The beauty of the Phoenix area desert can be a great place to enjoy with your canine companion. Taking a few extra precautions to ensure your pet’s safety can make sure your journey is fun and avoid a costly trip to the vet.
1. Take plenty of water for both you and your pet . Cool desert mornings can quickly give way to scorching heat, even on mild days. The dry desert air can quickly dehydrate the body and result in heat stroke. Collapsible canvas bowls tuck easily in a pocket or daypack and are an easy way for your pet to access the water with little waste.
2. A folding pliers or multitool is an easy way to remove cactus spines and stickers that may find their way into your pets paws or fur. Cholla cactus segments are not always noticed along the trail and have barbed spines which lodge deeply in the skin. A quick yank with a multitool will end the problem in a jiffy
3. Keep your small dog close by. Coyotes have been known to prey upon small dogs, sometimes coming into fenced yards or attacking small dogs on long leashes. Coyotes have been known to openly stalk even medium sized dogs on leashes accompanied by two or more people during daylight hours. Yelling and throwing a rock in the direction of the coyote will many times scare it away.
4. Be aware of reptiles. Snakes and Gila Monsters love to sun themselves on rocks during the warm parts of the day and escape the sun under rocks and bushes when it gets hot. While staying on well-traveled trails reduces the risk of encountering these creatures, keeping a vigilant eye on the ground ahead can help you from surprising a dozing snake. Walking heavily and talking to your fellow hikers or pet also creates vibrations that will usually cause nearby snakes to crawl off before you ever see them. Keeping your dog on a leash will prevent them from running off and sniffing in bushes where snakes may be hiding.
5. Keep vaccinations up to date. Arizona leads the nation in the number of Parvo cases for its population. The virus can live in the soil where coyotes and dogs carrying the virus have defecated even after the waste is removed. Immunize your pup and heed your veterinarian’s advice regarding when your pup is ready for the great outdoors.
6. Watch your pets around water. Swift waters in running arroyos and irrigation canals can appear deceptively calm and carry even strong-swimming dogs off helplessly downstream. Keep your dog away from the water unless you are sure it is shallow and calm. Use a canine life vest when taking your dog out on a lake or river.
7. Don’t leave your dog in the car. Even on an 80-degree day, the temperature inside your car can reach 115 degrees in less than 10 minutes. Temperatures on hot days can reach 215 degrees inside a vehicle (water boils at 212 degrees). The back of a pickup truck can also heat up and burn the pads on a dogs paws.
8. Watch for wildlife. Even a well-trained dog may get excited and bolt after a javelina, coyote or rabbit , opening up opportunity for an unhappy encounter with snakes, cactus or the wildlife itself.
9. Pack out your pets waste. Diseases between pets are most commonly spread through dogs sniffing one another’s fecal matter, in addition to creating unsightly trails and breeding sites for flies. Tucking a plastic shopping bag in your pocket will ensure you have a simple and easy way to contain your pets waste.
10. Respect the rules. Check out the rules of the area before you go and remember the rules are there to protect you and your canine friend.