Sunday, October 26, 2008


Ghosts, goblins, monsters, and witches will be appearing between now and Friday...and that's just the people! What about the dogs and cats??? More and more each year, people are taking their pets with them when they do the "Trick or Treat" routine with their children. Is this good or bad for the pets? There are many considerations to this question and Helpful Buckeye will address them after this "SCARY" introduction.

Many of you have seen some of these pictures that circulate in e-mails, but sit back and enjoy what people have done to "dress up" their pets (remember the Word of the Week from a few months ago, Anthropomorphism?):

A musical treatment of this theme would be in order at this point...enjoy Ross Bagdasarian in his 1958 rendition of The Witch Doctor, accompanied by other "trick or treating" pets: For special bonus points, let Helpful Buckeye know for what Ross Bagdasarian is better known and by what name....

To finish up our introduction of the excitement, intrigue, and scariness of Halloween, listen to the all-time #1 Halloween song, from 1962, and sung by Bobby "Boris" Pickett:

The serious part of enjoying Halloween with your pets will follow in two of the next three sections of Questions On Dogs and Cats...stay tuned!



DES MOINES, Iowa - The Iowa Department of Public Health said a woman found a dead bat in her coffee filter after she had been drinking the beverage. The department said the woman, who was from the eastern part of the state, made her coffee in the evening and then drank it the next morning, The (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) Gazette reported. The woman told officials that when she went to change the filter that evening, she found the dead bat inside. Ann Garvey, a veterinarian with the department, said the woman underwent treatment for rabies after the bat corpse's brain was found by the University Hygienic Laboratory in Oakdale, Calif., to have been too cooked by the coffee maker for rabies testing.

This story lends new meaning to the concept of "full-bodied" coffee, huh? Helpful Buckeye has always believed that truth is way stranger than fiction....

2) The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) released this important information this week:

October 21, 2008
Hartz Mountain recalls Chicken-Basted Rawhide Chips
The Hartz Mountain Corporation, Secaucus, NJ is voluntarily recalling one specific lot of Hartz Chicken-Basted Rawhide Chips due to concerns that one or more bags within the lot are potentially contaminated with Salmonella.
The product involved is 4,850 - 2 pound plastic bags of Hartz Chicken-Basted Rawhide Chips, lot code JC23282, UPC number 3270096463 which were distributed to a national retail customer.
Although Hartz has not received any reports of animals or humans becoming ill as a result of coming into contact with this product, Hartz is taking immediate steps to remove the product from all retail stores and distribution centers. Dog owners who purchased this product should check the lot code on their bag, and, if the code is not visible, or if the bag has lot code JC23282 imprinted thereon, they should immediately discontinue use of the product and discard it in a proper manner.
Consumers can contact Hartz at 1-800-275-1414 with any questions they may have and to obtain reimbursement for purchased product.For more information, see the FDA press release at

3) Another news item from the AVMA:
November 1, 2008
Hand washing key disease prevention measure not always practiced

Hand washing is a simple yet important component in preventing illness that often goes overlooked. Two recent studies on hygiene practices of the public and veterinarians illustrate this point. Results showed both groups do not wash their hands consistently, and could do more to prevent spreading diseases.
The first study was a meta-analysis of community-based intervention studies by investigators from the University of Michigan and Columbia University (Am J Public Health 2008 Aug; 98:1372). The analysis identified more than 5,000 relevant studies published from 1960 to 2007 on proper hand washing techniques and what effect that has on preventing illnesses in the community.
The authors pointed to results from one study indicating that only 67 percent (75 percent of women and 58 percent of men) washed their hands after using a public restroom.
Compared with no education, hand-hygiene education alone (seven studies) significantly reduced the risk for gastrointestinal illness by 31 percent and for respiratory illness (four studies) by 14 percent. Education plus use of nonantibacterial soap (six studies) significantly reduced the risk for GI illness by 39 percent and for respiratory illness (one study) by 51 percent, compared with control conditions, but had no significant effect in the two studies that combined the two outcomes. Results also suggested that use of nonantibacterial soap and hand-hygiene education significantly reduces respiratory and GI illnesses.

See, your mother was always right...wash your hands!

