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Amber-collar-to-fight-fleas

Spike looks debonair wearing his flea-fighting Baltic amber collar.  We got it at Healing TouchVets in Sherman Oaks. His vet there, Audra MacCorkle, DVM, wears an amber bracelet, as do many of her vet techs and patients.

Baltic amber collars are the latest “thing” in flea control. We aren’t talking about golden globs of transparent resin with insects trapped inside. We’re talking about small, irregular, milky gold and toast brown pebbles. The amber strung on cotton thread and attached to an adjustable leather strap and buckle. Reportedly, the longer the dog wears the collar, the better it works.

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Dog scratching fleas
Photo credit: © Luzpower | Dreamstime.com

The higher the temperature gets, the more anxious I get about fleas. Once the temperature hits the 70 to 90 degree range, conditions are ripe for fleas to hatch.

When you have a dog who is itchy, scratchy and licky in the best of times, fleas make life so much more complicated. Fleas are the most common source of itchiness in a dog, and thus what a vet will zoom in on first. Visit after visit last year, I debated with Spike’s vet what to do about his constant paw-licking, rump-chewing and scratching. I was leaning heavily toward allergy testing.

Our vet focused on flea control. We would turn Spike over and, sure enough, a flea or two could be seen. She pointed out that even if Spike had allergies, we’d still have to deal with the fleas.

Fighting fleas

The itching, biting and scratching has  started. Joey can twist himself into a pretzel to sink his teeth into an annoying flea bite. His buddy Red has it even worse — he has hot spots that just don’t stop irritating him.

Temperatures and humidity rise, fleas come to life. Their favorite temperatures are 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit with 75 to 85 percent humidity. Here in Los Angeles, we don’t often get that humidity, but we can sure get the heat most of the year.

Just how serious are fleas?

Consider this: A single flea can suck up to 15 times its own body weight in blood. If a dog has enough fleas, it can become anemic. Under good conditions,an adult female flea drops 20 to up to 50 eggs EVERY DAY. Six fleas on a dog can become a quarter of a million in just six weeks without treatment.

A flea bite can irritate a dog enough that he scratches or bites open his skin making way for infections. For a dog that is allergic or sensitive to flea bites, the saliva of a single flea can set off a reaction across the whole of the dog’s skin.

Add a dog to a garden and you can have either canine joy or life-threatening catastrophe.

It’s a jungle out there and it can be hazardous for dogs.
Here are just a few things to pay attention to when your dog is in the garden:

The Great Escape.

If your dog roams the garden off leash, be sure you have identified and taken care of any possible escape routes from the yard. Can the dog get between fence railings or crawl under the bottom of a fence? Can he jump over the fence? Are the gates securely latching? Be sure to take note of chairs, tables, buckets or pots that a dog could take advantage of in leaping out of the yard.

Toxic plants.

Lovely to look at, many plants are toxic to pets. These include sago palms, aloe vera, oleanders, foxglove, kalanchoes, California ivy, birds of paradise, amaryllis, dahlias and azaleas. Sago palms, the relatives in the Cycad family and mushrooms can cause liver failure. Southern California staples like azaleas, foxglove and kalanchoe can affect the heart.  The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has a full list of plants toxic to dogs.

Oh, what a glorious weekend for running off leash in the park!

The views of city are glorious from the Runyon Canyon dog park which spills down the southside of the Santa Monica Mountains from Mulholland Drive to Hollywood.

A portion of the walk requires a leash.  A gate divides the section that is off-leash. A fire road winds down the hillside, but there are steeper, more rugged short cuts throughout.

Runyon Canyon is just one of many places a dog can run unencumbered.  Here are more ideas:

The Calabasas Bark Park is a small, but elegantly planned off-leash dog park.

Calabasas Bark Park, 4232 Las Virgenes Rd.  Maintained by the Las Virgenes Water District, this small but elegant dog park is lined by lie oak, sycamore and olive trees. It has a grassy half and a bark chip half.  The grassy half is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The park is open 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. and has night lights. You can enter at Willow Creek and Las Virgenes at an office building.  The park will not be visible, but the road leads you back and behind the office building to the park. It’s also possible to enter the dog park parking lot from Las Virgenes further on.

