UPDATE: Good News! GGNRA dog management plan is permanently OVER!

Posted by the San Francisco Dog Walker
On December 27, 2017, the Federal Register posted notice of the withdrawal of Golden Gate National Recreation Area’s (GGNRA) Dog Management Proposed Rule and termination of the associated Environmental Impact Statement. These notices complete the necessary steps to permanently end the environmental planning and related rulemaking process intended to establish a new regulation on dog management. With this notice, the NPS has now cancelled that planning process and terminated the associated NEPA and rulemaking processes such that no final rule will be issued. The Federal Register notices are posted in the GGNRA reading room.
GGNRA will continue to enforce existing pet regulations detailed in a 1979 pet policy and the Superintendent’s Compendium. The current regulations allow visitors to walk managed dogs under voice or leash control in specific areas of the park.
The nationwide National Park Service regulation requiring dogs to be on-leash will apply to areas not covered by the 1979 policy. GGNRA’s Superintendent’s Compendium also reflects two special regulations that modify the 1979 pet policy for parts of Crissy Field and Ocean Beach. The interim permit requirement for commercial dog walkers and the associated limit of number of dogs walked at one-time continues to remain in effect. Existing pet regulations are available here.
For questions, please call GGNRA Dog Information line at 415-561-4728 or email

(taken directly from the GGNRA website)

WoofieLeaks Reveals Bias in GGNRA Dog Plan

Posted by the San Francisco Dog Walker

San Francisco Bay Area dog groups are suing the government over their plan to eliminate dog walking in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area – GGNRA.  They have launched WoofieLeaks an online website where information exposes a biased federal process which shows contempt for those who dared to stand in the way.

tough times for San Francisco dog walkers in the GGNRA

Tough times for San Francisco Dog Walkers in the GGNRA.

Many of the documents on raise serious questions regarding a fair planning process. The emails and internal documents were obtained as part of a federal lawsuit for failing to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request.

Morrison & Foerster says these emails and documents are just the tip of the iceberg, pointing out the agency may be withholding a stockpile of emails. For instance, Howard Levitt, the GGNRA’s former Director of Communications and Partnerships, can’t “recall” his password to an email system prior to 2013 and so, the agency claims, those emails are inaccessible. Both Levitt and former Superintendent Frank Dean were also caught using their private email accounts to discuss the dog planning process, according to recently obtained records.

Look out! Kennel Cough Outbreak in the San Francisco Bay Area!

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

Kennel Cough is an airborne disease that is very contagious among dogs. This year, Kennel Cough has been very active in the bay area and extremely difficult to control. Kennel Cough, also know as, Bordetella bronchiseptica is most often spread in facilities where dogs are enclosed. Places such as boarding kennels, groomers, dog shelters, veterinarian offices, and dog parks are all places where your dog may be at risk of infection, due to their close proximity to other dogs that may be already infected with the virus.

So what is Kennel Cough exactly? Dogs will develop a harsh, hacking cough and most often become very sick and mimic symptoms similar to our own flu symptoms. The incubation period is about 5 days, so that means your dog will not show any signs until 5 days after exposure. If you dog has contacted Kennel Cough, it is imperative that you keep them away from other dogs to keep from spreading the disease!

One of the main problems of Kennel Cough is that the virus is being shed 2 days prior to any coughing symptoms, so your dog may be infecting others and you may not be aware of it! Also, it is important to note that Kennel Cough can take 2 weeks for recovery, so you dog should not be going outside for a very long period of time, which can cause sadness and depression. Kennel Cough is often thought to be non-contagious after your dog has started the antibiotics. Wrong! You dog can be contagious for a two to three week period following the onset and you should not let your pet around other dogs especially if they still have any cough. It is worth noting that sometimes the cough seems as if it has gone away, but in fact, it is just hiding and not noticed until the dog begins actively running.

Veterinarians offer a vaccination called a Bordetella shot, which stays active for 6 months and then must be repeated. But even though your dog gets a Bordetella shot twice a year, it is no guarantee that you dog will not come down with the virus. 100% guarantee is impossible because the strains of the virus mutate from year to year and the vaccine developers need to guess what strains will be prevalent.

Bordetella shots are usually combined with the annual DHLPP vaccination, but you must ask for it, it is not automatically given to your dog.

The hacking cough can last seven to 14 days and may be much more severe in very young or very old dogs. These dogs can develop a secondary bacterial lung infection, or even pneumonia, which will cause them to become lethargic and have a decreased appetite. It is very important to keep your dog well rested and isolated from other dogs.

The silver lining in this cloud is that if your dog has been vaccinated, your dog will probably exhibit the illness for a much shorter duration and less severe symptoms than those that have not been vaccinated.

Leptospirosis has been linked to dead seals, but now it’s in the parks too!

Biologist Therapy for DogsPosted by the San Francisco Dog Walker

Five documented cases of Leptospirosis in the past two months!  Don’t let your pets near muddy puddles in the parks or dead seals on the beaches!  Leptospirosis is rarely seen in San Francisco’s dog population, but this year, it’s rampant.

This potentially fatal bacteria is spread through the urine of infected animals, particularly wildlife like raccoons, skunks and coyotes.  If excreted in standing water, it can live for weeks if not months, infecting dogs and other animals tramping through or drinking from puddles.  This year’s marked increase in leptospirosis cases is likely due to the mud and puddles left by the rains.

