dogs Archives - Page 2 of 5 - Hot Diggity! Dog Walking + Pet Sitting
Pets add so much joy to our lives and we want to reciprocate this unconditional love, however, daily responsibilities like work and school often mean that we can’t spend as much time with Buster as we’d like.
It’s hard to come home tired after a long day and work up the energy to take your energetic pup out for the exercise they need. Don’t sweat it – we’re here to support pet lovers so no one needs to forego pet parenthood because of work, family, travel or educational pursuits.
One of the most important ways we support pet lovers is with daily dog walks, which help reduce stress for both you and your pup; you don’t worry when you’re home late and Buster doesn’t become anxious, depressed, or unhealthy.
With diabetes and obesity becoming increasingly common among dogs, daily exercise is a great preventative approach to keeping Buster healthy, happy, and agile for years to come. The amount of exercise needed varies by breed between 30 minutes to two hours per day and vets agree that regular walks promote digestive health, keep aging dogs limber, relieve joint pain, maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of heart disease, high-blood pressure and diabetes.
Walks also support emotional well-being, maintain routine and reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and other emotional and behavioral issues by allowing your pet to get exercise, explore, and enjoy company and love during the day. Dogs build up a lot of restless energy during the day and often have a hard time finding productive, nondestructive ways to keep themselves entertained. Release that energy in a healthy way by going on a midday walk instead of turning to shoes or couch cushions for entertainment.
In addition to being a great form of exercise, walking can be an exciting part of your dog’s day. Daily walks help with socialization, allowing pups to explore new scents and sights in addition to meeting other dogs and humans. Walks are also a great way to practice walking on a leash and reinforcing training, reducing aggression and anxiety in the future.
Whether your 15-year old bulldog wants a slow 30-minute saunter around the neighborhood or your Shepherd puppy needs a two-hour forest pack hike to be worn out, our award-winning team is here to help you create the perfect walking experience for your family.
Get in touch to schedule weekly walks or talk to our admin team about your favorite four-legged walker or hiker.
Just the word “Christmas” evokes images of snow-covered grounds, an evergreen wreath on the front door, a crackling fireplace with a tree covered in twinkling lights, and a cozy couch where you are snuggled up along with your pooch (or person), sipping on a hot beverage…and watching that classic movie that puts you in the holiday spirit!
In many houses watching Christmas movies is a tradition that has been around for several generations. It is also a great way to unwind after a hectic day and remember this is a time of year for family in all of its definitions, child-like joy and yearly reflection. If you need some inspiration for tonight’s Netflix search, the folks at Top Dog Tips compiled this list of 82 heart-warming Christmas movies that feature some of our favorite four-legged companions!
There are some classics and others that were new to us. Whether you’re snuggling in for the weekend or looking for a last-minute gift for the dog-loving coworker you picked for Secret Santa this year, there’s something here for everyone. Wishing you and your family the happiest of holidays!
So, your beloved Buster has taken over your couch and chances are, they make you feel guilty by staring at you with their huge puppy-dog eyes each time you tell them to come down. If this keeps up, you won’t be able to enjoy watching your favorite TV show without smelling musty or getting pet hair all over your jeans. (Although pet hair is an emblem of love for many fur-parents, your guests might think otherwise.) And now that autumn is bringing back Portland’s signature rain (and mud), you really don’t want your outdoorsy dog tracking dirt onto your furniture. So, what now?
1. Break the Habit and Stick to the New Rule
Breaking the habit is going to be a challenge if you and your dog are used to snuggling on the couch or watch TV together; however, you need to be consistent to be successful. A dog can be clingy and just like a human child, thinks they own everything you do. Whether you have changed your mind about pet-friendly furniture because your dog is shedding heavily or incessantly chewing the couch or pillows, once you make a rule, it’s up to you to stick to it. Make sure every family member (mom, dad, sister, brother, even cat if you can) sticks to the rule; otherwise, it can confuse your furry family member.
2. Training and Treats Go a Long Way
Say “get off,” “down,” or a similar command each time you catch them lying on the couch or as soon as you see them putting their paws up on the furniture. They will act stubbornly at first but be persistent. Bite-sized goodies tossed on the floor can be a good way to entice all four paws onto the ground. When Buster gets it right, make a fuss and reward them with more treats.
