Sunday, February 1, 2009


Wow, a lot of stuff to happen over the next two days! The Super Bowl tonight, Ground Hog Day tomorrow (Monday,) and, of course, Tuesday, the 3rd of February will be the 50th anniversary of "The Day The Music Died"....

Plus, Helpful Buckeye has to help all of you get ready for National Pet Dental Health Month!

It's a big task, but Helpful Buckeye is prepared! As most of our readers are aware, except for those who don't read the whole issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats, the Super Bowl will feature Helpful Buckeye's Pittsburgh Steelers going against the Arizona Cardinals in Tampa. The results may be final before press time for this issue. More on that under SPORTS NEWS....

Ground Hog Day is observed in the states of Georgia, New York, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Ohio, 5 Canadian Provinces, as well as in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The production in Punxsutawney is by far the largest of all the celebrations of whether or not the ground hog, woodchuck, or marmot will see its shadow.

"The Day The Music Died" will be discussed in more detail under PERSONAL STUFF....

Last week's poll showed that most of our pet-owning readers think they can understand their pet when it "talks" to them, at least some of the time. Only 20% of you said "Never!" Be sure to visit this week's poll and mark your answer.


Pet owners have been advised that 2 more pet snack-producing companies are voluntarily pulling some of their products from shelves due to the ongoing Salmonella contamination problem. The American Veterinary Medical Association has provided this updated news release concerning the voluntary recall of pet snacks containing contaminated peanut butter:

Peanut Butter Pet Treats Recalls Related to Probe of Possible Salmonella Poisoning
A rash of product recalls related to possible Salmonella contamination of peanut butter and peanut paste extended to include several pet food products in January, 2009. Several pet food companies announced voluntary recalls of peanut butter products while the investigation was ongoing. Additional recalls may occur as the outbreak is further investigated. Please return to this site regularly to check for updates.
On January 23, 2009, the FDA confirmed that the source of the recent outbreak of illnesses caused by Salmonella typhimurium was peanut butter and peanut paste produced by the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) at its Blakely, Georgia, processing plant. The manufacturers who followed up with voluntary pet food recalls indicated that they were recalling products that had been manufactured by PCA.
Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have a decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Apparently well but infected animals can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.
Product recalls related to the peanut butter-related Salmonella investigation include:

Carolina Prime Pet Announces Nationwide Recall of Dog Treats

Salix Voluntarily Recalls Dog Treat Due to Possible Health Risk

PetSmart Voluntarily Recalls Grreat Choice® Dog Biscuits

For more information, you may visit these FDA websites:

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about the Recent Salmonella Outbreak

Recall of Products Containing Peanut Butter: Salmonella Typhimurium

As you can see, the 2 new additions to the recall list are Carolina Prime Pet and Salix. To find the specific products that are being recalled by each company, just click on their name. Somehow, you get the feeling that you haven't heard the last of this problem. Stay tuned....


In last week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats, Helpful Buckeye introduced the topic of Pet Dental Health with the reminder that the month of February is devoted to being more aware of this very common health concern for dogs and cats. Our readers were presented with pictures of the normal dentition of both dogs and cats. Dental disease is considered to be the most commonly diagnosed health problem affecting both dogs and cats, with about 70-80% of dogs and cats showing signs of gum and/or dental disorders by 3-4 years of age.

Puppies and kittens generally have their adult (permanent) teeth in place by 6 months of age. During the 3-4 months the puppy and kitten (deciduous) teeth are being replaced by the adult teeth, most pet owners will be dealing with the chewing desires of a teething youngster. Most puppies and kittens won't be able to do serious damage around the house while teething, although some of the larger-sized puppies can produce a lot of destruction. Generally, providing an acceptable chew toy will alleviate this problem. Sometimes, stricter measures might be necessary, such as confinement away from any valuable furniture, etc. The good news is that this period only lasts a few months...the bad news is that it lasts a few months!

A second problem associated with the transition from "baby" teeth to adult teeth is the retention of certain deciduous teeth beyond the normal time frame. This most frequently involves the canine teeth (fang) and the incisors. These retained deciduous teeth generally need to be removed as soon as possible in order to allow the permanent teeth to finish erupting properly. A retained canine tooth:
Removal of these retained deciduous teeth is usually not a complicated procedure, although it does require anesthesia.

Other structural problems of the teeth include broken teeth and worn-down teeth. Broken teeth usually result from some type of trauma, such as a blow to the mouth, but they can also happen as a result of extreme chewing on metal cages, etc. Worn-down teeth usually are seen in dogs that are constantly chewing on something that doesn't provide any give at all. There was a school of thought that included chewing on tennis balls on this "no-no" list. However, recently, several board-certified veterinary dentists have relaxed their thinking a bit on this matter...from The USA Today: Broken or worn-down teeth should be examined by your veterinarian to determine what, if anything, needs to be done.

