You love being outdoors with your pets. In fact, that is one of the reasons you moved to Bend. But if you moved here from a city there are probably some hazards you haven’t thought of. So let’s talk about how to keep your pets purrfectly safe in Central Oregon.



If you live in Central Oregon you’re bound to come across cheatgrass. Cheatgrass is a generic name for several types of brome grasses that all share similar stiff, spiny seed heads called awns. These awns all have developed backward barbs that allow them to become easily attached to just about anything while simultaneously preventing them from coming out easily. They are frustratingly good at attaching themselves to our pets but not very good at letting go.

So what can you do?

  • Try to avoid areas with cheatgrass.
  • Check your dog after walks, epsecially their ears and paws which are the two most common places for cheatgrass to hide.
  • Look for signs of infection including lethargy, swelling or loss of appetite. Call your veterinarian immediately if you see any of these signs.


Chasing Livestock and Wildlife

You probably didn’t worry about cows, horses and deer when you lived in a big city, but you’re not in the city anymore, Toto.

According to Animal Wellness Magazine, “It’s important to understand that your dog’s predatory behavior is normal. We sometimes think our dogs are being bad, but the chase/ prey drive is instinctual. The problem is that chasing another animal can really get your dog into trouble. When he’s ‘on chase’ he has a laser focus. He isn’t just ignoring your recall, he truly doesn’t hear you. All his attention is on the object. When he’s in that state, he can have a bad episode with a cornered animal or might even run across the road and get hit by a car.”

So what can you do?

  • Avoid hiking with your dog at dawn or dusk, when many wild animals are most active.
  • Be extra cautious in the shoulder seasons of spring and fall, when wild animals are foraging for food and raising young.
  • Hike in a group. The more people and dogs around, the more likely wild animals will keep their distance.
  • Ideally, keep your dog on a lead; if you want to let him run free, however, keep him in sight at all times.
  • If you do encounter a wild animal, stay focused and calm. Most of the time the animal is startled or simply curious. Avoid movements that might be perceived as a threat.



We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there are predators like mountain lions and coyotes in Bend. Fortunately, you’ll rarely see them in residential neighborhoods, but it can happen.

So what can you do?

  • Never feed deer, or their other natural prey, near your home as that attracts predators.
  • Be aware anytime your dog is walking off leash. It’s helpful not to talk on your cell phone, so if you see a predator you can call your dog.
  • Always bring a leash and collar on walks even if you don’t plan on using it.
  • Don’t let dogs and cats out during dawn and dusk, especially small pets.



Fleas are rare in Central Oregon, but we do have ticks. The first step against ticks is prevention.

You can try:

  • Holistic Repellant Spray
  • Products such as Frontline
  • Tick repellent clothing
  • Adding garlic or apple cider vinegar to your dog’s diet

Once you’re home check for those pesky invaders:

Check shorthaired dogs for ticks, especially in hard to reach areas, such as behind the ears, armpits, between the toes, back of the tail and top of the head. If you have a long haired dog you should check everywhere.

So what can you do if you find a tick on your dog?

  • First of all, remember to stay calm. Everything is easier when you’re relaxed.
  • Spread your dog’s fur to expose the tick.
  • Grab the tick by the body using a tick removal gadget or tweezers.
  • Gently rotate until the entire tick comes out. If you quickly pull the tick out the head could break off in the dog.
  • Dispose of the tick, trapping it in scotch tape, flushing it or rubbing alcohol.
  • Don’t smother the tick while it’s still attached.
  • Disinfect the area.

Tics don’t have to be scary. Just try to prevent and prepare for them.



Does your dog love water? If so, you’re lucky. Swimming and playing in the water is great exercise, helps keep your dog’s temperature down and is a great bonding activity for both of you.There are a few dangers lurking near those beautiful Central Oregon lakes, rivers and streams, but just like with anything else, a little knowledge and preparedness goes a long way.