3. Make Sure Your Dog Loves Their Bed
The reason dogs prefer lounging on your couch instead of their own bed might be that they find the comfy couch a lot nicer than the bed you bought at a bargain sale. Try making the couch less appealing by providing a cozier and a more enticing bed with pillows and some toys that your dog will surely love. You may also plug in a DAP diffuser near their bed for the first few weeks to create a welcoming atmosphere as they breathe in soothing pheromones.
4. Provide Their Own Sofa
Whether Buster loves fetch, tug-of-war, running, or digging, nothing beats spending time with their owner even if it means binge-watching the newest Shonda Rhimes series all day. Keeping you company is a way of showing how much they love you, and we all love that feeling. Instead of telling Buster to go away, provide a comfy alternative to your sofa – and if a regular dog bed isn’t cutting it, you may want to try creating their own sofa or chair. You can place it right beside your couch so you can both be comfortable while the two of you spend quality time together.
5. Don’t Punish the Pooch
We hope this goes without saying: never punish your pet by hitting or spanking. Not only is negative punishment harsh and cruel, but it is also ineffective and will only result in more behavioral issues. Scold them, tell them “off” or another word you decide to use when they try to push the boundaries and use positive reinforcement to reward good behavior instead of punishing naughtiness. If Buster growls at you or challenges you when you enforce boundaries, you may want to think about taking some training classes together to reinforce your authority and strengthen your bond.
You and Buster love each other and with a few simple (and consistent) changes, you can enjoy your quality time together in a way that keeps everyone happy.
This guest post is from Brian Morgan, an editor at DogBedZone.com where he writes about picking the best dog bed for your pup. The site also features tips, guides, and resources for dog owners.
Summer is officially here and plants are on our minds!
Thanks to the miracle of chlorophyll, even during winter plants are fantastic at keeping our indoor air clean and fresh. They’re also great for supporting our mental health by reducing our stress levels. Unfortunately, many indoor horticulturists’ favorite plants are dangerous to the health of our four-legged family members.
Lilies, asparagus ferns, and even aloe vera can be dangerous for curious pets and cause discomfort, illness, or even endanger their lives. Unless you keep your plants high out of reach and are careful about picking up any fallen leaves, it’s best to proactively protect your family by making sure the plants you do bring home won’t pose any risk.
To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of 6 beautiful and commonly available plants that are perfect for improving your home while keeping your pets safe.
Pink Jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum): This beautiful plant (pictured above) will bloom nearly all year long starting in February, filling your home with it’s wonderful scent and providing you with beautiful star-shaped white and pink blossoms. In the summer months it loves lots of indirect sunlight, and during the winter it doesn’t need as much, making it perfect for those Pacific Northwest grey days. During the summer the soil should be moist, though you can let it dry between waterings. Water it less through the fall, and let it be slightly dry in the winter and spring seasons. The blossoms require a humid atmosphere which isn’t too hard to achieve in the Portland area, but if you’re finding it’s dropping it’s blossoms too quickly you can set the pot on top of a pan filled with pebbles and add a small layer of water to the pebbles that will evaporate and add moisture to the air.
Note that not all varieties of Jasmine plants can withstand living indoors. Some can grow up to 15’ tall and while that would definitely provide you with a huge wall of gorgeous flowers, it would probably be a little difficult to care for. Make sure that when purchasing a Jasmine plant you find one that can thrive in the indoors. It will also want to trail, so it’s best to set it up on a high shelf, put it in a hanging basket, or give it some scaffolding to climb.
For more information about growing Pink Jasmine indoors, check out this blog post from Dave’s Garden.
Madagascar Jasmine (Stephanotis floribunda): Despite being called “Madagascar Jasmine” this plant is not part of the Jasmine family. Unlike Jasmine which is native to China, Stephanotis floribunda is native to Madagascar. It too has beautiful star-shaped white flowers and smells wonderful, but you’ll find it’s leaves are larger and darker than that of Pink Jasmine. Madagascar Jasmine is a bit more sensitive than Pink Jasmine, but you’ll never have to worry about them when you leave for vacations (maybe to Madagascar!) because here at Hot Diggity! we’re always careful to follow all your household care notes.