The real problems involving teeth and gums is the build-up of plaque and tartar on the teeth and along the gum lines. As the gums become inflamed from the accumulation of tartar and bacterial populations under the gums, this is the gingivitis stage. Your dog or cat will show a reddish tinge along the gum line in the affected area:

If you see this, an examination is in order. Not doing anything about this gingivitis allows the disease to progress to periodontitis, which involves destruction of the supporting tissues of the teeth (gums, bone):

If either one of these advanced situations is evident, then more extensive work will need to be done on your pet in order to get the teeth back toward a more healthy oral environment. The toxins produced by the bacteria involved in gingivitis and periodontitis begin circulating in the blood and can cause severe damage to many organs, including the kidneys and heart.

A thorough examination of your pet's mouth should be part of every routine visit you make to your veterinarian, beginning at the puppy or kitten stage. Your veterinarian will use that opportunity to explain proper care of the teeth and gums, while also pointing out any areas that need further attention.

Severe gum and tooth problems can almost always be avoided or minimized by taking appropriate preventive measures. If your veterinarian finds something that requires further attention, anesthesia will most likely be needed. Cleaning a dog or cat's teeth is actually very similar to the human process, except for the anesthesia (which also accounts for a good portion of the cost). Your pet may well have to be placed on antibiotic treatment both before and after any dental procedure.

Once teeth cleaning has been accomplished, it is imperative that some form of home dental care be instituted. Whether you are beginning this on your pet in its early years or after the onset of dental/gum problems, you must remember that a lot of pets don't feel comfortable with someone doing things in their mouth. It can be much more successful if you gradually get your pet used to having its gums massaged and rubbed over a period of weeks rather than starting out with the toothbrush on day 1. Sometimes, a layer of clean gauze over your finger will suffice in getting your pet to feel at ease when you rub it along the gums. Try this by pulling out the cheek and inserting your finger rather than cranking open the jaws. Most dogs and cats will accept this better. Be gentle and repeat the process. Give appropriate praise and some type of reward. Good friend Charlene has found a soft "exfoliation" glove at Target that does this nicely. After your pet has become used to being worked on this way, you can make the move to a soft pet toothbrush, along with pet toothpaste. Daily brushing would be ideal, but realistically, 2-3 times per week would also be nice.

Don't won't be lucky enough that your pets will be able to do this themselves!

Even with proper home care of the teeth, your pet may still need periodic teeth cleaning by your veterinarian. That's another reason why regular check-ups are so need to stay ahead of any of the more serious complications. You should also have regular conversations with your veterinarian about the proper food, snacks, treats, and chew toys that would be best for dental health for your particular breed of dog or cat. As a parting suggestion, you might want to check with your veterinary hospital or clinic to see if they are offering any price reductions on dental procedures or products during National Pet Dental Health Month.

Next week, Helpful Buckeye will offer a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions about pet dental health and answers provided by a board-certified veterinary dentist. As always, if you have any questions or comments about any of these topics, send an e-mail to: or register a comment at the end of each blog issue.


1) The American Kennel Club Agility Invitational contest will air on the 7th of February on The Animal Planet channel. More than 3000 dogs and approximately 133 breeds participated in this competition and you might be surprised at which dogs were the most agile:

2) Every once in a while, you hear of a formerly paralyzed person who begins to walk again and it seems miraculous. This story, from one of The USA Today's best writers, Sharon Peters, about one of her dogs, will make you feel good:

3) Well, someone has finally gone ahead and gotten themselves a commercially-cloned the tune of $155,000! Granted, it's their money and they might eventually feel it was worth every cent. Read this story and click on the interview with the 2 owners of the cloned puppy, then form your own opinion: Share your opinion at:

4) On the 26th of January, 1875, George Green of Kalamazoo, Michigan, was the first to patent an electric dental drill. Think of "ole George" the next time you're in the dentist's chair for some repairs!!!


Wow, I'm out of breath! That last quarter of the Super Bowl was special for a lot of reasons. The Arizona Cardinals played well enough to win the game, but fortunately the Pittsburgh Steelers had the ball last. What a throw by Big Ben and what a catch by former Ohio State Buckeye, Santonio Holmes!


OK, now for the explanation of "The Day The Music Died"....Readers under the age of 40 probably won't know anything about this unless you listen to an "Oldies" radio station or you've heard your parents singing one of these songs. On the 3rd of February, 1959, on a snowy field near Clear Lake, Iowa, a small plane crashed, killing Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and J. P. Richardson (aka The Big Bopper). Listen to each one of these stars sing one of their biggest hits:

Then, listen to popular singer Don McLean perform his memorialization of this unlucky trio in his huge hit song, American Pie:

Yeah, I know it's over 8 minutes long, but that's goes by too quickly, just like the lives of some of our young artists. Enjoy!

~~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.~~

1 comment:

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