Are you planning a trip to Arizona with a dog? I’ve seen a lot of posts with great info about Arizona (especially with the upcoming BlogPaws Conference), but as an Arizona native, there are a few things that I’d like to share that will make your visit to the Grand Canyon state better for you and your pet.
Summer in Arizona
It does cool down at night…to a lovely 85+ degrees Fahrenheit. By June, we will be in the beginning of our monsoon season, so there is added chance of humidity (and maybe even a storm). If you plan on walking your dog outside on sidewalks, rocks, or ANY hard surface. You will need to provide them with THICK soled shoes.
Any hard surface heats up fast and retains the heat here, so make sure your dogs are wearing shoes!
The Best Shoes for Your Dogs for a visit to Arizona
You can buy quality shoes at most pet stores or Amazon. There are a lot of different choices when it comes to dog booties, but the best ones for an Arizona summer have thick, hard soles. I like the sandal-designs for the breathability, however those seem to come in more limited sizes. I recently ordered the following shoes, and I loved how easy they were to put on (as well as how well they stayed on):
If you need more help with dog shoes for an Arizona summer, I’d be happy to answer questions in the comments.
Even once it is dark, the hard surfaces oftentimes retain the heat for HOURS. It is best to apply the shoes rule until at least 9:30pm. If you’re not sure, hold your hand against the ground for at least 10 seconds to check the heat. When I work on commercials this time of year, American Humane Reps check the temps of the sidewalks in 5 to 10 minute intervals even in the shade and when they are being wet down by the crew. Our heat can be intense!
Training Your Dog to Wear Shoes
Training your dog to wear shoes is as much about the motivator as it is about the behavior. Know your dog…does he prefer treats, toys, or praise? When introducing your dog to shoes, apply the highest motivator for your dog. Some dogs will progress quickly, others will need more time. For dogs that are hesitant to move, you can reward them by removing the shoes after tiny steps (such as the dog at the end of this video). For sensitive dogs, it can also be beneficial to let them wear the shoes (with supervision only) around the house with no planned outings or pressure to use the shoes….similar to harness-training a puppy. If you’re having trouble training your dog to wear shoes, feel free to ask me questions in the comments!
Keep Your Pet Cool When Visiting AZ in the Summer
If you have a dog with a short nose (or fuller figure), be extra careful of the heat as they can overheat more easily. If you can manage packing one more thing for your trip to Arizona, it might not be a bad idea to pack a bag for ice or a reusable ice bag of some sort.
In the event that your dog (or someone else’s) is exhibiting signs of overheating, Dr. Jill Patt of Little Critters Veterinary Hospital in Gilbert, Arizona recommends using ice packs along the trunk area of the dog and rubbing alcohol (for it’s evaporative cooling effects) on the dog’s feet to try and stabilize them while on the way to a veterinary professional.
Dr. Patt stresses that by the time dogs show signs of over-heating it is often already critical. “We have to monitor heat safety for the pet and stop strenuous activity early when hot.”
Also, contrary to popular belief, a thick coat does not keep your dog cool. If your dog has a thick coat, you can pre-treat their coat with water or a cooling jacket to aid with evaporative cooling.
You can also take a drive through Dairy Queen for a cool treat for you AND your pup…check it out here!
Staying Hydrated While Visiting Arizona in the Summer
Don’t just drink water! Water intoxication is a real problem here, as the desert reminds you to stay hydrated…however, if you do not eat or balance your (and your dog’s) electrolytes in some other way, you CAN end up hospitalized. I have a post on water intoxication here.
Ideas to Keep Your Dog Entertained when Visiting AZ in the Summer
A big concern people have when visiting Arizona in the summer, is how to keep their dog entertained. Remember, a mentally tired dog can (and will) relax sooner than a physically tired dog. Those of us who endure the heat of an Arizona summer year after year use those months as an opportunity to train our dogs new tricks. There is a LOT you can do inside ranging from fun parlor tricks (like a hold and carry) to simple body awareness and strength training exercises (such as the ones done on balance discs). Need some ideas? Check out this video of our dog Popeye performing some of his puppy tricks:
Valley Fever – What You NEED to Know Before Visiting a Southwestern State
Valley Fever is caused by a fungus that lives in the desert soil of low desert regions including Arizona, New Mexico, southwestern Texas, and the central deserts of California.
From the University of Arizona:
The fungus grows in the soil and matures, drying into fragile strands of cells. The strands are very delicate, and when the soil is disturbed – by digging, walking, construction, high winds – the strands break apart into tiny individual spores called arthroconidia or arthrospores. Dogs and people acquire Valley Fever by inhaling these fungal spores in the dust raised by the disturbance. The dog may inhale only a few spores or many hundreds.
Once inhaled, the spores grow into spherules(parasitic cycle) which continue to enlarge until they burst, releasing hundreds of endospores. Each endospore can grow into a new spherule, spreading the infection in the lungs until the dog’s immune system surrounds and destroys it. The sickness Valley Fever occurs when the immune system does not kill the spherules and endospores quickly and they continue to spread in the lungs and sometimes throughout the animal’s body.
About 70% of dogs who inhale Valley Fever spores control the infection and do not become sick. These dogs are asymptomatic. The remainder develop disease, which can range from very mild to severe and occasionally fatal.
The most common early symptoms of Valley Fever in dogs are:
- weight loss
- lack of appetite
- lack of energy
- intermittent or persistent lameness
DON’T PANIC! I have lived in Arizona my entire life (with dogs), and only have two dogs who have contracted Valley Fever. Both times it was easily diagnosed and treated, and both dogs are alive and well today. If you know your dog, and know their normal behavior, this is not a dangerous disease. I only mention it, because many veterinarians would not think to perform this blood test if your dog normally lives in a state that does not have this fungus.
Now that you know how to visit Arizona with your dog (safely), have fun, and enjoy all that the Grand Canyon state has to offer!