Madagascar Jasmine requires strong, but indirect sunlight. They need loamy soil that drains well but maintains moisture. Don’t worry about creating your own mix, just be sure to buy high quality potting soil when going plant shopping. They too need to have humid air, so also consider putting their pot on top of a rock plate with a small layer of water that can evaporate over the day for them. Misting with a spray bottle can also be effective.
Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Spider plants are classic, easy to care for, and they sprout lots of new shoots so it’s easy to share them with your pet (or plant) loving friends! They grow well in low-light conditions so they can bring some color to our grey winter days without the need for a grow light. They need a fair amount of water and like to dry out between watering. They’re hearty so even if you’re notoriously bad at keeping houseplants alive (we get it) this is a great starter option!
Spider plants can be grown in pots or hanging baskets, so keep in mind that their stems and grass-like leaves have a tendency to dangle. It might be a good idea to place them high up to avoid any cat-induced accidents – those little tufts can look a lot like feather toys to some – though this is more for the plant’s sake since they’re safe for any curious cat or dog.
African Violets (Saintpaulia)
African violets can bring a beautiful pop of purple, pink, blue, or white to your home (depending on the variety). This generally low-maintenance plant can thrive without bright light and bloom throughout the year, though just like many cats we know, they do enjoy warmth and a sunny spot as much as possible.
Added bonus – they also bring air purifying goodness to your indoor spaces!
Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata bostoniensis)
Thanks to Garfield, we know that ferns are not harmful to cats (and the ASPCA confirms that Boston ferns are safe for both cats and dogs). It’s like bringing a little bit of the beautiful Pacific Northwest forest indoors, and just like in their forest homes, they do well with high humidity and indirect light.
If you need to have the fern in a dryer environment (like when we’re all blasting the heat mid-January) you may want to mist it once or twice a week or set it in a tray of pebbles and water. Placing your fern in the bathroom where it naturally gets a steam bath is a great hands-off option!
The Boston fern is one of the easiest to care for, but all true ferns such as the maidenhair are great for pet-friendly households. However, beware some so-called “ferns” such as the asparagus fern, which is in fact part of the lily family.
There are many types of palms that are safe for the furry members of the household, including areca, bamboo, parlor, and ponytail palms, and they’re all relatively easy to care for as well! Despite the sunny beach association the name inspires, palms don’t need a lot of light and do well in just about any room in the house.
The parlor palm (pictured) is a charming houseplant grows in clusters. The areca is a more quintessential tree-like version that can grow to seven feet, while the ponytail palm grows to around three feet, and the bamboo palm really makes a statement at up to 12 feet tall and five feet wide. Keep the size in mind when selecting the location and the pot!
Palms like their soil to dry out between waterings, so you will only need to water once a week (or less). Test the soil before you water and make sure they’re draining well and not sitting in water. Ponytail palms are in fact succulents so their trunks store water and only require minimal watering in the winter. The ponytail palm likes bright light, so in Oregon it could do well being outdoors in the summer and indoors in the colder months.
Keep in mind that (like the “fern”) seeing “palm” in a plant’s common name isn’t a guarantee that it’s safe for pets. The sago palm, for example, is not true palm but rather a cycad and is toxic to pets.
There are many options for pet-friendly indoor plants depending on your style and space and all of these listed are relatively easy to find at the local garden center or nursery. They range in size, color, and shape, and are fairly easy to care for in an indoor setting in the greater Pacific Northwest region so feel free to bring that green indoors!
July 4th usually means lots of fireworks, and lots of fireworks can cause some serious anxiety for your pets. Here are a few friendly ways to help keep your pets calm when the show begins:
Keep your pets indoors before the fireworks are set to begin. If they need to go outside, be sure to keep them on a leash.
If possible, keep your pets with you. They will feel the most at ease in your presence.
If you plan on being away from home, avoid leaving your pet alone. Having someone around with whom your pets are familiar with is a great alternative. (We’ll be there with extra snuggles if you need us!) If you plan on taking pets to a boarding facility, take them for a visit beforehand or use a place they are already familiar with. A new experience combined with the loud noises can cause extra stress.
If there are lots of fireworks in your neighborhood, it’s not a bad idea to start preparing your pet by acclimating them to the sound of fireworks. Playing recordings or videos will help prep your pets so they’re not completely caught off guard the night of the celebrations.
Drown out the loud booms by playing music or having the TV on at a decently loud volume.
Make sure the blinds and curtains are closed.
