Car Safety for Puppies

Have you recently added a puppy to your household? Congratulations! Little Fido has lots to learn in his first year, as he figures out the do’s and don’ts of being a dog. One thing he’ll need to get used to is riding in cars. Whether you plan to take your canine pal out and about with you frequently, or only for occasional veterinary appointments or dog park excursions, you’ll need to keep your furry friend safe and comfortable in the car.

Here are some important tips:


We strongly recommend keeping your canine pal crated on car rides. There are far too many ways for a curious puppy to get into trouble if he’s loose in the car! Be sure to choose the sturdiest crate you can find. You can also get doggy seat belts and harnesses, or wire or mesh barriers, but these may not offer Fido enough protection in case of an accident.  Recent crash-testing on pet harnesses and pet seat belts have shown that they are not effective in a crash at keeping your pet safe.  They will keep them in place while you’re driving, rather than letting them run loose.


Your pup won’t be used to the stops and starts a car ride entails, and may slide around a bit until he gets the hang of it. Be sure to make his crate comfy by adding a soft blanket or pillow.


Keeping the little one at comfortable temperatures is very important.  As we all know, temperatures inside a parked vehicle can reach deadly levels in just minutes.  Even in 70 degree weather, the inside of a car can reach over 100 degrees after just a few minutes.


Did you know that dogs can get carsick? If your puppy isn’t used to cars, he may get an upset tummy. To prevent carsickness, don’t feed your pooch just before car rides, and crack the windows enough to allow good airflow.  And DON’T STAY HOME — Be sure to take them on short, frequent car trips to help them overcome their nerves and carsickness.


You’ll want to keep your canine pal leashed while going to and from the car, but unclip his leash while traveling. Choose a leash that you can easily snap on and off your pup’s collar.


Make sure that little Fido always wears his tags and collar for car rides. We also recommend keeping copies of his vaccinations in your glove compartment, so you always have them.  Whenever traveling with your pet, be sure their microchip registration is current as well.

Puppy Car Kit

Make a little car kit for your pup. Include a few gallons of the water Fido usually drinks; a dish; a leash; treats; a first aid kit; plastic bags; and a waste scooper.  You can even bring along a few favorite toys to comfort them on the ride

Please contact us for all of your puppy’s veterinary care needs. We’re here to help!


Warning! Excessive Heat Advisory

Summer brings exceptionally high temperatures in the Rita Ranch & Vail area, which makes it even more important to ensure that your pets are kept cool. Veterinarians commonly see dogs with heat stroke, but most of these cases could easily have been averted with some easy precautions.

The following six tips will help you keep your dog cool:

  1. The best method for keeping your dog cool is to simply allow him or her to stay inside a house with air conditioning.  Dogs want to be part of the family and almost always enjoy being inside.
  2. If your dog must be kept outside in the heat, one tool to help keep your dog from overheating is a child’s small hard plastic swimming pool. Place it in a shaded area of the yard and fill with a few inches of water. Your dog can drink from it, walk through it, or even lie in it.
  3. Misters are another good tool which can be installed on your patio or any shaded area of your back yard. These emit a fine mist of water that your dog can use to keep cool.
  4. Another trick is to take large plastic jugs such as milk containers, fill them with water and then freeze them.  Place outside in an area where your dog usually stays, preferably in a shaded area.  Behind the ice-filled jugs, place an electric fan so it blows across the ice and creates a cool breeze for your dog.
  5. Never leave your dog in a car! Even in relatively mild outdoor temperatures, on a sunny day the environment inside the car can get dangerously hot in just a few minutes.  It’s best for your dog to stay home while you run errands or go into town!
  6. Never leave your dog tied to a tree or a post. In fact, it is illegal to tie-out a dog in Arizona. Heat stroke can quickly ensue due to the fact that they may tangle themselves and be unable to reach their water or escape the sun.

If your dog is heat stressed, it will be panting heavily, with its tongue hanging out long and wide. This increases the surface area of the tongue and allows for more evaporation to happen, which helps keep your dog cool. Another symptom is the color of the gums will be a very bright red or sometimes a muddy color. If you notice any of these symptoms, take action immediately! Call your veterinarian at Rita Ranch Pet Hospital for cooling instructions and bring your pet in immediately.

Heat stroke in dogs is usually easily preventable. Using these tips will let you enjoy hot weather safely with your dog and may even save your dog’s life!


Pet Pool & Swimming Safety

On a blistering hot day, owning a pool definitely has its advantages as a refuge from the heat. Swimming is not only a great way for your pet to cool down, but it also is a great way for them to get low-impact exercise.  Unfortunately, in the summertime, the risk of  pets drowning in backyard swimming pools, and other water hazards, is on the rise.

Pool safety is important! Some dogs, especially young, elderly, or otherwise debilitated dogs, cannot swim. Even dogs that once were excellent swimmers can lose their ability with illness, age, or weakness. Others may become disoriented should they accidentally fall in while drinking. Recognize the danger and exercise caution: pool fences and alarms are very useful. Hidden electronic fencing may be of use to restrict the entire pool area.

Did you know…?  An estimated 5,000 family pets drown in backyard swimming pools annually.

Pool safety issues for pets are almost synonymous with those for children, and they go far beyond just careful supervision. With pets (and kids), you can never assume that you can watch them all the time. It only takes a few minutes of distraction for either one to fly out the door and into the pool.

