Sunday, January 25, 2009


Helpful Buckeye has addressed the choice-making decision for a Presidential dog several times in previous issues of Questions On Dogs and Cats. Now that President Barack Obama has been officially inaugurated, he has been quickly filling all the important positions in his administration. Therefore, the really important question that remains would be his choice for the "First Dog." As this front cover from a recent New Yorker illustrates, President Obama will be hard at work at the task of "vetting" the applicants for the top canine role in the Executive branch of government. The word "vetting" has been derived from the word veterinarian, as it applied to the examination of livestock, particularly race horses in England. This bit of word history comes from Wikipedia: To vet was originally a horse-racing term, referring to the requirement that a horse be checked for health and soundness by a veterinarian before being allowed to race. Thus, it has taken the general meaning "to check."
It is a figurative contraction of veterinarian which originated in the mid-17th century. The colloquial abbreviation dates to the 1860s; the verb form of the word, meaning "to treat an animal," came a few decades later—according to the Oxford English Dictionary the earliest known usage is 1891—and was applied primarily in a horse-racing context. ("He vetted the stallion before the race," "You should vet that horse before he races," etc.) By the early 1900s, to vet had begun to be used as a synonym for evaluate, especially in the context of searching for flaws.

The White House's first celebrity canine, believe it or not, goes all the way back to the administration of Warren Harding: "That honor goes to Laddie Boy, an Airedale terrier who was the pet of President Warren G. Harding and his wife, Florence. Though there were many presidential pets before him, Laddie Boy was the first to receive regular coverage from newspaper reporters. 'While no one remembers him today, Laddie Boy's contemporary fame puts Roosevelt's Fala, LBJ's beagles and Barney Bush in the shade,' says Tom Crouch, a Smithsonian Institution historian. "That dog got a huge amount of attention in the press. There have been famous dogs since, but never anything like this. During their time in the White House, from 1921 to 1923, the Hardings included their dog in almost every aspect of their daily lives."

This photo of President Harding and Laddie Boy can be found, along with the rest of this story, in the Smithsonian Magazine:

President Harry Truman, widely given credit for the quote about "The buck stops here," also had this advice for future Presidents: "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” So, hopefully, President Obama (even though getting the new dog will be ostensibly for his daughters) will soon be getting "that friend in Washington."

OK, it's time to settle last week's polling question about the number of different animals represented in Barnum's Animal Crackers. Every guess was wrong! The correct answer is 18 animals, which are: tiger, cougar, camel, rhinoceros, kangaroo, hippopotamus, bison, lion, hyena, zebra, elephant, sheep, bear, gorilla, monkey, polar bear, seal, and giraffe. In total there have been 37 different animals featured in Barnum's Animal Crackers since 1902. Perhaps our readers need to buy a few boxes in order to satisfy their curiosity?


1) The latest information on food recalls centers on the Salmonella contamination of some batches of peanut butter. Some of this peanut butter even found its way into some brands of pet treats: PetSmart Grreat Choice Dog Biscuits. This product information from PetSmart was part of a news release from the American Veterinary Medical Association:

PetSmart Recalls Grreat Choice Dog Biscuits
January 21, 2009
PetSmart is voluntarily recalling seven of its Grreat Choice Dog Biscuit products that contain peanut paste made by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA). PCA is the focus of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigation into potential Salmonella contamination of peanut butter and paste made at its Blakely, Ga., facility.
The recalled products include only the following types of Grreat Choice Dog Biscuits sold between Aug. 21, 2008, and Jan. 19, 2009:
Small Assorted 32 oz., UPC 73725702900
Small/Medium Assorted 4 lb., UPC 73725700601
Small/Medium Assorted 8 lb., UPC 73725700605
Small/Medium Assorted 10 lb., UPC 73725702755
Large Assorted 8 lb., UPC 73725700638
Extra Large Assorted 8 lb., UPC 73725700779
Peanut Butter 4 lb., UPC 73725700766
Additional information:·
PetSmart Web site· FDA press release

This article from the Arizona Republic has the list of all the products apparently affected by this recall, including the human products:
To complicate matters even further, humans can pick up this Salmonella contamination by simply handling these pet treats: The latest recalled type of food is peanut butter-flavor pet treats. Though dogs and cats can get salmonella from eating the treats, the biggest risk is to their owners, says Stephen Sundlof, head of the FDA's food safety program. People can pick up the bacteria on their hands and transfer it to their own food. It is important, especially for children, to wash hands after feeding treats, Sundlof says. In pets, as in people, salmonella can cause lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea and bloody diarrhea. Pets also can be carriers of the bacteria with no visible symptoms, he says. The rest of this story, from The USA Today, can be found at:

2) The American Kennel Club has released its figures for pure breed dog registrations in 2008 and the Labrador Retriever is #1 on the list...for the 18th straight year! Talk about a winning streak! The rest of the Top Ten pure breeds for 2008, from the AKC, are:

1. Labrador Retriever
2. Yorkshire Terrier
3. German Shepherd
4. Golden Retriever
5. Beagle
6. Boxer
7. Dachshund
8. Bulldog
9. Poodle
10. Shih Tzu

The AKC also makes available a list of the 10 most popular breeds in each of the 50 largest cities in the USA at: To find out where your dog ranks on their list and to see pictures of the Top 10 breeds, got to:


Helpful Buckeye told you last week about February being proclaimed as National Pet Dental Month by the AVMA. In this week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats, the topics will include some natural history of carnivores and their teeth and some general anatomy of the mouths of dogs and cats. Next week, which will be the 1st of February, we will consider problems involving the teeth, treatment of those problems, and preventive measures that pet owners should be employing.

Carnivores are animals which depend, to varying extent, on eating the flesh (meat) of other animals. Some carnivores are predators, requiring fresh meat, while others are scavengers, eating already dead animals.

Regardless of their food orientation, all carnivores have certain types of teeth which are very characteristic of their particular environmental niche. Carnivores have large canine teeth (fangs), 2 upper and 2 lower. They also have several incisors for grasping and pulling the meat from the carcass. Lastly, they have premolars and molars, which are sharp-edged rather than flat. These edges help in the shredding and tearing apart of larger pieces of food so that the smaller pieces can then be more easily swallowed. Most of the digestion of a carnivore's food takes place in the stomach and small intestine, so there is no need for flatter-surfaced molars as found in the chewing animals like omnivores and herbivores. Also, because carnivores don't do any chewing of their food, their jaws only move up and own, but not sideways.

Part of the reason your dog and/or cat usually picks up and swallows their food very quickly is that their ancestors ran in packs and they needed to get their meal and then move on to their resting spot. When they finally stopped to rest, their digestion could proceed. They frequently would overeat because they never knew when their next prey would show up. For this reason, some of your pets will sometimes appear ravenous even though you feed them regularly.

