Sunday, June 8, 2008


We had so many positive comments about Tippy in last week's issue that it's only fair to run her picture larger format! Thanks again to Marilyn and Terry in CA!

I'm going to let one of my favorite singers introduce the opening topic this week. Tom Jones celebrated his 68th birthday this week on June 7th and I'm sure he did it with flair! Helpful Buckeye and Desperado saw him in concert back in the early 70s at the Ohio State Fair and again in 2002 in Las Vegas and...he hasn't lost much over the years. Watch Tom Jones as he asks the eternal question... from the 1965 movie of the same name.


1) From the American Veterinary Medical Association, this press release of June 1st:

Is tap water safe for your dog?

With all the concerns about what's in our food and our water, many of us are paying even more attention these days to what we are giving our pets.
You can't blame pet owners for taking a few precautions. After all, pet food recalls raised concerns about chemical contamination; even treats have been scrutinized.
So, should we resort to bottled water for our canine companions? According to a study in the June 1, 2008, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, that won't be necessary. Tap water, the study suggests, doesn't cause bladder cancer in dogs.
Long-term consumption of disinfected tap water – the stuff that flows from our faucets after being treated with chemicals such as chlorine – has been associated with bladder cancer in people. But the study, which was led by Dr. Lorraine Backer of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that there is no such association in dogs.
There may be more than one reason why dogs that drink tap water don't have an increased risk of bladder cancer, even though people apparently do. First, a dog's exposure to drinking water disinfection by-products – the chemicals that are produced when things like chlorine interact with natural organic matter – is different from that of its human owners. Dogs don't gulp down a big glass of water like people often do. Their water usually sits in a bowl for hours, which allows the chemical concentrations to decrease over time.
Second, dogs don't take long showers or baths like people do. And showering and bathing are important routes of human exposure to chemical by-products of tap water.
The study focused on 200 dogs living in residential settings, 100 of which had bladder cancer and 100 of which did not. While the results showed that dogs with bladder cancer were exposed to higher total chemical by-product concentrations than the control dogs, the difference wasn't significant enough to draw a connection between tap water consumption and bladder cancer, the study says.

This should be taken as good news for those of you who are concerned about these things.

2) Also, from the AVMA comes this press release of June 5th:

ProHeart 6 returns to U.S. market on limited basis

The Food and Drug Administration announced June 5 the limited reintroduction of ProHeart 6 to the U.S. veterinary market. The injectable canine heartworm medication had been voluntarily recalled in 2004 after the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine raised serious questions about the drug's safety.
The agency said it is allowing the drug's limited return to the veterinary market as part of a risk minimization and restricted distribution program designed to manage the re-introduction of ProHeart 6 to provide for safe, appropriate use of the product while minimizing risk to dogs.
"This is the first veterinary drug to be marketed under a risk minimization and restricted distribution program. Numerous drugs for use in people have been successfully marketed under similar programs," said Dr. Bernadette Dunham, director of the FDA-CVM. "While we concur with the limited return of ProHeart 6 to the U.S. market, we strongly encourage veterinarians and pet owners to report any possible adverse reactions."
The risk minimization and restricted distribution program is intended to educate veterinarians and pet owners regarding the possible risks associated with the use of ProHeart 6. The return of ProHeart 6 to the market is based on results of additional toxicologic and pharmacologic studies by Fort Dodge coupled with the low adverse reaction frequency in international markets, according to the FDA.
The ProHeart 6 label and Client Information Sheet have been revised to include updated safety information. The new label includes warnings not to administer the drug within one month of vaccinations and to use the product with caution in dogs with pre-existing allergic diseases including food allergies, allergic hypersensitivity, and flea-bite allergy dermatitis. The label also warns against administering the drug to dogs that are sick, debilitated, underweight, or have a history of weight loss. Dog owners who suspect their dog is experiencing an adverse reaction to ProHeart 6 should immediately contact their veterinarian to initiate appropriate veterinary care.

Veterinarians and their clients really liked this product because of its convenience and ease of administration.

