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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!!!

UPDATE: Good News! Indefinite delay GGNRA dog management plan!

Posted by the San Francisco Dog Walker

The the latest update on the dog management plan for Golden Gate National Recreation Area is good news!  It is on hold!  The National Park Service released a statement saying it will delay any decision on when to implement the plan.

IMG_0274The statement comes as the federal agency reviews emails being produced in response to Freedom of Information Act requests from dog owners who don’t want to lose access to trails and beaches where they now can let their pets run free. The request dates back to 2015, but plan opponents filed suit in April to speed up the pace of release.

“I think they’ve finally taken a concerted look at what has surfaced,” said Chris Carr, a partner at the law firm Morrison & Foerster, which is representing dog owner groups opposed to the plan. “My view is that the process has been fatally tainted by the bad-faith conduct of the GGNRA and its staff.”

Emails haven’t been released because park service employees claim to have forgotten passwords to systems where older ones are stored.  The emails released so far include sarcastic comments by employees about opponents of the tightened restrictions.

The park service statement that “we are putting on hold … the publication of the Final Rule on Dog Management” also follows letters asking for a delay on final action from three Bay Area congressional members.

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 WoofieLeaks.com 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.

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.

Resources

 

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

Cap

  • 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

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: http://www.mushroom-appreciation.com/death-cap.html#sthash.aPp52tla.dpuf

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!   5min.com/Video/How-to-Remove-a-Tick-from-Your-Dog

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.

Coyote

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 SFGate.com by clicking here.

Dogs Can Die From The Summer Heat!! BEWARE!

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

Dogs

 

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.