When the disease is caught in time, most studies show a 75 percent survival rate. Unfortunately, the initial symptoms can be hard to recognize. Symptoms are often non-specific and variable, and can include lethargy, decreased appetite, increased drinking and/or urination, vomiting or diarrhea.

Leptospirosis is preventable: the canine DHLPP vaccine protects against the bacteria, as well as against distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus and parainfluenza. Though the vaccine is not 100 percent effective, it is a dog’s best defense.

If your dog seems to be under the weather, “it is important to bring up to your veterinarian that your dog is out at the park or swims a lot, as these lifestyle components increase exposure to leptospirosis.

The DHLPP vaccination is available at any veterinary office.

Yay! We made it!


Happy Anniversary 2 me

Posted by the San Francisco Dog Walker

Happy Valentine’s Day everybody!  It’s our ten year anniversary today.

Yes, I know, how cliche to start my business on the BIG HEART DAY!  But how could I resist?

My client’s dogs are just so lovable!!!

Poisonous Mushroom Identification

Not all mushrooms are edible, and certain ones can be deadly. Of particular concern are those in the Amanita genus. Here are some resources to help you identify dangerous mushrooms that would be harmful to your dog or cat.

If you fear your dog or cat has eaten a poisonous mushroom seek veterinary help immediately. They can go into a coma-like sleep within hours of ingestion or suffer severe liver failure. Time is truly of the essence. Contact your veterinarian, a pet poison control center or visit your local Animal ER.



The Deadly Death Cap and Other Amanita Mushrooms

With names referencing death and destruction, it’s no wonder the Amanita mushroom genus contains some of the most famous and deadly of all poisonous mushrooms. The death cap (Amanita phalloides) is suspected to have caused more mushroom poisoning deaths than any other species!

The deadly death cap mushroomYet what makes some amanita mushrooms so poisonous? Certain species of Amanita contain amanitin, a deadly amatoxin.

Amatoxins are some of the most lethal poisons found in nature. These toxins work by slowly shutting down the liver and kidneys. Often the victim will appear sick at first, and then seem to get better. Unfortunately the amatoxins are still at work, and death may occur anywhere from a few days to a week after ingestion.

This poison knows no real antidote beyond treating the victim with an extract of milk thistle. Milk thistle protects against liver damage from toxins, and is one of the treatments for amanita mushroom poisoning.

Despite this treatment, it’s said that one cap of a death cap is enough to kill. Given the danger, we’d better learn some poisonous mushroom identification! Visit this page to learn how to identify poisonous amanita mushrooms in general. 

Remember: Never solely identify any mushroom based on what you’ve seen on any website (including this one) or by comparing it to a picture in a book. Always obtain hands-on expert help when identifying a new mushroom and never eat anything you’re not sure of!

Death Cap Details


  • Young examples of amanita phalloidesBetween 3 to 6 inches across
  • Convex initially but flattens with age, often sticky when touched
  • Color is usually a shade of yellow to green, but sometimes white or brownish
  • White gills underneath the cap that don’t run down the stem


  • Between 3 to 6 inches across and less than an inch thick
  • Usually whitish, sometimes with scales
  • Often a ring around the stem right below the cap. This ring is the remnant of the partial veil, a piece of tissue that protected the mushroom’s gills as it grew.
  • Also present is a white sac around the base of the stem. All amanita mushrooms start their lives as small buttons in the shape of an egg. This egg-like covering is actually a layer of tissue called the universal veil, or volva.

Because they form as a small button, an amanita may sometimes be mistaken for an edible puffball. This is why it’s essential to slice a puffball open before eating it. Puffballs are white and solid on the inside with no gills. If you see gills, you may have an amanita on your hands.

Once the mushroom has grown, the sac-like remnants of this universal veil are still an important identification characteristic. It’s often underground so you may have to dig carefully around the base to find it.

However, never assume that you don’t have an amanita mushroom just because you can’t find the sac. It may have disintegrated or broken away. Use all features for poisonous mushroom identification, not just one!

Other Infamous Amanita

No page on poisonous mushrooms would be complete without discussing the death cap’s deadly cousin, the destroying angel.

The term “destroying angel” actually refers to a few all-white poisonous mushrooms in the Amanita genus. They are:

  • Amanita bisporigera in Eastern North America
  • Amanita ocreata in Western North America
  • Amanita virosa in Europe (below)

The European Destroying Angel, amanita virosaAmanita virosa is known as the “European destroying angel”. There is some disagreement as to whether this mushroom exists in the United States.

Destroying angels are sometimes mistaken for edible mushrooms such as young puffballs, button mushrooms, and meadow mushrooms. Thus it’s important to learn how to identify them.

The destroying angel is very similar to the death cap in terms of identification. The biggest difference is that they’re all white, with no green or yellow tint. They’re recognized by their rounded base, white color, and smooth cap. One bite of these may contain enough amatoxins to kill!

Of course, not every species in the Amanita mushroom genus is poisonous. Some, such as Amanita caesarea (Caesar’s mushroom), are edible. Yet given the danger involved in eating the wrong amanita, it’s best to avoid the genus entirely unless you really know what you’re doing.

