Dogs and their people can be as active or as lazy as they please in this delightful desert town
By Kim Campbell Thornton
Andrews McMeel Syndication
I floated lazily in the small pool situated in the backyard of our Airbnb. If I’d had water-loving dogs with me instead of two senior cavaliers, they could have been enjoying the water, too, at our temporary dog-friendly abode.
Southern California has a sunny reputation, but more often than not, half the day in coastal areas is spent beneath cool gray cloud cover. When we want to experience sunshine and warm temperatures, we head to Palm Springs, which, along with the other nearby desert cities, is not only sun-drenched, but also dog-friendly.
“That’s really part of the nature of being an outdoors destination,” says Steven Biller, the dog-loving editor-in-chief of Palm Springs Life magazine. “People come to Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley to be outside. We have beautiful mountain ranges, and a lot of hiking trails are dog-friendly.”
Those trails include Mission Creek Preserve, Whitewater Canyon Loop Trail, Homestead Trail in Palm Desert’s 27-acre Cap Homme/Ralph Adams Park, and La Quinta Cove Oasis. Check online before choosing a hike, and double-check signage when you arrive to make sure dogs are allowed.
In summer, when temperatures regularly top 100 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s all about getting out early. Take your dog to a spot where you can watch a spectacular sunrise light up the mountains, then get in a walk or hike and relax in the heat of the day. Not an early riser? Drive to the Salton Sea and view the sunset from the eastern shore. “Look out to the west, and you can see the sun set over the far Santa Rosas,” Biller says.
Be aware of trail hazards -- coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats, bighorn sheep and rattlesnakes populate mountain paths -- as well as plant life such as jumping cholla, which is one of the biggest dangers for dogs and people. “They’re called jumping because they kind of come out at you,” Biller says. “That’s a common encounter for people and pets, and it’s never fun.” The environment is beautiful but harsh so carry plenty of water and snacks for yourself and your dog, and keep your dog leashed for his own safety and that of other people and animals.
If strolling and shopping are more your speed -- and your dog’s -- the desert cities won’t let you down. Dogs prance down shopping meccas like Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs and El Paseo in Palm Desert, owners in tow, and receive a welcome at many shops. “Merchants welcome and encourage dogs to come in,” Biller says.
Dining is easy, too. Restaurants with outdoor seating -- which is a lot more of them since the pandemic -- put out the welcome mat for canine diners. We revisited old favorites Jake’s for dinner and Cheeky’s for breakfast. We grabbed morning lattes at Koffi, also populated with a number of dogs. If we’d stayed longer, one of our dining forays would have taken us to Spencer’s, named after the owner’s dog. Next time.
Boutique hotels, chains and private homes listed through Airbnb or VRBO are all options for people traveling with dogs. Many are walking distance to downtown. Airbnb has a filter to search for properties that permit dogs, and we’ve rarely had a problem finding one that suited us. Last December we stayed at a home in south Palm Springs with a large fenced yard, and in mid-May we kicked back at a cozy casita in Tahquitz River Estates. Previous stays have included the La Quinta Resort & Club, with in-room and resort amenities such as a pup gift box, plush dog bed, and dog-friendly lawns and trails that make up the PAWS La Quinta Canine Experience.
“Dogs are very much part of the culture here,” Biller says. “Pretty much anything you want to do, from shopping to eating to hiking, your dog is welcome here, and you can’t say that about a lot of places.”
How to remove
ticks from pets
Q: Ugh! I found a tick on my dog. How do I get it off?
A: Very carefully. Ticks spread a number of diseases, including Lyme, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis, so you want to protect yourself and your dog when you take steps to remove them.
You may have discovered a tick accidentally when running your hand through a pet’s fur, but the best tactic is to search diligently for them any time you and your dog have been in tick-infested areas. Place your dog on a white towel, and go over him with a fine-tooth comb to check for any little bumps that might actually be feeding ticks. Unless they’re bloated with blood, they can be tiny -- the size of a sesame seed -- so keep a sharp eye out.
Have tweezers or a tick removal device at hand. If you find one of these blood-sucking arachnids, grasp it firmly with tweezers as close to the head as possible and pull straight up. The goal is to remove the tick’s body and mouth parts. Wear disposable gloves or wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after removing the tick. Place the tick on a strip of double-sided tape or a sticky lint roller so it can’t escape while you search for others, or immediately drop it into a container filled with rubbing alcohol for instant death.
What not to do: Don’t try to burn the tick off or smother it with Vaseline. Don’t think that bathing your dog will remove ticks; it won’t. Don’t flush or put it into the trash; ticks are survivors and will come back to haunt you if you don’t kill them -- and flushing doesn’t kill them.
Do talk to your veterinarian about the best tick preventive measures for your pet's lifestyle. -- Dr. Marty Becker
Do you have a pet question? Send it to email@example.com or visit Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker.
Dogs scent out
-- Nutria are an invasive rodent species from South America that threaten to destroy critical wetland habitat in North America with their destructive feeding and burrowing habits. Fortunately, dogs trained to scent out nutria are on the job, ready to help rid marshes, wetlands and riparian habitat of the furry critters. They learn to detect nutria scent, scat and residual odor, allowing their handlers to find and capture the rodents. They also provide indications that nutria no longer inhabit a particular area. The dogs are trained with positive reinforcement, receiving praise, affection, play or toys when they make a find.
-- Brood X is here. The cicadas, which emerge every 17 years to reproduce and then die, are large insects that may tempt dogs and cats who enjoy hunting and eating bugs. Will your pet be harmed by eating a cicada or three? Probably not, according to the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center. The big bugs don’t contain any toxins, but they are hard-shelled, so pets who munch on many of them could develop a blockage. Other possible reactions include mild stomach upset resulting in vomiting or diarrhea. Your best bet is to prevent pets from eating them -- but don’t fret too much if they down only one or two.
-- Birds are beautiful, but they aren’t what you’d call low maintenance. If you think they’re just pretty to look at, think again. Birds need companionship, affection, meal prep, and daily care and clean-up. Plan to spend time every day interacting with and talking to them, changing the paper in their cage and wiping it clean of any messes, regularly changing out toys so they have an interesting environment, and ensuring that they have a balanced diet (not seeds!) that includes fresh fruits and vegetables. You’ll both enjoy the togetherness. -- Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker
ABOUT PET CONNECTION
Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet care experts headed by “The Dr. Oz Show” veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker, founder of the Fear Free organization and author of many best-selling pet care books, and award-winning journalist Kim Campbell Thornton. Joining them is behavior consultant and lead animal trainer for Fear Free Pets Mikkel Becker. Dr. Becker can be found at Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker. Kim Campbell Thornton is at Facebook.com/KimCampbellThornton and on Twitter at kkcthornton. Mikkel Becker is at Facebook.com/MikkelBecker and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.