Perhaps a few pictures and diagrams will help you have a better understanding of the mouth of your dog or cat. The tooth arrangement of the maxilla (upper jaw) of the dog:

SIDE VIEW (left)


...and of the mandible (lower jaw):

SIDE VIEW (left)

UPPER VIEW (right)

Puppies begin to show their puppy (deciduous) teeth at 3-8 weeks of age and their permanent teeth at 3-6 months of age. Most puppies will have 28 teeth (14 upper, 14 lower), while mature dogs will have 42 teeth (20 upper, 22 lower).

Now, for the cat's tooth arrangement, the different views are all on one drawing:

Kittens begin to show their kitten (deciduous) teeth at 3-8 weeks of age and their permanent teeth at 3-6 months of age. Most kittens will have 26 teeth (14 upper, 12 lower), while mature cats will have 30 teeth (16 upper, 14 lower).

Dental care for animals has made huge strides over the last 25-30 years. Your regular veterinarian can take care of many of the more common dental needs and preventive care that your pets might require. However, if those dental problems are more complicated, there are many dental specialists in the USA, including those board-certified by the American Veterinary Dental College. There are even veterinary dentists who do their work primarily on the more exotic species of animals (a jaguar at the Phoenix Zoo), as shown in this article from Arizona Wildlife Views: The picture we showed you last week of the German Shepherd exhibiting his teeth brought a lot of comments. Here is the picture again, followed by the comments:

Somebody has a BAD case of DOGBREATH!!!
Tell that one about the cat again HAHAHAHAHAHA!
That was dog-gone funny!
Look, no cavities.
Somebody call the Dog Whisperer!
Fangs for the memories....
Kid, that was too funny!
“This kid’s a riot!!!”

Basically, what Helpful Buckeye would like all of you to do this week is to take a closer look at your dog's or cat's teeth. Be careful and gentle when you do so, but look at the arrangement and structure of the teeth. Then, you'll be better prepared for our discussion next week. So, let's get started on your homework!


Last fall, Helpful Buckeye discussed some information from the Centers for Disease Control on the benefits of hand-washing. Now, there have been some interesting new data released about these benefits: "Cold and flu season is here, filling the streets with a great chorus of coughing, dripping, hacking, sniffling humanity. And there's one cheap, easy, clinically proven way to avoid joining them. Wash your hands." For the rest of this important article in The USA Today, go to: Not only will these sound practices aid you in staying healthier, they will also help you to minimize any transfer of infectious agents from dog to dog or cat to cat.


1) A refreshing report from the Arizona Republic this week indicates that more people are volunteering to help at animals shelters...the rate of new volunteers for 2008 was an all-time high:

2) From the American Pet Product Manufacturers Association comes these statistics about pet visits to veterinarians:
"The cost of veterinary expenses for the average dog owner is approximately two hundred and eleven dollars per year. The average dog owner will visit the local veterinary office about 2.8 times a year. The typical reasons for dog owners to take the family dog to the local veterinarian is their basic routine health care such as physicals, vaccines, dental work, neutering or spaying, nail trimming, and heartworm testing. The typical cat owner will visit the veterinary and 2.3 times per year to take care of declawing, physicals, vaccines, dental work, neutering or spaying, and ear mites. The average yearly cost for these 2.3 visits to the local veterinarian each year it is approximately one hundred and seventy-nine dollars. These statistics are based on a 2005 survey done by the APPMA."

3) In a trend that has been gaining notice recently, pets are starting to be recognized in obituaries of their owners: "When Anna Ruth Jones died in Durham, N.C., last week, her obituary listed a handful of cousins and special friends. But the most prominent survivor, the only one described as "cherished," was Sir Rufus of Iredell, her black-and-white cat.
The feline's elevation to grieving relative represents a new step for household pets - special mentions in notice of their owners' passing."
For the rest of this story, see the Arizona Republic at: Do any of you have such plans for this type of obituary?

4) Kids have always been a source of humor because of how they say what really pops into their head at that special moment. In all sincerity, they do mean what they's just that it comes out a little funny. A few of these even apply to pets:

  • "Medicine only works if it's cherry flavored."-- Elissa, 9

  • "Good food always comes with a toy."-- Ryan, 6

  • "Just because your dog drinks from the toilet, doesn't mean you should."-- Juaquim, 7

  • "Don't dry the dog in the microwave."-- Brittany, 5

  • "If mommy says no, then you should ask daddy."-- Daniel, 7

  • "You can't eat soup with a fork."-- Mel, 4

  • "Don't pick your nose when you're fingerpainting."--Xiang, 8

  • "Never ask mom when she's going to go on a diet."--Bob, 11

Helpful Buckeye doesn't know about all of you, but the one about fingerpainting conjures up a weird image!

5) OK, how many of you feel that you can understand your pet when it tries to "talk" to you? Don't be one can see if you raise your hand! This article by Alan Fram, of the Associated Press, elucidates the scene for us: Be sure to look part way down on the left side for the article. A quote from Federico Fellini, Italian movie director, fits nicely with this idea: "A different language is a different vision of life."

6) If the pet owners described in #5 above think they have accomplished a big deal, think what this little Jack Russell Terrier had to go through just to respond properly to its surroundings: Be sure to continue reading after the picture of the pony....


Helpful Buckeye doesn't want to appear too cocky going into the week before the Super Bowl. However, there are a lot of Pittsburgh Steeler fans all over this country. There is a restaurant/bar (Harold's) in Cave Creek, a suburb of Phoenix, that will be hosting in excess of 10,000 Steeler fans this Sunday...and this is practically in the back yard of the Arizona Cardinals! Let's just leave you with this montage of Steeler players over downtown Pittsburgh:

Helpful Buckeye's prediction for the game: Steelers 34 Cardinals 20


A little humor from Rodney Dangerfield, the comedian who "got no respect": “I'm so ugly...I worked in a pet shop, and people kept asking how big I'd get.”

"Some dog I got. We call him Egypt because in every room he leaves a pyramid. His favorite bone is in my arm. Last night he went on the paper four times - three of those times I was reading it.”

Lastly, there is this quote from Robert Heinlein, famous American science fiction writer: "Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea."

On that note, I'm out of here....

~~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, January 18, 2009


ANIMAL CRACKERS...ANIMALS GONE CRACKERS...ANIMALS GONE CRAZY...the ravings of some looney-tuned veterinarian??? No, just part of a conversation overheard this past week by Helpful Buckeye, while grocery shopping. A perplexed and slightly distraught mother was trying to explain to her young daughter that the animals captured in cracker form weren't closed up in the little box because they had gone "crackers" or "crazy." Stifling a few chuckles, Helpful Buckeye was reminded of another application of the phrase, "Animal Crackers,"...that of the 1930 movie, starring the Marx Brothers. Animal Crackers, in which mayhem and zaniness ensue when a valuable painting goes missing during a party in honor of a famed African explorer, was both a critical and commercial success upon initial release, and remains one of the Marx Brothers' most beloved and often-quoted movies. One of Groucho Marx's most famous quotes came from this movie: "One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas....How he got in my pajamas, I don't know."