ANY COMMENTS, please send an e-mail to:


Last week, we briefly introduced arthropod-borne diseases. Mosquitoes are the culprit for this week's disease discussion...Heartworm Disease. Heartworm Disease has been recognized for over 100 years in dogs and almost 90 years in cats. The parasite is carried by many species of mosquitoes and has been found in all 50 of our states. Of course, areas near any body of water will usually show a greater likelihood of this infection. The important thing to remember right here is that it is easy to find enough standing water for mosquitoes to breed and, with pets traveling so much with their owners, they will be exposed to a mosquito bite at some point in their routine. Only one mosquito bite is necessary to transmit this potentially fatal infection.

Not all dogs and cats will show the same signs of infection, but the typical signs are:

  • A mild-to-severe persistent cough...difficulty breathing
  • A reluctance to move around or exercise...lethargy
  • Fatigue after only moderate exercise
  • Reduced appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Vomiting and/or gagging (Cats)

It's easy to see that these signs could also be indicative of other diseases, so regular visits to your veterinarian become even more valuable as a diagnostic tool. There are several ways for your veterinarian to diagnose a heartworm infection and these can usually be done during a simple office visit. If your pet is shown to be positive for heartworm infection, your veterinarian will probably suggest a few other simple tests to evaluate your pet's general health before moving on to the treatment for heartworms. Treatment of heartworm infection in dogs is usually successful unless the disease has had a chance to reach advanced stages, which would bring the possibility of complications or death. There is no accepted treatment at this time for heartworm disease in cats.

Prevention of this dreaded disease is much safer for your pet and more economical as well. There are a variety of options for you to choose from (for both dogs and cats), depending on which is easier for you to give to your pet. Dogs, in particular, need to be tested negative for heartworms before they are put on any form of preventive because complications could arise if preventive is given to a dog with heartworm infection. See your veterinarian for the exam and test.

If you desire more information on heartworm disease, the American Heartworm Society has three very helpful web sites for your benefit:

ANY COMMENTS, please send an e-mail to:


With all the weird natural disasters happening in almost every part of our country (wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, blizzards, and floods,), the devastation of losing one's home and possessions is mind-boggling. To make matters only worse, imagine going through any of these disasters and realizing that your cat or dog is missing. There's not much you can do at that point, other than to check out nearby animal shelters and advertise, hoping that someone will be able to help you find your beloved pet.

However, if you are willing to spend a little time preparing for this possibility, you might be able to give yourself a chance to find your lost pet, even in the aftermath of one of these disasters. Put together a plan for helping to identify your pet if the need arises. Include:

  • Having your dogs and cats microchipped or tattooed,

  • Having some type of ID on a properly-fitting collar, including rabies and license tags,

  • Having a water-proof pouch attached to the collar containing your name, address, and cell phone your veterinarian's name, location, and phone number,

  • Taking some recent pictures of your pets for distribution,

  • Making copies of registration information, adoption papers, proof of purchase, and microchip information.

In the event of a required evacuation, including taking your pets with you, you should prepare a small animal evacuation kit and have it ready to go. Include these items:

2-week supply of food (dry & canned)

2-week supply of water in plastic gallon jugs with secure lids

Batteries (flashlight, radio)

Cage/carrier (one for each animal, labeled with your contact information)

Can opener (manual)

Cat/wildlife gloves

Copies of veterinary records and proof of ownership

Emergency contact list

Familiar items to make pets feel comfortable (favorite toys, treats, blankets)

First aid kit


Diet: record the diet for each individual animal, including what not to feed in case of allergies.

Medications: list each animal separately, including dose and frequency for each medication.

Provide veterinary and pharmacy contact information for refills.

Leash and collar or harness (for each animal)

Litter, litter pan, litter scoop

Maps of local area and alternate evacuation routes (in case of road closures)

Muzzles (dog or cat)

Newspaper (bedding, litter)

No-spill food and water dishes

Paper towels

Radio (solar and battery operated)

Spoon (for canned food)

Stakes and tie-outs

Trash bags

Granted, this all involves a certain amount of planning and effort ahead of time, but it will all be more than worth it if you are confronted with one of these disasters and are possibly separated from your pet. The AVMA has a very thorough pamphlet covering this and more at:

An item I saw recently will help to make your pet more visible, especially in the dark. Find these "Pet Blinkers" at:

ANY COMMENTS, please send an e-mail to:


"Elizabethan Collar"--a protective device that is placed around the neck of a dog or cat in order to keep the pet from damaging itself following surgery or treatment for some type of skin lesion. The collar actually protects in 2 different ways, if properly applied:

  • the pet cannot scratch at its face or head and,
  • the pet cannot bite at its legs or torso.

