Health Archives - Hot Diggity! Pet Sitting

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.

Bella the labradoodle kisses our award winning Portland pet sitter and pack leader Alex on the face in his car as they're getting ready to drive home after a fun pack hike adventure

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. Three dogs go on a hike out in a field leading to a forest in the distance with their pack leader

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.

In short.

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.

To learn more about Cash, you can read about him here or just contact Deaf Dogs of Oregon and meet him yourself!

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.

Additional Reading:

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.

Ingredients:

  • 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!)
  • Potatoes
  • Vegetables such as carrots or green beans (no onions or garlic!)
  • Fruit such as apples or bananas (no grapes/raisins)

Directions:

  1. Cut ingredients into ½ inch thick pieces and mix together
  2. Lay ingredients on a small baking tray and spray lightly with cooking spray
  3. 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!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked pureed (or canned) pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 cups ground oat flour

Glaze:

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F degrees.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 tbs peanut butter (remember, salt and xylitol-free!)
  • 1 tbs unsweetened greek yogurt or unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp flaxseeds (must be stored in fridge in airtight container to avoid spoiling)

Directions:

  1. Mash the banana
  2. Mix with the peanut butter, greek yogurt (or unsweetened applesauce), and flaxseeds
  3. Stuff the mixture into ice cubes or popsicle molds and place into freezer for at least an hour

Have you made any of these for your pups? Did you do anything different? How did they like them? We’re always happy to hear from you!

Is your normal walk or run with Buster just not cutting it? Does the lack of a competitive component to hiking in the woods bore you? Do you and Buster just love to support your favorite organizations while having a fun time? Well we’ve put together a list of 7 Portland Walks and Run events for charity that you can bring Buster to! Due to insurance concerns, not too many runs are open to dogs, but there are still quite a few events still available throughout the year. Here are some charity events held annually around the Portland area that you can bring your dog to:

  1. The Humane Society for SW Washington holds an annual Walk/Run for the Animals usually in May. This is held in Downtown Vancouver and raises funds to support their adoption services. This year the event is May 5th, 2018.
  2. Oregon Humane Society holds an annual Doggie Dash event at the end of May to support finding homes for thousands of homeless pets. This is held in downtown Portland at the Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Doggie Dash will be held on May 12th, 2018.
  3. The Best Friends Society holds an annual Strut Your Mutt event in different cities all around the country including Portland in September. There’s lots of activities to do here even after you finish your run or walk and plenty of vendors to visit.
  4. DoveLewis holds an annual Westie Walk in August. Don’t have a cute Westie? Don’t worry! No matter their pedigree, all friends of Westies are welcome.
  5. The annual Corgi Walk in The Pearl is held in August. Every dollar raised goes to helping abandoned and abused Corgis find happy furever homes through the CRPWCC Corgi Rescue as well as to other pets through the Oregon Humane Society.
  6. Come out for a good time in late summer with the Family Dogs New Life Shelter’s annual Fun Walk and 5k Run. There’s a lot of fun vendors to meet there as well as great prizes in the raffle.
  7. Rose Haven isn’t an animal rescue, although they are pet friendly since they understand that the pets of the women and children they help are part of their families too. Instead, Rose Haven focuses on helping women and children going through abuse or other disruptive life challenges by providing them with a safe community and services to help them. Every Mother’s day weekend they hold their annual Reigning Roses Mother’s Day Walk which is fun and also dog friendly! The 2018 Reigning Roses Mother’s Day Walk will be held on May 13th.

We hope you have fun throughout the year helping these great organizations and getting in some wonderful sunshine and fresh air with Buster. Know any other annual walks or runs in the Portland area that are dog friendly? Let us know! And to find more great organizations helping pets in the Portland area, check out our Community Partners page.

