Adventures with Debra and Robert

Nomad Tips, Tools, and DIY

How to Care of You and Your Furbabies in the Desert

Photo of Nonni & Bentley

This is an older, short video I did on my personal channel where I share my arsenal for keeping your furbabies healthy and happy in the desert.

As you may know, I lost both my senior dogs last year. Rest in peace my darling furbabies. I love you and miss you very much.

Bentley’s Tribute, 10.02.02-03.30.17
Nonni’s Tribute, 09.04.05-10.21.17
and Miss Hope (their kitcat sister), 05.01.01-08.18.16

There are a lot of nomads traveling with dogs like I used to. And some are coming to the desert this winter for the first time. Please be aware that the rocks and desert terrain can be very hard on doggy paws, and the plant life can wreak havoc with their fur. Both can cause sores and infections. By the end of every WRTR/RTR, I have seen dogs crippled up so badly that they can no longer walk and have to be carried.

This video can help with all of that. Please note too that since making this video I switched from vegetable oil to coconut oil, and there are a few things not addressed in this video that I wish I had included…

One is doggy boots (my dogs would not wear them), but if yours will, they are great.

I talk about coyotes in this video, but I did not address that a lot of people will tell you coyotes do not come in to camp or that they do not come in to camp when people are present. I’ve even heard people say they won’t come around during the day. Trust me, I have seen them in camp at all hours of the day and with or without people around. Granted, they might not visit in large crowds (like the WRTR or RTR), but I have been camped with a dozen other people, and they have come right on in.

The third thing not addressed in the original video is Valley Fever. Cody, Bob’s dog of CRVL, and others I know have contracted it while in the desert so you may not want to let your dogs dig. My friend Suanne Carlson shared this in a FB comment:

“Valley Fever [is from] spores that typically live between two and 12″ below the surface. … Valley fever is a fungal infection unique to this region of the world (See the article – Preventing Valley Fever.)  Note: Although I know dogs (who dig) to get Valley Fever, I’ve never met any person who has contracted it. So, I consider the risk low … unless, of course, one goes around digging holes.”

Lastly, please clean up after your dogs. The desert does not break decaying matter into enzymes and soil like other regions and environments do. It can take decades for any decaying matter to break down to a usable material that can be recycled organically. The sun, high winds, lack of consistent moisture, worms, bugs and other microbial matter, all play a role in that. It is just a completely different environment than you may be used to. As a biologist, I urge you to please remember …

Whatever you leave behind will most likely be there for decades. The desert is not like other environments where substances normally decay into organic matter that can readily be re-used naturally.

That leads me to one last personal request. Please do not harvest or harm vegetation while in the desert. This includes driving across washes, etc. The desert environment is harsh but it is also extremely fragile. Because everything takes so long to grow AND decay, the desert literally needs every small molecule IT (not humans) produces – even dead vegetation. You remove any of it, and that area may never get the life-sustaining decomposed, organic matter it needs to survive.

Leave no trace.

Author’s tip: Do yourself a favor. If at all possible, get as far away from noise and light pollution that you can – for at least a night or two. Leave your outside lights off and experience the sounds of nature and the desert, and the billions and billions of stars overhead, including the Milky Way. Our galaxy will never look the same to you again. I promise.

If you found this helpful and want to watch other videos from my “Traveling with Dogs” playlist, please click (here).

Happy and safe trails (and doggy tails) everyone! See you down the road!

Be sure to join us at our 2018 Two Meander Rice Ranch Meetup in Quartzsite, Arizona, December 12-16, 2018.


  1. Jeri DeLupa

    Thank you again Debra for this video and your tips! Also wanted to wish sweet Nonni a happy birthday in doggy heaven! ❤️?

    • Comment by post author

      I hope it helped Jeri! And thank you for the shout out to my Nonnikins. <3

      • Jeri DeLupa

        Oh it definitely helped, as I travel with five of my fur babies/ puppies. I loved your written update about using coconut oil. I carry two jars of coconut oil that I found at dollar tree for yes, one dollar each. Quite the bargain and works wonders!

  2. Rayda Santrach

    Really good to know fur-baby information. Also, I’ve heard dogs don’t have to only dig to get valley fever because it is also borne in the blowing dust.

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