The name is derived from the neck ruffs that were popular during Elizabethan times in England.

When properly used, Elizabethan collars can be helpful for both dogs and cats.

Murphy (from Mary and Jay in PA), on the left, sports a well-placed Elizabethan collar and went on to recover quite nicely.

Last week, we defined anthropomorphism and showed several examples. Well, some people never let a definition get in the way of expressing themselves. The following web site shows some great examples of "reverse anthropomorphism" (does this make any sense?):

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Today (6/8), we mark the birthday of Francis Crick in 1916, the Brit who teamed with American James Watson and New Zealander Maurice Wilkins to describe the structure of DNA in 1962, for which they were awarded the Nobel Prize for physiology/medicine. Their discovery catapulted the field of molecular biology into the forefront of genetics research.

Through the application of DNA studies, geneticists have been able to determine that all "domestic" dogs are now categorized as Canis lupus familiaris, which actually makes them a subspecies of the wolf line of animals. This change of species designation occurred back in the early 1990s and was the result of extensive DNA analysis. Until then, the domestic dog was classified as Canis familiaris, being its own species. DNA and natural history studies now suggest that the first dog-like animals probably appeared from the wolf line around 100,000 years ago and were then domesticated by humans around 15,000 years ago, probably in eastern Asia. This would make the dog the first animal to be domesticated. It is likely that these domesticated dogs were then brought to North America by the humans who migrated over the land bridge that still existed from Siberia into the Alaska area. Since then, more than 800 recognized breeds have been developed around the world (many of which no longer exist); however, most of the breeds have only been recognized for the last 200 years.

Noted neurologist, physician, and author, Oliver Sacks, has found common ground with the pastor of a Harlem church: Both men believe in the healing power of music. Sacks' most recent book is Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, which examines the healing effect of music on people suffering from such diseases as Tourette's syndrome, Parkinson's, autism, and Alzheimer's. Doctor Sacks was preceded in this theory by the Doobie Brothers, who recorded "The Doctor," in 1989, which included the following lyrics:

There's a healing in those guitars...And a spirit in the song...No matter what condition your rhythm is in...The message goes on and on...Music is the doctor...Makes you feel like you want to...Listen to the doctor...Just like you ought to...Music is the doctor of my soul.

If you ever wonder...How to shake your blues...Just follow this prescription...And get the cure for what's ailin' you...Music is the doctor...Makes you feel like you want to...Listen to the doctor...Just like you ought to...Music is the doctor of my soul.

Watch the video at:

The new season of Meerkat Manor, on Animal Planet, started this past Friday evening. Meerkats are in the mongoose family, living in South Africa, and have been compared, at least in their social structure, to the prairie dogs of western North America. They are a lot of fun to observe and this recurring show has been very popular. Read about it here:

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The popular baseball poem, Casey at the Bat, written by Ernest Thayer, first appeared in the San Francisco Examiner on 6/3/1888. The last line of the poem: "There is no joy in Mudville...mighty Casey has struck out," has been replayed in the minds of countless baseball fans ever since as their favorite team loses again. Helpful Buckeye has thought of this poem several times this past week as his Dodgers have given away more games. Again, the only saving grace for us is that the Diamondbacks are also losing and we are only 4 games out of first place.


Helpful Buckeye was finally able to go out and buy his flowers for planting in the pots. We're getting close to the average last frost date, so I think these flowers will do OK.

I have been asked by a few readers how many miles I put on my bike. For the year 2007, I did 4951 miles. The low month was 222 miles and the high month was 605 miles. The months vary depending mainly on the weather, road conditions, and whether or not I'm out of town. Aside from one fairly painful accident in the past 4 years, I have been able to stay away from trouble...including the episode 2 weeks ago during which I was run off the road. Not so fortunate were these bikers (one of which was killed, during a road race in Mexico):

As a parting addition, Helpful Buckeye forgot to mention that, during my nice bike ride last Saturday, I found a quarter......and, only my former partner will be able to appreciate that!

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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