Welcome to Southern Arizona!

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WELCOME TO ARIZONA

Southern Arizona is a beautiful place to live, with a plethora of options for an active outdoor lifestyle year around! Seeing as you are new Arizona, we would like to inform you of several medical and environmental issues that unique to Arizona. Read here, and/or check out the additional links for further information.

Medical Concerns

Valley Fever: Valley Fever or Coccidioidomycosis is an extremely common fungal disease to Arizona. Valley Fever is primarily in the southwest and develops from a soil-dwelling spore. Wind, construction sites, storms, etc. aerosolize the spores and they are in the air we breathe, so just by living in Arizona your pet is exposed to Valley Fever. Valley Fever is most frequently seen in dogs but it is possible for cats to become infected as well. Generally, the symptoms will include coughing and/or lameness. However, Valley Fever has a multitude of other symptoms. If your pet is generally feeling off and has non-specific symptoms your veterinarian may recommend a Valley Fever test

Heartworm and Parasite Prevention: We recommend that your dog be kept on heartworm and parasite prevention year round. Heartworms are only transmitted through mosquito bites. The University of Arizona has conducted extensive studies of the surrounding areas, which have determined that the majority of the mosquitoes in the Green Valley and Sahuarita area have heartworms. Even if your pet never goes outside, mosquitoes are able to get anywhere. It is much easier and safer to prevent heartworm disease then it is to treat an infected pet. Yearly heartworm tests are recommended to insure the medication is doing its job. With the increase in popularity of dog parks and daycare, parasite control has become a real concern. These outlets provide a fun alternative for your pet to expend some of their excess energy. However, sharing of water bowls, the exposure to unknown animals, and a variety of other reasons causes some concerns for possible parasite transmission to your pet. Fortunately there are several products that provide an “all in one” monthly parasite prevention. Numerous methods are available for parasite protection in your pet. Our preferred prevention is a product called Interceptor or an alternative product called Heartgard. Interceptor and Heartgard are safe and effective flavored chewable tablets, given once a month to your pet. They not only protect against heartworms but also act as a monthly dewormer, effectively protecting your pet against most parasites.

Tick Fever: Tick Fever or Ehrlichiosis is an infectious disease of dogs. It is transmitted through ticks. Even if you have never noticed any ticks on your dog the potential exists for Tick Fever. There are a variety of symptoms, most common being lethargy and a decrease in appetite but can also include joint pain, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. If a routine CBC (or complete blood count) reveals any abnormalities your veterinarian may recommend a Tick Fever test because Tick Fever can present with abnormalities such as low plateletes. Ridding your dog’s environment of ticks is the most effective means of prevention. We also sell a variety of monthly tick preventatives. There is no such thing as a tick season in Arizona, so keeping your pet on a preventative year round is your best protection. If you have any concerns, please schedule an appointment as soon as possible to discuss any questions that you may have.

Heat Stress/Stroke: Heat is the number one most deadly concern in Arizona. With temperatures in the summer reaching 120°F, it is extremely important that your pet be allowed access to water and shade or indoors at all times. NEVER LEAVE YOUR PET IN THE CAR! Your car can reach temperatures of about 200°F, and your pet may not survive.

Hot Pavement: With high temperatures in the summer, the sidewalks and streets absorb the heat, creating a hot, burning walking environment. The pads on your pet’s paws will be burned if they are exposed to the hot pavements for an extended period of time. Choose to walk your pet in cooler times of the day, early mornings, late evenings, or at night. If you have to walk during the day, limit the time to 15 minutes or less. Purchasing booties can be another protective option for your pet’s paws. In the winter the heat is not as much of a concern as it is in the summer, nevertheless caution is still required.

Skin and Coat: Arizona tends to have a much drier environment than the majority of other states. This has a negative impact on your dog or cat’s coat. Proper nutrition is essential to maintaining a healthy coat and moisturized skin for your pet. We recommend a high quality or premium food In addition to the proper diet, we recommend a fatty acid supplement, which comes in the form of fish oils. This will help maintain a healthy coat as well as helping to prevent your pet from scratching at dry skin. Good quality fish oil is important and most human fish oil capsules come in forms not suited for your small pets

Native Arizona Animals

Toads: There are several poisonous desert toads that are common to Southern Arizona. The most common is the Colorado River Toad, which is typically a gray to olive green color. During the monsoon season, the river toads become extremely numerous and can be found throughout the valley. They particularly love damp, wet areas, such as freshly watered plants, near pools, and any other outdoor water dishes. Dogs that have been in contact with a toad tend to drool excessively, stumble, and their gums turn bright red. In serious cases they can seizure. The most important first aid is to clean the mouth thoroughly with water for 10-15 minutes. If your dog comes into contact with a toad, please call immediately for further instructions.