Moving on, our weekly poll (in the column to your left) concerns the commercial product being sought by the above-mentioned mother and daughter. Let's see how many of you are familiar enough with this product to give the right answer!

The poll from last week, concerning whether or not you would like to have a handbag made of fur from your cat, ended up just about where Helpful Buckeye expected it would. Half of you voting said, "Of course!", while the other half said, "No way!"

The unfortunate airplane landing in the Hudson River this week supposedly happened as a result of a lot of birds flying into the plane's jet engines. The passengers and crew on this US Airways jet have to be among the luckiest people on the planet, considering what else could have happened as the plane came down. Regular readers of Questions On Dogs and Cats will remember an item from our blog issue of 11/9/2008 in which a Border Collie was being deployed at an airport for the purpose of scaring away the birds. You may want to go back in our archives, in the column to your left and further down the pages (click on 11/9/08, then cursor through the issue until you reach the General Interest section), to review what is being tried with dogs to minimize this "bird" problem.

Let's get started into this week's issue with these words from Ben Franklin: "A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body." Helpful Buckeye wants our readers to pick up enough "food and fire for the mind" each week, so that you and your pets will enjoy and benefit from the acquisition!


1) Most of our readers here at Questions On Dogs and Cats are at least aware of the dangers of over-using antibiotics. Now, physicians, as well as veterinarians, are joining in the effort to educate their clients as to the reasons for being more restrictive in the use of antibiotics. This article from The USA TODAY presents the evidence quite nicely:

Doctors give side effects center stage to keep lid on antibiotics

Would you beg your doctor for drugs that:
•Have a 5% to 25% chance of causing diarrhea?
•Land at least one in every 1,000 users in the emergency room?
•Help only about one in 4,000 patients avoid a serious complication?
•Do nothing to relieve your symptoms?
If you've answered no, congratulations: You've decided to stop demanding antibiotics for colds, flu and similar illnesses. And you've demonstrated what some doctors suspect: The best way to break patients of their dangerous, expensive addiction to unneeded antibiotics is to focus on the personal risks and benefits — which are becoming clearer, thanks to recent research.
The message, in a nutshell: "There's a very small chance this antibiotic will help you, but a much bigger risk that it will hurt you," says Jeffrey Linder, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital.
For the rest of this interesting report, go to:

2) In many of our recent issues, the topic of pet adoptions has been discussed. From the efforts of both public and private pet adoption associations to the currently increasing influx of pets that people can no longer afford to keep, Helpful Buckeye has kept this issue in the spotlight. This coming Saturday, 24 JAN 2009, 300 animals shelters across the USA are holding Change a Pet's Life Day, aimed at focusing attention on shelters and rescue groups and enticing potential adopters. Fees for the first 10 adoptions at each participating shelter will be paid for by Topeka-based Hill's Pet Nutrition, which organized the event. For the whole report of the event, check it out in The USA TODAY at:

To find out if any of the 300 animal shelters are located near you, check the list at:

One animal shelter that is not on the list, but has been accomplishing a lot in the areas of animal rescue and adoption is The Angels of Assisi, in Roanoke, VA. Their information is available at:

3) As a heads-up to our readers who have been asking for some information on dental care for their pets, the American Veterinary Medical Association has proclaimed February as National Pet Dental Health Month.

Pet Dental Campaign Reaches 15th Year

The "Pets Need Dental Care, Too" campaign starts its 15th year with National Pet Dental Health Month in February.
The campaign provides materials to help veterinary practices promote oral health for pets through regular, professional examinations and an in-home dental care routine.
Co-sponsoring the educational campaign are the AVMA, Hill's Pet Nutrition, American Veterinary Dental Society, Academy of Veterinary Dentistry, American Veterinary Dental College, Academy of Veterinary Dental Technicians, and Veterinary Oral Health Council.

The next two issues of Questions On Dogs and Cats will cover many of the dental concerns of our dog and cat owners. Stay tuned...and, if you have any dental questions in advance, send them to:

Be sure to take a good look at your pet's teeth!!!


Helpful Buckeye received an interesting e-mail recently from Diane, in Virginia, with questions concerning her caring for FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) positive cats, especially as it would relate to other uninfected cats in the same household. Well, Diane, your questions are good ones, but, unfortunately, the answers are not the cut-and-dried, black-and-white responses you might be expecting. Both FIV and Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) are infectious agents which affect and damage a cat's immune system. Both viruses infect domestic cats and a few other Felids. Both viruses are found worldwide. There is more known information about FeLV than for FIV, mainly because it has been recognized for longer as a disease entity. The incidence of infection for these diseases is directly related to the population density of cats. Infection rates are going to be higher in multicat households, especially when any of the cats have access to the outdoors.

Since there is much more data available for FeLV, much of the following information will apply mainly to FeLV. For the differences related to FIV, those will be mentioned. Persistently infected, healthy cats are the major reservoir of FeLV. Carriers excrete large quantities of virus in saliva. Lesser amounts of virus are excreted in tears, urine, and feces. Oral/nasal contact with infectious saliva or urine is the most likely mode of transmission. Nose-to-nose contact, mutual grooming, and shared litter trays and food dishes facilitate transmission. Bite wounds from infected cats are an efficient mode of transmission but occur relatively infrequently in cats kept indoors 100% of the time. Bites may be a more important mode of transmission in indoor-outdoor cats. Age resistance is significant. Young kittens are much more susceptible than adults. The virus may be transmitted vertically (in utero or by milk) or horizontally (by secretions and excretions). Because FeLV is a fragile, enveloped virus and because of age resistance, horizontal transmission between adults usually requires prolonged, intimate contact. In addition, the dose required for oral/nasal transmission of the virus is relatively high. In ~70% of adult cats, viremia and virus shedding are transient, lasting only 1-16 wk. A few cats continue to shed virus in secretions for several weeks to months after they cease to be viremic. Virus may persist in bone marrow for a longer period, but even this latent, or sequestered, infection usually disappears within 6 mo. Some FeLV-exposed cats (~30%) do not mount an adequate immune response and go on to become persistently (ie, permanently) viremic. Persistently viremic cats develop fatal diseases after a variable time period. FeLV-related disorders are numerous and include immunosuppression, cancers, anemia, immune-mediated diseases, reproductive problems, and enteritis.

Two types of tests are readily available for clinical use. The immunofluorescence assay (IFA) tests for the presence of FeLV structural antigens in the cytoplasm of cells suspected to be FeLV-infected. In clinical practice, peripheral blood smears are usually used for the IFA, but cytologic preparations of bone marrow or other tissues can also be used. The IFA is considered to be the most reliable but requires submission to a commercial laboratory, so results take longer and are more expensive. IFA-positive cats are considered to be persistently viremic and have a poor long-term outlook. The more convenient ELISA test can be performed in the veterinary clinic. Several different test kits are available; most have sensitivities and specificities of 98%. Accuracy can be improved by running both the IFA and ELISA on the same cat.

