Friday, May 23, 2008


OK, let's hear a rousing cheer for Memorial Day! Memorial Day, in addition to marking the "unofficial" beginning of summer here in the United States portion of the northern hemisphere, was originally known as "Decoration Day." How many of you remembered that? The holiday was set aside as a day on which to honor the Union soldiers who died in the American Civil War. Several locations claim the original ceremonial observance, but it probably occurred in May 1866, and needless to say, was only observed in the Northern states. Decoration Day didn't really gain national acceptance until the end of World War I, when our country decided to honor all who died in any war or military action. The newer name of Memorial Day slowly crept into use at that time, but didn't become the official name until a federal law in 1967 proclaimed it so. Amidst all the anticipation of the onset of summer and thoughts of a pleasurable 3-day weekend, let's all remember to take a moment to reflect on the reason for this holiday...a lot of Americans have died over the years in service to their country and we owe them our gratitude. (Thanks to for the American flag--


The American Veterinary Medical Association has reported this news update about the recent recalls of many pet food products (

Menu Foods announces settlement to recalls of pet food

Menu Foods and other companies that participated in last year's massive recalls of pet foods reached a tentative settlement, as of early April, with plaintiffs in dozens of class-action lawsuits.
The recalls resulted from the contamination of ingredients from China that went into pet food in the United States. Two of the contaminants, melamine and cyanuric acid, apparently combined after ingestion to form crystals that could impair renal function. Numerous cats and dogs likely fell ill or died as a result.
The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey is conducting proceedings for the multidistrict litigation, which combines lawsuits from across the country. In April, the parties advised the court that mediation had produced an agreement in principle, addressing all major terms of settlement.
As of press time, the parties had not filed the definitive terms of the settlement. The defendants will fund the settlement amount. Menu Foods has estimated its recall costs at $55 million Canadian (about $54 million U.S. as of April 1).
The defendants include other manufacturers as well as retailers of pet food. Among the larger food companies are Del Monte, Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, Nestle, and Mars. Some of the retailers are Wal-Mart, Target, Albertsons, Kroger, Safeway, Petco, and Petsmart.
The litigation also affects ingredient suppliers. The list of defendants includes ChemNutra and Wilbur-Ellis, which imported the ingredients containing contaminants, and the Chinese companies that exported the ingredients—Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development, Suzhou Textile Import and Export, and Binzhou Futian Biology Technology.
Court documents for the multidistrict litigation are available at by searching for "Pet Food Products Liability Litigation."

The subject of pet foods will be addressed by Helpful Buckeye in an upcoming issue and will include discussion of contamination problems. If you have a question about pet foods or a point you would like to discuss concerning what you feed your pet, send an e-mail or post your question and we will incorporate it into the segment.


Hopefully, the 2 milk bones you took at the end of last week's visit to the "Cyber Office" have aroused a further interest in dogs and cats as we head into the summer season. As noted above, even though the summer solstice doesn't occur until later in June, Memorial Day weekend is considered the "unofficial" beginning of summer. Children are soon finished with the school year, outdoor activities are in full swing, Helpful Buckeye is enjoying cycling outdoors, and hot weather is making its appearance.

Unfortunately, hot weather can present some problems for your pets that you need to be aware of...ahead of time. Most mammals can keep their body temperature pretty well under control until confronted with extremes in their surrounding temperature. The main way of eliminating excess heat is by of thousands of sweat glands distributed all over the body. When these sweat glands are called upon to perform, they produce small quantities of water on the skin, which then evaporate. During this evaporation process, small quantities of heat from the body are carried away by the disappearing water, resulting in a stable body temperature. Rates of evaporation will be directly proportional to the surrounding low humidity, evaporation occurs quicker; in high humidity, evaporation takes longer (which then slows down the natural cooling process). However, dogs have been short-changed in the sweat gland department...their sweat glands are only found on their nose and in the pads of their feet. Dogs can compensate, up to a point, for this shortage in sweat glands by panting. Panting involves the repetitive passage of air back-and-forth over the tongue, which also helps to eliminate some excess body heat. An important consideration right here would the short-faced dogs (known as brachycephalics), such as Pugs, Bulldogs, Boxers, etc...the much shortened muzzle provides a lot less area for respiratory evaporation to occur.

Now that we are getting into our summer activities, we frequently include our dogs in our plans...picnics in the park (throw on an extra hot dog for the Helpful Buckeye!), hiking, traveling, and just plain taking it easy in the back yard. As the temperature and the humidity increase, your dog will be come less efficient at cooling itself when engaged in activity or spending prolonged periods in the sun. It doesn't take very long in the sun or very much activity to start elevating a dog's body temperature, which is normally about 101 degrees F. As the body temperature starts to climb, your dog will show:

  • labored breathing,
  • probably more vigorous panting,
  • extreme drying of the tongue,
  • walking erratically,
  • and a desire to lay flat-down.

