Sunday, November 30, 2008



Many of our readers may have expressed this very sentiment after their big Thanksgiving feast. Share with actor Peter Boyle as he utters this now famous lament in a recent ad for Alka Seltzer:

Hopefully, all of you made it home safely, if you were driving. Secondly, Helpful Buckeye expects (wishfully) that none of you overindulged in the feast, nor did any of you go beyond the boundaries set for you in last week's blog issue as to what you could feed your pets! If you haven't had to make an emergency visit to your veterinarian in the past 3 days for a gastrointestinal upset in your dog, then pat yourself on the back for either being truly judicious or very lucky. Remember all the lessons you learned from last week's blog because there will be many more of these type meals between now and New Year's Day...that's why it's called Holiday Season!

Regrets after a big meal, like the Thanksgiving feast, can include Peter Boyle's lament, our readers wishing they had pushed away from the table a little sooner, pet owners being sorry they fed the wrong thing to their dog, and this possible scene from a New Yorker cartoon:

Helpful Buckeye would like to thank all of you who have either sent in an e-mail or entered a comment at the end of a blog issue during the past 2 weeks! You have sent questions, ideas for topics, interesting videos you have seen, and some good constructive criticism...all of which will be incorporated into future issues of Questions On Dogs and Cats. Also, there have been several new readers who were referred to this blog by some of our faithful readers, and for that, Helpful Buckeye is also very thankful. The more readers we have and the more we exchange ideas, the better this blog will be! Remember, the easiest way to make a comment is to send an e-mail: or click on "Post a Comment" at the end of each blog issue and follow the simple instructions.


1) The American Veterinary Medical Association has just issued this news release about an interesting program at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, in Blacksburg, VA:

Billy the Kid just shot two deputies, has escaped from prison, and is making his getaway on horseback. How far can he expect his horse to go—and at what speed? To provide a realistic answer, a production crew from The History Channel visited the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine this fall.
They filmed a horse going through her paces on a high-speed treadmill. The film footage will be used in "Real Cowboys," a six-part television series which is slated to air in early 2009.

2) Hardly a month goes by without reading or hearing of a story about a long-lost pet being reunited with its owner because of a microchip providing the clue. The story this week comes from New Jersey:

Missing dog found after almost 5 years ----------PLEASANTVILLE, N.J. - A Pleasantville, N.J., family said their pet dachshund, which went missing nearly five years ago, has been found by a Pittsburgh animal shelter. Edna Colon, 18, said her mother, Elda Arguello, received a letter from the Animal Rescue League of Western Pennsylvania informing her that the male dachshund, named Tootsie, was found as a stray in Pittsburgh. The shelter tracked a microchip implanted in the animal back to Arguello and her family, WPVI-TV, Philadelphia, reported Monday. Colon said several members of the family planned to travel to Harrisburg, Pa., for a reunion with their long-lost pet, who was about 6 months old when he went missing from Arguello's yard nearly five years ago. "We appreciate the Animal Rescue League. If not for them and the microchip, we would never have seen Tootsie again. Because (the Animal Rescue League) understands animal lovers, they did all that they could to find us. We are so thankful to (the organization) and their work to get Tootsie back to our family," Colon said.

Helpful Buckeye will continue to include these stories as a nudging reminder of how important it is for pet owners to be able to have their lost pet be properly identified. A very simple implantation of a microchip will accomplish this....

3) From the Arizona Daily Sun, comes this story about pseudorabies, a viral disease normally associated with pigs:

Colo. hunting ranch quarantined over animal disease Saturday, November 29, 2008 GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) -- State officials have quarantined a western Colorado hunting ranch after 14 feral hogs tested positive for pseudorabies, a contagious disease that can threaten commercial swine herds, wildlife and pets. For the rest of the story, go to:

Unfortunately, dogs and cats which are exposed to this Herpes virus can develop very serious damage to the central nervous system and die suddenly. The virus does not cause illness in humans. It will be interesting to learn if this outbreak causes any further problem in that part of Colorado.

4) Medical researchers in Atlanta have found a way to be able to predict the amount of immunity provided by a vaccine without actually testing it on a group of subjects:

ATLANTA (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say they've discovered a way to predict how successful vaccines would be in triggering immune responses. In the first-ever study of this type, researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center and Emory Vaccine Center at Emory University said they used immunology, genomics and bioinformatics to predict a vaccine's immunity without exposing individuals to infection -- a long-standing challenge in the development of vaccines. The team, using the yellow fever vaccine as a model, wanted to determine why the vaccine -- one of the most successful vaccines ever -- was so effective so they could design equally effective new vaccines against global pandemics and emerging infections, the Atlanta university said in a news release. "A single shot of the (yellow fever) vaccine induces immunity in many people for nearly 30 years," said Bali Pulendran, lead Yerkes researcher and professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. "Despite the great success of the yellow fever vaccine, little has been known about the immunological mechanisms that make it effective." Pulendran said the team, using several lines of study, identified distinct gene signatures that were correlated to the antibody response induced by the vaccine. To determine whether the gene could predict immune response, "we vaccinated a second group of individuals and were able to predict with up to 90 percent accuracy which of the vaccinated individuals would develop" immunity to yellow fever.

Since both human and animal vaccines are formulated and produced in much the same manner, this news also means progress in the development of vaccines for your pets.

5) The AVMA has revised its policy on ear cropping and tail docking:

Schaumburg, Ill.
— The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Executive Board voted to strengthen association policy on two practices common in certain breeds of dogs—ear cropping and tail docking.
The revised AVMA policy states: "The AVMA opposes ear cropping and tail docking of dogs when done solely for cosmetic purposes. The AVMA encourages the elimination of ear cropping and tail docking from breed standards."
"For many years the AVMA has acknowledged that ear cropping and tail docking of dogs for cosmetic purposes are not medically indicated nor of benefit to our canine patients," explains Dr. Ron DeHaven, chief executive officer of the AVMA. "Our latest policy revision doesn't represent a change in perspective, but, rather, makes that perspective clear with a stronger statement."
The AVMA decided to adjust its policy on tail docking and ear cropping after a scheduled review of an existing policy. The review included an analysis of scientific literature and available data, an assessment of the practical experience of veterinarians, and deliberations by the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee.
"Why we perform certain procedures is one of the first questions we ask. Once that question is answered, committee members look at any associated welfare concerns," explains Dr. Gail Golab, director of the AVMA Animal Welfare Division. "'Cosmetic' implies the basis for these procedures is to alter the dog's appearance. Welfare risks identified included those associated with surgical procedures, i.e., anesthetic complications, pain, blood loss and infection. In the committee's opinion, the risk-benefit analysis supports professional opposition to performing these procedures for purely cosmetic reasons."
In recommending policy revisions, the committee was careful to distinguish ear cropping and tail docking performed for cosmetic reasons from procedures performed for therapeutic or preventive purposes. "If it can be responsibly demonstrated that the purpose of performing the procedure is to protect the health and welfare of the dog, then of course the Association would support the appropriate surgery," said Dr. DeHaven.

For those readers not familiar with these surgical procedures, ear cropping refers to the surgical removal of part of the ear flap in order to make the ear stand erectly, while tail docking refers to the surgical shortening of the tail. Certain breeds of dogs have been associated with these procedures: Boxers, Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, and Schnauzers.