While there is base level perimeter fencing to discourage snakes and rodents, this is rattlesnake country, so do stay alert. The only human amenities here are a porta-pottie. For questions, call (818) 224-1650.

Culver City Boneyard Dog Park. The Boneyard is located off Jefferson at the far corner of Culver City Park. It is a little more than one acre, with small and large dog areas.  Open dawn until dusk. Email: info@culvercitydogpark.org 

El Segundo Dog Park, 600 E. Imperial Avenue, 90245; (707) 565-2041. Open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

A refreshing break from off-leash play.

Encino – Sepulveda Basin Dog Park, 17550 Victory Blvd., Encino,CA 91406, just east of the intersection of  White Oak and Victory boulevards in the northwest corner of Balboa Park. The telephone number is (818) 756-9642.

It has a five-acre big dog section with separate areas for small or shy dogs.Open daily sunrise to sunset except on Friday when it opens at 11 a.m.  Good parking for up to 100 cars.

Griffith Park Dog Park, The dog park is next door to the Ferraro Soccer Fields on Zoo Drive in the Riverdale section of the park near the intersection of the I-5, the 134 Freeway and the Los Angeles River. The 1.6 acre park has separate areas for the large and small dogs with a half grass/half dirt surface. it is open from 5 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. There is parking for 40 cars. Restrooms are the portable variety. While you and your dog are there, make a stop at Travel Town and take your four-footed friend for a ride on the miniature train.  (It is permitted.) A trail map is available for downloading.

Hermosa Beach – Hermosa Dog Park, 5568 Via Marisol, Hermosa Beach, CA

Hollywood / Los Angeles – Runyon Canyon Park. (213) 485-5572.  This 130-acre park is two blocks from Hollywood Boulevard with entrances on Fuller Avenue, Vista Street and off Mulholland. If offers magnificnet views of the Hollywood sign, the Griffith Observatory, the downtown skyline, the Pacific Ocean, Sunset Strip and Wilshire Boulevard.  From the Mulholland side, a short walk up Indian Rock offers a 360-degree view that includes the San Fernando Valley.

Long Beach – Beach Dog Zone, Ocean Boulevard between Roycroft and Argonne. This 2.9-acre zone is heaven for California beach dogs.  It’s open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., except when beach conditions are poor or special events are happening. Dogs are not permitted on the beach in any other area. It is not a “dedicated dog beach,” which means dogs and their owners share the area with other beach goers. Parking is in a metered lot on Bennett Avenue.

Long Beach – K-9 Corner,9th Street and Pacific Avenue. This pocket-park is ecologically designed with solar power, allowing it to stay open to 10 p.m. while being totally off the power grid. It features drought-resistant, native plants, sloped irrigation, faux grass and recycled materials used in a contemporary design. It even has its own Facebook page.

Long Beach – Downtown Dog Park in Lincoln Park. Separate fenced areas for large and small dogs. The park is on the corner of Pacific and Broadway. It is open daily from dawn to dusk.Long Beach – Recreation Dog Park, 5201 E. 7th St. at Park Avenue in Recreation Park. It is near an 18-hole golf course and north of the Fly Casting Pond. The three-acre park is well-lit and open from 6 a.m.10 p.m. daily. (Note: It may be closed on Mondays before noon for maintenance.)

Long Beach – Uptown Dog Park, 4600 Long Beach Blvd., on the west side of Scherer Park.  This is Long Beach’s newest dog park.  It is open from dawn to dusk daily. Los Angeles – Hermon Dog Park, 5568 Via Marisol, Los Angeles, CA 90042 (between Monterey Road and the Arroyo Seco Parkway / 110 Freeway). The park has areas for large dogs and for small, elderly and disabled dogs.  It is open from dawn to dusk daily.The surface is decomposed granite. Dog Fancy magazine named this park #7 of its list of top 40 dog parks in the country in its June 2010 issue.

An apartment house overlooking the Whitnall Highway dog park features a mural of dogs. The large dog section has a delightful collection of handmade bird houses.

North Hollywood – Whitnall Off-Leash Dog Park, 5801 1/2 Whitnall Highway, North Hollywood, CA 91601. (818) 756-8190.

