The unique challenges of pet ownership in tucson

Having pets in Tucson can be a great life for your pet, but living in the Sonoran desert presents many unique challenges for pet owners and their pets. Our weather, the desert wildlife, and even the ground and air are issues that pet owners moving to Arizona need to be aware of. We have provided this quick overview page to allow you to familiarize yourself with some of the issues our Oro Valley Veterinary office sees regularly, and that you might face with pet ownership here.


As you may have noticed, it gets hot in Arizona. Pets need lots of water and shade or air conditioning when it’s hot.  In the summer, walking your dogs in the early morning or evening when the temperatures are not as severe is advisable. Concrete and blacktop get extremely hot and can scorch their paws, check the surface temperature before walking your pet on a hot day. Also bring water on walks.  Pets can experience heat exhaustion from the heat.

Never keep a pet or a child in a closed car. It is illegal and brain damage and/or death can occur quickly as temperatures inside a car can reach 200 degrees.

If you suspect your pet is experiencing heat exhaustion, please contact us immediately.

Valley Fever

One of the most common issues Tucson Veterinarians treat pets for is Valley Fever. Valley Fever, or Coccidioidomycosis is a fungal desease caused by microscopic spores found in the ground in the Sonoran Desert. Construction and pets digging disturb these spores, which can cause them to go airborne and inhaled into your pets lungs. Be aware of early warning signs such as:

· coughing
· fever
· weight loss
· lack of appetite
· lack of energy

Valley Fever can be a very painful disease and can be fatal. It is treatable, but the medicine can be expensive and the treatment very lengthy. If you suspect your animal may have contracted Valley Fever, please contact us to schedule an appointment with our Tucson Vet.

Desert Predators

Part of the charm of Tucson is the amazing wildlife that live here. While living near this wildlife is a magical thing, pets need protection from the Desert Predators such as Coyotes, Mountain Lions, Bobcats, Owls and Hawks. These wild animals may view your pet as prey if left unattended or allowed to run free. Keeping your pet on a leash, is not only a good idea, but it is also the law. If you have a fence or a wall for your dog or cat, it will likely keep many of these predators out, but small pets are vulnerable to attacks from Owls and Hawks. Cats are much safer as indoor pets, especially those that have been declawed. Neutering your pets also lowers their desire to run away, which will make them less vulnerable.


A rattlesnake bite to you or your pet can be fatal. The sooner you seek medical attention for the bite, the better the prognosis. Contact us immediately if your pet has been bitten by a rattlesnake. To decrease the likelihood of a rattlesnake attack:
· If you see a rattlesnake, do not allow your pet near it
· Keep your garage door shut (they love garages)
· Secure openings in your wall or enclosed areas in your yard
· Contact us about Rattlesnake avoidance classes

Gila Monsters

These large red (or pink) and black lizards have a painful and poisonous bite. Although the bite is non fatal it is very painful and they sometimes will attach themselves to whatever they are biting. If your pet has been bitten by a Gila Monster please contact our Tucson Animal Hospital for treatment.

Desert Toads

Desert toads (usually only seen around the monsoon season) are extremely poisonous. These large toads, look harmless, but they excrete poison through glands in their skin around their neck. The white milky poison can cause severe irritation to the eyes and nose, foaming at the mouth, paralysis, seizures, and even death. If you see your dog or cat mouthing or playing with these toads, or showing signs of staggering, or dilated eye pupils, carefully flush their mouth thoroughly with water and contact us to seek immediate veterinary care. The poison can cause heart irregularities and can result in death less than 30 minutes after exposure.

Spiders and Scorpions

Spider bites and scorpion stings are very painful and can cause extreme health issues for your pets. If your pet is suddenly vomiting, defecating uncontrollably, or acting strange, seek medical attention.

Fleas and Ticks

Although not as common as in many parts of the country, we do have fleas and ticks in Arizona. Fleas infestation can be especially challenging, because even after treatment, many times the fleas have layed eggs in your home, which your dog or cat will become infested again. Ticks are easy to remove, but hard to kill. Make sure to use tweasers, make sure you remove the head of the tick, and drop into rubbing alcohol to kill them. If your pet has been infested with ticks, we recommend getting your pet tested for a very serious, but treatable disease known as tick fever. We carry a full line of Heartworm, Flea, and Tick Preventative medicines. Please contact us for more information


Again, they are not as common as other areas of the country, but they can be present wherever mosquitos exist. Preventative medicine is usually the best case scenario, as a positive heartworm test can be very expensive to treat. We carry a full line of Heartworm, Flea, and Tick Preventative medicines. Please contact us for more information.

Pets Without Microchips

Countless Tucson animals have been successfully returned to their homes, thanks to microchipping. A tiny microchip is inserted under your pet’s skin, which has a number associated with the chip. . If your pet is lost and brought to a local animal shelter, another veterinarian or the Humane Society, the pet will be scanned for a microchip, which is fed into a national database to match the pet and its owner. We offer microchipping for your dogs and cats. All pets regardless of if they are only inside pets should have one. You never know when you are going to accidentally leave the gate open. Don’t risk losing your pet and not being able to be reunited, contact us now to schedule an appointment for this procedure.