Keep in mind that many pets love to crawl into confined spaces when they are scared. Dogs, in particular, may want to be in their kennel or hide under the bed. Allow them access to these spaces to seek out extra comfort.
For pets who already have major anxiety, you may want to ask your vet about a mild sedative or look into purchasing a ThunderShirt.
Provide your pets with lots of extra exercise that day to help wear them out.
Give your pets something fun to play and occupy their attention such as a Kong toy filled with treats or xylitol-free dog-safe peanut butter or new catnip toys for your cats.
Make sure all garbage cans and bags are well sealed so a curious or anxious dog doesn’t decide to go after the leftovers from your BBQ or picnic or munch on shiny fireworks remnants looking for food.
And remember, all pets should have their collar on with identification tags in case you get separated. If they’re microchipped, make sure the information is up to date. New Year’s Eve and the 4th of July are the two biggest days of the year for pets on the loose.
By taking some precautions to comfort them we can help keep our furry friends safe and calm so we can all enjoy celebrating!
What makes in-home pet sitting different from boarding? What does having a professional pet sitter in your home mean? If you’re not sure about options for services when you’re out of town and can’t take pets with you or you’re concerned about having a “stranger” in your home while you’re gone, you’ve come to the right blog post!
One of our most popular services at Hot Diggity! is Overnight In-Home Pet Sitting. This is very different from boarding pets at a separate facility since you will have a dedicated sitter and your pets will get to stay in the comfort of their own home.
A boarding facility is an unfamiliar environment to them where all the smells, sights, and sounds are different. Many boarding facilities can be loud and chaotic, causing anxiety for shy pets. Dogs that are reactive to other dogs really should not be in boarding facilities since they pose a risk to the other boarded dogs and therefore themselves as well. Their movement is often limited to just a kennel and personalized attention can cost extra. Another risk for both cats and dogs in boarding facilities is communicable diseases such as kennel cough. Conversely, if your pet is sick and could be contagious to others, they would pose a risk to those other pets.
And let’s face it, we all prefer to stay in the place we are familiar with and that we share with the people we know and love. When those people have to leave for business trips or vacations, the next best option is in-home pet care so your pets can follow their normal daily routines while enjoying lots of snuggles from a dedicated sitter.
Many Hot Diggity! sitters are capable of administering medicinal shots if a pet needs insulin injections or more. That kind of care doesn’t cost extra either. If that’s what your pet needs, it’s what we provide.
With an Overnight In-Home Pet Sit, your sitter will check in at the start of the service and will send you at least one photo of your pets and a written update during each portion of the stay. You can easily communicate with them through either our portal or our app and ask them questions or provide feedback if needed. We aim to give you absolute peace of mind that your pets and your home are being taken care of, and that’s what many of our clients report feeling:
Our sitters spend the entire night in your homes (following your instructions on where to sleep etc.,) and keep to your pets’ normal routine in the morning. They have someone to snuggle with (if they’re allowed in bed) and as an added bonus, your house looks occupied while you’re away. We can also bring in the mail, water your plants, and take out the trash.
Naturally, one of the greatest hesitations people have about using an in-home pet sitting service is security. At Hot Diggity! your pets’ health and happiness is our #1 priority and we thoroughly vet the background and integrity of our sitters. Unlike your friendly neighborhood kid, we are licensed, bonded, and insured pet sitters. Many of our sitters are Pet CPR certified, too. We take our responsibility to protect your home and pets very seriously and are always prepared in case of an emergency.
We hope this post has answered some of your questions about what in-home pet sitting involves with Hot Diggity!, and if you want to know more or schedule a pet sit for your next trip (summer vacation, anyone?) send us a message or give us a call.
We want to make your journeys as easy as possible so we offer a few additional options including a special Welcome Home Service where we pick up a few groceries for you so you can come home from a long vacation or business trip to fresh fruits and vegetables instead of an empty fridge.
Traveling can be stressful enough as it is even without pets at home to worry about. That’s one of the many reasons why Hot Diggity! is always here with our Availability Guarantee to help you enjoy your trips with a relaxed sense of security. Put your mind at ease and give us a call!
Whether you’re a pet owner, one of our amazing pet sitters, or someone who just loves being around animals, volunteering your time to help pet rescue and aid organizations is a great way to make a positive impact in your community while helping animals in need. Here at Hot Diggity! we have many favorite PDX metro area pet non-profits. They do a lot of hard work caring for pets in-need and offer a helping hand in various forms. We’ve put together this list in hopes you find an opportunity that will fit you perfectly!