The American Kennel Club, which maintains the standards by which pure bred dogs are judged, has provided a response to this position:

New York, NY (November 21, 2008) -- The American Kennel Club® was advised this week of the AVMA's newly amended policy on ear cropping and tail docking following its adoption by the AVMA Executive Board at the recommendation of their Committee on Animal Welfare on November 15, 2008.
Historically, the AKC has worked closely with the AVMA to ensure that the rights of individual dog owners, and breed standards, remain protected. However, the AKC was very disappointed to not have been consulted regarding this latest iteration of the policy, despite having been in frequent contact with the AVMA in recent months.
At a joint meeting this Wednesday AKC explained to the AVMA that we recognize ear cropping and tail docking, as prescribed in certain breed standards, are acceptable practices integral to defining and preserving breed character, enhancing good health, and preventing injuries. These breed characteristics are procedures performed to insure the safety of dogs that on a daily basis perform heroic roles with Homeland Security, serve in the U.S. Military and at Police Departments protecting tens of thousands of communities throughout our nation as well as competing in the field.
Mislabeling these procedures as "cosmetic" is a severe mischaracterization that connotes a lack of respect and knowledge of history and the function of purebred dogs. Breed standards are established and maintained by AKC Parent Clubs (each of the 158 AKC registered breeds is stewarded by a breed-specific Parent Club) keeping foremost in mind the welfare of the breed and the function it was bred to perform.
As a not for profit organization that has been devoted to the advancement and welfare of dogs for 125 years, the AKC believes that all dog owners bear a special responsibility to their canine companions to provide proper care and humane treatment at all times and that responsible dog owners, in consultation with their veterinarian, have the right to make decisions regarding appropriate care and treatment of their pets.
AKC's policy on the issue, which remains unchanged, states:
The American Kennel Club recognizes that ear cropping, tail docking, and dewclaw removal, as described in certain breed standards, are acceptable practices integral to defining and preserving breed character and/or enhancing good health. Appropriate veterinary care should be provided.

It is not difficult to see that there is a difference of opinion between the AVMA and the AKC about these procedures. Most veterinarians have long ago admitted their own reluctance to do these procedures, for humane reasons. Helpful Buckeye doesn't know how this difference of opinion will ultimately be played out, except to say that the court of public opinion usually gets its own way in the end. How do most of you feel about this subject? Send an e-mail with your opinion to: and we'll see where your consensus lies.


1) What do these pictures have in common?

They all have something to do with how we measure ourselves and our pets (the dog weighing scale photo is from )....which brings us to this week's main topic of Obesity and Your Pet.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have estimated that a little more than 1/3 (about 35%) of the adult human population of the USA is obese. Current estimates for pets are that almost 40% of all dogs and cats in the USA are either overweight or obese.

There are a few diseases that can actually cause your pet to become overweight, the two most common being hypothyroidism (underproduction of thyroid hormone) and Cushing's Disease (overproduction of ACTH by the pituitary gland). In addition, certain breeds of dogs and cats are predisposed genetically to weight gain. However, the most common contribution to weight gain in pets is by far the overindulgence of their owners, either by over-feeding or feeding the wrong kind of food. First of all, if the owners don't have the proper discipline for their own weight considerations, they probably won't have any better regard for controlling their pet's weight. Secondly, even if owners try to do the right thing, they tend to sometimes "feel sorry" for their pets and give them too many unnecessary, calorie-filled treats. Most pet owners either don't realize or don't accept that they are solely responsible for their pet's diet, and thus, their pet's overall health. As Dr. Jennifer Brinson, veterinarian and researcher on obesity in pets at the University of Illinois, says, "Pets don't choose what or how much to eat. Owners dictate the animal's diet and how much they get. People food, table scraps, and fast-food take-out should not be options. There are dietary treats that are good for pets that will also satisfy the owner's need to indulge the pet." Helpful Buckeye used to remind his clients that dogs and cats couldn't open the refrigerator door. Since your pets cannot prepare their own food, they are at the full mercy of what you give them. Excess weight is easier to prevent than to lose. Proper adjustments to your pet's diet and amount of exercise should be made early in its life so that any problem with obesity can be avoided. Your veterinarian will advise the best diet for your pet's particular needs, whether maintaining its normal weight or attempting to lose weight. Exercise is something that requires regularity and structure, both of which most humans find difficulty in honoring in their own schedules. Pets are best exercised by playing with them. Take your dog for walks; play throw and fetch; give the cat toys it likes to chase. If your cat follows you up and down the stairs, then do the stairs repeatedly. By and large, if the owner is unwilling to exercise, then the pet won't get any exercise either.

Of course, "walking the dog" can mean different things to different people. Some people walk without "walking the dog" ...and some people pretend they've gone walking and the dog feels cheated, from The New Yorker:

Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc. sponsors the web site,, which has numerous videos illustrating how both dog and cat owners can get exercise for themselves at the same time as exercising their pets: . The videos (9 for dogs and 5 for cats) are done by a personal and pet trainer and are full of great exercises for humans and their pets.

Pets which have been over-indulged either with too many treats or the wrong kind of food run the risk of making many pre-existing problems worse by becoming obese. Obesity tends to make:

  • diabetes more difficult to manage.

  • torn ligaments more common, due to the animal's disproportionate size and the fact that they don't have the muscle tone to balance and support the extra weight.

  • arthritis worse because of the extra load of weight on the arthritic joints.

  • a physical exam more difficult by masking heart and lung sounds and interfering with the palpation of abdominal organs.
The AVMA has produced a very informative podcast, entitled "The Perils of Pudgy Pets," which you can listen to at:

The main point that Helpful Buckeye wants to leave you with is that you, the pet owner, must show some restraint in how you lavish affection on your pet. Remember, love for your pet is NOT spelled..."T-R-E-A-T." Don't let yourself get caught up in the sentiment of this cartoon from The New Yorker:

Another important topic that goes hand-in-hand with obesity in pets is pet nutrition. Pet owners actually spend more money each year on pet food than they do on veterinary care. Some of this is money well spent, while some of it would be better directed if the pet owners knew a little more about their dog and/or cat's nutritional needs. Helpful Buckeye will help guide you through this mine field of correct vs. incorrect food choices for your pets in an upcoming issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats.

Any comments, send an e-mail to:


1) Helpful Buckeye discussed some of the things pet owners must be aware of as sources of trouble for pets around the "Holidays" in last week's issue. Also, it was pointed out by the AVMA that President-Elect Obama had made the smart decision to wait until after his inauguration to look for a new "First Dog." The Holiday trouble sources for pets are difficult enough to deal with when you have a mature pet which has been in the household for some time, let alone trying to bring a new puppy or kitten into the hoopla of the Holidays. For one person's take on why this is a no-no, read the opinion of Matthew Margolis, Dog trainer, and host of the PBS series "WOOF! It's a Dog's Life!" : Warm and cute. Wide-eyed and innocent. Peering out of a box once tied with a big red bow. Who wouldn't want a puppy for Christmas? But that's not the question. The question is: Who's a good candidate to receive such a gift? The problem with holiday puppies has everything to do with the holidays. It's a chaotic time, and puppies need stability and routine. They require significant one-on-one attention, which is hard to give while prepping hors d'oeuvres, filling glasses and basting a turkey. And it's even harder to give en route from JFK to LAX with a connecting at O'Hare. Holiday travel simply leaves no time for puppy. But even for those staying put for the holiday season, the home itself is often turned on its head, filled with strange people coming and going, doors opening and closing, lights blinking, candles burning, cords tangled up behind that irresistible glowing tree playing host to a cornucopia of bite-sized glass ornaments. All dangerous for puppy. People who give the gift of a puppy often have their hearts in the right place. In many ways, a puppy embodies the spirit of Christmas: hopeful, playful, joyful, and full of life and love. But a puppy isn't merchandise that can be returned like a lamp. A dog of any age is a living, breathing, sensitive creature that demands and deserves the time and attention it takes to make him a welcome and permanent member of the family. The frenetic nature of most households during the time leading up to Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's in no way lends itself to the essential introductory and bonding period that forms the foundation of the human-canine relationship. Strike one. Then there's housebreaking. If the dog owner is consumed with cleaning, cooking, shopping and wrapping, the dog probably isn't steeped in the Feed-Water-Walk system that leads to successful housebreaking. Strike two. And from a motivational standpoint, if it's 28 degrees outside, it's that much more unappealing to get up and take a puppy out two or three times between sundown and sunrise. Strike three. Why don't people give puppies for the Fourth of July? The reality is that many -- far too many -- holiday puppies are returned to pet stores or abandoned in shelters come January. This being the case, the description of the best candidate to receive a puppy for Christmas looks something like: -- has very few friends -- has no travel plans -- received minimal party invitations -- loves freezing walks in the dead of night -- hates holiday decorations, doesn't open the door to carolers, and refuses to buy or bake sweets of any kind, but especially those containing chocolate. Lucky pooch. All that considered, a puppy is still a personal choice. Not everyone wants one. Not everyone can take care of one. And those who want and are able to care for one will also want to be involved in the process of finding their perfect pup. This year, instead of giving an actual puppy, why not give a puppy starter kit to someone you suspect might really love to have a dog? The kit could include a few books or videos on dog training, a soft chew toy, a blanket, a crate with good visibility, and a gift certificate for a trip to a shelter or rescue on you -- or any combination of the above! In the end, if it turns out that puppy person is actually a cat person, no harm done. Everything in the box wrapped with the big red bow is as it should be -- merchandise that can be returned.