Ideally, an FeLV-infected cat would be identified early and treated to eradicate the virus infection before FeLV-related diseases had time to develop. Unfortunately, eradication of FeLV infections at any stage of disease is extremely difficult. Most infected cats are persistently viremic by the time infection is diagnosed. Many treatments have been administered in an attempt to reverse viremia or decrease clinical signs associated with FeLV infection. Anecdotal (not scientifically substantiated) reports of antiviral agents and immunotherapeutic agents reversing viremia, improving clinical signs, and prolonging survival are abundant. Controlled studies using naturally infected cats have been unable to substantiate a benefit from these therapies. For this reason, cat owners with an FeLV-infected cat should be cautious of someone promising good results. FeLV-positive cats can live without major diseases for several years. Stress and sources of secondary infection should be avoided. The cat should remain indoors 100% of the time to reduce the risk of exposure to infectious agents and to prevent transmission of the virus to other cats. Routine prophylactic care for FeLV-infected cats is more important than for uninfected cats. Routine vaccinations should be administered based on the risk to the cat, with rabies vaccinations given to comply with local laws. FeLV vaccinations should not be administered, as there is no evidence to suggest a benefit. Physical examinations focusing on external parasites, skin infections, dental disease, lymph node size, and body weight should be performed every 6 months. All infected cats should be neutered. Owners should be advised to watch for signs of FeLV-related disease, particularly secondary infections. Therapy for such infections or other illnesses should be more aggressive and of longer duration, as the immunocompromised condition renders the cat less able to fight diseases naturally.

For prevention and control, testing should be mandatory in the following situations: 1) all kittens at their first veterinary visit, so the owners can be counseled regarding a cat that tests positive (as is routinely done for congenital abnormalities), 2) all cats prior to entering a household with existing uninfected cats, 3) all cats in an existing household prior to admission of a new, uninfected cat, and 4) all cats prior to their first FeLV vaccination. FeLV vaccines are intended to protect cats against FeLV infection or, at least, to prevent persistent viremia. Types of vaccines include killed whole virus, subunit, and genetically engineered. Vaccines may vary in protective effect, and manufacturers’ claims and independent comparative studies should be carefully noted. None of these vaccines are 100% protective. Vaccines are indicated only for uninfected cats; there is no benefit in vaccinating an FeLV-positive cat. The cat’s risk of exposure to FeLV-positive cats should be assessed, and vaccines used only for those cats at risk. Although the risk of tumor development is low, FeLV vaccines have been associated with the development of sarcomas at the vaccination site. Uninfected cats in a household with infected cats should be vaccinated; however, other means of protecting uninfected cats (eg, physical separation) should also be used. Constant exposure to FeLV-infected cats is likely to result in viral transmission regardless of vaccination status. Despite the widespread use of vaccines, FeLV remains one of the most important causes of morbidity and mortality in cats.

For FIV-infected cats, the percentage of infected cats that enter the terminal phase of the illness in unknown. Most of these cats might appear normal for months or years before immunodeficiency occurs. These cats do remain infected for life.

Unfortunately, giving an FIV vaccine to an FIV-negative cat renders currently available blood tests positive for at least a year following vaccination. Previous vaccination does not prevent infection, and the significance of a positive test result in a vaccinated cat cannot be assessed. Questions remain regarding the FIV vaccine's ability to protect against all of the FIV subtypes and strains to which cats might be exposed. Therefore, the decision regarding whether to use this vaccine is not straight-forward, and the risks and benefits of the use of this vaccine should be carefully discussed with your veterinarian. For most feline specialists, this vaccine is not recommended for routine use in strictly indoors cats.

The bottom line for a cat owner is to talk all of this over with your veterinarian before deciding on a game plan. That way, you can evaluate the pros and cons of vaccinating or not vaccinating your cats. There will most likely be some uncertainty either way you go, so you need to be as informed as possible.


Morbidity--noun; the relative frequency of infection in a given population.

Mortality--noun; the relative frequency of deaths in a given population.

Viremic--adjective; having a particular virus in the blood stream.

Immunosuppression--noun; the inhibition of the normal immune response, either because of disease or the administration of certain medicines.


1) OK, for those of you who walk your dogs, even though you most likely carry a plastic bag with you, you still have to bend over to pick up your dog's stools. This Super Scooper will allow you to do that with a minimum of effort: What's not to like about this big boy?

2) Another product that doesn't initially make you think of pets is the LED Torch Flashlight. This little beauty has a 120-ft. range and is great for walking the dog at night or looking for the cat in the back yard:

3) For those of you who know Helpful Buckeye to be a habitual coffee drinker, you'd better get to this website before I do! For a free sample of Dunkin' Donuts coffee, go to: Just select your favorite variety and fill out the information below that to receive a 1.1 oz. sample pouch by mail. You'll be tasting Dunkin' Donuts coffee at home in no time!


1) Since we started this issue with a statement about Animals Gone Crazy, enjoy this new video (turn on your speakers):

2) Even though some animals do some crazy things, a lot of dogs and cats are pretty smart. To find out what your dog's IQ is, go to this Parade Magazine site: and take the test by answering the questions about your dog. Then, got to this site for your cat's IQ test: If you feel like crowing about your pet's IQ score, send us an e-mail to let us know about it:

3) Those of you who know how interactive and violent Nintendo and other video games can become, will not be surprised by this story of an apparent death of a puppy:

4) From America Online (AOL) comes this list of the Top 10 searches of animal products and supplies: Top Searched Pet Supplies on AOL Search:

  1. Doggles

  2. Dog Life Jacket

  3. Happy Trails Pet Stroller

  4. Muttluks Dog Booties

  5. B-TV! Bird Videos

  6. Pet Aromatherapy

  7. Bowser Beer

  8. Cat Toilet Seat

  9. Handi Drink

  10. Dog DNA Test

If you need more information on any of these, you can "Google" them.

5) Dogs usually lead the way in videos about crazy activity, but here is one that features "cats being cats":

6) Anyone who has brought a new cat home and tried to help it adjust to the cats that already live there knows that the results aren't always predictable. For an interesting account of a scenario just like this, read this by Sharon Peters in The USA TODAY:

7) The "Dog Whisperer," Cesar Millan, turns the tables in this Parade Magazine article by telling us "What Your Pet Can Teach You": If your dog tells you that it's OK for him to jump up on the furniture, remember this quote from Fran Lebowitz: "No animal should ever jump up on the dining-room furniture unless absolutely certain that it can hold his own in the conversation."

8) This coming Friday, 23 JAN 2009, has been proclaimed as National Pie Day, much to the pleasure of Helpful Buckeye's good friend, Bill. Bill once made the statement that he only likes two kinds of pie...warm and cold!

9) Ruutu, a black Lab we have featured previously in this blog, has been having a lot of fun playing in the snow of western Pennsylvania. Doesn't this snow-circled muzzle tell you everything you need to know?