With that said, pools can be great fun for your pet. Here are just a few of the issues you should consider:

  • Although many dogs love the water, don’t assume they can swim naturally. Never throw a dog into the pool; he may panic and not be able to climb the slick sides to get out of the pool.
  • Even excellent swimmers will gradually lose their ability as they age and become weaker. In addition, senior dogs are more prone to slipping and falling into a pool.
  • Heat and sunlight are more intense around a pool. Your dog cannot keep as cool as you, so watch for signs of overheating. Don’t let your dog drink from the pool; the chlorine will make him sick.
  • In the same vein, you should be aware that chlorinated water may irritate your dog’s eyes. When the two of you are finished playing in the pool, hose your dog down with fresh water to get the chlorine out.

We wish you all a safe and happy summer!

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Removing Pet Stains & Odors

Dogs and cats often prefer to urinate and defecate on soft absorbent surfaces. Unfortunately, that may include carpets and bedding. After a pet finds a surface they prefer, they will continue to use the same area unless the behavior is interrupted. To keep the pet from going on these indoor surfaces you must thoroughly clean stains. What seems clean to you may not smell clean to the pet. Regular household cleaners will not remove proteins found in urine and feces. Follow these helpful tips to remove stains and odors from your house.
Find Old Stains
Before you can fix a housetraining problem or litter box issue, you must thoroughly clean all stains even if they are old and dry. Even if there is just one spot in the house, your pet will smell the scent and think it is an appropriate place to eliminate.
􀂃 Carefully check for stains in the corners of the house and even on walls. Use a black light in a dark room to find hidden urine stains.
􀂃 Look for any discoloration on carpet or tile.
􀂃 Search for spots around the dog or cat’s bed or place they sleep.
􀂃 Do what your animal does. Get down on their level and use your nose to sniff it out.
Fixing the Problem
Before you begin cleaning, mark all areas the need to be cleaned with a Post-It note. You will lose track of stains once you start cleaning. Purchase a high quality enzymatic cleaner and some paper towels. Take the pet out of the room where you will be working. Do not put them in a room where they can have more accidents. Remove any objects or bedding that can go in the washing machine.
Clean Washable Items
􀂃 Add a pound box of baking soda to your wash with normal detergent.
􀂃 Air dry items if possible.
􀂃 If stain is still present, add an enzymatic cleaner to the wash cycle. There are enzymatic detergents available at some pet stores and online catalogs.
Clean Carpets and Tile
􀂃 For fresh stains, remove as much liquid and solid matter as possible. Do not rub liquids into the carpet, blot carefully with a dry towel or rag. Rubbing will put the stain into the padding.
􀂃 On tile, remove all traces of liquid and dispose of paper towels or newspaper outdoors. If you are cleaning cat urine, you can place the paper towel or newspaper in the litter box.
􀂃 Thoroughly soak the entire area with an enzymatic cleaner. Do not rinse or wipe off the cleaner. Allow cleaner to soak through to the pad and let it air dry. The smell will remain until the area is completely dry. If the animal keeps going back to the same area, cover the stain with aluminum foil and place a heavy dish on top of it. Animals should not be allowed in the room until the stain is completely dry and you have them tethered to you or can watch them closely.
􀂃 For old or stubborn stains, rent a carpet-cleaning machine or wet-dry vac. Follow cleaning with an enzymatic cleaner.
Clean Walls
􀂃 If urine has soaked through drywall, you will probably need to replace the area. Once drywall has been saturated, it is impossible to remove the enzymes. If wall is brick or slump block, clean majority of stain off wall and follow with an enzymatic cleaner.
Additional Help
􀂃 If animals are engaging in marking behavior, it is very beneficial to have them neutered. Marking behavior decreases when the animal is no longer able to reproduce.
􀂃 Do not allow animals free access to areas where they urinate in the house. Restrict access to the house until the animals are housetrained or litter box trained. See handouts on housetraining and crate training.
􀂃 If an animal has been using a particular surface for a long period of time, you may need to replace the area. As mentioned above, soiled drywall can rarely be salvaged. Cats will continue to spray walls if left untreated. Urine often soaks through to padding under carpet and needs to be replaced.
􀂃 Avoid using a steam cleaner. Steam can make the area spread and thoroughly soak through to the padding.
􀂃 Do not use regular household cleaners, especially ones containing vinegar or ammonia.
􀂃 If you find your dog or cat is repeatedly using the same item to urinate on, put the item out of reach or make it unattractive. Potted plants and other organic material are common targets.
􀂃 Carefully test items before using an enzymatic cleaner. Enzymatic cleaners are not appropriate for all surfaces. Varnishes and paints can react with urine making it impossible to use an enzymatic cleaner. These surfaces will need to be stained, painted or replaced.
􀂃 Restart the housetraining process. If you have noticed a sudden change in urinating habits from a cat or dog that is housetrained, take them to the vet immediately to have a urinalysis done. The animal may be suffering from a painful infection that is making good behavior impossible.
􀂃 Check your animal’s bed to see if urine may be leaking while they sleep. If your dog is leaking small amounts of urine, have him checked out by a veterinarian. He may be suffering from incontinence. Keep bed and sleeping area as clean as possible while pet is being treated.
􀂃 Watch for any changes the dog has experienced in his routine. Keep a journal of accidents as well as feeding and exercise schedule.
􀂃 For litter box issues, make sure you have not changed litter or location of the litter box. Cats are very sensitive to where the litter box is placed and what is in the box. Keep litter as clean as possible and do not make sudden changes to litter. Many cats do not like scented litter, watch for preferences in your cat.
􀂃 It will take time for your animal to be retrained. It took time for him to develop this habit and it will take time to unlearn the behavior. Do not punish the pet for accidents in the house. Follow tips outlined in the handouts on housetraining.
􀂃 Be patient during the housetraining process. Your anxiety will only make your pet more stressed. Consult a behaviorist if the problem continues or you need additional support.