It’s important to learn how to recognize Amanitas (especially the death cap and the destroying angel) if one is going to start eating wild mushrooms. Proper knowledge can prevent a fatal mistake!

– See more at:

Pet Detectives

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

One of my clients told me a story about her lost dog that is really hard to imagine. Here it is.

Her dog escaped from the house and seemed to be lost for several days. My client hired a pet detective, Jackie Phillips, and they tracked the scent of her lost dog to a spot in Golden Gate Park. Running up to the gardener, my client was surprised to learn that he had found the little lost dog, but unfortunately, it had been hit by a car and killed at 19th and Lincoln and he had buried it near a beautiful large tree.

Even though it is a heartbreaking tale, it is still quite amazing that the tracking dogs were able to follow the scent of the lost dog so accurately. Since then, I have passed along this information to many dog walkers and they have had very successful results.

This might be a great method to try to find your lost dog, if you ever need one.  Just be sure to call her right away, without delay!

Jackie Phillips, certified pet detective (510) 415-6185

San Francisco Dog Walker-Ticks in San Francisco

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

San Francisco Dog WalkerGolden Gate Park and Fort Funston are crawling with ticks. Even if your dog has prevention, such as a tick collar, they still crawl off of him and on to you! Be sure to check your dog over carefully when you return home and frequent grooming and chemicals for control may help to control the spread.

Ticks can detect heat emitted from dogs and humans from far distances and will often situate themselves on well traveled paths to gain access to hosts. They will generally drop off the animal when full, but this may take several days. In some cases ticks will live for some time on the blood of an animal. Ticks are more active outdoors in warm weather, but can attack a dog at any time. Ticks can be found in most wooded or forested regions throughout the world. As a San Francisco dog walker, I find that they are especially common in areas where there are deer trails or human tracks. Ticks are especially abundant near water, where warm-blooded animals come to drink, and in meadows wherever shrubs and brush provide woody surfaces and cover. Ticks are a vector for a number of diseases including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

The American dog tick
The American dog tick is perhaps the most well-known of the North American hard ticks. This tick does not carry Lyme disease but can carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. As a San Francisco dog walker I have come across them numerous times.
The black-legged tick

The Western black-legged tick lives in the western part of North America and is responsible for spreading Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. It tends to prefer livestock such as cows as its adult host.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can be lethal. Initial signs and symptoms of the disease include sudden onset of fever, headache and muscle pain followed by development of rash. The disease can be difficult to diagnose in the early stages, and without prompt and appropriate treatment it can be fatal. Tetracycline has dramatically reduced the number of deaths caused by Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

The San Francisco dog walkers top tips
Check your dog over when you get home. Put your clothes in the dryer on high heat or just simply wash them in hot water.  Be sure to check yourself over too!

watch this video for more tips!

Tick Season Hits McLaren Park

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker – Excerpt from Save McLaren Park Newsletter

Ticks are currently abundant in McLaren Park. Tom Scott of Save McLaren Park said, “In the past two weeks alone I’ve found 3 different ticks on me. I don’t recall finding any ticks in the previous 8 years that I’ve been going to the park. My dog remains tick-free thanks to the medication she uses.”

Suggestions when going to the park: Apply mosquito repellent, especially to your legs and even if you’re wearing pants. Also, it’s a good idea to check yourself after returning from the park. Ticks tend to go for warm moist areas, such as armpits and groins.

Tom explains, “the ticks I found on myself have been identified as Dermacentor variabilis, also known as American Dog Tick and Wood Tick. This species is not known to carry Lyme Disease, but it can carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. It’s unlikely, though, that the ticks in McLaren carry this disease. I don’t think this is an urgent health concern for park users, but something to be aware of.”

San Francisco Dog Walkers deal with Foxtails

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

Tips from San Francisco Dog Walkers – Costly Foxtails

All Dog Walkers should tell you the faster you get the dog to the vet, the less it will probably cost to get the foxtail out. The reason for this is that if the vet can remove it without knocking the dog out with anesthesia, then it will be less expensive.

So, as soon as you dog shows symptons, like shaking head and holding his head to the side, licking paw, flapping ears or sneezing violently, run, don’t walk him to your vet. If the vet does not have to put the dog under to grab the foxtail the cost is around $150 for removal. However if you wait a day or two before taking the dog to the vet, the foxtail will travel further up the canal and the cost jumps up around $500 – $1,000 because the foxtail has to be surgically removed by a veterinarian. If the foxtail causes an infection because you waited, the trip to the vet could run you at least $1,000.00 to $2,000.00!   Not removing the foxtail is very dangerous and can be life threatening to the dog because the foxtail penetrates the skin and moves through the bloodstream towards the heart or brain.   Doing “nothing” is not an option!

Dog Walkers should always tell their clients to check their dogs for foxtails during the spring and summer months following a hike.

San Francisco Dog Walkers Photo of Foxtail

Foxtails come from the grasses and are in all of the parks in San Francisco.  When pulled apart, the are little arrow shaped pointed stickers that it can burrow into your dogs’  paws, ears, nose, eyes and fur coat.