Do you like walking dogs and showing them love? Organizations such as the Pixie Project are often looking for dog walkers to help their pups get in all their exercise and socialization time. If you enjoy being up early and have free time in your mornings you might also be perfectly suited to volunteering as a kennel helper. Kennel volunteers help give dogs potty breaks in addition to helping make treats and keeping the dogs’ temporary homes clean. Family Dogs New Life Shelter, Animal Aid, and the Oregon Humane Society have a need for these volunteers. Your local county shelter such as the Bonnie L. Hays Animal Shelter in Washington County or Multnomah County Animal Services likely also offer similar opportunities.
Do you love spending time with cats? Cats also need quality socialization time and help keeping their temporary homes clean–duties can include grooming or help with feeding. Cats have a difficult time transitioning from shelter life to a new home, and may have spent a large portion of their lives without much human affection. Volunteering your time to socialize them and show them love can greatly increase their chances of ha
*If you love animals but have a difficult time seeing them in kennels and cages even at a shelter, Animal Aid might provide the best alternative to that model for you. Almost all of their cats at their shelter are homed in a group setting with lots of comfy chairs and cat palaces where they like to nap and play freely. It’s a very comfortable place for the cats and has a much more relaxed atmosphere than most shelters are able to offer.
Do you have a heart of gold and a home in need of a pet? If you have extra room in your home (and a safe backyard with a fence, even better!), almost every organization is in need of foster homes for pets. This is the best way for organizations and volunteers to really get to know the pets that come to them in need of new homes and acclimate them to home life before finding their furever homes. Many animals rescued by these organizations come from states without great resources and have lived for years in either abusive situations or shelter kennels. Through fostering, these pets can relax, learn what it’s like to have a lap all to themselves, and adjust to a home life more easily, lessening the risk of being returned to the rescue organization. There are foster opportunities available from Deaf Dogs of Oregon, the Pixie Project, Family Dogs New Life Shelter, Animal Aid, One Tail at a Time, Oregon Friends of Shelter Animals, the Oregon Humane Society, as well as at the Bonnie L. Hays Animal Shelter, MultiCo Pets Shelter, and many more.
Do you have a car? Consider volunteering to provide pet transportation! That’s what we do! Since 2017, Hot Diggity! has partnered with The PAW Team to provide them with our Pet Taxi services when they’re unable to find volunteers. We help transport pets from low-income families who don’t have transportation on their own to get them to clinics for surgeries and then back home again. You can do it too! The PAW Team is an excellent place to volunteer this service to, or other organizations often need help transporting animals to and from adoption events or to pick up donations. Besides the PAW Team, there are transportation volunteer opportunities through the Pixie Project, Project POOCH, and One Tail at a Time.
Are you good at photography? The first impression potential adopters have of their soon-to-be new pet is usually a picture of them. Good pictures of pets greatly increase the chances that they’ll find a home, so shelters and rescue organizations are often looking for photographers to help make their in need pets give the best first impression possible! Even non-rescue organizations such as the PAW Team are in need of photography volunteers who can help share the stories of their clients in the best possible light too. Other organizations looking for photography volunteers include Animal Aid, and it’s likely that other organizations that don’t advertise such a position specifically would also appreciate the offer of a photoshoot.
Do you love social media or are you into marketing? This is also an in-need skill set at many pet rescue organizations. Social media and other forms of marketing are key to getting the message out about donation drives, available pets, or fundraising events. This is also a great way to volunteer for someone who loves pets, but might actually be allergic to them. Project POOCH, Animal Aid, and One Tail at a Time are some of the organizations that would appreciate the help in spreading the word about their causes.
Do you have veterinary credentials? The PAW Team is always looking for more people to help out at their clinics where they provide veterinary care for low income families with pets.
Before you do volunteer however, there are some important considerations you should think about before submitting your application or ask about opportunities available.
For many of these positions, some training is required. This takes time and money on the part of the shelter organization, so you should be prepared to make at least a 3 month or longer commitment. Be sure to read an organization’s volunteering requirements carefully.