The Pittsburgh Steelers pounded the Ravens today on their way to the Super Bowl in Tampa, where they will face the AZ Cardinals. The Cardinals coaching staff is mostly made up of former Steeler coaches, so both teams will be more than a little familiar with each other. For the last several years, Helpful Buckeye has been able to watch both the Steelers and the Cardinals in their respective training camps and that will make this Super Bowl even more special!


Jack London, renowned American author, had dogs play important roles in many of his books, most notably The Call of the Wild and White Fang. His famous quote about dogs: "A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog."

President Abraham Lincoln, in addition to leading America through the Civil War, had some pretty good insight into the pet population problem as well: "No matter how much cats fight, there always seems to be plenty of kittens."

If you have read Helpful Buckeye's profile, you saw that one of my favorite books is Centennial (if you haven't taken the time to read my profile, perhaps you should do so...there might be other things we share in common)! Well, the DVD set of Centennial, the mini-series, has finally been released and Helpful Buckeye and Desperado have really enjoyed watching the story unfold. The settling of the American West has become much more interesting after moving to Arizona! British author Robert Harris had this to say about a good book: “All good books are different but all bad books are exactly the same…And what they all have in common, these bad books, be they novels or memoirs, is this: they don’t ring true. I’m not saying that a good book is true necessarily, just that it feels true for the time you’re reading it.” Well said about the book, Centennial, and it could equally apply to the mini-series! Highly recommended!

~~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, January 11, 2009


As Henry Ward Beecher wrote in the late 1800s, "Every man should be born again on the first day of January. Start with a fresh page. Take up one hole more in the buckle if necessary, or let down one, according to circumstances; but on the first of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were and are past." We've got a whole new year ahead of us here at Questions On Dogs and Cats, a year during which Helpful Buckeye intends to introduce many new topics for discussion and, hopefully, to encourage the further exchange of ideas with our readers.

There was a very kind comment sent in last week by Susan: "I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often." Thank you, Susan for taking the time to respond with your comment! It's not difficult at all to send a comment. Simply click on "Comment" at the end of each blog issue and follow the easy instructions. You can leave your name or submit it anonymously. Or, you can send an e-mail with your comment to

The blog poll from last week that asked how many of you sign your pets' names on greeting cards showed that 70% of you (who have pets) do so. This was right in line with the posted 72% national number.

This past week, on 6 January, the birthday of Carl Sandburg, American poet and author, was observed. Born in 1878, Sandburg proclaimed: "I am an idealist. I don't know where I'm going but I'm on my way." Questions On Dogs and Cats has had a good start, we're not real certain of our final destination, but we know we're definitely on our way! Thanks for your support...let's enjoy the ride!


1) President-elect Barack Obama says his family is down to two different types of dog breeds in their quest for the next White House pet. The Obamas plan to get either a labradoodle or a Portuguese water dog. They are checking with shelters to see when one becomes available. Helpful Buckeye has addressed this subject in several past issues of the blog, under the label of hypoallergenic dogs. For the rest of the story, go to:

2) A woman in New York City is suing the city for discriminating against her service/therapy dog in a subway station:
Woman's suit claims dog discrimination ----------NEW YORK - A woman's lawsuit against the New York City Transit Authority claims her 120-pound dog is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Estelle Stamm, 65 -- who won $10,000 in a lawsuit against the city after two police officers gave her a citation for bringing her dog into a subway station -- claims in her federal suit against NYC Transit that the livestock guardian dog is a service animal that helps with her post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from childhood sex abuse, the New York Daily News reported. The suit claims Stamm's civil rights were violated by transit workers who confronted her about the dog. However, the transit authority claims there were no violations as Stamm and her dog were never removed from any buses or trains. Stamm's suit is seeking $10 million in monetary damages and employee retraining for transit workers.

3) The American Veterinary Medical Association has issued a warning to consumers that an "Internet Scam Promises Pets, But Fails to Deliver". The rest of the cautionary statement is:
— The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is warning potential pet owners not to fall for Internet scams that bilk victims of hundreds of dollars and fail to deliver the animals they promise.
Dr. Walter Woolf, owner of Air Animal Pet Movers, a pet moving service, has researched these scams after his company began being mentioned in recent postings by Cameroon-based scammers promising pets at below-market prices.
The scammers post on popular Internet market sites offering the pets to buyers who wire money to Cameroon or a money-drop in the U.K. Air Animal Pet Movers and other animal transport companies in the United States are listed as carriers in the postings, Dr. Woolf says, to add a layer of legitimacy, even though they are not actually involved.
After sending the initial amount to the scammers, pet owners are then asked for follow-up sums for insurance costs, unexpected veterinary services, permits, or transportation costs, Dr. Woolf says. This continues until the victims realize they have been scammed and stop sending money, and no pets are ever delivered.
Dr. Gail Golab, director of the AVMA Animal Welfare Division, says that potential pet buyers should know who they are purchasing their pets from and should meet with the breeder directly before finalizing a purchase; this allows the buyer to see the conditions under which the pet has been bred and raised.
"Many reputable breeders, who are concerned about making sure the pet receives a suitable home, will not sell animals unless they are able to meet and interview their potential owner or owners," Dr. Golab says. "If extenuating circumstances prevent you from meeting with a breeder face-to-face, you should check references and credentials first, and never send money without speaking to the breeder."
If you believe you have been the victim of a scam, you should contact local authorities and file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (
In the end, Dr. Woolf says that the best advice to remember is the old adage, "If it's too good to be true, it probably is."
For more information, contact Michael San Filippo, AVMA media relations assistant, at 847-285-6687 (office), 847-732-6194 (cell), or

4) The AVMA is also promoting education as the best answer in fighting MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staph. aureus):
Education is key to combating rise in MRSA (Veterinary clinics, pet owners can help prevent transmission among species)
The whole presentation, which focuses on pet owners and veterinary clinics is available at: As a reminder of something we discussed last week, this is an excellent example of "Chance favoring the prepared mind" learn about this dangerous infection so that you can avoid being confronted with it, either personally or with your pet.


Sherri, from Pennsylvania, has sent in a question about seizures in dogs.

How many of you have ever witnessed a seizure, either in a human or a pet? Statistics tell us that approximately 10% of the dog population will experience a seizure at some point in their life. Would you recognize a seizure? What would you do, both during the convulsion (or "fit") and after it has stopped? Seizure disorders can appear at just about any point in a dog's life, depending on their cause. Seizures are described as an uncoordinated firing of the neurons usually within a portion of the brain called the cerebrum. The mechanisms of why these neurons do not function normally is not understood. Probably certain substances called neurotransmitters are not in the proper chemical balance, so the nerves do not behave in the normal coordinated fashion. A patient with epilepsy will exhibit periodic bouts of uncoordinated firing of the neurons within the brain. These episodes are called seizures. Seizures might occur only once in a dog's life or they can be recurrent, which would be referred to as epilepsy.