Sounds like the perfect advice to Helpful Buckeye!

2) In addition to the stress of the Holidays and how it affects your pets, there are other stressors to be aware of when it comes to cats. Dr. C.A. "Tony" Buffington, professor of veterinary clinical sciences at The Ohio State University Veterinary Hospital, discusses how environmental stressors on indoor cats may contribute to lower urinary tract disease and other illnesses. Studies have determined that cats are highly sensitive to their surroundings, and stimuli that appear to be innocuous to a pet owner can be considered a threat by the cat. For instance, cats are not a pack species, Dr. Buffington explained, and cats in a multicat household may experience harmful stress if they are unable to exercise control over their environment, such as spending time away from other cats. "The consensus seems to be that cats appear to benefit from appropriate access to resources, control of interactions with owners, and a tolerable intensity of conflict," Dr. Buffington said. He recommended that veterinarians educate cat owners about their pet's needs and that cats be provided with adequate access to food and water, scratching objects, resting areas, and litter box. (from AVMA and American Association of Feline Practitioners)

If any of you cat owners aren't sure about your cat's needs, perhaps it's time to have that conversation with your veterinarian?

3) The AKC is conducting a survey to determine how much, if any, the present economy is affecting how pet owners are making monetary decisions about their pets. You can find this survey at: Go ahead and participate in the survey...the results might be interesting! Helpful Buckeye will publish the results when they become available. If you happen to get what looks like the final page of the survey, simply click on the "previous" button to find the questions, then go ahead and answer them.

4) In the 12 OCTOBER 2008 issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats, Helpful Buckeye presented an overview of the various brands of Pet Health Insurance available to pet owners. The topic generated a lot of e-mails and comments, as evidence that pet owners are considering these policies. The American Animal Hospital Association has recently made an endorsement of one particular plan that you may not have read about: SAN ANTONIO, Texas, September 17, 2008 – PurinaCare®, the first pet health insurance under the Purina brand, today announced it has been awarded the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Seal of Acceptance for its policies with deductibles of $500 and $1,000. The acceptance seal was established by the AAHA to help increase pet owner education and awareness regarding the need to meet their financial responsibility for the care of their pets.
The Seal of Acceptance is awarded to pet insurance policies with high levels of deductibles of at least $500 that provide owners with the coverage they may need for major veterinary expenses. PurinaCare pet health insurance offers four different deductible levels: $100, $250, $500 and $1,000. There is a 20-percent co-pay once the annual deductible has been met.
“We are pleased to have been awarded the AAHA Seal of Acceptance for our high deductible policies,” said David Goodnight, D.V.M., president and chief operating officer of PurinaCare Insurance Services, Inc. “We share the AAHA’s commitment to helping ensure pet owners have the financial resources they need to care for their pets throughout their lifetimes, including the ability to pay for lifesaving catastrophic care or unexpected emergencies.”
Pet health insurance plans must meet a number of criteria in order to be awarded the AAHA Seal of Acceptance, including allowing the policy holder to seek care from a licensed veterinarian of his choosing. In addition, marketing, sales and promotional materials must include the availability of the $500 deductible (or higher) policy option.
PurinaCare offers two plans that are designed to help dog and cat owners take advantage of the latest advances in veterinary medicine with less worry about the financial implications. Both plans provide coverage for illness, injuries and accidents, hospitalization, surgery, prescription medications, and hereditary conditions. The PurinaCare plus Preventive Care plan is designed to encourage the use of routine preventive care by also covering certain customary annual costs of routine vaccinations, flea and heartworm preventative medications, routine annual physical exams and lab tests, and certain other preventive care as outlined in the policy. A complete list of coverage is available on
A subsidiary of American International Group, Inc. (AIG) is the issuer of the insurance policies and is registering the insurance offerings in every state. For the complete list of states in which PurinaCare is currently available and to obtain a free quote, pet owners can visit

A further review of this PurinaCare insurance product is available at:

The only potential concern for Helpful Buckeye on this offering would be the recent misfortunes of AIG, the parent company.

5) Our old friend, Mark Twain, had something important to say in reference to all this reading about health matters: "Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint."


Palpation--noun; the act of feeling with the hand; the application of the fingers with light pressure to the surface of the body for the purpose of determining the condition of the parts beneath in physical diagnosis.


Pet Safety Collar--....alerts motorists and other pedestrians...Features quick flashes, intermittent flashes, or constant light...can be seen from 1 mile away! Check it out at:


Peruvian Hairless--

This is one of the breeds being mentioned as a possible candidate for being the "First Dog," due to its supposed hypoallergenic traits. Not to be confused with the Xoloitzcuintli, seen below, the Peruvian Hairless does share some traits with the unpronounceable Mexican breed. The same gene that is responsible for the hairless nature of these breeds (and, consequently, their hypoallergenicity) is also responsible for them not having any of their premolars or molars. Needless to say, there aren't very many of either of these breeds found in the USA...which results in them being very expensive! Helpful Buckeye is still wrestling with the pronounciation of the Xolo.... Why isn't it just called a Mexican Hairless, the same as the one from Peru???


1) In the spirit of Thanksgiving, this past week there was a nice editorial opinion in The USA Today about the good work that is being done by humane societies, animal shelters, and animal rescuers. For a feel-good read, go to:

2) Also, this past week, there was a heart-warming story in The USA Today about small plane pilots who donate their services to help relocate homeless pets from a shelter where they will soon be euthanized to another location where they can be safely held until adoption. They refer to themselves as Pilots N Paws and they have flown several hundreds of pets on these missions of mercy. "Doggy kisses are worth the $6 a gallon," says Westminster, Md., businesswoman and small-plane pilot Michele McGuire. She was recently part of a two-leg rely that flew a 110-pound skin-and-bones Great Dane from Arab, Ala., where a rescue group saved it from euthanasia, to a new family in Baldwin, Mass. For the whole story, go to:

3) Helpful Buckeye has received this video of the "Talking Dogs" from several readers this past week, but Charee, in Virginia, was the first to send it. For those of you who haven't seen it, these dogs are much better "talkers" than those in various other videos! Take a look and see what you think: (then click on the black and white dog to start the video)

4) As a sort of follow-up to the smart dogs, we now have the "crazy" dogs. Almost as interesting as the action is the music accompanying this video: and be careful where you are standing!!!

5) A final fun video to watch was sent to Helpful Buckeye by Sara, in Virginia, and this one involves what is called, "The Slinky Cat." It appears that this cat has perhaps swallowed a Slinky (just joking, folks!)....