4) Helpful Buckeye has brought up the subject of pet food contamination problems and recalls several times, and now the FDA is interested in hearing directly from veterinarians about any of these questions. If you have any concerns about the food you give to your cat and dog, talk with your veterinarian about it and they can report it:

November 1, 2008

FDA asks veterinarians to report pet food complaints

The Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine is encouraging AVMA members to report complaints about pet food directly to the FDA, particularly in light of last year's adverse events following contamination of ingredients with melamine.
Many practitioners report adverse drug events to drug manufacturers, and the law requires drug manufacturers to submit the reports to the FDA. In the case of pet food, however, manufacturers are not required to submit consumer complaints to the agency. Therefore, the FDA may not learn of any potential problems with a pet food until after the manufacturer has investigated complaints independently and notified the agency that the investigation identified a problem.
Veterinarians and other individuals can report complaints about pet food and other animal feed to the FDA by calling the FDA consumer complaint coordinator in their state. Reports should include product details such as lot number, brand name, expiration date, manufacturer or distributor, and location of purchase. Reports also should include medical information—including signs of illness, numbers of animals that do and do not have the signs, and complete medical histories. Additionally, veterinarians should consider contacting the manufacturer so any necessary investigation can be initiated immediately.
Information about the FDA regulation of pet food and contact information for state complaint coordinators is available at

5) PetFit targets overweight pets and focuses on keeping both pets and their owners happy and healthy. Watch their informative video that is being carried by ABC TV:

Any comments, send an e-mail to:


1) OK, your kids have been out trick-or-treating and some of what they receive contains chocolate. If the family dog is along for the evening, they perhaps give it a candy bar as a treat. Even if you already know that chocolate is not good for dogs, do you know why it isn't?
How many times have you been eating that candy bar when you look over and see those sad puppy dog eyes staring at you? You remember hearing that chocolate is toxic to dogs. But what makes chocolate toxic to dogs and why is it that some dogs ingest it and don’t get sick? Here are some facts to clear up some of the confusion surrounding chocolate toxicity in dogs.
Chocolate can indeed be toxic to dogs. In fact, it is one of the 20 most reported poisonings. The ingredient in chocolate that causes the toxicity is theobromine. The minimum toxic level of theobromine is 100-200mg/kg with 250-500mg/kg being the level at which half of the dogs would die as a result of consuming chocolate. So what does that mean as far as how much chocolate is toxic? The level of theobromine varies depending on the type of chocolate. The levels of theobromine are listed below:
Milk chocolate 60 mg/oz
Baking chocolate 450 mg/oz
Semi-sweet chocolate 260 mg/oz
Hot chocolate 12 mg/oz
White chocolate 1 mg/oz

Given these levels, 4 oz of milk chocolate contains about 240mg of theobromine. Considering that the average chocolate bar contains 2-3 oz of milk chocolate, it would take 2-3 candy bars to produce toxicity in a 10 lb dog. However, a single ounce of baking chocolate could produce severe toxicity in the same size dog.
So, how does chocolate make dogs sick? Theobromine causes the release of certain substances, norepinephrine and epinephrine, that cause an increase in the dog’s heart rate and can cause arrhythmias. Other signs seen with chocolate toxicity can include increased urination, vomiting, diarrhea or hyperactivity within the first few hours. This can lead to hyperthermia, muscle tremors, seizures, coma and even death.
What should be done if a dog does ingest a toxic amount of chocolate? If it has been less than 2 hours, the dog should be made to vomit. Unfortunately, chocolate tends to form a ball in the stomach and may be difficult to remove. Supportive care should be provided for any other signs the dog is exhibiting. If you're not sure how much chocolate your dog has eaten, it's better to be aggressive and call your veterinarian and/or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-426-4435) right away. If you call the Poison Control Center, be prepared to give your dog's breed, age, weight, and any symptoms.
This information is available at:
Though it may not be harmful to the dog in small quantities, it is safer to avoid giving chocolate to dogs in general. As with everything else, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Chocolate isn't as much of a concern for cats because cats don't taste sweet things as well as dogs and therefore, aren't attracted to it.