If you observe closely, you can often recognize three phases to a seizure:

  • Pre-Seizure Phase: The pre-seizure phase is commonly called the aura. Your pet may appear restless, pace, seek affection, salivate, whine, or hide. These signs occur just minutes before the actual seizure begins.

  • Ictus: The seizure itself is called ictus. Your pet may appear excited, vomit, salivate, run in circles, collapse, and have uncoordinated muscle activity. This stage generally lasts less than 5 minutes, even though it might seem much longer.

  • Post-Ictal Phase: After the seizure, the recovery (post-ictal) period begins. Your pet may seem disoriented, uncoordinated, and occasionally blind (temporary). This may last several minutes to days.

Rarely does a patient become vicious during a seizure. In fact, most patients will actually feel the seizure coming on and seek out the owner for comfort. During the actual seizure, a patient is unaware of his surroundings so it does little good for the owner to try to comfort the seizuring patient. It is best to be there for comfort when the pet recovers.

Seizures can be caused by many conditions:

  • Congenital defects

  • Blood glucose levels that are too low (hypoglycemia)

  • Low oxygen levels in the blood that could be caused by anemia, heart problems, or difficulties with breathing

  • Kidney disorders

  • Liver disorders

  • Previous history of infections such as canine distemper

  • Tumors

  • Toxins, like antifreeze, lead, or chocolate

  • Fevers and hyperthermia

  • Brain damage resulting from trauma or poor blood flow to the brain

  • Certain medications

  • Low calcium in females that are nursing young

  • Primary or idiopathic epilepsy

If you are confronted with a seizure, you must remain as calm as possible, while trying to keep your dog from injuring itself. A dog which is thrashing around can hurt itself by banging into furniture or falling off the bed or down the stairs. Try to lay the dog on the floor away from objects. Do not try to pull the dog's tongue out of its mouth...they will not swallow their tongue! The only thing that will happen is that you will most likely sustain a bad bite...remember that your dog will not know you while in the midst of a seizure. A call to your veterinarian would be in order at this time. First, a detailed history is needed. A physical and neurologic exam are performed by your veterinarian, a panel of laboratory tests should be run, and sometimes x-rays (radiographs) are taken. If a cause of the seizure can not be identified, the condition is diagnosed as idiopathic or primary epilepsy. There is no test to diagnose epilepsy per se, with these tests simply confirming or ruling out other causes of seizures. If one of the above-mentioned causes is confirmed, then treatment should commence right away for that problem. Those patients probably will never have to be given medicines specifically for the seizures.

Epilepsy generally starts in animals 6 months to 5 years of age, usually at 2-3 years. Epilepsy occurs in all breeds, including mixed breeds. Epilepsy can be a genetic trait. It can even be familial where the epileptic disorder can pass down through generations within one family. Beagles, German Shepherds, Irish Setters, Poodles, Saint Bernards, Springer Spaniels, Malamutes and Huskies, Cocker Spaniels, Collies, Dachshunds, and Golden and Labrador Retrievers are some of the breeds which have a higher tendency to develop epilepsy. It is recommended that dogs with epilepsy should not be used for breeding, since this tendency can be inherited.

Treatment for epilepsy is usually not begun until a seizure is severe or multiple seizures have occurred and a pattern is observed. It is very important to know the pattern of seizures in your pet so your veterinarian can determine if the treatment is helping. TREATMENT IS NEVER CURATIVE. The goal is to decrease the frequency, severity, and duration of the seizures.
Medications used to treat epilepsy are given orally. Each animal reacts differently to the medications. Your veterinarian may need to try different types or combinations to find what will be right for your pet. Many pets will become sleepy when they first start medication, but this soon wears off after several weeks. There are several epilepsy medications which your veterinarian might consider the best for your dog's situation. This will be determined after considering all the variables involved in the seizure patterns and severity. You will need to work closely with your veterinarian when first starting the medication, in order to establish the proper dosage and time interval between treatments. The type of medicine and/or the dosages may have to be changed as your dog gets older...only do this after consulting with your veterinarian.


1) The folks at Breath-A-Licious are offering you a complimentary medium size Green Bone at no cost. Your dog will love the taste - and you'll love the fact that Breath-A-Licious is made from all-natural ingredients and contains just the right amount of protein, especially for older dogs. Check out this offer at:

2) In one of the more unusual stories of the year, consider having cat groomer, Danelle German, make a handbag out of your cat's fur! Read about her and watch the very interesting video at: Now, be honest, how many of you would be interested in having something made from the fur of your cat?


Have you ever seen any of these breeds before?

Well, neither has Helpful Buckeye! That's why it's important to keep up with current events! The American Kennel Club is pleased to welcome the Irish Red and White Setter, the Norwegian Buhund, and the Pyrenean Shepherd as the 159th, 160th, and the 161st AKC registered breeds. The Irish Red and White Setter will join the Sporting Group while both the Pyrenean Shepherd and the Norwegian Buhund will join the Herding Group. They will be eligible for full AKC registration and competition in their respective groups at conformation shows held on and after January 1, 2009. For a complete description of these new breeds and more pictures, go to:


Congenital--adjective; present or existing at the time of birth.

Idiopathic--adjective; of unknown cause.


1) Even amidst this economic downturn, family-friendly stores such as PetSmart, BestBuy and GameStop (which don't have much in common at first glance) are all expected by experts to do well in the new year for one reason: They sell products that families can use while cocooning at home with kids - or pets. From the AZ Republic at:

2) The Top 10 Dog and Cat names for 2008 have been announced. They are found at: and you may be surprised that the same name is at the top of each list!

3) In last week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats, you were told about some upcoming gourmet biscuits and snacks for pets. You can find some to order at: and some you can make at home from Rachel Ray's web site at: which has several pages of recipes. As always, if you aren't sure about the proper usage of any of these recipes or their ingredients, check with your veterinarian first.

4) Most of us have had to deal with a temperamental printer at one time or another. It would have been really nice to have this Calico cat along for the ride (have your speakers on):

5) Conan O'Brien had this to say about the economy and cats: "Because of the bad U.S. economy, many Broadway producers have started taking their musicals to China. In a related story, the entire cast of 'Cats' has been eaten."

6) How to really "mess up" a family picture:

7) Today, 11 January, is the 101st birthday of the Grand Canyon National Monument (later achieved National Park status). It was declared as such by President Teddy Roosevelt, an ardent outdoorsman and western parks enthusiast. SPORTS NEWS

The Ohio State Buckeyes lost to Texas in the Fiesta Bowl, but they waited until the last 2 minutes in the game to do so...not a very good ending to the year!

The Pittsburgh Steelers easily handled the San Diego Chargers today and will advance to the AFC Championship game next Sunday, hosting the Baltimore Ravens...the winner goes to the Super Bowl!