At this point, a quote from Henry David Thoreau about cats would be appropriate: "A kitten is so flexible that she is almost double; the hind parts are equivalent to another kitten with which the forepart plays. She does not discover that her tail belongs to her until you tread upon it."

6) Another AVMA podcast (audio only) presents an interesting picture of some of the differences between dog and cat owners. Listen and see if you agree or disagree with some of the observations:

7) The 24th of NOV marked the anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin, in 1859. The actual complete title was On the Origin of Species, by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life and it still stands today as one of the most significant pieces of scientific literature ever written.

8) Also, on the 24th of NOV 1874, Joseph Glidden received the first meaningful patent for the production of barbed wire. It was the introduction of barbed wire that made farming the Great Plains possible. Now, what does barbed wire have to do with dogs and cats, you say? Well, absolutely nothing, except that Helpful Buckeye vividly remembers touring a small un-air-conditioned barbed wire museum in McLean, Texas on a 103 degree the pleading request of Desperado, a true barbed wire aficionada!

9) The 26th of NOV (1922) was the birthday of Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts. As our readers will recall, Snoopy, one of the Peanuts characters, ran for President several weeks ago. One of Schulz's famous quotes was: "Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia."

10) The 30th of NOV (1835) was the birthday of our old friend Mark Twain, who later died in 1910. Twain was a great one for observations and appropriate quotes. Here are two pictures of him and his pets, along with quotes about each one:

"Entrance into Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in."- Mark Twain, A Biography

"One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives."- Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson


The Pittsburgh Steelers went into New England and soundly beat the Patriots today. That's only the second time in 9 games that we have beaten them! Hopefully, this momentum will carry over into next week, when we play Dallas in the Steel City.


My really good friend, Ken, who is currently recuperating, has a very different sense of winter than does Helpful Buckeye. We both really like's just that I like it here and he wants it somewhere else! So, as we head into the month of December, Helpful Buckeye would like to offer Ken this poem of hope, even as winter is approaching:

"I heard a bird sing

In the dark of December

A magical thing

And sweet to remember.

'We are nearer to Spring

Than we were in September,'

I heard a bird sing

In the dark of December."

- Oliver Herford, I Heard a Bird Sing

Hang in there, good buddy!!!

I guess you could say that Ken is a pessimist about winter, while Helpful Buckeye is an optimist. None other than Sir Winston Churchill gave us his view on this difference: "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."

~~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.~~

Sunday, November 23, 2008



Ah, Thanksgiving Day, the beginning of the stretch of time known in America as "The Holiday Season," running from Thanksgiving Day through New Year's Day. Thanksgiving marks the nominal end of the harvest season with a celebration of giving thanks for one's blessings. Spend a few minutes listening to Perry Como welcoming the "HOLIDAY SEASON".... Helpful Buckeye especially likes the part of the song that goes: "...he was heading for Pennsylvania and some home made pumpkin pie..." because when I first went away to college, this was the song I remember hearing on my way home to Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving. Of course, those who know Helpful Buckeye really well will tell you that his favorite pie is:

Coconut cream!!!

The other song that is so popular around Thanksgiving derives from a poem written in 1844 by Lydia Maria Child (novelist, journalist, and teacher), entitled "A Boy's Thanksgiving Day," as it appeared in Flowers for Children, Vol. 2. It celebrates her childhood memories of visiting her grandfather's house for Thanksgiving.

To give you a clue to this song, think about this picture:

OK, enjoy what is probably one of the oldest songs still being sung in America today: while following along with the lyrics:

Over the river, and through the wood,
To Grandfather's house we go;
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.
Over the river, and through the wood
-Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose
As over the ground we go.
Over the river, and through the wood,
To have a first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring,
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!
Over the river, and through the wood
Trot fast, my dapple-gray!
Spring over the ground like a hunting-hound,
For this is Thanksgiving Day.
Over the river, and through the wood
-And straight through the barnyard gate,
We seem to go extremely slow,
It is so hard to wait!
Over the river, and through the wood
-Now Grandmother's cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun!
Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

Over the years, Lydia Maria Child's lyrics have freely exchanged "Grandfather" for "Grandmother" and "Thanksgiving" for "Christmas."

While an alarming number of Americans are sitting down to their Thanksgiving dinner, with gluttony in mind, they will also be guilty of sharing their leftovers with their pets. As any veterinarian will tell you, they will be seeing far more than normal the number of dogs with digestive troubles the next few days after Thanksgiving. Helpful Buckeye will address this topic a little later in this issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats.

1) From the American Veterinary Medical Association, the College of Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State University, in Ames, Iowa, has opened a new addition to its facilities:

Iowa State dedicates medical center
Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine dedicated the new Dr. W. Eugene and Linda Lloyd Veterinary Medical Center at an Oct. 18 ceremony.
The 108,000-square-foot addition to the college increases space by 25 percent. The center features equine and food animal diagnostic areas, treatment and surgery suites, patient wards, imaging facilities, an intensive care unit, and an isolation unit. The project also added a new biosecurity unit to the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.
The project is the first part of a two-phase expansion program to increase capabilities of the 32-year-old veterinary teaching hospital. The second phase includes updating the spaces of services that are relocating to the new facility.
Dr. W. Eugene Lloyd (ISU '49) and his wife pledged $3.5 million to the project. Other funds for the $48 million expansion program came from state and private support.
The new space accommodates class sizes that the veterinary college is increasing to meet the demand for veterinarians, particularly in food supply veterinary medicine.

2) The AVMA has also issued a press release commending President-Elect Obama for deciding to wait until after his inauguration to choose the Obama family's "First Dog":
AVMA congratulates Obama family for making adoption of new first-family dog a serious, careful decision
Schaumburg, Ill.
— In a recent interview with 60 Minutes, President-Elect Barack Obama and his wife Michelle said that they plan to take their time adopting a first-family dog, waiting until "late winter, early spring" to pick their new pet.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) thanks the president-elect for setting a good example for every American considering adopting a pet.
"I'm glad to hear that President-Elect Obama is approaching selecting a pet in a thoughtful manner. It's good to know that his decisions are made with intellect, responsibility and seriousness," explains Dr. James Cook, president of the AVMA. "I agree completely with Michelle Obama when she said that she didn't think it would be 'good to get a dog in the midst of transition.' Adopting a pet takes care and attention to detail.
"This decision not only will have an impact on his family, but also on his new pet," Dr. Cook says. "I would also advise the Obamas the same as anyone else considering a new pet. Have a veterinarian give the pet a health exam and make sure it is current on its vaccinations. Discuss a plan of long-term veterinary care to keep the first dog happy and healthy."
Dr. Cook also cautions prospective pet owners regarding surprising a family member with a pet as a holiday gift. "Adopting a pet should be a family decision and the first few days home are an important transition time. The chaos of holidays may not be the best time to introduce a new pet to its new environment. It would be heartbreaking to have to return a pet in January because the pet wasn't a good match for the family," he explains.
"The Obama family is handling the adoption with the appropriate care, and I would like to thank him for setting a good example for all Americans."


1) Dave and Terry, from PA, have sent in a question about feeding a dog from the table, especially around the holidays. They asked: "For years we've been told not to feed poultry (chicken/turkey) to our dogs, even at holiday time. Terry has just read something in a magazine that advocates feeding turkey to your dog. What is the true message?"

Well, faithful readers, this question calls attention to one of the biggest blunders ever committed by pet owners...allowing your dog to eat your food! Helpful Buckeye understands, never meant to get started like this, but now that you've gotten your dog started, it's awful difficult trying to ignore the pleading, big, dark eyes...right? This makes for a great topic of discussion at any time of the year, but it is even more so on the front burner during the "Holiday Season," which begins this Thursday.