ON A DAILY BASIS, during foxtail season (when grasses are dry) it is VERY important to check between your dogs’ toes (look up into the cavity of each toe and feel around in there); and to thoroughly feel around in the dog’s fur for foxtails.  I try my best to remove the foxtails I see after the walk, but it is always good for the owner to double check, as foxtails can and often are, missed.

If your dog begins sneezing violently, even if they stop for a day or two, they most likely have a foxtail in their nose.

San Francisco Dog Walker photo of foxtails before they drop
San Francisco Dog Walkers share how to keep your dog from getting foxtails:

■ Keep your pet’s fur coat short, especially between the toes and around the ears.

■ Long-haired dogs are most prone to having foxtails attach to their fur and embed in the skin.

■  Avoid walking your dog in areas where dry grass is prevalent.

■ Prime areas for foxtails to penetrate the skin of an animal are between the toes, in and around the ears, nose, armpits and genitalia. Animals with foxtails under the skin are often licking the affected area where a red bump may be seen.

■ When returning home from a walk or hike in an area that might have foxtails, examine your dog thoroughly and remove any burrs or foxtails you might find before they have a chance to burrow into the skin.

Educational Video Re: Coyote Behaviors

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

Coyote are a part of the San Francisco landscape and are here to stay. Now might be a good time to review some coyote behaviors and what you could do should you encounter one on a walk. This information is now available from CoyoteCoexistence.Com in their video presentation.

Coyotes in San Francisco Parks

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

Coyotes have been spotted in some of the popular San Francisco parks and this year it is much worse than ever. Places reported are Golden Gate Park, Presidio, Glen Canyon Park and Stern Grove. You should avoid places that they inhabbit, especially if you have a small dog. Coyotes in San Francisco appear unafraid of people.


Coyotes were sighted last week at Stern Grove and Pine Lake, and others on Yerba Buena Avenue and Miraloma Park near Mount Davidson. Those who walk their dogs in the vicinity of Golden Gate Park (the bison enclosure), Stern Grove and Mount Davidson are advised to keep their dogs on leashes and cats inside.

The sightings last week in Stern Grove include an adult female with three pups spotted twice on the cement path next to Pine Lake. Another coyote was seen last week at Yerba Buena Avenue and Casitas southwest of Mount Davidson.   A coyote was also seen near the Miraloma Park housing area, east of Mount Davidson.

Coyotes might look cute at first and can fascinate those who haven’t seen them. But like all predators, they will kill, eat and populate in an area. One strategy a pack will use to kill dogs is to send in a lone yearling, which will trot, stop and turn, luring an unleashed dog to follow it. It then will lead the dog into the pack waiting to ambush.

Excerpt taken from Tom Stienstra- SF Gate
Updated 9:53 a.m., Monday, October 1, 2012

See the entire article on by clicking here.

Dogs Can Die From The Summer Heat!! BEWARE!

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker



Dogs Can Die From Heat Stroke!

Animal experts say that it’s a common misconception that dogs can survive if the windows are cracked on a hot day, or if the car is parked in the shade. They said people often think that dogs can handle high temperatures.  Wrong!  In fact, even a dog walk in high heat can hurt or kill them.  Dogs can get overheated much quicker than we can. Their temperature can shoot up to 104, 105 in just a matter of ten to fifteen minutes, and that can lead to a seizure. Even cracking a window a little bit, thinking they’ll be okay isn’t enough in  to keep them safe.  There’s not enough breeze.  Dogs don’t cool down the way we do.  They cool down by panting.

If you think your dog is suffering from heatstroke, get him out of the heat as soon as possible. Here are a few other things you can do:

  • Put rubbing alcohol on the pads of their feet.
  • Pour cool – not cold – water on them.  Start with their feet, neck, and genital areas.
  • Wrap them in a sheet or other cloth that’s been soaked with cool water.
  • Get your dog to the vet!  Even if you think your dog is OK, it’s a good idea to have him checked out.

Heatstroke or exhaustion can occur very quickly for our dogs as they only have the ability to sweat throught the pads of their feet. The major way they expel heat is through panting. The two most common ways that pets get overheated is being left in cars or kennels when it is too hot or playing or running excessively in the heat. Our canine friends are almost always up for a brisk dog walk or a game of fetch. The problem is that they do not know when they are overheated until it is too late. Thus, it is up to us as their caregivers to understand when it is time to take a break, drink some water and rest in the shade for awhile. A dog’s normal temperature runs between 101 and 102.5 degrees so they are naturally warmer than we are. When their temperature exceeds 106 degrees there is a very real danger in damaging cells in their brain and causing permanent damage or even death. Treatment for heat stroke is immediately getting the pet into a cool shady  area or inside an air-conditioned building. Cooling can be continued with cool cloths or ice packs in the groin area or in the armpits.  It is important not to submerge the pet in cold water as this can lead to shock.

Bottom line:  Dogs can’t handle the heat as well as we can and run the risk of developing heat stroke much more quickly.  Even if you leave the window open and park in the shade, it may not be good enough.  The test to tell if it is too hot to leave your pet in the car, if it is too hot for you in the car, it is way to hot for your dog.  And don’t forget the longer you are away, the hotter your car gets.  Even 15 minutes may be too long.

Some summer problems to look out for!