There are different age requirements at different organizations. Some organizations require that volunteers be at least 16 years old, while others allow younger volunteers with adult supervision, and some organizations require that volunteers be at least 21 years old. Check with the organization for their specific requirements.
Remember that sometimes you might be around ill animals with communicable diseases. You should carefully wash your hands when you go to a shelter, and wash when leaving, especially if you have pets at home. That might not be quite enough though, so make sure your pets are vaccinated against diseases and pests that you might accidentally take home with you.
Make sure to keep up your self-care. Volunteering with animal rescue organizations can be very rewarding work, but it can also be exhausting work, both physically and emotionally. Keep hydrated, listen to your emotions and body, don’t overextend yourself, and keep in touch with your support network. This is just good practice for life even if you’re not volunteering, but it can also be important to avoid burnout.
And especially remember to always have fun!
Many of these opportunities can also provide you with professional experience, professional references for young job hunters, emotional comfort for someone who can’t have pets themselves, an opportunity to socialize with other human pet lovers, new friends, as well as good ole’ fresh air and exercise. But spending time with animals is always a great reward in itself, and seeing shy shelter pets become loving and happy pets with loving homes is one of the greatest rewards in the world.
Last year, Hot Diggity! introduced an exciting new offering to all our clients; Forest Pack Hikes! This isn’t a normal potty break or breath of fresh air, this is a full-on socialization and sensory-rich adventure for your pups. When Pack Club dogs realize that it’s a Hike Day, they get as excited as if they’re going to Doggie Disneyland.
All dogs go through an initial consultation where we determine if they’re ready for Pack Club and if so, which personality pack they fit best. Dogs must go through this approval process to make sure that everyone has a great time on the hike and that the pups who are more interested in the smells at every corner don’t slow down the speedsters who want to crack their previous distance record.
On the hikes with our trained Pack Hike Leaders, the dogs get to explore a variety of trails depending on the day, and always on-leash. Each trail offers its different scents, sounds, and sights. This increased stimulation is beneficial for your dog’s mental and physical well-being. Instead of seeing the same things day after day at the route near your home, dogs on hikes get to explore a treasury of experiences that a forest has to offer. Over here are deer smells! Over there is an owl hooting! There are so many rocks and plants to sniff!
Currently, we have morning (7-noon) and afternoon (12-5) pack hikes three days a week, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. This means that while you’re stuck at the office, your dog is having the time of their life roaming the forest with a pack of friends. You might not be able to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air from your desk, but your dog will be savoring that fresh forest oxygen and can tell you all about it after work.
This is the only service we offer where we take multiple dogs from different families out at one time (unless you’ve signed up for Buddy Walks with a friend). Each pack has a maximum of six members, but the number will vary between packs and days. Normally we love offering specialized individual attention, but spending time with other canines is beneficial, too. Without regular socialization, dogs can become shy and reactive towards others of their own kind. This behavior often leads to further isolation from other dogs, and further behavioral problems that will then have to be addressed by a professional dog trainer. With Pack Club your dog(s) can enjoy the companionship of other pups well-suited to their personalities. While on their adventure, good behavior is rewarded through positive reinforcement training by our Pack Leaders.
Some important things to remember before applying for Pack Club:
We require that dogs be up to date on their vaccinations and on their flea and tick prevention.
They need to have a normal, non-extendable, leash and tags on their collars with accurate information.
Even though our Pack Hike Leaders are extremely responsible and excellent pet caretakers, we just want to be prepared as best as we can and for your dog to be as protected as they can.
When the fun hike is said and done and everyone is all tuckered out from the great exercise and sensory experiences, our Pack Leaders give your dogs a towel wipe-down, check them for any little pesky passengers that may have tried to hitch a ride, make sure everyone is hydrated, and then load the gang up and take everyone home where they’ll probably be sleeping and dreaming of the fun they had on their hike until you come back home from work.
If you want to apply to get your pup accepted into Pack Club, just email us with your interest or give us a call! We still have a few spaces available and would love for your pup to join in on the fun.
In the Pacific Northwest there are many natural diseases hiding under rocks, in fields, or in puddles, waiting to get past our pets’ immune systems. However there’s one disease that we’re very fortunate to rarely ever encounter: Valley Fever. This special disease, caused by a fungus known as Coccidiodes immitis, is found in desert regions such as the American Southwest region including California, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, and more. While dogs and other pets living in the Pacific Northwest might not encounter the fungi here, many dogs are moved from high kill shelters in the Southwest to loving homes in the PNW, and sometimes those dogs have Valley Fever.