Let's back up a little bit here and agree that most of us do not follow the principles of moderation in much of what we do, especially when it comes to eating. Americans are, for the most part, still operating under the dining mantra of "clean your plate!" Even if human table food were the best food for your dog, we would then be giving the dog more food than it needs. Pretty soon then, Fido starts looking like some of us who either cannot or refuse to push away from the table a little earlier! OK, let's complicate the story by saying that most human table food is not the proper food for your dog. A dog's basic nutritive needs for vitamins, minerals, protein, fats, and carbohydrates are considerably different from those of humans. After all, dogs are carnivores and humans are omnivores.

When Thanksgiving rolls around, all the extended family is visiting, and the dinner table is overflowing with great food, one of the worst things you can do is to give your dog certain items from that table. The items which are big "No-Nos" would be chicken or turkey skin (very high in fats), chicken or turkey bones (discussion on this to follow), gravy (again, very high in fats), and just about any dessert (again, high in fats and calories).

Trying to digest the high quantities of fats results in the pancreas being overworked as it tries to provide the necessary enzymes for this digestion to happen. At the least, the dog will experience severe abdominal distress and, in the worst cases, a fatality can result from pancreatitis. On the other hand, trying to digest the easily-fragmented bones can lead to either an impaction in the intestines or perforations of the stomach or bowel by the sharp bone fragments. At this point in the discussion, some of Helpful Buckeye's clients would say, "But Doc, I've given bones to my dog all its life and never had a problem." To which Helpful Buckeye would answer, "That may be so, but your turn is coming." Granted, in the natural history and development of the dog, wild dogs would kill their prey and devour the whole carcass, including the bones. Many, if not most, of these dogs would not suffer any serious problem from ingesting the bones. However, from what we know of the physical dangers posed by the sharp bone fragments as they work their way through the digestive system, we know that they can irritate and/or puncture the soft tissues or contribute to a dangerous impaction. These dogs in the wild would crawl under a bush and die! Domestic dogs in the same distress will need some fairly aggressive treatment, possibly to include heroic surgical procedures. It just doesn't make good sense to gamble your dog's life on whether this next time will be the one time the bones win, does it?

Now, to loop back around to Dave and Terry's question, what can you feed your dog from the Thanksgiving feast? Well, assuming you know and understand the meaning of moderation, a few small pieces of lean chicken/turkey breast meat would make a nice treat for the gristle, fats, skin, or bone to be included! A few pieces of vegetables would be OK (as long as they aren't saturated with fats) and if your dog like vegetables. Onions would be one exception to this...they can cause gas/flatulence and, in larger quantities, can be toxic to dogs. So, in summary, it's OK to try a little of this:

but absolutely NONE of these:

So, when everybody is sitting around the table for Thanksgiving dinner this year, giving thanks for all their blessings, be sure to keep in mind that the wonderful blessing of having a great dog can be lost in the one moment of making a bad decision.

2) What should I do if my dog eats chicken/turkey bones? Since there isn't much that you can do after the chicken bones have been ingested by your dog, you simply need to monitor the dog closely for the next few days. Keep checking his stools to see if the bones pass. Watch for vomiting, diarrhea, blood in the stool, or any signs that he's straining to defecate. Additionally, you should also keep an eye on your dog's temperament. If it becomes moody, listless, or tender over the abdomen take him to your veterinarian immediately.

3) Holiday Safety Tips For Your Furry Little Friends....Now more than ever before pets are a very big part of family get-togethers during the Holidays. Some potentially dangerous items that pet owners need to beware of during the holidays include:

  • Christmas tree lights and electrical cords can cause fatal shocks and/or burns to pets that chew on them.

  • Loose cords can entangle pets, leading to choking hazards,or the possibility of the pet accidentally pulling over the tree or other decorations.

  • Holiday foods such as chocolate, alcohol, nuts and spicy sauces can be toxic and cause digestive problems.

  • Bones and plastic food wrap can cause choking and/or obstruct a pet's digestive system, and may require surgery.

  • Another big thing to be aware of is ribbon. It can cause serious intestinal problems if swallowed.

  • Any open flame is a potential burn hazard. Keep pets away from candles, fireplaces and any other open flames.

  • Be cautious about dressing pets in holiday-related costumes.

ANY COMMENTS...e-mail me at:


Having some knowledge of first aid and being prepared for an emergency involving your pet can be the difference between saving or losing your pet. The following guidelines are provided by the American Animal Hospital Association:

Pet First Aid

When your pet has an emergency, being prepared is very important. Before an emergency strikes, be sure you know how your veterinarian handles emergencies or where you should go if you have one. For example, some veterinarians always have someone on call, while others use special emergency hospitals for things that arise after hours. AAHA-accredited hospitals are required to provide 24-hour-a-day emergency care in one way or another. You can also stay prepared for emergencies by putting together a pet first aid kit. This kit should include:

  • Your veterinarian's phone number and emergency veterinary clinic’s phone number (if applicable) in your cell phone address book and keep a hard copy in the kit.

  • Gauze to wrap wounds or muzzle animal.

  • Adhesive tape for bandages.

  • A rectal thermometer.

  • Nonstick bandages (i.e., Telfa pads) to protect wounds or control bleeding.

  • Towels and cloth to clean wounds or to wrap up the pet.

  • Milk of Magnesia or activated charcoal to absorb poison (be sure to get the advice of your veterinarian or local poison control center before inducing vomiting or treating an animal for poisoning).

  • Large syringe (no needle) or eyedropper (to give oral treatments).

  • Muzzle, a basket muzzle is the best option but a cloth muzzle will also work, (soft cloth, rope, necktie or nylon stocking) or use a towel to cover a small animal's head. Do not use in case of vomiting.

  • Stretcher (a door, board, blanket or floor mat).

We cannot stress enough that you SHOULD NOT get on-line during a pet emergency or when your pet is seriously ill. In an emergency, first aid is not a substitute for veterinary treatment. However, before you are able to get your pet to a veterinarian, knowing some basic first aid can help. Always seek veterinary care following first-aid attempts.

  • Bite Wounds Treatment/Action...Approach the pet carefully to avoid getting bitten. Muzzle the animal. Check the wound for contamination or debris. If significant debris is present, then clean the wound with large amounts of saline or balanced electrolyte solution. If these are not available, then regular water may be used. Wrap large open wounds to keep them clean. Apply pressure to profusely bleeding wounds. Do not use a tourniquet. Wear gloves when possible. Bite wounds often become infected and need professional care. Call your veterinarian.

  • Bleeding Treatment/Action...Apply firm, direct pressure over the bleeding area until the bleeding stops. Hold the pressure for at least 10 straight minutes (continually releasing the pressure to check the wound will hamper the clotting). Avoid bandages that cut off circulation. Call your veterinarian immediately.

  • Breathing Stops Treatment/Action...Check to see if the animal is choking on a foreign object. If an animal is not breathing, place it on a firm surface with its left side up. Check for a heartbeat by listening at the area where the elbow touches the chest. If you hear a heartbeat but not breathing, close the animal's mouth and breathe directly into its nose--not the mouth--until the chest expands. Repeat 12 to 15 times per minute. If there is no pulse, apply heart massage at the same time. The heart is located in the lower half of the chest, behind the elbow of the front left leg. Place one hand below the heart to support the chest. Place other hand over the heart and compress gently. To massage the hearts of cats and other tiny pets, compress the chest with the thumb and forefingers of one hand. Apply heart massage 80-120 times per minute for larger animals and 100-150 per minute for smaller ones. Alternate heart massage with breathing. Please note: Even in the hands of well-trained veterinary health professionals, the success of resuscitation is very low overall. Success may be slightly higher in the cases of drowning or electrical shock. Call your veterinarian immediately.