Other "goodies" to be concerned about in the Halloween basket are candies and chewing gum that are sweetened by xylitol.
Cases of xylitol poisoning in dogs rise

The Animal Poison Control Center of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has managed a substantially increased number of cases involving xylitol poisoning in dogs. Found in sugar-free chewing gum, candy, and baked goods, xylitol is a sweetener that can cause serious and sometimes life-threatening problems for pets.
The center managed more than 170 cases of xylitol poisoning in 2005, up from approximately 70 in 2004, said Dana Farbman, a certified veterinary technician and spokesperson for the center. As of August, the center had managed nearly 114 cases in 2006.
An increase in availability of xylitol-containing products may be one reason for the rise in cases, Farbman said.
While it was previously thought that only large concentrations of xylitol could cause problems in dogs, lesser amounts of the sweetener may also be harmful, the center reported.
"Our concern used to be mainly with products that contain xylitol as one of the first ingredients," said Dr. Eric Dunayer, who specializes in toxicology at the center. "However, we have begun to see problems developing from ingestions of products with lesser amounts of this sweetener." Dr. Dunayer said that with smaller concentrations of xylitol, the onset of clinical signs could be delayed as much as 12 hours after ingestion.
According to Dr. Dunayer, dogs ingesting substantial amounts of items sweetened with xylitol could develop a sudden drop in blood sugar, resulting in depression, loss of coordination, and seizures. "These signs can develop quite rapidly, at times less than 30 minutes after ingestion of the product. Therefore, it is crucial that pet owners seek veterinary treatment immediately," Dr. Dunayer said. He also said that there appears to be a strong link between xylitol ingestions and the development of liver failure in dogs.
This information is from the AVMA at:

Everyone in your family should be aware of the dangers these toxins present to your dogs. Preventing these medical problems before they happen not only help save your dog's life but also, they help you save money!

Any comments, send an e-mail to:


1) Halloween Tips For Your Pets, from Matthew Margolis, Animal behavior trainer

This being the week leading up to Halloween, it's time to revisit reasons to leave even those dogs with the very best manners at home, inside, safe, sound and secure. First off, the fringe criminal minds for whom Halloween is both a reason and an excuse to steal, torture, poison or even kill dogs and cats left vulnerable in yards make it mandatory that pets be kept inside on fright night. Personally, I believe pets should always be kept inside at night. They are safer that way, and you are safer for having them there. Even inside, though, pets should not have the freedom to roam the house that they normally might. Dinging doorbells, flickering lights, opening and closing doors, and strange sounds and sights are enough to agitate the calmest of animals. A dog that normally wouldn't dream of darting out the front door might get the urge on a night when his routine is so dramatically altered. Here are a few more cautionary measures that will help keep your pets safe this Halloween:

  • Keep pets indoors. --

  • Walk dogs early in the evening, before trick-or-treaters hit the streets. Wings, masks, capes, sabers, costumes of any kind can be frightening to your pooch. And if you walk your dog after the festivities, watch out for candy and wrappers he may swallow. --

  • When inside, keep him comfortable and in a room away from the front door. --

  • If you want him to play sidekick as you greet trick-or-treaters, keep him on a leash. Strangers, noise and costumes are stressors that can set off even a normally placid family pet. A child could get bit, or your dog could bolt outside and get hit by a car. --

  • Keep candy, chocolate, candy wrappers, candles and jack-o-lanterns up high and out of reach. They are all dangerous -- potentially fatal -- for dogs. --

  • Make sure your pet's ID tag is current and includes your phone number, in case they do escape. --

  • Resist the urge to costume him. If you absolutely must, use nothing with a mask. He should be able to breathe, hear, see and drink water with ease at all times. --

  • And one more time for emphasis: Keep 'em inside. All night long. All of 'em -- dogs, cats, whatever.

The ASPCA tells us that more dogs and cats are separated from their owners on Halloween and the Fourth of July than any other days of the year. That's an attention-getting fact, isn't it? More from the ASPCA on the Halloween precautions:

Treat Your Pets to a Safe Halloween
That parade of kids, adults—and yes, even pets—in funny outfits is due to arrive at your door next week, bringing all the sweet and scary joys of Halloween! But pet parents, as you carve the jack-o-lanterns and fill those bowls of candy, please be aware that your furry friends may stumble upon dangers you hadn’t thought of.
Warns Dr. Steven Hansen, Senior Vice President, ASPCA Animal Health Services, which includes the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center in Urbana, IL, “Many of our favorite Halloween traditions could pose a potential threat to our companion animals. As pet parents start to make plans for trick-or-treating or costumes, they should be aware of Halloween-related products and activities that can be potentially dangerous to pets.”
The following are just a few precautions you should take:

  • No Chocolate: Even if your pet has a sweet tooth, ingesting chocolate—especially baker’s and dark chocolate—can be dangerous for dogs and cats, possibly causing vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity and even seizures.

  • No Sweets for the Sweet: Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can be poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar, which leads to depression, lack of coordination and seizures.