One such dog is a young Mr. Johnny Cash. Cash is a very sweet little white shadow of an Aussie who loves to be next to his person and is available for adoption from Deaf Dogs of Oregon at the time of writing this blog post. Cash was rescued from a high-kill shelter in the Southwest and discovered to have Valley Fever. To understand what that means for dogs like Cash, read on!
What is Valley Fever?
As mentioned before, this disease is caused by the fungus known as Coccidiodes immitis. This pathogenic fungus can and does most commonly infect humans, but it also can infect a wide range of other animals including cats and dogs. Dogs are especially susceptible because they like to sniff and dig in the soil which is where C. immitis grows. During the dry season, C. immitis exits in a dormant mode in the soil and is not infectious, but after a wet-spell the fungus grows long filaments of mold with infectious spores on the ends. When these spores are inhaled into living organisms they create yeast-like infections in the lungs.
Is Valley Fever contagious?
No. Valley Fever cannot spread from organism to organism. While in yeast-like form (when it has infected a living organism) it does not create the spores which are the only infectious part of C. immitis.
What does Valley Fever look like?
In healthy dogs and cats, their immune system usually isolates the fungus and prevents them from causing symptoms of the disease. Many infected animals don’t show any signs at all. However in dogs with weakened immune systems, including very young puppies and older dogs, these infections will grow too large for the immune systems to handle and can cause visible symptoms of the disease and infect other organs.
Valley Fever is classified into two diseases, the Primary Disease and the Disseminated Disease:
In the Primary Disease, the infection is limited to the lungs. About three weeks after infection symptoms such as a dry cough, fever, lack of appetite, and lethargy become apparent.
In the Disseminated Disease, the infection spreads beyond the lungs and infects other organs including the brain, bones, heart, and eyes. Often it affects the bones and the symptoms will then progress to looking something like arthritis. Dogs suffering will show signs of lameness or limb swelling. Other symptoms of the Disseminated version of Valley Fever may include wounds that don’t heal*, swollen lymph nodes, back or neck pain, seizures, inflamed and/or cloudy eyes, abscesses under the skin, and even unexpected heart-failure. Sometimes a dog may show no symptoms of the Primary Disease before showing symptoms of the Disseminated Disease.
Cash’s Valley Fever has infected his bones, but as he’s on regular antifungal medication the disease is not progressing further and is healing up. This does cause him to act like he has arthritis and be limited in movement, but this will go away when his infection does.
*Special note that if the dog does have open wounds that are oozing liquid, while the number of organisms shed in the liquid should be low (when receiving antifungal medication), this liquid may still contain fungus that could spore again and become infectious to humans and other creatures in the household. Therefore bandages should be changed daily and thrown away directly into outside waste containers to prevent sporing from happening in the house. Non-permeable surfaces can be cleaned with a diluted (10%) bleach solution. For most people and animals with healthy immune systems, there should be little to no risk even if a dog has an infected open wound, and the liquid oozing itself is not infectious since it does not contain spores. However households that have immuno-compromised members should consult with a doctor or a vet and follow their instructions on how to maintain a spore free home. (And once again, Cash does not have this problem and is NOT contagious.)
How is Valley Fever diagnosed?
In the Pacific Northwest, where Valley Fever is not native, you’ll need to let your veterinarian know the travel history of your new dog. If they then suspect that their symptoms come from Valley Fever, there are a few different blood tests that can be used to diagnose Valley Fever, along with x-rays of the chest or bones.
How is Valley Fever treated?
If your dog is sick enough to be seen by a veterinarian for Valley Fever, then the disease will likely need to be treated by extensive antifungal medications with courses usually lasting between 6 and 12 months. If the disease has progressed into the disseminated stage, then the treatment may be longer. The medication is easy to administer, it’s usually just provided orally in the form of pills or capsules twice a day.
For dogs with bone or joint pain or coughing, other medications may be prescribed as well to relieve the suffering from these symptoms.
If you have a dog with Valley Fever, you can still go on vacation no problem! Hot Diggity! Sitters know how to administer pet medications and will stick to your medication schedule to ensure your pet’s health while you’re away.