  • Burns(chemical, electrical, or heat including from a heating pad) Symptoms: singed hair, blistering, swelling, redness of skin Treatment/Action...Flush the burn immediately with large amounts of cool, running water. Apply an ice pack for 15-20 minutes. Do not place an ice pack directly on the skin. Wrap the pack in a light towel or other cover. If the animal has large quantities of dry chemicals on its skin, brush them off. Water may activate some dry chemicals. Call your veterinarian immediately.

  • Choking Symptoms: difficulty breathing, excessive pawing at the mouth, blue lips and tongue Treatment/Action...Be sure to protect yourself as well as the animal, as the pet will likely be frantic and may be more likely to bite. If the pet can still partially breathe, it's best to keep the animal calm and get to a veterinarian as quickly as possible. Look into the mouth to see if a foreign object in throat is visible. If you can, clear the airway by removing the object with pliers or tweezers, being careful not to push it farther down the throat. If it is lodged too deep or if the pet collapses, then place your hands on both sides of the animal's rib cage and apply firm, quick pressure. Or place the animal on its side and strike the side of the rib cage firmly with the palm of your hand three or four times. Repeat this procedure until the object is dislodged or you arrive at the veterinarian's office. Call your veterinarian immediately.

  • Diarrhea Treatment/Action...Withhold food for 12-24 hours, but not water. Sometimes pets that appear to be straining are sore from diarrhea rather than from constipation. Your veterinarian can help you decide which it is and what will help. Trying at-home treatments without knowing the real cause can just make things worse. Call your veterinarian.

  • Fractures Symptoms: Pain, inability to use a limb, or limb at odd angle Treatment/Action... Muzzle the pet and look for bleeding. If you can control bleeding without causing more injury, then do so. Watch for signs of shock. DO NOT TRY TO SET THE FRACTURE by pulling or tugging on the limb. Transport the pet to the veterinarian immediately, supporting the injured part as best you can.

  • Heatstroke Symptoms: Rapid or labored breathing, vomiting, high body temperature, collapse Treatment/Action...Place the animal in a tub of cool water. Or, gently soak the animal with a garden hose or wrap it in a cool, wet towel. Do not overcool the animal. Stop cooling when rectal temperature reaches 103 degrees Fahrenheit. Call veterinarian immediately.

  • Poisoning Symptoms: vomiting, convulsions, diarrhea, salivation, weakness, depression, pain Treatment/Action...Record what the pet ingested and how much. Immediately call your veterinarian or the ASPCA poison control center (1-888-426-4435)--a consultation fee may apply. Do not induce vomiting. In case of toxins or chemicals on the skin from oils, paints, insecticides and other contact irritants, request directions on if and how to wash the toxin off.

  • Seizures Symptoms: salivation, loss of control of urine or stool, violent muscle twitching, loss of consciousness Treatment/Action...Move the pet away from any objects that could be harmful during the seizure. Use a blanket for padding and protection. Do not put yourself at risk by restraining the pet during the seizure. Time the seizure. They usually last only 2 to 3 minutes. Afterwards, keep the animal calm and quiet. Call your veterinarian immediately.

  • Shock Symptoms: irregular breathing, dilated pupils Treatment/Action...Shock may occur as a result of a serious injury or fright. Keep the animal gently restrained, quiet, and warm, with the lower body elevated. Call your veterinarian immediately.

  • Vomiting Treatment/Action...Withhold food for 12-24 hours. Give the pet ice cubes for two hours after vomiting stops, then slowly increase the amount of water and foods given over a 24-hour period. Call your veterinarian.

  • If you need to muzzle your pet, use a strip of soft cloth, rope, necktie, or nylon stocking. Wrap around the nose, under the chin and tie behind the ears. Care must be taken when handling weak or injured pets. Even normally docile pets will bite when in pain. Allow the pet to pant after handling by loosening or removing the muzzle. Do not use a muzzle in a case of vomiting. Cats and small pets may be difficult to muzzle. A towel placed around the head will help control small pets.

  • If your pet can't walk, a door, board, blanket, or floor mat can be used as a stretcher to transport injured or weak animals.

  • If your pet's emergency is not covered here, please call your veterinarian immediately.

Dogs and cats can find themselves in an emergency situation when you least expect it. For that reason, being prepared for it ahead of time might save your pet. Helpful Buckeye suggests that you might want to consider copying this page of first aid advice and having it easily available so that you are ready when the need arises.

The Humane Society of the United States has a nice first aid booklet available at: and the ASPCA has a good page of information on their poison control center and how it works at: ....Look at these ahead of time so that you are ready and prepared should the need arise.

ANY COMMENTS...e-mail me at:


1) Omnivore--noun; one that feeds on both animals and plants; humans are omnivores physiologically and evolutionarily (vegetarians and vegans have made a philosophical choice)

2) Postprandial--adjective; after a meal


After reading last week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats, Sam in Chicago, wrote in to ask, "OK, what's a Maltese look like?" Well, Sam, first...thanks for sending in the question! The Maltese breed has been around for a really long time. The following description is from the American Kennel Club: The Maltese is a toy dog covered from head to foot with a mantle of long, silky, white hair. He is gentle-mannered and affectionate, eager and sprightly in action, and, despite his size, possessed of the vigor needed for the satisfactory companion. For all his diminutive size, the Maltese seems to be without fear. His trust and affectionate responsiveness are very appealing. He is among the gentlest mannered of all little dogs, yet he is lively and playful as well as vigorous. Maltese have no undercoat, have little to no shedding, and are considered to be largely hypoallergenic.
The Maltese, the ancient dog of Malta, has been known as an aristocrat of the canine world for more than 28 centuries. Their place in antiquity is well documented. At the time of the Apostle Paul, Publius, the Roman governor of Malta, had a Maltese name Issa of which he was very fond. Issa was the object of the poet Marcus Valerius Martialis (Martial), born in A.D. 40 at Bilbilis in Spain, in one of his celebrated epigrams:
Issa is more frolicsome than Catulla’s sparrow. Issa is purer than a dove’s kiss. Issa is gentler than a maiden. Issa is more precious than Indian gems... Lest the last days that she see light should snatch her from him forever, Publius has had her picture painted.
This picture was said to have been so lifelike it was difficult to tell the picture from the living dog. Many similar accounts in ancient doctrine address the Maltese as an object of beauty and value. The Greeks erected tombs to their Maltese, and from the ceramic art dating to the 5th century innumerable paintings of the little dog are evident. Literary accounts detail Maltese maintaining a place of esteem and privilege in Royal households, a status the Maltese has maintained throughout history.
So, there you are, Sam, that's what a Maltese, look at these pictures and try to pick the real Maltese:

These are ALL Maltese dogs...they just have different haircuts!


1) A few months ago, Helpful Buckeye described a new type of grooming tool, the Pedi-Paws Pet Nail Trimmer and gave you a web site for a reduced price for one of these. Sara, in Virginia, purchased one of them and has just reported that she doesn't think it's much of an improvement over the conventional methods of nail trimming, because of a classic won't help you in holding the animal still! There you go...any other opinions out there?

2) Most of our readers are familiar with Land's End clothing catalogs. Well, last week, Helpful Buckeye received an e-mail advertisement from Land's End Pet Outerwear and some of the stuff looks pretty nice for protecting your pet when outdoors. Check out this page from the catalog:

Helpful Buckeye especially likes the dog in the yellow raincoat:


1) Helpful Buckeye would like all of our readers to know this fact: The most dangerous driving holiday of the year is Thanksgiving! Whether from postprandial exhaustion or a little too much wine with dinner, AAA's biggest travel holiday of the year saw 623 traffic fatalities in 2006, the most recent year on record. Read about it and the next 4 holidays on the list at: Don't be one of these a little more careful on the wine and get someone else to drive if you're too tired. Enjoy the meal, but also be sure to get home safely!