This three-acre off leash park is open from dawn to dusk daily with separate areas for large and small dogs.  The site was once intended for a highway and now provides easement for powerlines.

Be sure to take a look at the hand made bird house in the big dog section, and don’t miss the dog murals on the apartment building midway between the little dog and the big dog park.

Pacific Palisades Rustic Canyon Park, 601 Latimer Rd., Pacific Palisades, CA 90402

Pasadena – Vina Vieja Park – Alice Frost Kennedy Off-Leash Dog Park, 3026 E. Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91107.(626) 744-4321. A 2.5-acre grassy area with separate spaces for large and small dogs. it is open from 7 a.m. to dusk daily.

Pasadena – Hahamongna Watershed Park, located at the southeast corner of Oak Grove Drive and Foothill Boulevard near the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This 1,300-acre park includes a dog park and bridle and hiking trails. It is open from 6 a.m. to sundown.

A note about Santa Monica dog parks: All dogs must be licensed in Santa Monica to use the parks.  This is strictly enforced. If you are not a resident of Santa Monica, you can get a non-resident yearly permit for $16 by going directly to the Animal Shelter, 1640 Ninth St., Santa Monica, CA with a copy verifying your dog’s current license in your city of residence. The shelter’s phone number is (310) 458-8598.  It is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Their e-mail address is shelter@smgov.net.

Santa Monica – Airport Park, 3201 Airport Ave., Santa Monica, CA. Open weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Open weekends and holidays from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Closed for maintenance from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. This 0.83 off leash park has separate areas for small and large dogs.

Santa Monica – Joslyn Park, 633 Kensington Rd, Santa Monica, CA. Open weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Open weekends and holidays from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Closed for maintenance from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Thursdays. this 1.25-acre park has separate areas for small and large dogs.

Santa Monica – Memorial Park, 14401 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica. Open daily from 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Closed for maintenance from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. this is a 0.14-acre dog run at the northwest corner of the park.

Santa Monica – Pacific Street Park, Pacific Street at Main Street, Santa Monica, CA. Open weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Open weekends and holidays from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Closed for maintenance from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.This is a 0.42-acre off leash area.

Silverlake Dog Park, 1850 W. Silver Lake Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90028. (323) 644-3946. this 1.25-acre park is open from 6 a.m to 10 p.m. every day except Wednesdays.  On Wednesdays, it is open from 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Parking is on the street only.

Studio City – Laurel Canyon Park, 8260 Mulholland Dr. (818) 762-7246. This three-acre off-leash dog park is operated by the City of Los Angeles Recreation & Parks Dept. It is open from 6 a.m. to dusk; dogs must be on-leash from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There is parking for 35 cars.

Venice – Westminster Dog Park, 1234 Pacific Ave., Venice, CA 90291. (310) 396-1615. An 0.8-acre off-leash park, Westminster has a 50-foot by 25-foot small dog area. It is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Parking is limited.

West Los Angeles – Barrington Dog Park, 333 S. Barrington Ave., Los Angeles, 90049. (310) 476-4866. Open 5 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily except for Tuesdays when it opens at 10 a.m. Its website has a downloadable incident report and a place to subscribe to the park’s mailing list.

Santa Monica Mountains Hiking Trails

In general, dogs are only permitted on leash under the owner’s immediate control in all Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) and most National Park Service parkland in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. “Under the owner’s immediate control” means that the owner can prevent any uninvited contact between the dog and a person.

A dirt fire road in the Santa Monica Mountains allows for spectacular views across the valley to the Santa Susannas.

Dogs are permitted to be off leash on the roads and trails of the Westridge-Canyonback Wilderness Park, 17500 Mulholland Dr., Encino.  This 1,500-acre open space is bordered by upper Mandeville Canyon, Sullivan Canyon, Mission Canyon and San Vicente Mountain Park.

The Westridge fire road provides access for hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians along the north-south ridgeline.

The quiet is profound. The views are spectacular. Do be alert for rattlesnakes and coyotes. Best visited in cooler temperatures.  Be sure to bring water for yourself and your dog.

The owner must be able to recall the dog on command and carry a leash to reinstate higher control if necessary.

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