When the body temperature reaches 105 degrees, your dog will most likely collapse and might lose consciousness. Survival at this point becomes questionable and, by the time the body temperature gets to 108-110 degrees, massive organ failure takes place and survival is even less likely. Your dog is now experiencing heat exhaustion...what do you do?

OK, it's time to take one step back from this scenario and talk briefly about one of the variables in the equation of keeping your pet healthy. As the keeper and care-giver of your pet, you are the one who sees your pet in all of its moods, ups and downs, and behavior patterns. In other words, you know how your pet appears when it is "acting normal," right? Veterinarians and physicians spent their early years in school learning what "normal" looked really helps when trying to identify an "abnormal" situation. Remember this piece of will hear it again and again from Helpful Buckeye...Become familiar with your pet!

You now are confronted with what appears to be a dog that is vigorously panting, its tongue is very dry, breathing patterns are labored, and it doesn't want to move. You know this isn't normal, right? Considering what has been going on preceding this, your conclusion can now be...probable heat exhaustion. Your first step is to immediately cease whatever activity has been going on; move the dog to a cooler, shady location, encourage the dog to drink some water. Cooling your dog's whole body with cool water (pour it on, from a hose, or submersion into a pool) will increase the removal of body heat as the water evaporates. Also, putting your dog in front of a blowing fan will aid in this evaporation. This may be all it takes to return your dog to "normal." In more severe cases, you might need to apply ice packs to the head and neck region to achieve a response. Since all of this occurs in a very short period of time (usually just minutes), you need to try all of these suggestions right NOT waste this valuable time by trying to get your dog to your veterinarian. Once these measures have quieted the dog, it is breathing more regularly, and acting more normally, then a visit to your veterinarian is advisable. Then, it can be determined if any organ damage has occurred and treatment can be initiated.

By now, I'm sure your big question is this: "How can I prevent this from happening?" Well, the good news is that the prevention is probably a lot easier than the treatment!
  • Avoid any running or excessive exercise on hot, humid days.
  • When your dog is outside, be sure it has plenty of water and easily accessible shade.
  • If your dog is not short-haired, keep the hair well-brushed to avoid matting.
  • Especially be careful with the short-faced breeds.
  • Don't EVER leave your pet in a closed vehicle...extreme temperatures are reached in minutes, even with the windows cracked open.

I recently learned of a product that can help keep your pet cool in hot weather. It's called the Cool 'N Dry Pet Shammy, and it is depicted in use below. It works like this: When applied wet to your pet's body, it helps built-up body heat escape by the evaporation we mentioned above. It also can be used to dry your pet after a bath. To learn more about this very interesting product, go to:

I know that all veterinarians would join me in saying that the only hot dogs we want to see this summer are the ones on the BBQ grill! Do your part to prevent heat exhaustion!


Our topic for this week is, "Being a Good Pet Neighbor." What does that mean, especially when some of us have difficulty even being good neighbors with other people...not to mention throwing pets into the equation? In light of last week being the observance of National Dog Bite Prevention Week, Helpful Buckeye felt the natural progression would be to address the need for pet owners to have better control of their pets and the activities of their pets. While preparing this portion of this week's blog, we received an interesting e-mail from a reader:

Hello Helpful Buckeye,

How about a bit more on what to do if the dog is NOT up to date on its shots or if the owner doesn't know or care? When my daughter was about fourteen, she was bitten by a neighbor's dog. The bite tore her jeans and broke the skin. No one was home, so we called the police. The owner couldn't produce proof of shots and (I suppose) didn't want to pay for the cost of having his dog quarantined, so he shot the dog himself. This was drastic, I know, but I have encountered many wandering dogs as a walker and found many an owner not at all cooperative about getting their dogs back onto their properties. Something about "the freedom of being out in the country"?

Nancy in PA

This question actually addresses a couple of problems and we'll try to deal with the part on being a good pet neighbor right now. The part about vaccination history, quarantining a pet which bites someone, and responsibility for pet bites will be part of an upcoming blog topic on vaccines. Anyway, thank you, Nancy in PA, for the really good question! If I had a prize to give out, it would go to you for being the very first e-mailer to "Questions On Dogs and Cats!" Maybe we can get some sponsors to contribute a few prizes?

Being a good pet neighbor requires a blend of common sense, a respect for the ordinances and laws of your state and locality, and an understanding of the Golden Rule. Most localities now have some sort of "leash" law, which requires a dog to either be on a leash or "under the direct control" of its master. However, the "under direct control" part has turned out to be a joke since only professionally-trained dogs are likely to respond that well. The purpose of leash laws is not only to protect unsuspecting neighbors, joggers, walkers, and cyclists from roaming dogs, but also to protect the dogs from the dangers they face when running loose. Over the years of my practice, I witnessed the tragic results of dogs running loose on too many occasions:

  • being hit by a car or truck,
  • biting people,
  • getting into fights with other dogs,
  • being exposed to poisons (either accidental or intentional),
  • being stolen or getting lost and never seen again, and
  • being shot.