2) The AKC has produced a public service announcement about the release of the upcoming movie, Marley and Me. Many of you have no doubt read the book and will be eagerly awaiting the movie. View the announcement here:

3) Since Helpful Buckeye has devoted some space in this week's issue to dogs eating people food, it seems only fitting to address the problem of people eating dog food. Unfortunately, we always hear of people on low incomes having to supplement their diet with dog food and a lot of this may be true. This account tells it like it is: we said above, this is something that probably shouldn't be going in either direction!

4) Since this is the time of year when many people are getting new pets (even though Helpful Buckeye has advised them not to), it is important to learn this fact from SPCA International: "We have heard some disturbing news related to the slowing economy and your pets’ safety. Reports of pet theft have dramatically increased this year - in fact, reports have quadrupled since 2007." For the rest of the report, go to:

5) 22 NOV (1921) was Rodney Dangerfield's remember, the guy who got no respect. Well, one of his classic lines about getting no respect involved first aid (which we discussed in length above). He said that when he was a youngster, his family was so poor that they could only get "second" aid, they couldn't afford first aid. This is just a humorous way to get our readers' attention so that you understand the importance of being able to administer first aid when it is necessary.

6) The 17th of NOV (1938) was Gordon Lightfoot's 70th birthday...geez, aren't we all getting older? Watch and listen to his first really big hit in 1970:

ANY COMMENTS...e-mail me at:


The Ohio State Buckeyes soundly thrashed the Michigan Wolverines yesterday, making it 5 wins in a row against Michigan. We ended up tied for the Big Ten championship with Penn State. Our bowl destination remains to be seen.

The Pittsburgh Steelers beat Cincinnati on Thursday to remain in control of our division. Up next is New England.


During one bike ride this past week, Helpful Buckeye "hit for the cycle" (as they say in baseball) by seeing a bald eagle, 2 coyotes, 16 mule deer (3 were big bucks), and 2 huge bull elks. A final sighting was an endangered species, a Michigan football fan! Helpful Buckeye doesn't want them to actually become extinct because then, it wouldn't be so much fun beating them every year!

Helpful Buckeye would like to close this Thanksgiving issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats with 3 quotes that embody the Thanksgiving spirit:

Celebrate the happiness that friends are always giving; make every day a holiday and celebrate just living. --Amanda Bradley, American poet

Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.--Voltaire, French philosopher and writer

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice.--Meister Eckhart, German theologian and philosopher (1260-1328)

~~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.~~

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Well, here it is, the middle of November, most of us have gone through our "Indian" summer, and some of us have felt the first thrust of winter. Only our friends in Florida and Chico, CA have been spared the onset of cold weather.

Our old buddy, Mark Twain, described the onset of winter this way:

"Winter is begun here, now, I suppose. It blew part of the hair off the dog yesterday & got the rest this morning." (from a letter to Chatto and Windus, October 21, 1892. Published in The Fence Painter, Winter, 2004.)

Helpful Buckeye can't speak for all of our readers, but a chill wind that blows "the hair off the dog," will get my attention right away! If one of my former clients would have brought their dog in to see me with a complaint of the winter wind blowing the hair off their dog, I would have probably initiated a serious chat about giving their dog better protection. Helpful Buckeye will address being prepared for the onset of winter and what it means for your pets later in this issue.

First stage of winter in Flagstaff:


1) Helpful Buckeye wants to remind all of our readers that the deadline for filing a claim in the pet food melamine contamination problems of last year is NOV 24, 2008. The American Veterinary Medical Association has published this news update:

Nov. 24 deadline to file claims relevant to recalled pet food

A U.S. district court has granted final approval of a $24 million settlement to pay economic damages to the owners of cats and dogs that ate pet food subject to last year's massive recalls.
The recalled pet food contained ingredients from China contaminated with melamine and melamine analogs, which apparently combined to impair renal function in cats and dogs.
Pet owners must file claims by Nov. 24 to receive compensation for economic damages from the settlement fund. The cash fund comes from U.S. and Canadian companies that supplied the ingredients in question or manufactured, distributed, or sold pet food containing the ingredients.
With documentation, consumers can receive up to a 100 percent cash payment of reasonable expenses that resulted from their purchase or their pet's consumption of the recalled pet food. Consumers also can receive up to $900 for reasonable and valid economic damages for which they do not have documentation.
Valid expenses include food purchases, veterinary care, necropsy costs, the price of cremation or burial, the purchase price or fair market value of a pet that died or of a new pet, and other economic costs.
Claim forms are available by calling (800) 392-7785 or by visiting The Web site provides more details about the settlement.

2) In an effort to tighten controls over large-scale dog breeders, Congress has been trying to bring more oversight responsibility for this to the USDA. The AVMA reports on this bill's progress:

"Federal law could increase scrutiny at dog breeding facilities; Law would broaden USDA jurisdiction, change exercise requirements
Lawmakers are trying to close a loophole that exempts some large-scale dog breeders from federal scrutiny when the breeders sell directly to the public.
"Even though they're these massive operations, they are not under the jurisdiction of the Animal Welfare Act because they're selling directly to consumers," said Tom Mentzer, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Sam Farr. "And so you have these puppy mills that should be regulated because they are huge commercial operations, but they're not."
Representative Farr, of California, introduced the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act in the House of Representatives Sept. 18, and he is among more than 20 representatives and senators sponsoring or co-sponsoring the bill in their respective houses. U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois introduced it in the Senate.
It did not appear likely at press time that H.R. 6949 would pass this year, and Mentzer said Farr will likely reintroduce it in January or February.
"I think we're trying to build momentum so we can introduce it early on in the 111th Congress," Mentzer said in early October.
The AVMA has monitored but not yet taken a position on the bill."

To read the rest of this report, go to:

3) The Humane Society of the United States has begun a program to encourage "Citizen Activism," when it comes to identifying and reporting violations of animal cruelty laws. Citizen Activism has given animals a voice in the quest to prevent the mistreatment of pets. The HSUS centers on the contributions of 3 individuals in this uplifting press release:

As explained toward the end of this press release, there are 3 ways to become involved in the Citizen Advocate program:

Helpful Buckeye knows that our readers are already concerned with the welfare of animals or you wouldn't have the interest to keep reading Questions On Dogs and Cats and sending in the questions that you do. Becoming even further involved in some type of activism, like this program by the HSUS, may be just what you were looking for...especially with winter coming on and some of your outdoor activities being curtailed. Check out these web sites and let us know if you've pursued any of the options.

4) We have covered the selection of the Presidential first dog since the topic first arose during the campaign. If you're tired of this topic, skip this and go ahead to the next section. However, since the Secretary of State hasn't even been selected (amidst a lot of speculation), Helpful Buckeye feels it's only proper to provide coverage until the first pooch has been chosen. This report from ABC News gives the situation even further analysis:

Comedian Bill Maher has given us his take on the back-ground security checks being done on potential first dogs: "A sure bet that a dog will be eliminated from consideration is if it has ever palled around with terriers."


1) In many areas, winter is a season of bitter cold and numbing wetness. Help your pets remain happy and healthy during the colder months by following these simple guidelines.
With the onset of winter weather upon us, the HSUS offers these tips for protecting your pets from winter's woes:

  • Don't leave dogs outdoors when the temperature drops. Most dogs, and all cats, are safer indoors, except when taken out for exercise. Regardless of the season, shorthaired, very young, or old dogs and all cats should never be left outside without supervision. Short-coated dogs may feel more comfortable wearing a sweater during walks.