With a New Year comes lots of fireworks, and lots of fireworks means some possible serious anxiety for your pets. Here are a few friendly reminders on how to keep your pets calm when the clock strikes twelve:

  1. Definitely keep your pets indoors before the fireworks are set to begin.
  2. If possible, keep your pets with you. They will feel the most at ease in your presence.
  3. 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. If you plan on leaving them at a boarding facility, it’s better to be sure they have been there before. It may give them extra anxiety if it’s a new experience combined with the loud noises.
  4. If your home is an area where you expect to hear a lot of fireworks go off, it’s not a bad idea to start preparing your pet by acclimating them to the sound of fireworks. Playing firework recordings or videos will help prep your pets a bit more experience with the noise instead of completely catching them off guard the night of the celebrations.
  5. Drown out the loud booms by having some music playing inside the house or having the TV on at a decently loud volume. Make sure you have blinds and curtains closed in the house.
  6. Keep in mind that many pets love to crawl into confined spaces when they are scared. Dogs in particular may want access to their kennel or to hide under the bed. Allow them access to these spaces to seek out extra comfort.
  7. For pets who already have major anxiety, you may want to ask your vet about some medication options for sedation and/or look into purchasing a ThunderShirt.
  8. Provide your pets with lots of extra exercise that day to help wear them out.
  9. 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 for your dogs or new catnip toys for your cats.

Remember, all pets should have their collar on with identification tags in case they do escape and get scared away. Even better would be to have your pets microchipped too with up to date information. New Year’s Eve and the Fourth 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 ensure that our furry friends won’t be lost and scared at the beginning of the New Year!

Sources: positively.com, cesarsway.com

There’s something inherently beautiful about stepping on untouched snow, snow that no one else has walked on. However, before your dog steps out on the snow and makes little paw prints in the white fluff, be sure that he is protected by the dangers that may lurk within.

One of these dangers during the winter months is rock salt that people use to avoid slipping and falling on ice. These salts are extremely hazardous to dogs and can cause burning, irritation, and seizures. Before you and Fido walk out the wintery wonderland, check out these tips to avoid rock salts and keep your dog safe in the snow.

Protect Fido’s Paws

There are a couple of things you can do to protect your dog’s paws from rock salts. The easiest and most effective way is to buy him some booties. These are slip-on shoes that are great for keeping his paws warm and to prevent him from the dangers of salt, ice, and snow. He will probably have to get used to the booties though, so let him walk around inside for a while to break them in. If your dog doesn’t react well to the booties, you can also coat his paws with a thin layer of balm or petroleum jelly. You can even find moisturizers in pet stores that are designed specifically for dogs.

Clip Your Dog’s Nails

Although it is always important to clip your dog’s nails, it is especially critical during the winter months. If your dog’s nails grow too long, they force the toes to separate and allow for the salt and other chemicals to become lodged in their paw. This can damage the paw and cause further discomfort and irritation.

Wash Off as Soon as You Come Inside

If your dog comes inside with salt on his paws, his natural instinct will be to lick it off. This will cause serious stomach problems, so you should help reduce the urge to lick by washing his paws as soon as you walk inside. You can use warm water and a soft towel, or special doggie footbaths that you can purchase from your local pet store.

While on your adventure in the winter wonderland, you may even want to keep a towel with you so that you can constantly wipe off Fido’s paws as soon as it’s necessary.

Use Alternatives to Rock Salts

The salt and chlorine in many deicers can irritate your dog’s paw and even burn him. If ingested, salt can cause vomiting, injury to the kidneys, tremors, seizures, comas, and even death.If you absolutely need to cover your sidewalks or driveway with salt, opt for ice-melting products that are safe for your four-legged friend. There are non-toxic brands of de-icing products such as Safe Paws Ice Melter or Morton Safe-T-Pet, that do not contain salt or chloride. Be sure to read the label when you buy a product and ensure that it is safe for your best friend.

Dogs love to play in the snow just as much as we do. However, we need to be a friend to our four-legged pals and make sure we take the necessary steps to avoid the dangers of rock salts.