  • Dangerous D├ęcor: Keep wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations out of reach. If chewed, your pet could experience damage to his mouth from shards of glass or plastic, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.

  • Don’t Play with Fire: Keep your pets away from jack-o-lanterns with lit candles inside—knocking the pumpkin over can easily cause a fire. And curious kittens can get burned or singed by candle flames.

  • Costume Caution: Please don't put your pet in a costume unless you know that he or she loves it. Costumes can cause skin irritations, obstruct a pet’s vision or impede his breathing.

Even though some of this is repetitious, hopefully it will help you protect your pets this Halloween! Any comments, send an e-mail to:


Arrhythmia--noun; Cardiac arrhythmia is a term for any of the conditions in which there is abnormal electrical activity in the heart. The heart beat may be too fast or too slow, and may be regular or irregular. Some arrhythmias are life-threatening medical emergencies that can result in cardiac arrest and sudden death. Others cause aggravating symptoms such as an abnormal awareness of heart beat (palpitations), and may be merely annoying. Some arrhythmias are very minor and can be regarded as normal variants.


Pug--A toy dog breed with a wrinkly face and medium-small body, Pugs were bred to adorn the laps of the Chinese emperors during the Shang dynasty (1766-1122 BC). Pugs are very sociable yet stubborn dogs, described as playful, charming and clever and are known to succeed in dog obedience skills. While pugs mostly get along well with other dogs and pets, they generally prefer the company of humans. They're very clingy dogs, always at their owner's feet, in their lap, or following them from room to room. Because they have extremely short snouts and no skeletal brow ridges, Pugs can easily scratch their corneas without intending to. Pugs' short noses can also cause them to develop breathing problems as well as making them vulnerable to temperature extremes so it's important to make sure that they do not overheat in hot weather, or be left outside in cold weather. They are also prone to obesity, so its important for Pug owners to make sure their pets get regular exercise.

This is a "Pug" tarantula....

....and this is a real tarantula that Helpful Buckeye captured by camera last week:

Just a little more Halloween humor thrown in...for free!!!


1) On 21 October 1879, Thomas Edison invented something that Helpful Buckeye is using right now. What do you think it was? No, it wasn't the computer, a keyboard, a camera, or an electric coffee maker. It was: 2) According to a recent survey, the Ten Most Disappointing Halloween Treats are: How many of these have your kids brought home?

3) Famed comedian Grouch Marx is credited with this quote: "A black cat crossing your path signifies...that the animal is going somewhere." How's that for being literal? 4) On 20 October 1882, Bela Lugosi was born. To refresh your memories, Lugosi was best known for his portrayal of Count Dracula in the 1931 movie.

5) In addition to the assorted carved pumpkins we've already show, here are some more examples of "Extreme Pumpkins".... How many of these have you seen before? Then, as a follow-up, take a look at what might be "The Worst Halloween Costumes of All Time": All you can say for some of these is...."Ugh!!!"

6) Some dog superstitions:

  • Greeks thought dogs could foresee evil

  • If you have your new-born baby licked by a dog, your baby will be a quick healer.

  • Howling dogs mean the wind god has summoned death, and the spirits of the dead will be taken.

  • A dog eating grass means rain

  • A howling dog at night means bad luck or somebody close to you will be very sick or worse.

  • A dog with seven toes can see ghosts.

  • When a dog is staring intently, at nothing, for no apparent reason, look between the dog's ears and you'll see a ghost.

  • Dogs have always been credited with the power of sensing supernatural influences, and seeing ghosts, spirits, faeries or deities which are invisible to human eyes. In Wales only dogs could see the death-bringing hounds of Annwn; in ancient Greece the dogs were aware when Hecate was at a crossroads foretelling a death. Dogs are believed to be aware of the presence of ghosts, and their barking, whimpering or howling is often the first warning of supernatural occurrances.

  • There are many instances of black dog ghosts which are said to haunt lanes, bridges, crossroads, footpaths and gates, particularly in Suffolk, Norfolk and the Isle of Man. Some black dogs are said to be unquiet ghosts of wicked souls, but others are friendly guides and protectors to travellers; the Barguest of northern England could also appear as a pig or a goat, but was most commonly a huge black dog with large eyes and feet which left no prints. Packs of ghostly hounds have also been recorded all over Britain, often heard howling as they pass by on stormy nights rather than actually seen; these hounds generally foretell death, or at least disaster, if they are seen and the proper action is to drop face-down onto the ground to avoid spotting them.