  1. Exertion

Never let your dog swim alone. Dogs can’t stop to rest while they’re swimming. Make sure to give your dog plenty of breaks. This is especially important if you’re playing fetch in water.

  1. Fast Moving Water

It’s vital to watch your dog when you’re in or near water. Even if you’re at a river or stream where you normally play, the current could be stronger than usual. Anytime you’re near fast moving water use a life vest and don’t go to close to unfamiliar bodies of water. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

  1. Water Borne Illness

Lakes, rivers, canals and other bodies of water can harbor bacteria, parasites, algae blooms and other skin irritants that can make your dog sick or itchy. Check bacteria and algae before heading to the lake.  If you won’t swim in or drink the water neither should your dog.

So what can you do?

  • Never force your dog into water.
  • Get a life vest.
  • Rinse them off after swimming or playing in water.
  • Dry their ears.
  • Get in touch with your vet immediately if any signs of infection occur after your dog drinks lake or river water

Water can be a blast just make sure you’re safe before you take the plunge with your pooch.


Hot or Rough Terrain

There are so many beautiful places to hike in Bend, Redmond, Sunriver and the surrounding areas. But don’t forget to pay attention to those paws. Rough and hot terrain can turn a fun day of hiking into a nightmare.

So what can you do?

  • If you want to know if the ground is too hot, touch the ground to the back of your hand. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog.
  • Walk your dog during cool times of day like early morning or late evening. Look for surfaces such as grass or dirt.
  • Use boots to deflect hot surface temperatures away from your dog’s paw.
  • Avoid areas with sharp rocks or put your dog in boots.
  • Be prepared. Can you imagine being out in the middle of nowhere when your dog can’t walk? Carry a first aid kit with dog shoes and other emergency supplies.



There are venomous snakes in Central Oregon. Fortunately, rattlesnakes ”are not an aggressive species around here,” according to High Desert Museum Wildlife Specialist Kristi Wheeler.

You’ll find them in brushy areas, near water sources and on open trails in the sun when the weather is above 60 degrees.

So what can you do?

  • If you see a rattlesnake simply give it space.
  • If your pet it bitten stay calm and take them to the emergency vet ASAP.
  • There is a vaccine that’s available, but a dog that’s bitten will still need treatment.



Mushrooms grow in forested areas and they can be poisonous to dogs. Unfortunately dogs don’t know which mushrooms are good and which are bad.

So what can you do?

  • If you see any pop up in your yard remove them at once.
  • Try to avoid areas with wild mushrooms.
  • If your dog has a seizure after eating mushrooms, call a veterinarian immediately.


Getting stuck in snow

Recently a Central Oregon man and his dog were stuck in their car in the snow for a few days. The man survived on Taco Bell hot sauce, but your dog can’t.

So what can you do?

  • Avoid driving in deep snow.
  • Carry emergency supplies in your car for not only you, but your dog.
  • At the very least include blankets, human food and dog food, medications that your dog uses and something to boil and melt water for drinking.


Extreme Temperatures

Summer in Bend is a blast. What better time to hike, swim and play with your pup? But there are dangers such as heat stroke and dehydration.

So what can you do?

  • Always carry extra water.
  • Never leave your dog in a parked car. Dogs can’t sit in a hot car, not even for a minute. The temperature in a car rises quickly, even with the windows down, which can result in heatstroke and even death. It’s always best to leave your dog at home on warm days.
  • Help your dog cool down faster when he’s panting. Dogs can’t sweat like we humans do, so they pant to circulate air through their body, which cools them down. Your dog will cool down faster if he’s taking in cool air. You can help that process by moving him to a shady area or hopping into an air conditioned car.
  • Know the signs of heat stroke:
    • Excessive panting
    • Bright red tongue and gums
    • Change in demeanor
    • Thick saliva
    • Pale gums
    • Increased heart rate


Knowledge and Preparation

Remember to stay aware of your surroundings and be prepared for anything. That way your pets will stay safe and happy as you enjoy Bend, Oregon together.