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

San Francisco Dog Walker- bee

It is very common at this time of the year that dogs will have swollen faces with eyes that are nearly closed up. In most cases this is from a bee sting. It can also be from vegetation that is caused by allergies. In most cases an antihistamine, such as Benedryl, will will take the swelling and discomfort down rapidly, but in severe cases it may be necessary for the pet to be seen to receive treatment with cortisone or even epinephrine. During times when insect activity is high, it is not safe to use repellants like OFF to discourage them from attacking your pet, because it contains DEET which is poisonous if ingested by dogs.  Instead try, K9-Advantix, which repels mosquitoes, ticks and fleas.

By far the most common concern seen in the spring and summer months involves pets that eat things that they shouldn’t. This can happen any time of the year, but when the weather is nice and the ground is warm and moist it becomes a perfect incubator for viruses, bacteria and parasites.

San Francisco Dog Walker – Save your pet with CPR

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

The San Francisco Dog Walker shares CPR steps to saving a dogs life!

San Francisco Dog Walker-Dogs-CPR

Toxic Cocoa Mulch

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

San Francisco Dog Walker - Cocoa MulchCocoa Mulch, which is sold by home Depot and various Garden Supply stores  contains a lethal ingredient called ‘Theobromine’, which is lethal to dogs and cats. Cocoa Mulch is a mulch that is used for retaining moisture around plants in the garden and is popular because it smells like chocolate, which is also, really attractive to dogs. They can ingest this stuff and die. Several deaths already occurred in San Francisco.

The ingredient Theobromine is in all chocolate, especially dark or baker’s chocolate which is toxic to dogs. Cocoa bean shells contain potentially toxic quantities of theobromine.  A dog that ingested a lethal quantity of garden mulch made from cacao bean shells developed severe convulsions and died 17 hours later in San Francisco. Analysis of the stomach contents and the ingested cacao bean shells revealed the presence of lethal amounts of theobromine.

Toxic Raisins

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

Written by: Laurinda Morris, DVM
Danville Veterinary Clinic
Danville , OH

This week I had the first case in history of raisin toxicity ever seen at MedVet. My patient was a 56-pound, 5 yr old male neutered lab mix that ate half a canister of raisins sometime between 7:30 AM and 4:30 PM on Tuesday. He started with vomiting, diarrhea and shaking about 1 AM on Wednesday but the owner didn’t call my emergency service until 7 AM.

I had heard somewhere about raisins AND grapes causing acute Renal failure but hadn’t seen any formal paper on the subject. We had her bring the dog in immediately. In the meantime, I called the ER service at MedVet and the doctor there was like me – had heard something about it, but… Anyway, we contacted the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center and they said to give IV fluids at 1 & 1/2 times maintenance and watch the kidney values for the next 48-72 hours. The dog’s BUN (blood urea nitrogen level) was already at 32 (normal less than 27) and creatinine over 5 (1.9 is the high end of normal). Both are monitors of kidney function in the bloodstream. We placed an IV catheter and started the fluids. Rechecked the renal values at 5 PM and the BUN was over 40 and creatinine over 7 with no urine production after a liter of fluids. At that point I felt the dog was in acute renal failure and sent him on to MedVet for a urinary catheter to monitor urine output overnight as well as overnight care.

He started vomiting again overnight at MedVet and his renal values continued to increase daily. He produced urine when given lasix as a diuretic. He was on 3 different anti-vomiting medications and they still couldn’t control his vomiting. Today his urine output decreased again, his BUN was over 120, his creatinine was at 10, his phosphorus was very elevated and his blood pressure, which had been staying around 150, skyrocketed to 220. He continued to vomit and the owners elected to Euthanize.

This is a very sad case – great dog, great owners who had no idea raisins could be a toxin. Please alert everyone you know who has a dog of this very serious risk. Poison control said as few as 7 raisins or grapes could be toxic. Many people I know give their dogs grapes or raisins as treats including our ex-handler’s. Any exposure should give rise to immediate concern. Onions, chocolate, cocoa, avocados and macadamia nuts can be fatal, too.

Look out for Deadly Mushrooms

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

Amanita phalloides, the death cap mushroom, has come out in full force since the rains started Dec 2009. We had one death at Lake Veterinary Hospital 2 weekends ago, and PETS emergency clinic in Berkeley called on Friday and said they have had 3 deaths in 6 days – all  from the Oakland area. The mushrooms have a sweet odor (like honey) and are attractive to some dogs   (whose owners report they actually seek them out to eat them).  They are  really non little white mushrooms. The toxic effects appear about 6-36 hours after the mushrooms are eaten, and once signs are seen the toxicity is poorly responsive to treatment (we try a lot of things to support the animal, but if enough mushrooms were eaten it will be fatal despite the treatment).  If someone suspects their dog may have eaten a mushroom, the best treatment is to take the dog immediately to a vet or emergency clinic and have them induce vomiting and give activated charcoal.  The mushroom toxin is absorbed fairly rapidly, but the damage to the liver can take hours before it is clinically apparent.  Don’t waste time trying to figure out if the mushroom is toxic as speed in removing the mushroom from the digestive system is the most important thing in my experience.Here is a link with some pictures

