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.~~

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