’s safety. I would recommend that you learn what are your dog’s normal resting heart rate, respiratory rate and temperature before starting out your vacation or daily hikes in the sun.

Dogs cool off by panting, exchanging warmer air from the body for the cooler air outside. They do not sweat to cool off the way humans do, although they can release some moisture through the pads of their feet. The average body temperature for a dog is between 100- 103 degrees and when the outside temperatures reach 85 – 90 degrees or more, cooling off becomes more difficult for the dog. Exercising during the heat, even just a walk, increases panting and loss of body fluid begins. Short nosed breeds such as pugs, bulldogs, boxers, and the Pekinese can overheat more quickly because they can not exchange air as efficiently. Recognizing this will help you to help your dog in the hot summer months. Most of us have heard that leaving a dog in a car, even with the windows rolled down while you pop into a store for something can be fatal. The inside car temperature can jump quickly on warm days as well as overcast days due to the concentration of UV rays penetrating the car’s windows. If you choose to leave your dog outside at home, make sure that the dog has plenty of cool fresh water to drink and plenty of shade. Dog runs and tie downs for dogs can be a hazard when the sun changes position and the shade moves or disappears completely. You may have to provide a shade umbrella, small wading pool, misters or extra bins of water or install a Licksit if your dogs are like mine and like to play in their water bowls

Now that you have taken some measures to prevent heat stroke at home, let’s look at what you’ll need to be aware of when you are out and about with your dog. Hiking, long walks or even just a long day at your child’s baseball games, can be hard on your dog too. Make sure you bring plenty of water, a shade umbrella or pup tent (no pun intended!) and maybe even some ice and a towel to help cool off the dog’s undersides if he starts showing signs of heat exhaustion. Plan on taking water breaks in the shade every 15 minutes or so for at least 5 minutes on hot days when you are hiking. When you are walking on hot sand or asphalt, your dog’s feet can blister too! Watch out for metal manhole covers on sidewalks. Be aware of your dog’s behavior and know what is abnormal for your dog. Learn to recognize the following symptoms and act quickly to cool your dog down

Heatstroke symptoms include:

  • Rapid, sometimes frantic, excessive panting.
  • Tongue and mucus membranes are bright pink or red and the saliva is thick and tenacious (drooling does not mean that your dog is hydrated! Check the consistency of the drool!)
  • Vomiting and sometimes diarrhea that can be bloody.
  • Unsteady, staggering gait.
  • Body (rectal) temperature is 104 degrees or highers.

What to do:

  • Move your dog to the shade.
  • Drinking cool water alone will not fix the problem! Do not let your dog guzzle large amounts of water at a time.
  • Immerse your dog in cool NOT icy cold water. Use a garden hose or bucket to cool the undersides including the groin and arm pits. Use a wet towel or bandana to cool underside if a hose is unavailable.
  • Pack ice in wet towels and use on underside and head to help cool dog.
  • Get the dog to a vet! Even after he seems to be cooled down!

Some signs to recognize as your dog is starting to become overheated include, whining, fidgeting, and as they pant the tongue extends much further than normal and may be scooped at the end like a big spoon with slimy drool at the tip. If you can cool them off at this point, you can avoid the harsher condition of heat stroke which is very serious and can be fatal.

I always recommend having your vet’s contact information in your phone just in case you need it in a hurry when you are out and about and you may even want to make a list of the animal ER’s that are close to your home as well. Prevention, knowledge of your dog’s normal behavior and being prepared will help you to enjoy the outdoors with your dog safely in all types of weather – get out and have some fun!

Here are some fun facts about dogs how your new puppy is developing and growing and how dogs sense the world!

Puppy development before we even get them:

fun facts about your dog

Gestation is about 62 – 65 days

  • Eyes open between 10 and 16 days with vision more obvious between 3- 4 weeks.
  • Ears open 12 -14 days and the canal continues to widen for approximately 5 weeks -although they seem to recognize sound from day one -they are more coordinated around 4 weeks.
  • Nose works from day one and gets more refined as they grow and develop.
  • Touch is incredibly sensitive as well as they root around for mom and food!