And to help out the new furever family of Cash, Deaf Dogs of Oregon is paying for a full year’s worth of medication (starting from when he moved up to Oregon, so about another 10 months left now)! So his new family won’t even have to worry about figuring out what medication to put him on or paying for it for several months and hopefully the majority of his treatment.
What is the prognosis for a Valley Fever infection?
With early detection and intervention, most dogs recover from Valley Fever. Even with the Disseminated Disease version of Valley Fever, more than 90% of dogs respond well to treatment and recover. Only a very small portion of dogs either need lifetime treatment or will die from the disease.
Valley Fever is a highly treatable disease that is common in dogs rescued from Southwest shelters. Left undiagnosed and untreated, it can become severe and dangerous to the dog, but when treated there is a high success rate of clearing up the infection. It is not contagious to humans or other animals, just painful and unpleasant for the infected pet. With love and care, as all pets need anyways, almost all dogs recover from this disease to live the rest of their lives happily and healthily.
So you can expect a lot of happy years with the lovely and sweet Mr. Johnny Cash if you adopt him!
And as an added help, Hot Diggity! will provide any family that adopts Cash 3 Free 30-Minute Walks to help transition him to his new home as well as a lifetime 10% discount on all of our services for all pets in the family.
Oh, and are you worried about adopting a deaf dog? Don’t! Does your hearing dog really listen to you anyways? Just kidding. 😉 But really, deaf dogs are just like normal dogs and especially since most of them are Australian Shepherds, extremely intelligent and highly trainable. Plus when you adopt through Deaf Dogs of Oregon they’ll have already undergone some training from being in foster care and you get a free training session with a specialized trainer too.
Do you love making snacks for other people? What about your pets? Thanks to the internet there are a ton of DIY Dog Treat recipes available. By making the treats yourself you can control the nutritional content and ensure that your dog’s snacks are free of any dietary restrictions they might have. Here are 3 recipes guaranteed to make your dog a happy dog!
Just remember, snacks are no real alternative to their normal healthy diet and should only be provided in moderation in order to ensure that your pups stay healthy and fit.
Leftovers Trail Mix Supreme: Combine any of the following leftovers from your refrigerator to create a flavorful trail mix that you can bring along on a hike with your dog, or to feed your dog as a snack after a trip to the dog park.
Pieces of meat (unseasoned best- or first rinse off any seasoning/flavoring, remember that onions and garlic are harmful to dogs as is too much salt!)
Fruit such as apples or bananas (no grapes/raisins)
Cut ingredients into ½ inch thick pieces and mix together
Lay ingredients on a small baking tray and spray lightly with cooking spray
Place in a food dehydrator or an oven set to 200°F until dried.
Homemade Pumpkin Biscuits: Use cute dog treat shaped cookie cutters to make your own special doggie biscuits at home! Make sure to use only unsalted and xylitol-free peanut butter when making this recipe. Xylitol is poisonous to dogs and too much sodium is bad for their cardiovascular health like it is with humans. Adam’s 100% Natural Creamy and Unsalted Peanut Butter is a great wholesome peanut butter brand that is safe for dogs. You can also substitute cooked sweet potatoes for the pumpkin too if you want!
1 cup cooked pureed (or canned) pumpkin
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 cups ground oat flour
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
Preheat oven to 350°F degrees.
Combine pumpkin, peanut butter, eggs, and oil in a bowl. Add in some baking soda and oat flour, then stir until a stiff dough forms. Knead dough or mix until flour is incorporated.
Roll out dough with a rolling pin and use a cookie cutter to cut out dog bone shapes, or just bake into whatever shape you like. Bake for 15 minutes.
Heat up the coconut oil and mix with the peanut butter until very smooth. Drizzle over the treats and cool till glaze hardens (it does best in the fridge or freezer).
Doggie Delight Frozen Treats: It might seem like a dream right now coming out of winter, but the hot summer days will be upon us soon and that means you’re going to need creative ways to help your best bud beat the heat! Here’s an easy way to make fun treats that will help keep them cool in the sun. We don’t recommend freezing treats inside Kong or other hollow toys however, the ice can be too strong and suction your dog’s tongue into the toy, causing severe and life-threatening damage if it’s not caught in time. Instead just freeze these treats in ice cube trays or popsicle molds! We promise they’ll be fun enough for your dog as is.