Summertime and the living's not quite as easy as we hoped

With the promise of vacations, splish-splashing around the pool, baseball games, beer and beautiful weather, it seems impossible to imagine summer being dangerous in any way.

But for our four-legged creatures there are serious health risks and potential injuries lurking beneath summer’s sunny facade. 

The Bay Area offers some truly spectacular hiking trails and who doesn't love watching their pooches romp through fields, playing with their buddies and chasing tennis balls? During the summer months (mainly late spring through late summer), our biggest trail nemesis are those nasty foxtails. Foxtails are bristly plant awns that take over Northern California during the warm season and their spiky tips regularly lodge themselves into dogs toes, coats, under their skin, in their noses, ears, eyes and mouths, causing serious and sometimes life-threatening damage. 

It's essential to do a proper body check after a hike where your dog has been exposed to foxtails. Make sure to brush them thoroughly, feeling under the fur to the skin to make sure no burrs have traveled that far. Look between toes, in ears, in noses, etc. For super furry dogs, it might make more sense to take a break from off-leash hikes until those pesky weeds have said their adieu for the season. Also available are a new head net that will surely make your pooch look like a bee keeper, but will keep foxtails out of their nose, ears, eyes and mouth. They can be purchased at 

Another hazard of summer is the rattlesnake. Yikes! Even saying the word snake gives me the willies. Rattlers are generally found in warmer climates, so us Alameda folk aren't as likely to run across one as our neighbors in Walnut Creek, where they are often found sunbathing openly on trails. But we should still practice precaution.

If you're hiking with your dog(s), make sure to wear long pants with sturdy hiking boots. Stick to well-marked trails and stay out of tall grasses where snakes might be hiding out during the daytime. This is also another good time of year to keep your dog on a 6 foot leash, to ensure Fido doesn't run into a snake while exploring the wild grasses he loves so much.

Make sure to familiarize yourself with symptoms of a snake bite in dogs. If your dog has any puncture wounds, appears to be in pain, has swelling, is restless, panting and drooling, you can probably suspect a snake bite and get them to the vet as soon as possible. More severe symptoms can occur depending on the size of the dog and the degree of venom injected. Keep an eye out for weakness/lethargy, muscle tremors, diarrhea, seizures and neurological warning signs. You may even want to enroll yourself in a pet first aid course so you can be best prepared in an emergency.

One pretty obvious summer danger that often goes overlooked is temperature. Heat stroke and dehydration are a very real threat for dogs. Always have fresh water available for them, whether it's the dead of winter or the height of summer. If you're hiking, make sure to have a portable water bowl on hand and take a few rest stops to hydrate your hound.

It's happened to all of us. We're on our way back from the dog park and we realize we're out of milk and need to pop quickly into the grocery store. A hot car can be extremely dangerous for a dog; even if you crack the windows and park in a shady spot. On a hot day, a car can quickly heat up to well over 100 degrees. Do your pets a favor and drop them off at home and come back to the store at another time. If you absolutely must leave your dog in the car, leave the air conditioning on and lock up with a spare key. Don't leave your dog in the car for more than 5 minutes and leave PLENTY of water for them. A bonus would be a cooling pad or a cooling bandana to help keep their body temperature down.

Pawsitopia loves summer as much as you do, but we're committed to keeping your pets healthy and safe. Although we love a good off-leash excursion, expect less of these during the summer months, as we want your furry kids to avoid any unnecessary dangers. Rest assured that Pawsitopia wants only the best for your pets and will do everything in our power to keep them out of harm’s way and deliver a tired and happy pup to your doorstep.

Stay cool!

Shelter Pups Wag for Walks!

Check out one of my dog training project dogs Spencer!  He was recently adopted from Friends of Alameda Animal Shelter. We wish Spencer the best of luck in his furr-ever home!

Check out one of my dog training project dogs Spencer!  He was recently adopted from Friends of Alameda Animal Shelter. We wish Spencer the best of luck in his furr-ever home!

*I wrote this article as a guest columnist for Friends of Alameda Animal Shelter, where I volunteer as a dog training intern. Check it out in the Alameda Journal next Friday, April 25!


For a shelter dog, being adopted is like a taking a giant sigh of relief.


As wonderful as shelter staff is, as comfortable as the animals are made, as dedicated and loving as the volunteers are, a shelter is still a shelter. When dogs finally find their forever home, they often need a refresher course on how to be dog. Inviting a dog walker into your new family member’s routine is an ideal solution to help reintroduce them into the world.

In shelters, there is a palpable tension in the air that causes the majority of dogs a lot of stress and anxiety. Often times they are so scared, amped up or frustrated, they have a hard time enjoying even a simple walk, let alone learning basic manners to impress their potential adopters.

Newly adopted dogs can find everyday life a bit overwhelming and scary. There is countless novel stimulus to take in, such as new sights, smells, people and other animals. In severe cases, if not introduced to these things in a slow, supportive and positive way, dogs could learn to make negative, fear-based associations.

When new dogs join a walking group, they are exposed to new things, places, people and dogs in a safe and comfortable environment. They learn impulse control, hone their recalls, sits and stays, learn how to socialize with their canine cohorts and build tons of positive associations and experiences.

Hiring a dog walker is not only beneficial to your dog. It allows pet owners to go to work, on vacation, and live their lives guilt-free, because they know their four-legged friends are being cared for and given the exercise necessary to keep them happy, healthy, and mentally stimulated 

Daily walks and playtime give dogs the chance to exercise and keep their minds sharp. Instead of possibly being destructive when left home to their own devices, regular outings give the dogs something to do that will leave them tuckered out and ready for snuggles with their people at the end of the day.