We pick up our puppies around 8 weeks old:

  • They will have 23 baby teeth that will come in (that are razor sharp!) and will lose them all around 4 or 5 months of age (although some breeds take longer and some smaller breeds have a tough time losing their baby teeth and end up with both sets that your vet will need to have a good look at).
  • They end up with 42 adult teeth (20 in the upper jaw and 22 in the lower jaw) with the molars being the last to come in around 8 months or so.

Adult senses:

fun facts about your dogEyes

  • Dogs are most active at dawn and dusk
  • Their eyes are positioned differently on their faces giving most breeds a greater field of vision (humans have stereoscopic vision and a 180-degree field of view whereas some breeds have up to a 240-degree field of view and they may have a smaller field of binocular vision).
  • They have a third eyelid called a nictitating membrane (that you may see when the dog is sleeping-keeping the cornea moist) that helps to protect the eyes from grasses and debris as the dog moves along the ground.
  • The dog’s cornea, lenses and pupils are comparatively larger than the human eye which allows for more light to enter the eye enabling the dog to see prey better in low light conditions.
  • Although they may be able to receive more light through their eyes and see objects in dim light, their visual acuity is not as keen as humans (the articles I have read suggest that dogs have approximately 20/75 vision).
  • Do dogs see color? Sort of…in the eye, light receptors in the eye called rods sense light and movement and cones require a lot of light to detect color. Rods are more prevalent in nocturnal animals and cones are more prevalent in diurnal animals like us. Dogs do not have a cone concentrated area in the eye (like humans do) called a fovea which help to detect specific colors. Dogs do, however, have another structure called a tapetum lucidum (which you may see as a green reflective sheen in their eyes at night) which helps to pass light back over the retina for extra light exposure. The tapetum lucidum does not develop completely until weeks after the puppy is born. While humans have the cones that detect red, blue and green, dog’s only have the cones to detect violet and yellow-green. What you end up with is a dog that sees color the way a human does that is red-green color blind. What we would see as blue-green, dogs would see as white or gray and what we would see as green, yellow, orange or red all appear as shades of green or yellow to dogs.


  • Dogs are born deaf and their ears do not open until about the 12th day and learning to differentiate the direction a sound is coming from can take months or even a year or two to fine tune.
  • Dogs have a greater range of hearing than humans – Humans range is about 20 – 20,000 Hz whereas dogs hearing ranges from about 40-60,000 Hz. Some breeds have better hearing than others. There are 17 to 18 muscles in a dog’s ears (compared to our 6 to 9) that allow them to rotate the outer part of the ear (the pinnae) to pin point where sounds are coming from. Have you ever watched your dog when you’ve called it to come and seen just one ear rotate towards you while the other ear is still focused on whatever is enticing the dog in front of it?


  • Amazing! Almost everyone is fascinated by how well dogs can smell. How do they do it? The bottom line is that they have a greater surface area of nasal epithelium for detecting smell which means more scent receptor cells working on every scent. Humans have about 5 million scent receptor cells working for us but a dog can have anywhere between 125 million to 300 million depending on the breed. Their noses have more curves and movement abilities – each nostril can move independently from the other – and they can channel scent further into their nose than we can. When they inhale part of the inhalation goes directly towards scent detection while the other part channels in for respiration. They possess deep in the nasal passage tiny bony structures called turbinates which work with olfactory receptors to sift out specific scent molecules. When dogs exhale the air is passed through the side slits of their nose ensuring that they do not lose the current scent that they are inhaling in the main part of their nostrils. This ability to stay on scent certainly helps with hunting or finding a mate. Moisture plays a key role in trapping scent particles for the dog to differentiate what type of scent they are detecting. You may have actually heard your dog snorting when they come upon a strong odor and a scent they are driven to follow. Moisture from their noses and mouths help to dissolve scents carried along the nasal epithelium. More of the dog’s brain is also dedicated to olfaction than ours with a specialized section set aside specifically to detect pheromones through their vomeronasal organ located in the nose. Specialized scent breeds like the bloodhound, use their ears to also help stir up scent trails along their way. They swing their heads and ears side to side low to the ground and drool or snort moisture into their noses as they pace themselves, enabling them to lift up odors and process those smells in a very efficient manner.