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

~~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, January 4, 2009


Hello...and welcome to the 2009 edition of Questions On Dogs and Cats, your free subscription to learning about taking better care of your pets and understanding their needs. Helpful Buckeye would like to thank all of you who took the time to join us in 2008 as the blog was getting through its first year of publication. There have been some changes and some additions to the blog during that time...which we hope were for the better! The New Year has traditionally been illustrated by a "new" baby:, here are the canine and feline representatives:

Geez, how cute can the pet world be???

Yes, it's still winter (Ken, just get over it!), but, at least, we have gotten the shortest day of the year behind us and the days are slowly getting to be a little longer now. There will be plenty of new and interesting topics for us to discuss this year. The first new topic will be New Year's know, the promises we all make with the best intentions and then proceed to break? Well, Helpful Buckeye is not here to belabor your personal resolutions for 2009, but there are some good suggestions for resolutions you can make related to your dogs and cats. As a concerned dog and/or cat owner, you can resolve to take this pledge:

5 Paths to a Healthy and Much Longer Life For Your Pets

  1. Don't overfeed your pet or give it table food.

  2. Don't allow your pet to run loose.

  3. Keep your pet away from where other dogs/cats defecate.

  4. Keep your pet up-to-date on all vaccinations.

  5. Keep your dogs on heartworm prevention medicine.

Make these 5 paths all part of your resolution to be a better pet owner in 2009 and it will be a win-win-win situation. First, you'll enjoy a better relationship with your pet because it will be healthier; secondly, your pet will benefit from being healthier; and, thirdly, if your pet stays healthier, you'll spend less money overall taking care of it...and, in this year's economy, that's definitely a big plus. There's nothing magical about this advice. Helpful Buckeye promises you that strict adherence to these 5 paths will help you enjoy a longer relationship with your pet as you maximize your pet's life span.

Your second pet resolution should involve your participation in this blog. Read it regularly, tell your pet-owning friends about it, send in questions or comments as they arise, and offer suggestions for future topics. Remember, blogs like this thrive on feedback. Producing the blog is Helpful Buckeye's responsibility...producing the feedback is yours! On that note, send your comments to:

Fifty-five years ago today, 4 JAN 1954, a struggling young musician, who worked in a machine shop, paid $4 to record two songs for his mother. His name was Elvis Presley. Enjoy this video of one of his biggest songs, Good Luck Charm: With the economy and world conditions the way they are, we'll all need a "Good Luck Charm" this year! Helpful Buckeye would like to help all of you have a little good luck this year with your pets. It has always been the philosophy of Helpful Buckeye that good luck doesn't just happen. You have to put yourself in the position to win or succeed. A famous quote attributed to Louis Pasteur, French bacteriologist, goes: "Chance favors the prepared mind." To repeat, if you follow the "5 Paths" listed above, you will have put yourself and your pet in a position to succeed. And, reading Questions On Dogs and Cats regularly will help you achieve a "prepared mind," which will then allow chance to favor you.

An enduring thought from Native-American Chief Seattle will serve as our guiding light for 2009: "What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected."


1) Some news headlines get our attention more than others. This one, from the LA Times, got my attention! Food Safety To Take Back Seat to Economy

WASHINGTON (UPI) -- Fixing the U.S. food system will take a backseat to bigger problems such as the failing economy and healthcare, says Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. President-elect Barack Obama is sympathetic to calls to revamp the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, though it's unlikely his administration can get to it soon, said Durbin, a proponent of tougher food laws. Obama is expected soon to name his choice to head the FDA and consumer groups expect his administration to handle food issues differently than the Bush administration, said Chris Waldrop, director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America. The Bush administration shunned aggressive regulation despite food-borne disease outbreaks in recent years which highlighted the government's inability to oversee a rapidly expanding food market, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday. Food-borne illnesses annually kill several thousand and sicken as many as 76 million people in the United States, the Times reported.

Inevitably, this could spill over into the realm of pet foods as well. Pet owners need to be aware of this possibility and try to stay up-to-date on news about pet foods and pet food recalls. Helpful Buckeye included several discussions last year on pet food recalls and will continue to present any that arise this year. Stay tuned.

2) Along these lines, comes this press release from The American Veterinary Medical Association:
FDA Continues to Receive Complaints About Chicken Jerky Products
Schaumburg, Ill.
— More than a year after warning consumers about a possible link between certain chicken jerky products imported from China and illness in dogs, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to receive complaints from pet owners and veterinarians claiming these products are making dogs sick.

For the rest of this release in fuller detail, go to:

A lot of our readers are probably using some type of chicken jerky strips for their dogs and should stay vigilant about this continuing story.

3) The Morris Animal Foundation has announced a Happy Healthy Cat Campaign: Morris Animal Foundation has launched the Happy Healthy Cat Campaign to help ensure that cats get their share of health care and research.
Cats are America's No. 1 pet, with more than 80 million in U.S. homes, but they receive less veterinary care than dogs—and few scientists study feline health issues.
Morris has built a Web site for the Happy Healthy Cat Campaign at The Web site includes information on feline health, research success stories, and resources for cat owners. The site features a quiz as well as entries from bloggers who write about cats. A campaign DVD and brochure are also available for cat owners and veterinarians.
The campaign aims to raise awareness of feline health issues and increase funding for feline health research. Previously, Hill's Pet Nutrition donated $1 million and its feline genome database to Morris to advance research on feline health. Morris also supports the efforts of CATalyst, a new organization that seeks to improve feline health and welfare.

Cat owners and those interested in cats should go to the above-mentioned clickable web site to take advantage of the interesting feline information and free DVD.

Any Comments, please send an e-mail to:


Helpful Buckeye has already discussed the dangers related to certain household hazards around the holidays for your pets. Hopefully, none of you ran into any of those problem situations with your dogs or cats. Since other household hazards actually pose a big threat all year round, this would be a great time to get into that part of the discussion in more detail. From a pamphlet produced by the AVMA, these household hazards are broken down into 4 parts of the house where trouble can lurk for your pets. Every home contains a variety of everyday items and substances that can be dangerous or even fatal if ingested by dogs and cats. Become aware of these as you think about the phrase, "Chance favors the prepared mind."

  • The Kitchen...all of the following items have been observed to cause problems for pets: coffee grounds, chocolate, yeast dough, macadamia nuts, anything containing the sweetener xylitol, fatty foods, avocado, grapes/raisins, onions, tea, alcohol, salt, and garlic. In addition, there are many cleaning products usually found in the kitchen that should be properly stored so that pets cannot get into them. Insecticides and rodenticides are frequently stored in the kitchen...don't let them be easily accessed!

  • The Bathroom...human medications can present major problems for your pets. Be judicious about keeping them stored in a secure cabinet. Even over-the-counter medicines such as aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), diet pills, vitamins, and cold medicines can be trouble. In addition, bath and hand soaps, toothpaste, and sun blocks should be not easily accessed. Keep toilet lids closed to prevent your pets from drinking toilet bowl water that could irritate their digestive system.

