Sunday, August 24, 2008


...DRUGS? I mean, hard drugs, like...CATNIP? I think we all remember the TV ad campaign from years ago that started out with, "This is your brain..."

...and this is your brain on drugs."

Well, Helpful Buckeye's campaign starts out with, "This is your cat..."

...and this is your cat on Catnip!"

Helpful Buckeye will address this insidious, euphoria-inducing drug further down the page.


September 1, 2008
Influenza continues to affect dogs
An outbreak of canine influenza in dogs in a Chicago veterinary clinic serves as a reminder that the disease continues to spread throughout the United States. The outbreak marks the first time the disease was confirmed in dogs in Illinois. Approximately 60 dogs were infected at the clinic in June. Five of the dogs developed pneumonia requiring hospitalization, but there were no fatalities.
Canine influenza was first identified in racing Greyhounds in 2004 at a track in Florida. Then in 2005, the virus was found in dogs in shelters, boarding facilities, and veterinary clinics in several areas of the state. The number of dogs infected with canine influenza has increased in New Jersey. Several dogs were infected in one kennel in May, resulting in one fatality from pneumonia, and more than 100 dogs were infected in a boarding facility in July, according to Dr. Cynda Crawford, a veterinary immunologist at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Crawford was among the group of researchers who first identified the virus. She is currently studying canine influenza in dogs in shelters as part of a Morris Animal Foundation study that is partially funded by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation.
Since the 2005 outbreak, Dr. Crawford said, canine influenza has been confirmed in Greyhounds and other dogs in 31 states and the District of Columbia. The disease is endemic in northern Colorado, southern Florida, New York City, Pennsylvania, and southern Wyoming.
At this time, no vaccine is available to protect against canine influenza. The AVMA Executive Board approved a policy in November 2006 that states: "The AVMA believes there is urgent need for an effective canine influenza virus vaccine to improve the health and welfare of animals and reduce the financial impacts of canine influenza."

Just one more thing for dog owners to worry about, huh? More on this disease as information becomes available....


1) Disk disease in dogs--Intervertebral disk disease is a major neurologic problem affecting both canines and humans. Both species can be affected with cervical (neck) disk disease with similarities in the symptoms and outcome. However, in the thoracolumbar (mid-back) area, unique species differences alter the symptoms and outcome of canine versus human disk disease. The major neuroanatomic difference is at which vertebra the end of the spinal cord lies. In humans, the end of the spinal cord lies approximately inside the second lumbar (L2) vertebra (mid-back). Nerves exiting the spinal cord then descend inside the remaining lumbar and sacral (pelvis) vertebral segments. In comparison, the spinal cord in dogs ends at approximately the sixth lumbar (L6) vertebra (low-back area) and nerves descend through the last lumbar, sacral and coccygeal (tail) vertebral segments.
Why is this knowledge so important in determining the differences we see in canine versus human disk disease? The most common site of disk herniation in the back of dogs is this lumbar area where the spinal cord is present and is secondarily compressed by herniated disk material. Thus the clinical presentation of thoracolumbar disk herniation in dogs can be far worse than just shooting pains down the legs, as for humans. It is common for dogs to show profound paralysis of their hind limbs from the resulting spinal cord damage.
(This description was written for The Dachshund Club of America, Inc. by Patricia J. Luttgen, DVM, MS)

This difference in the anatomy of the spine and spinal cord is why it is so important for a dog owner to seek help right away if their dog has difficulty walking on their rear legs or simply goes completely down in the rear end and cannot walk. If a herniated disk is indeed the reason, then corrective procedures must be implemented as soon as possible in order to remove the pressure on the spinal cord. Surgery on the spine may be the only way to keep your dog from being paralyzed. Dachshunds are notorious for this disorder, but it can be seen in most breeds at any time. Following are pictures of a dachshund with rear leg paralysis and an X-Ray (myelogram) showing the compression of the spinal cord in the front part of the lumbar region, which would account for the paralysis (can you see the compression?):

Helpful Buckeye will present more on this topic in future issues of the blog.

2) We've all seen the pictures of an adorable kitten playing with a ball of string, twine or yarn. Whatever the type of string, it can be much more than fun for your cat: It can be fatal. The strings are so irresistible for cats, they can't help but want to play with them, especially if they can get the string moving. They will chase and chew, chase and eat, chase and swallow. They can't get the string back up and out of the esophagus, so they swallow more. The more string they swallow, the more life threatening the situation is.