Although most SF/local mushrooms are not poisonous, and those that are usually cause only digestive upset (perhaps causing someone to wish they would die), Death Caps (Amanita phalloides) are aptly named. After an initial digestive upset death caps prevent liver cells from regenerating. Within a few days after ingestion there are no new liver cells to replace the old ones, and liver failure occurs. The below message describes death caps as “little white mushrooms.” Note: They might look like that in the early stages, but mature mushrooms can grow quite large (check yahoo group for photo of mushroom I’m holding in hand)  and they have a slight metallic, greenish look. Check out the wikipedia link for photos of death caps in various stages. I have seen death caps south of SF and in the east bay. There might be some in SF. The common “white mushrooms” I’ve seen in SF, e.g. growing in lawns, are not death caps (various Agaricus–see photo). Death Caps have WHITE GILLS (e.g. the radiating blades on the underside of the cap), while most of the “lawn” mushroom have brown gills. At Fort Funston beneath the trees, I’ve spotted white-gilled mushrooms, but they have shaggy scales on the cap (see photo). Not death caps. Possibly Lepiota rachodes. Don’t take a chance w/mushroom, especially death caps. Supervise your dog. If you spot death caps, you might discretely bag them up & securely dump them to prevent other dogs/people from eating them. Since I currently have a curious puppy who thinks everything is to be sampled, I’m bagging up all the mushrooms I find in my yard mainly to prevent potential digestive upsets

Hemlock in Our San Francisco Parks

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

San Francisco Dog Walker Hemlock 2       San Francisco Dog Walker- HemlockSan Francisco Dog Walker- Hemlock 3

Maybe you have seen this plant at a San Francisco dog park? . . . I took these pictures at Stern Grove.

I was told by a former San Francisco city parks gardener that this plant is called Hemlock and is very poisonous to dogs!

What makes it particularly troubling is that is grows in abundance and it grows next to that tasty grass your dog loves.

If you see this plant, keep your dog away!

Do you know your Poisons?

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

Here are the ones to look out for!

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) Ibuprofen (Advil) can cause gastrointestinal irritation, stomach ulcers, and kidney damage in dogs.

Naproxen (Aleve) has a long half-life in dogs and can cause gastrointestinal irritation, anemia, melena (digested blood in feces), and vomiting.

Antifreeze is very dangerous to dogs and causes central nervous system depression and acute renal failure. Treatment needs to be within eight hours of ingestion to be successful.

Mouse and rat poison ingestion is common in dogs. Most rodenticides in the United States are anticoagulant by depleting Vitamin K. This type is the most frequent cause of poisoning in pets. Third generation products contain brodifacoum or bromadiolone and are toxic after a single ingestion. Signs include spontaneous and excessive bleeding internally and externally. Treatment is with Vitamin K supplementation. Other rodenticides may contain cholecalciferol which causes hypercalcemia and leads to heart and kidney problems. Newer rodenticides may contain bromethalin which causes central nervous system signs such as seizures, muscle tremors, and depression.

Insecticides used in dogs for fleas and ticks commonly contain either organophosphates or carbamates. they can be absorbed through the skin, conjunctiva, gastrointestinal tract, and lungs. Organophosphates inhibit acetylcholinesterase irreversibly and carbamates inhibit cholinesterase reversibly. Toxicity occurs through overdosage with an appropriate product or use of an agricultural product. Signs for both include hypersalivation, vomiting, lethargy, tremors, difficulty walking, weakness, and death.

Chocolate is a common cause of poisoning in dogs. The toxic principles in chocolate are theobromine and caffeine. Baker’s chocolate is the most dangerous form since it contains higher concentrations of these drugs, followed by semi-sweet, dark, and then milk chocolate. Signs include vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, difficulty walking, seizures, and heart problems.

Lead poisoning is uncommon in dogs. Exposure to lead is from eating paint chips from lead-based paint (found in houses painted prior to 1950), and eating lead objects such as shot, fishing sinkers, or counterweights. Signs of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, blindness, seizures, and tremors.

Raisins and grapes are potential causes of kidney failure in dogs.

Researchers Say You Can Give Your Dog The Flu

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

Scientists claim that we can now give our pets the flu virus and that some people’s pets have died as a result. It worries researchers because it means that there is a possibility of transmitting diseases to animals, which opens a new can or worms in terms of mutations, new viral forms and evolving diseases.  Oregon State University recently reported this information and recommends that if you have the flu or a cold, to try to stay away from your pets as much as possible, while you are contagious.

Tales From a SF Dog Walker- Dirty Puddles and Dead Seals

Tips from a SF Dog Walker

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

I came upon a Dog Walker in McLaren Park while he was on his cell phone discussing an issue with one of his clients. As he was preoccupied and had his back to his pack of dogs, he didn’t notice that one of the dogs was drinking from a muddy puddle of water. As a fellow SF Dog Walker, I thought I would help him out by shooing the dog away from it. When he got off the phone, he said that I need not bother doing this in the future; that he lets his dogs drink from puddles and has been doing so for over 10 years and nothing has happened yet. He then reminded me of the time that I informed him that one of his dogs was eating a dead seal on the beach. He informed me that the dog had been eating dead sea lions on the beach for years and nothing had happened yet.