Ideally, the leash laws would take care of eliminating these problems, but there is no legislation that requires common sense or an understanding of the Golden Rule. So, if the laws are not enforced, dogs will still run loose, get into trouble, and veterinarians will stay busy trying to repair what has happened to these dogs.

Furthermore, nobody likes having a neighborhood dog run down the street and indiscriminately use any yard as its Golden Rule there, huh? Always keep your dogs indoors, outdoors in a fenced yard or enclosed dog run, and on a leash...Good Pet Neighbor Rule #1!

Barking dogs also present a neighborly challenge. Except for the Basenji, most dogs will bark as a form of communication. The message will not always be the same, but the barking can happen at any time. Up to a point, some barking has to be acceptable, even in a neighborhood. Where that line is crossed is always open to debate. When a neighbor is unhappy with the barking, problems begin. There may be complaints of "disturbing the peace" or confrontations between neighbors. Dog owners should never allow their dogs to bark incessantly or to encourage them to do so. Sometimes, professional behavioral training may be necessary to help curb the barking tendency. Whatever the case, the onus of preserving the peace between neighbors almost always rests on the shoulders of the dog owner...Good Pet Neighbor Rule #2!

Just when you thought we have left out cats from this discussion...we haven't! Imagine having several beautiful flower beds and finding them torn up and damaged by a wandering neighborhood cat, looking for a fresh "litter pan." Not only is the resulting damage disgusting, but also, the strong smell of cat urine can be repulsive. If your cat needs to get outdoors for some "quality" time, stay with it and do whatever you can to keep it in your yard. Not only will your neighbors appreciate it, but your cat will also live longer...Good Pet Neighbor Rule #3!

Helpful Buckeye will catch up on the rest of Nancy's question in a few weeks. We want to hear from more of our readers...remember to voice those questions you have wondered about but were afraid to ask (with apologies to Woody Allen). Either send them via e-mail to the e-mail address listed at the top of the blog or go through the simple process of posting them directly to the blog.


"Latchkey Dog"--n. A dog that is allowed to roam the streets on its own, particularly during the day when its owners are at work; a dog left alone in the house all day while its owners are at work. As described in Word Spy at:


This past week, two birthdays with importance to the worlds of science and medicine were observed. Carolus Linnaeus, born in Sweden on 5/23/1707, formulated the binomial naming system used even today in both zoology and botany. This system helps simplify the organization and identification of all living things. Most of you are familiar with one of these binomial names, Homo sapiens. The other birthday observation was for the American Red Cross, which was founded on 5/21/1881, by Clara Barton, who had been a nurse on the battlefields of the American Civil War.

For those of you who have been fans of Dancing With The Stars, a popular ABC show, you might be interested in another reality show closer to your "pet" side. Animal Planet Network is running the show, Groomer Has It, on Saturday nights and it deals with which dog groomer will "make the final cut." Read more about it:


Holy Cow! Harry Caray used to say! The LA Dodgers actually gained 2 games on the Diamondbacks this week...we're only 3.5 games behind now. We looked pretty good in sweeping the Reds, but losing 2 out of 3 (apologies to Meat Loaf) to the Cardinals was bad! We go on the road Monday, opening in Harry Caray's old stomping grounds, Wrigley Field, home of the Cubbies. Anybody for a verse of "Take Me Out To The Ballgame?"

The San Antonio Spurs pulled an upset this week and beat the Hornets in New Orleans, winning that series 4-3. In the Western Conference Finals, they are now down to the Lakers, 2-1, although the 4th game will be at home. If we can win that one, I expect the Spurs veterans to do much better when they go back to LA for game, this 4th game will probably determine who will win the series.


I know that some of you think I have been avoiding talking about cats. Even though it might seem that way, It's not true. Considering the generalities of the initial issue of the blog and the subject matter in the early topics, it has just worked out that dogs have been more highly represented. Fear not, Helpful Buckeye will have some cat stuff very soon...and some cat pictures!

Unrelated to the subject of this blog, but very closely related to the overall health of Helpful Buckeye, I would like to make an appeal to all of you who drive cars or trucks to be a little bit more observant of the presence of bike riders on the highways and streets. This past week, I was run off the road, while riding my bike in a 10-ft. wide bike lane, by a guy who was talking on a cell phone while driving a car. Most states and localities have traffic laws that provide for the protection of bike riders and all car/truck drivers should make the effort to be aware of those laws...and then, obey them! Helpful Buckeye thanks you for sharing the road with courtesy!

Lastly, if you enjoy a funny cartoon from time-to-time, you might want to sign up for this free e-mail service. The New Yorker magazine offers a daily pet cartoon which it will send you by e-mail for free...all you have to do is sign up for it:

Woof, Woof...Meow, which is pet talk for...See you next week!

~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~

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