Cats are naturally curious animals anyway, and they can get into things placed high on furniture surfaces. So if you have a feline friend in your home, extra precautions are needed to keep them safe. Common household items such as embroidery floss, spools of sewing thread, rubber bands and even dental floss can be life threatening for a cat. Sometimes the thread or string can pass through the cat's digestive tract without serious injury if it's small enough. Unfortunately that is not always the case, especially if the cat swallows a large amount of string, twine or thread. Just imagine how much sewing thread a cat can swallow from even a miniature size spool of thread. The string or thread can get wrapped around the tongue and if swallowed can wrap around inside the intestines and cause the cat to become very ill and can lead to serious complications or possibly death. The thread can even cut into the intestines. Surgery will sometimes be the only chance of survival and that isn't always successful. If you suspect your cat has gotten into some type of thread or string, be alert for the first sign of problems. If your cat begins vomiting abnormally, (more than the usual hairball) diarrhea, or constipation, lethargy or any erratic or unusual behavior, take it to the veterinarian quickly and assume she swallowed the string. The longer you put it off, the less chance the cat has for survival.


Ah, yes...catnip! Nepeta is a genus of about 250 species of flowering plants. The members of this group are known as catnip or catmint because of their famed effect on cats—Nepeta pleasantly stimulates cats' pheromonic receptors, typically resulting in the animal temporarily exhibiting behaviors indicative of being in an induced, euphorically giddy sort of state.

Catnip and catmints are mainly known for the behavioral effects they have on cats, particularly domestic cats. When cats sense the bruised leaves or stems of catnip, they may roll over it, paw at it, chew it, lick it, leap about and purr, often salivating copiously. Some cats will also growl and meow. This reaction only lasts for a few minutes before the cat loses interest. It takes up to two hours for the cat to "reset" after which it can come back to the catnip and have the same response as before. Young kittens and older cats are less likely to react to catnip.

The picture is of: Nepeta cataria

Watch and listen to a cat enjoying an experience with catnip:

Catnip is one of the more common ingredients in cat toys and other things that involve cats. Its minty scent is enough to get the majority of cats and other pets all riled up for a short time. One of the web sites referred to frequently on this blog has some nice catnip-infused toys available for your cat:


There have been two new words used this week and one new word that has a bearing on one of our topics.

1) Endemic--adjective; natural to or characteristic of a particular place.

2) Pheromone--noun; any chemical substance released by an animal that serves to influence the physiology or behavior.

3) Paresis--noun; partial motor paralysis; not as severe as paralysis.


Dog breeds--Dachshund

The dachshund, or "badger dog," is a short-legged, elongated dog breed of the hound family initially developed in Germany to scent, chase, and hunt hole-dwelling animals. Due to the long, narrow build, they are sometimes referred to as a wiener dog, hot dog, or sausage dog. Dachshunds are playful, fun dogs, known to be strong-headed or stubborn, making them a challenge to train. However, dachshunds are a breed extremely loyal to their owners with a temperament and body language which give the impression that they don't know about their relatively small and comical stature. They're known for their deep, soulful eyes and complex and telling facial expressions. Dachshunds are one of the most popular breeds according to AKC Registration Statistics, coming in three different coat varieties (Smooth, Wirehaired or Longhaired) and can be miniature or standard size.

Dog breeds--??? This wildflower comes from the same part of the world as our second dog breed of the week. If you can correctly identify this invasive, non-native wildflower, you will know the name of the dog breed.


1) From the American Veterinary Medical Association: "Obesity in dogs, April 2008,"
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that obesity has increased dramatically in the United States during the past 20 years. While the CDC data describe the human population, other studies indicate that a substantial proportion of American pets also have become obese. Obesity has been reported to be the most common nutritional disorder in dogs, with an estimated prevalence of approximately 25%.
As obesity in dogs becomes more commonly encountered in practice, veterinarians are increasingly challenged to apply the most effective methods available for identification, treatment, and prevention. Articles in this collection have been selected on the basis of their relevance to clinical assessment and management of obesity in dogs and its health consequences.

You know this has become a major issue when the late-night TV hosts are commenting on it:

"U.S. officials have now approved the first anti-obesity drug for dogs. I'm no veterinarian, but if your dog is over eating, try putting a little less food in the bowl! Do we really need to give him a pill? Is the dog taking your car keys and driving to McDonalds?"--Jay Leno

Makes sense to me....

2) There has been a 4-eared cat seen in Chicago:
Yoda was just a kitten when a Chicago couple saw him being passed around a bar, where patrons were amazed by his extra ears. The four-eared feline gained fame after he was featured in an Aug. 19 newspaper article.