As a SF Dog Walker, I know from research that puddles in San Francisco Parks are often sources of drinking water for racoons, rats and other wildlife and can cause a dog to develop bouts of vomiting, diarrhea, by infecting the dog with Giardia, a water borne disease. Additionally, if a dog is eating dead or coming into contact with dying seals on the beach, they are potentially being exposed to Leptospirosis – a serious and deadly situation.

These two diseases are currently very active in San Francisco and both are contagious to dogs and humans and can be passed from dog to human. What this means to the average San Franciscan is that the family dog may be exposing your family to very serious illnesses if they are regularly drinking from muddy puddles in the parks or eating dead or dying seals on the beach.

Highly Recommended Activity – Puppy Socials

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

Why should my puppy attend a Social?

Puppy Socials are hour-long play sessions where puppies get to play off-leash in a supervised setting. Puppies who get to play with lots of different puppies during their early months learn how to communicate better with other dogs, learn confidence around other dogs, and are much more well-adjusted as adults.
Just playing with other dogs in your house or the neighbor’s dog isn’t enough – they need to learn to be comfortable around unfamiliar dogs too.  Dogs have different communication styles and the more dog language your puppy understands the less likely there is to be a misunderstanding between dogs. Supervision is important when puppies play too. Shy puppies can get bullied and become fearful.

Also, at this young age a puppy is learning how to use their teeth.  We want them to learn how to inhibit their bites so that their teeth don’t damage other dogs or people when they’re adults.  Simply telling them “NO” when they bite won’t teach them anything about jaw pressure.

Who is eligible to attend Puppy Socials?

Puppy Socials are for puppies aged 8 weeks to 6 months.  Check the Internet to find one that fits your needs.

What you need to know about tennis balls

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

Does your dog love to chase after tennis balls? Even, perhaps, a little obsessed about it?

Something you need to keep in mind is that a tennis ball is made of abrasive material that can quickly wear down your dog’s teeth. Some dogs love them so much that their teeth have ground down to little nubs. This is important because a dog must have their teeth last a lifetime and you definately want to protect them whenever you can.

If you want to nip this problem in the bud, change to rubber balls. Rubber does not have the abrasive properties like the green tennis balls you see at all the dog parks. Why do most people not change to rubber? Not all dogs have problems with tennis balls, so just keep an eye on your dog’s teeth to determine if you need to make any adjustments. Also, they are costly, especially if your dog likes to leave them behind in the bushes.

Anxious Dog?

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker


I have heard about using Benadryl to calm an anxious dog down, but now there is new evidence that Melatonin might work better in some dogs.  Dog owners who are interested in a natural treatment for behavioral problems should ask their veterinarian about melatonin for dogs. Melatonin is a neurohormone, and it can be used as a sedative. There is no specific formulation of melatonin for dogs. It’s manufactured in human formulation, and the FDA has not actually approved its use in dogs. Veterinarians often prescribe it for a number of different treatments in dogs. Melatonin does not require a prescription. The human formulation is sold under the brand name Melatonex®, and it can be found in generic form simply labeled as melatonin.

Many owners have successfully used melatonin for dogs that are anxious or display other behavior problems. It can help calm a dog that becomes frightened at loud noises, such as thunderstorms, fireworks, or other sounds. The medication is often prescribed for canines that suffer from separation anxiety, such as when their owner leaves the house to go to work. Some dogs become overly excited at night and begin pacing or otherwise become a nuisance while the household is trying to sleep. Melatonin often works to calm a dog down enough so that it can rest.

Does your dog have chronic diarrhea?

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

Then you need to try Firm Up! made by Diggin Your Dog.
This amazing supplement made with 100% natural pumpkin works as a great anti-diarrhea, and oddly enough, it’s good for constipation too!

Pumpkin tastes good to dogs. Add a little to their daily diet, or use as a supplement when the “runs” strike…

Firm Up! is also a great product to use when your dog is transitioning to a different diet. The fiber helps digestion and makes the switch easier.

Firm Up! is 100% USA GROWN dried pumpkin. Pumpkin is low in fat and dense in nutrients such as Alpha-Carotene, Beta Carotene, Fiber, Vitamin C & E, Potassium, Magnesium, and Pantothenic Acid. Find it online for about $8.

Dog’s Left Home Alone

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

Avoid the routine of crating your dog all day.

This can lead to future behavior problems.

The crate is a safe place for the dog to rest, but it doesn’t teach the dog good habits.

Use a crate wisely.

Don’t overuse it.

How Old is Your Dog, Really?

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker


Do you multiply your dog’s age by 7 to find out how old they are in human years?

No, that’s the wrong way to find out, according to the following websites.

The important factors are the dog’s size, its age, and breed.
The websites below will help you to determine your dog’s real age.

Alternative To Surgery for Joint Injuries

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

imagesThere is a new alternative to surgery for joint injuries such as ACL tears in the knee, dysplasia and arthritis.  Prolotherapy is an injection technique that stimulates growth of cells and tissue that stabilize and strengthen weakened joints, cartilage, ligaments and tendons.  The injected stimulates the tissue to heal and regrow new tissue.  Go to for more information.