Fleas and Ticks: As mentioned above, ticks are abundant in Arizona. Depending on where you live fleas may or may not be a problem. Prevention is always easier than treatment. Please discuss your need of prevention with your veterinarian.

Flea and tick collars CAN BE HARMFUL TO YOUR DOG AND WE DO NOT RECOMMEND USING THEM TO PREVENT FLEAS AND TICKS.

Over-the-counter flea and tick shampoos can cause a variety of harmful reactions with your dog’s skin and coat. We recommend topical protection as the best way to prevent fleas and ticks. We carry several topical tick preventions, such as Frontline and Advantix. Please ask which would be the best for your pet at your next visit to your veterinarian.

Snakes: Snakes are very abundant in deserts of Arizona. The most dangerous is any variety of the rattlesnake. Snakes blend into their environment and enjoy shadier times of the day such as early morning and evening. They are most commonly found in the washes, less populated areas, hidden enclosures, sheds, pool closets, under bushes, construction sites, woodpiles, and any other hidden spot they can find. The best way to keep your pet from snakebite is to attend a snake aversion class. The classes are held at a variety of times. We no longer offer them at our facility but you can ask at the front desk or call during office hours and we can refer you to the location where the classes are now held. If a snake bites your pet, the immediate area of the bite will begin to swell and become very painful. If you suspect that a snake has bitten your pet, please call your veterinarian immediately. For the best possible outcome antivenin must be given as soon as possible. Snakebite treatment is very expensive and can require several days of hospitalization, so we strongly urge you to ask about snake aversion class.

Scorpions: Scorpions are another common arthropod in Arizona. They can be found in any hidden area. If a scorpion stings your pet, there are often no clinical signs other than pain. Rarely are there any more serious effects. If a scorpion stings your pet, please call your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns.

Other Common Animals: There are also other common animals to watch out for such as skunks, javelinas, large predator birds and coyotes. They tend to avoid any contact with humans and pets but they are very prominent to this area and they look for water and food wherever it may be. With any wild animal, caution and respect should be used at all times. Many of theses animals have been known to be infected with Rabies, so keeping your animals current on vaccinations is extremely important. Animal Control takes rabies very seriously and if your pet comes into contact with a wild animal severe consequences will occur if your pet is not vaccinated. Even if your pet never goes out side, our staff can give you numerous examples of wild animals coming into your home and the tragedy that follows. If you see a suspicious animal in your neighborhood call Animal Control right away. If you have a small pet you should be with your pet at all times while outdoors. Hawks, owls, and other large predator birds have been known to grab small animals with the owners standing nearby.

Spiders: Spiders will leave your pet alone until your pet sticks its nose where it does not belong. Spider bites can vary from very mild to extreme reactions. If you notice any suspicious lesions please schedule an appointment with your veterinarian immediately.

Benadryl is an over-the-counter product you should keep on hand at all times. Most reactions your pet will have will be an allergic reaction and Benadryl will help treat your pet until you can reach our facility. Call your veterinarian immediately for the dosage that is correct for your pet.

Environmental Concerns

Foxtails: Foxtails are seeds of common desert grasses and are found throughout the area. These can become embedded in your dog’s paws or ears. After any walk or time spent outside, you should thoroughly check your dog’s paws to remove any foxtails or other foreign bodies. If foxtails are allowed to stay in the paw a painful abscess can form. If your dog is excessively licking or chewing on his/her paws, it may be a sign that something is stuck in the pads. Thoroughly check the pads, and if the problem persists, schedule an appointment immediately. Keeping your dog’s paws groomed can make your job much easier. If you have any concerns, please raise them at your next scheduled appointment.

Cacti: As you have probably noticed, cactus is very common to Arizona. If your dog is very curious, cactus will be a problem. If your pet comes into contact with cactus you need to remove all thorns immediately before an abscess can form. It is a good idea to have a doctor look and make sure all thorns have been removed.

Why Essential Fatty Acids (EFA)

Let’s begin by explaining why we believe EFA supplementation may be necessary in your dogs diet.  Living in Southern Arizona can be extra tough on your pets skin and coat. Due to inadequate feeding practices used in food animals, most commercially available meat is sadly lacking in Essential Fatty Acids. Some pets can’t produce all of the EFAs they require, so they must consume it through dietary sources.  If these dietary sources are lacking in certain EFAs, the only other option is supplementation.

Most research on EFA supplementation is based on human testing.  However, we believe some pets receive the same benefits reported in human studies.  Here are some of the benefits we’ve been seeing in pets needing supplementation:

1.  Reduces inflammation (pain) associated with arthritis and similar joint diseases.

2.  Plays a vital role in establishing a healthy lipid barrier in the skin to block irritants and infections.

3.  Aids in the treatment of KCS (dry eye).

4.  Reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.

5.  Increases bone strength and maintains bone mass.

Researchers are also currently studying the effects of EFA supplementation on diabetes, obesity, lupus and some cancers.