I realize that a picture these days isn't always what it seems to be...however, this does look like the real deal, doesn't it? Sort of an "eerie" cat!

3) One of our readers, Kelly from Phoenix, sent in a web site that might be of interest to our cat lovers. Go to "Cat Galaxy," an Internet radio and TV station specifically for cats to listen to and also watch:

Try it's free...and let us know if you like it.

4) With dog lovers taking their pets on the road with them more and more, we are starting to hear of various locations that are trying to make dogs welcome. From the dog friendly wineries in Napa Valley, CA, comes this invitation: Don't leave your best pal at home this summer. They want to have fun too! Besides, who can resist that hopeful, then sad look they give you everytime you walk out the door...without them. There are a host of wineries in Napa Valley that are more than happy to welcome your dog with open arms. Napa Vintners provides a list of dog friendly wineries:

The following web sites provide further opportunities for the dog lover/wine lover:

Dog Lover Wine

Dog Winery

Your Dog Immortalized on a Wine Label!

Dog Gone Wine!


5) A family physician in Tempe, AZ, has undertaken a novel approach to providing care for homeless animals. Phyllis Popp began making her Labor of Love Pet Beds a year ago and to date she's made close to 900 for kennels at the Arizona Humane Society, Maricopa County Animal Care & Control and Finding Fido of Phoenix. To read the whole story, go to this Arizona Republic web site:

6) This past Thursday, the 21st of August, was the 54th birthday of Archie Griffin, the only 2-time winner of the Heisman Trophy. He, of course, was a Buckeye at Ohio State, and Helpful Buckeye feels really fortunate to have been able to see every one of Archie's home games. The QB at Florida has a chance to duplicate this feat this year...but it won't be very easy to do.

7) Also, on the 21st of August, Buddy Harman passed away in Nashville. Who was Buddy Harman, you say? Buddy Harman, whose percussion work on more than 18,000 recordings established him as country music's best-known and most-recorded drummer, was 79. The native Nashvillian, born Murrey Mizell Harman Jr., is memorialized by his distinctive percussion work on such classics as Roy Orbison's 'Pretty Woman,' Patsy Cline's 'Crazy,'Johnny Cash's 'Ring of Fire,' Tammy Wynette's 'Stand By Your Man,' Loretta Lynn's 'Coal Miner's Daughter' and Elvis Presley's 'Little Sister.' Harman was also the first staff drummer on the Grand Ole Opry. Listen to Buddy Harman's drum beat on "Pretty Woman" from the movie of the same name:

8) Since our country is now getting into the more intense portion of the Presidential race, Helpful Buckeye will leave you with this cartoon from The New Yorker:


1) Just when you, the sports fan, think you have heard it all, this story shows up:

Wrigley Fields to throw out first pitch
CHICAGO (AP) -- Even years before 7-year-old Wrigley was born, his father Jerry Fields says he'd already decided what he'd do. Coming from a family of Cubs fans and with his particular last name, he decided to name his first son after the Friendly Confines (of Wrigley Field).
Little Wrigley Fields of Lockport, IL, will meet his destiny on August 29th at a Cubs' home game against the Philadelphia Phillies when he'll throw out the first pitch at Wrigley Field.
His mother Kathy says she mentioned Wrigley's name in front of a former Cubs official, who promised her Wrigley would get to throw out the first pitch.
Kathy says when Jerry first told her he wanted to name his first son Wrigley, she initially thought he was joking. But Jerry later stood firm when they found out they were having a boy.

2) Helpful Buckeye promises no more blathering about how the LA Dodgers are keeping up with the Diamondbacks...mainly because they aren't! Nope...and to put it all in perspective, I'll leave you with a musical tribute along the lines of how Don Meredith saluted a team that was sure to be the loser on Monday Night Football years ago:
3) The Buckeyes start their season this coming Saturday...yeah, I know, it's against Youngstown State...a classic patsy. All the big schools do this at the beginning of their season, plus Coach Tressel coached there in the past and this will provide some big $$$ for Youngstown State. Go Buckeyes!!!


Count Basie's birthday (his first name was William) was also on the 21st of August, and he left us with two quotes that Helpful Buckeye will use to close this week's issue of the blog:

  • "If you play a tune and a person don't tap their feet, don't play the tune." And,

  • "I'm saying: to be continued, until we meet again. Meanwhile, keep on listening and tapping your feet."

Count Basie and his orchestra play their theme song, "One O'clock Jump:"

~~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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