  • When a dog howls in an otherwise silent night, it is said to be an omen of death, or at least of misfortune. A howling dog outside the house of a sick person was once thought to be an omen that they would die, especially if the dog was driven away and returned to howl again. A dog which gives a single howl, or three howls, and then falls silent is said to be marking a death that has just occurred nearby.

  • Dogs were feared as possible carriers of rabies; sometimes even a healthy dog was killed if it had bitten someone, because of the belief that if the dog later developed rabies, even many years afterwards, the bitten person would also be afflicted. Remedies for the bite of a mad dog often included the patient being forced to eat a part of the dog in question, such as its hairs or a piece of its cooked liver.
  • Dogs were also used to cure other illnesses; one old charm which was often used for childrens' illnesses was to take some of the patient's hairs and feed them to a dog in between slices of bread and butter; the ailment was believed to transfer to the animal, healing the patient.
  • In Scotland, a strange dog coming to the house means a new friendship; in England, to meet a spotted or black and white dog on your way to a business appointment is lucky.
  • Three white dogs seen together are considered lucky in some areas; black dogs are generally considered unlucky, especially if they cross a traveller's path or follow someone and refuse to be driven away.
  • Fishermen traditionally regard dogs as unlucky and will not take one out in a boat, or mention the word 'dog' whilst at sea.
  • If a member of the Lakota Sioux tribe would get sick they would lay with a dog and the sickness would transfer from the tribal member into the dog.

    7) Some cat superstitions:

    • Black cats were familiars of witches, and after seven years, became witches themselves.

    • If a black cat crosses your path, Satan is taking notice of you.

    • Butter your cat's feet when you move to keep it from running away from the new house.

    • If a cat crosses or jumps over the coffin, the dead person's spirit will return as a ghost.

    • A black cat is lucky or unlucky, depending on where you live.

    • Cats were sacred to the goddess, Isis in Egyptian mythology. Bast or Pasht, the daughter of Isis, was represented with the face of a cat. Anyone who killed a cat in Egypt was put to death. In Egypt it was believed that a black cat crossing one's path brought good luck.

    • In East Anglia, England, they used to mummify cats and place them in the walls of their homes to ward off evil spirits.

    • If a black cat walks towards you, it brings good fortune, but if it walks away, it takes the good luck with it.

    • Keep cats away from babies because they "suck the breath" of the child.

    • A cat onboard a ship is considered to bring luck.

    8) Since the Halloween spirit (no pun intended) is in the air this week, this might be the time to take a look at some "unusual" pets...check out this list: How many of these have you seen before and would you want any of them?

    9) To enjoy the popular game of "Hangman"...with a dog breed theme, go to: and to enjoy the game with cat breeds in mind, go to:

    10) On 22 October 1797, Andre-Jacques Garnerin made the first ever parachute jump from a height of 6500 ft. over a park in Paris. What does this have to do with dogs, cats, or Halloween? Absolutely nothing! Helpful Buckeye just wanted to include this to honor our dear friend, Charlene, who literally took the plunge, making her first skydive earlier this year...not in Paris, but in Missouri!

    This book, by Bill Myers, is available at:

    11) This last video is a little longer than most of the ones we use in this blog. It's about 10 minutes long, but it's a nice relaxing way to finish out our celebration of Halloween week...enjoy The Great Pumpkin, With Charlie Brown:


    The Ohio State Buckeyes stubbed their toes against Penn State last's starting to look like this might be a rebuilding year, as we get our freshman QB used to the system.

    The Pittsburgh Steelers lost today to last year's Super Bowl champs, the NY Giants. This was the first of 4 tough games in a row...hopefully, the next 3 won't be in the losing column!

    The NBA season starts this coming week...and that means periodic updates on the San Antonio Spurs.


    Helpful Buckeye would like to leave you with 2 quotes this week:

    1) From Samuel Taylor Coleridge, English writer (1772-1834), known for The Rime of The Ancient Mariner..."Advice is like snow - the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper in sinks into the mind." Hopefully, our advice has fallen softly on our readers...and has sunk deeper into your minds.

    2) From Pablo Picasso, Spanish artist (1881-1973)..."Action is the foundational key to all success." Helpful Buckeye wants all of our readers to act upon the Halloween advice for pets provided in Questions On Dogs and Cats, which will then lead to success in surviving this holiday!

    Be sure to meet us back here next Sunday evening for our pre-election issue....

    ~~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.~~