Knowing DNA can be Beneficial

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

Parent-DNA-CartoonDNA technology has become an extremely important tool for veterinarians in keeping your pet healthy. Many diseases are related to a dog’s genetic make-up. Knowing your mix’s genetic predisposition can help your vet anticipate problems, such as hip dysplasia, so they can provide early diagnosis or preventive care. Knowing the DNA can also help the vet when prescribing medications. Some breeds are allergic to common medications and so this knowledge can help your vet avoid any mishaps.

It is a Miracle! Veterinary Orthopedic Manipulation

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

One of my clients has a 14 year old lab mix dog and the dog’s health has been spiraling downhill for the past year. One day when she was out for a walk, she fell and wound up with a dislocated disc in her back. After that, she could no longer stand, nor walk and even getting outside to go potty was becoming a real struggle.  The owner was ready to put the dog down when I suggested that they try something called VOM.

Veterinary Orthopedic Manipulation is a healing technology that locates areas of the animals nervous system that has fallen out of communication, and re-establishes neuronal communication and thus induces healing.  VOM is singularly the most simple, effective and safe healing modality in veterinary care to date.  VOM exists in a gray area between both professions (Veterinary and Chiropractic) and benefits from the positive aspects of both, a hybrid, and thus more effective than either by themselves.  VOM is not animal chiropractic care.  You may see a response while your pet is on the examination table.  It can be that fast. An experienced Vet may have treated cases who haven’t walked for weeks, given up for dead, with one adjustment thrust and pet stands and walks about the exam room!

VOM is performed by Michael Schneider, who is also a human chiropractor in San Francisco. For a relatively small sum of money, he will come to your house and do a series of procedures on your dog, if you are unable to go to him.  My client’s dog is not only standing, but she is running around and not falling down! She is back on her daily walks and is happy and feeling good.  Find out more about Michael Schneider and VOM go to or call him directly at 415-292-7878.  This is completely awesome!

Horses on Fort Funston Beach

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

Have you ever run into horseback riders at Fort Funston?

Well if not, you probably will someday soon.  Fort Funston is a popular destination for equestrians of all skill levels.

Don’t know how your dog will react to a horse? I suggest that you keep your eyes open and if a horse approaches, put your dog on leash, until you know their behavior. Most dogs will have a natural curiosity around horses and may run up to sniff or bark, which may startle the horse and cause the rider to fall, or at the very least, the rider may become angry with you and make it an unpleasant encounter.

Until you know how your dog will react to a horse,it is important to make that first encounter a cautious one. If you find that you dog seems to be overly interested in the new beast on the beach, then I recommend that you do some conditioning. I have had very good luck with dogs that are reactive to horses on the trail, if I take them on a private walk to a stable, on leash of course, and coax them near the horses with cookies and lots of baby talk (yes this is a technical dog training term). After a few times, the dogs will feel more secure and will relax around horses. And if you should see horses on the beach, you should call your dog over to you, for a treat. If you have conditioned the dog well enough, they should not react to the horses passing, but rather come over to you and sit facing you, when you call out “cookie” and then request that they “sit” quietly while the horses pass.

Red Tides at Fort Funston

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

Have you seen the Red Tides at Fort Funston?

If you have been out to Fort Funston, you might have been lucky enough to see an unusual red color in the water.  Red tide is a common name for a phenomenon more correctly known as an algal bloom. These algae are plant-like organisms that can form dense, visible patches near the water’s surface.

Some red tides are associated with the production of natural toxins, depletion of dissolved oxygen or other harmful effects, and are generally described as harmful algal blooms. The most conspicuous effects of red tides are the associated wildlife mortalities among marine and coastal species of fish, birds, and marine mammals.  This is probably why there were dead crabs on the beach a couple of days before the red tide showed it’s face to us.

At this point, it is unknown if the red tide is toxic to dogs and humans, but some surfers have stated that they have been sick after being out in this water.  The red color will disappear once the conditions change.

Sea Foam at Fort Funston

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

If you have been wondering about the origin of the foam you can often find on the beach during the summer, it has noting to do with soap suds.It is caused by the decaying remains of microscopic organisms in the sea.

Every spring the ocean has sudden bursts of life. Phytoplankton bloom starts at the end of March. After a couple of weeks tiny algae like diatoms occur in such numbers that the water becomes yellow-brown.

Black Sand at Fort Funston

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

So, what is that black stuff on the beach in Fort Funston? Is it oil left over from the Cosco Busan spill? No, in fact it is the chalky substance-veins of volcanic ash thrown from Mount Lassen thousands of years ago. After all of our heavy storms this winter, most of the top layer of silica sand had been blown or washed away to leave dark colored streaks on the beaches. This black sand is a kind of iron ore called magnetite. The magnetite is a part of the cliff walls, and as the sandstone erodes, it leaves the heavier iron-based magnetite on the beach.

Black sand can be seen as a layer on top of silica sand in regions with high wave energy. This weight enables it to remain when high-energy waves wash the lighter sand grains out into the surf zone.

Take a magnet with you to the beach and run it through the sand, magnetite will stick to the ends. The dark minerals in beach sand at right, from Fort Funston are primarily magnetite and amphiboles, which are non-magnetic black minerals. Both of these mineral types tend to fracture into very small grains that collect on the surface of the sand, by virtue of being smaller and, therefore, lighter.