  • The Bedroom and Living Room...many of the liquid potpourri products can cause oral ulcerations. Mothballs, tobacco products, pennies, and alkaline batteries can all be very toxic or fatal if ingested.

  • The Garage and Yard...antifreeze, herbicides, insecticides, paints, and solvents can present serious or fatal results if ingested or contacted. Certain household and yard plants can be toxic. These include Lily of the Valley, oleander, azaleas, foxglove, rhubarb leaves, lilies, sago palms, certain mushrooms, corn plant, hibiscus, and hydrangea. For a complete list of common toxic plants, visit:

If your pet has been exposed to any of these items, don't wait around for something to happen! Time is critical for the successful treatment of accidental poisoning. Pick up the phone and call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435 (a consultation fee may be applied). Be prepared to state your pet's breed, age, weight, and any symptoms. Keep the product container or plant sample with you to assist in identification so the appropriate treatment recommendations can be made.


1) With all of the pet dogs and cats having been given up for adoption or abandoned due to home foreclosures or their owners being out of work, there are now a lot of extra dogs and cats that need someone to feed them. The USA TODAY recently ran an article that nicely covers all that is being done across our nation to try to feed all those pets affected by the current recession: If you are having difficulty feeding your pets properly, there are several suggestions in this article that might help you. In addition, the ASPCA has this advice:
If you need short-term help feeding pets, the ASPCA's Stephen Zawistowski recommends:
• Call local animal shelters and rescue groups or traditional food pantries to find pet food banks.
• Comb newspapers, magazines and local pet publications for pet-food coupons; use them at locales that double or triple coupon value. You may find coupons online, too.
• Unite with a friend or neighbor to buy and split much larger-volume bags, which are considerably cheaper.
• Discontinue treats.

2) Speaking of dog treats, the pet food market has blossomed with new types of "gourmet" dog treats. Dog treats are an important part of your dog’s training routine, in addition to just being rewards for being a good dog. Though dispensed with only on special occasions, dog treats are a source of nutrition, a great taste, and a lot pleasure for your dog. Rewarding your dog with dog treats every time he/she does as told can have long-lasting and beneficial effect on the animal. An important aspect of dog training is to reward the dog with gourmet dog treats every time he obeys your orders. Many dog trainers also dispense dog treats while teaching dogs how to respond to dog names, dog commands (such as sit, stay, fetch, heel, lie down) and similar things. Nowadays, completely natural and gourmet dog treats are gaining popularity so much so that many dog owners even bake healthy and nutritious dog treats for their pooches right at home. Helpful Buckeye will offer some of these recipes from Rachel Ray in an upcoming issue of the blog. More and more dog owners are finding that dog treats made from ingredients similar to those used in human food offer a satisfying choice (because of a better taste and better nutrition) from the commercial brands of dog treats available in stores. Moreover, if you believe your dog’s health is mostly dependent on his diet, you will be quite satisfied with the latest all-natural dog treats. These treats are not just delicious, but are nutritious and look great too. The minute Fido smells the treats in your hand he’ll pretty much do anything you want him to!! Dog treats are no longer limited to dog biscuits. Today, you can take your dog to special bakeries that cater to only domestic pets such as dogs and cats. You, with your dog, can together browse through the range of dog treats that are on display. Dog treats here include doughnuts, brownies, tarts, Bones, bacon strips and of course, biscuits. If you are not fortunate enough to have such gourmet bakeries for pets in your neighborhood, then you can look on the Internet and browse the many online gourmet dog treat bakeries. These bakeries provide natural, free of preservatives, and tasty dog treats packaged in small plastic bags that even make excellent gifts if you have friends who have pet dogs. If your dog is overweight or suffering from diabetes, you can opt for low calories dog treats! There really is a treat for every situation.

Helpful Buckeye spotted this sign outside a pet specialty store in Seattle:


Questions On Dogs and Cats published pictures of several special pets in 2008. Here they are again for your enjoyment:

Wow, that either constitutes a Hall of Fame or a Rogues' Gallery!!!


1) About 67% of pet owners say they understand their animals' barks, purrs and other sounds, according to an Associated poll. This study was reported in The USA TODAY and presents a lot of other interesting information about the communication channels bewteen us and our pets. Read the rest of the report at:

Where do you fit in this study? Do some of the descriptions ring true for you?

2) As the human bedding industry goes through design changes, so too will the needs of our they try to jump up onto a much higher mattress. An article in The Arizona Republic describes these changes and one of the solutions to the problem:

3) Helpful Buckeye's Aunt Cathy, in Florida, sent in this video of a dog in England that can really dance! You'll recognize one of the judges from American Idol. This dog is really special... (have your speakers on for this one):

4) The USA TODAY has a contest each year that picks everyone's favorite dog from photos submitted by readers. This year's winner, Gracie, would have been really hard to not vote for. The contest is featured at:

You can see all of the Top 10 dogs in the contest results at:

5) It has been reported that when a domestic cat goes after mice, about one pounce in three results in a catch. From The New Yorker:

6) Our readers who remember the story about Dewey, The Library Cat will be interested to learn that Dewey's owner, Vicky Myron, has acquired another "accidental" cat in the small town of Spencer, Iowa. For the rest of the story:

7) For those of you who have visited Ernest Hemingway's house in Key West, Florida, you are aware of the more than 50 cats living on the premises. The federal government has finally come up with a compromise that will allow the many cats, most of which are polydactyl (our readers will remember this word from an earlier issue), to continue living on the grounds of the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum. Read the report from The USA TODAY and be sure to click on the video on the left side of the text:

8) The USA TODAY also brings us our final item of general interest this week. Our readers will remember Gus, the world's ugliest dog from last summer. Well, as you recall, Gus passed away in the fall and a new ugliest dog will have to be chosen. It seems that Elwood, who actually won the title in 2007, is back in the running for the new title in 2009. Take a look at, and read a little about, Elwood:

Chinese Crested dogs appear to have a slightly unfair advantage when "running" for this title, don't you think?


The Ohio State Buckeyes will play Texas Monday evening in the Fiesta Bowl. We are big underdogs, but we all know a little about dogs, don't we? Sometimes the underdog can bite pretty hard!

The Pittsburgh Steelers had a bye this weekend and will play the San Diego Chargers next Sunday, as the NFL playoffs continue.

A recent report shows that it takes 3,000 cows to supply the NFL with enough leather for a year's supply of footballs. That's a lot of leather, especially when the football is still referred to as a "pigskin!"


A cat lover has pointed out that cats are smarter than dogs because you cannot get a cat to pull a sled. They might have a point!

Will Rogers apparently thought dogs were pretty special and he reflected that when he said: "If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went."

Helpful Buckeye wants to remind all our readers of the 5-Step program that was discussed earlier in this issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats. The benefits for you and your pet will be multiplied many times if you make this be one of your serious resolutions for 2009 and then, follow through on it! Maimonides, the 12th century philosopher and physician said that "if we took care of ourselves as well as we do our animals we would suffer fewer illnesses."

~~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.~~