  • No matter what the temperature, windchill can threaten a pet's life. A dog or cat is happiest and healthiest when kept indoors. If your dog is an outdoor dog, however, he/she must be protected by a dry, draft-free doghouse that is large enough to allow the dog to sit and lie down comfortably, but small enough to hold in his/her body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The house should be turned to face away from the wind, and the doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.

  • Pets who spend a lot of time outdoors need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy. Routinely check your pet's water dish to make certain the water is fresh and unfrozen. Use plastic food and water bowls rather than metal; when the temperature is low, your pet's tongue can stick and freeze to metal.

  • Warm engines in parked cars attract cats and small wildlife, who may crawl up under the hood. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car's hood to scare them away before starting your engine.

  • The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet's feet. Wipe the feet with a damp towel before your pet licks them and irritates his/her mouth.

  • Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that may attract animals and children. Wipe up spills and store antifreeze (and all household chemicals) out of reach. Better yet, use antifreeze-coolant made with propylene glycol (as opposed to the much more toxic chemical ethlyene glycol); if swallowed in small amounts, it will not hurt pets, wildlife, or your family. There are several nationally available propylene- glycol antifreezes on the market, including:
    Sierra (Safe Brands Corp., 1-800-289-7234)
    Sta-Clean (Sta-Clean Products, 1-800-825-3464
    Prestone LowTox® Antifreeze/Coolant-available at most automotive stores and departments

Probably the best prescription for winter's woes is to keep your dog or cat inside with you and your family. The happiest dogs are those who are taken out frequently for walks and exercise but kept inside the rest of the time. Dogs and cats are social animals who crave human companionship. Your animal companions deserve to live indoors with you and your family.

Helpful Buckeye will address antifreeze and other household hazards in next week's issue. Stay tuned....


1) With the existing economic conditions, one of the very unfortunate results has been the high number of home foreclosures. In addition to a family losing their home, many of these families also have had pets, which seemed to have gotten lost as the family transitions to a new location. Local, state, and national organizations have tried to encourage volunteers to act as temporary foster "owners" of these pets in order to allow time to find the pets a new home. The Arizona Republic features this article about a project being offered by the Arizona Animal Welfare League: ....

The AVMA has also put together a list of questions and answers to help in the assistance of those who are about to lose their homes and pets. Even though hopefully none of our readers is in this situation, any of you may know of someone who is facing such a crisis. If so, use this list to familiarize yourself with the problem and some potential solutions:

"Frequently asked questions about pets and foreclosed homes"

The HSUS has also initiated a program designed to assist those in danger of losing their homes and their pets by making financial grants available for the care of those pets:

2) The second big problem arising out of this economic downturn is that a lot of pet owners have found it difficult affording any type of veterinary care for their pets. The HSUS has also addressed this situation and provides a nice comprehensive list of options and considerations for pets that need medical care:


1) The mystery pet from last week was NOT an Irish Water Spaniel, as some of you suggested, although there is a slight similarity. The mystery breed was a Portuguese Water Dog and was correctly identified by...yep, my Aunt Cathy in FL. An Irish Water Spaniel is shown on the left and a Portuguese Water Dog on the right:

2) In the Halloween issue, the Pet of the Week was the Pug. We had a little fun with this breed, seen in a couple of humorous costumes. Helpful Buckeye had another picture of a Pug banner, in a delightful flower garden, but decided to hold the picture for a few weeks so that it could be seen with the proper respect of his memory. Jeffrey was a favored pet of Pat and Ed, of Martinsburg, PA.


OK, Helpful Buckeye has mentioned a lot of products for pets since starting Questions On Dogs and Cats back in May. As always, just because these products are described in this blog, it doesn't mean that Helpful Buckeye endorses them. The products are mentioned because they are interesting, for one reason or another. If any of our readers decide to try one of these products, this site will welcome any first-hand account of its usage. In that light, this new section, Product of the Week, will be reserved for the most unusual or most interesting product that shows up during that week. The first in this line of memorable products will be (drum roll!)....the flushable dog poop bag! Yes, you read that correctly! Straight from the folks at Flush Doggy comes this eco-friendly way of getting rid of your dog...poop. They even are offering one free poop bag to anyone who fills out the simple form on their web site: Go ahead and read over the web site, especially the part on "Why Flush? " for their explanation of the application of this product. If any of you follow through on this offer, be sure to let us know what you think of it.


1) Gus, crowned the world's ugliest dog back in June, passed away this past week. He was a Chinese Crested with several disadvantages, one of which was a skin tumor that ultimately caused his death. Our sympathies go out to his owner.

As long as Chinese Cresteds are still around, they shouldn't have too much trouble retaking the crown (Sorry, Susan!), unless the Xoloitzcuintli or the Peruvian Hairless are able to make a push for the title! Read the report at:

2) A Maltese dog named Max is headed home to Florida after he was found in Chicago. Max disappeared from his yard several months ago and was ultimately identified in Chicago by a microchip his owner had implanted. Hardly a week goes by without hearing of or reading a similar story. As Helpful Buckeye advised in our July 20th issue, you never know when your pet could disappear and a microchip could be what reunites you.

3) Just as we thought...the investigating officer of the case involving the dog driving the car in Pryor, OK last week said the car in question was an '82 Buick...old enough that it did not require a foot to be on the brake for it to be put in gear. And, this story update comes to you today, the 101st anniversary of Oklahoma statehood! A shout-out for Charlene and Ken is in order right here!

4) Not to be outdone by Gus, the 3-legged dog mentioned above, or the 2-legged dog many of you have seen in an earlier video (dog has both back legs and walks almost upright), here is a really remarkable Greyhound. This Greyhound not only has just 2 legs, but they are both on the same side of the dog. For this dog to do the things it does is much tougher physically than the dog with only the 2 back legs. Watch this video and tell me if you don't shake your head in awe: (use your sound on this one)

5) A man from the Defiance area (Ohio) got frustrated because he couldn't find the type of furniture and other accessories that he wanted for his cats. So, he started making his own and soon he had himself a nice little business. Read about it in: then, go to: for his video ad for the products (with some interesting music)....

6) There seems to be a cable channel for just about everybody's personal interest. If you happen to get The Game Show Network, you might want to check out the "Think Like A Cat Game Show." Whether or not you get the channel, you probably will also want to go to their web site at: ....go to the "Cat Capades" section and click "play now" and have your sound on. Go a little further down the page and see the names of the 8 finalists in the Show.

7) On the 11th of NOV (1964), Calista Flockhart was born.

8) On the 14th of NOV (1666), the first ever blood transfusion was accomplished in London...between 2 dogs!

9) As an example of making something good out of something bad, comes this story of The Vicktory Dogs Wine Collection. It features colorful portraits of 22 dogs confiscated from Michael Vick's Bad Newz Kennels that now live at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in southern Utah. Their portraits are seen on select bottles of a boutique wine maker in Buellton, CA. Read the entire story at: and let us know if you buy the entire set of 24 bottles.

10) Several famous writers and their cats are briefly profiled on this web site: One of these writers, our friend again, Mark Twain, had this additional comment about cats: "Of all God's creatures there is only one that cannot be made the slave of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat."-- Notebook, 1894


The Ohio State Buckeyes got a little revenge on Illinois yesterday by winning easily in Champaign. We now have just 1 more game in the regular season, against Michigan (which has just about disappeared from the college football map)....

The Pittsburgh Steelers beat San Diego today in the snow in Pittsburgh. The final score was 11-10, the first time in the history of the NFL (12,837 games) that a game ended with that score. A strange play occurred at the end of the game, with the Steelers scoring a TD, but the officials wiped out the, for now, the 11-10 score stands. The Steelers ended up with more penalties than points, but we'll still take the win!


Next week, Helpful Buckeye will turn the discussion toward the upcoming Holiday Season, with plenty of advice and tips to help you keep your pets safe and healthy through the New Year. See you then....

~~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.~~