Sunday, February 22, 2009


SERENDIPITY (what in the name of good fortune is that?), AMNESIA (I forgot what that is!), and DEJA VU (Is that French?)....

"SERENDIPITY" has been a part of the English language since the word was coined in 1754 by Horace Walpole. It's an unusual-sounding word and one that many people like to say, even though not knowing exactly what it means. Serendipity is the occasion by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something else entirely. OK, now that we all know what it means, how can it be used? Well, a few of you will no doubt remember the Serendipity Singers, an American folk group, who released this big hit in 1964...enjoy "Don't Let the Rain Come Down": Alright, a show of hands right many of you have ever heard that song, let alone remember it as a hit? Stay tuned...Helpful Buckeye will use the word a little further down the page!

"AMNESIA" can be the complete or partial loss of ...I'm not sure...I'll have to get back to you on this one. This one may show up later on if I remember to fit it in!

"DEJA VU"...ah, now I remember, deja vu is a French phrase, literally translated to mean "already seen"...which, in English, means the illusion of having previously experienced something actually being encountered for the first time. Now I understand why it's easier to say the French phrase. This phrase will be used "just around the corner!"

The results from last week's poll showed that 60% of respondents would NOT have the frequency of their veterinary visits affected by an imposition of a 9% tax on veterinary services. Be sure to answer this week's poll in the column to your left!


1) OK, there's been another peanut butter recall! The American Veterinary Medical Association has announced the latest recall of pet/snack products that are possibly contaminated with Salmonella. According to this week's release, the following product is being recalled:
Product recalls related to the peanut butter-related Salmonella investigation include:
Ongoing Issues Regarding Peanut Corporation of America Result in Scotts Voluntarily Recalling Five Wild Bird Food Suet Products That May Contain PCA Peanut Meal (16 Feb 2009)

OK, all together now, doesn't this story evoke the feeling of..."DEJA VU?"

2) From the American Kennel Club, comes this update of a bill before the legislature in New Mexico:
A bill labeling "pit bulls" and Rottweilers as "dangerous dogs" has been introduced in the New Mexico House of Representatives.
Under current New Mexico statute, any owner of a dog deemed to be "dangerous" must have it spayed or neutered, microchipped and registered each year. Under House Bill 667, the definition of "dangerous dog" is expanded to include any dog that "is identifiable as or known as a pit bull or Rottweiler." In essence, this measure would mandate spaying/neutering of all Rottweilers and any dog that could be identified as a "pit bull."

The AKC has given this response: The AKC strongly opposes any breed-specific legislation. We support laws that establish a fair process by which specific dogs are identified as "dangerous" based on stated, measurable actions and impose appropriate penalties on irresponsible owners. A dog should not be deemed "dangerous" simply based on a specific breed or phenotypic class.
For the rest of this report, go to:
The reality of people (and their pets) being terrorized by uncontrolled vicious dogs all over the USA has become a major problem. Along with the viciousness that occurs in these attacks, there is usually a following frenzy in the news media. Therefore, it's understandable that state legislatures and city councils would want to pass tougher laws governing these situations. However, Helpful Buckeye agrees with the AKC that it is a mistake to specifically name breeds of dogs that would be sanctioned under these types of laws. The laws need to be much tougher in their punishment of any offending dog and its owner, regardless of the dog's breed.

3) This news alert on 20 FEB 2009 from The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals brings a sobering prediction:
Economic Forecast: One Million Pets May Lose Homes
The current U.S. financial crisis has the potential to grow into a serious animal welfare issue, warns Executive Vice President of ASPCA Programs, Dr. Stephen Zawistowski. As households across the country are caught in the economic downturn, an estimated 500,000 to one million cats and dogs are at risk of becoming homeless.
“According to national financial estimates, approximately one in 171 homes in the U.S. is in danger of foreclosure due to the subprime mortgage crisis,” Zawistowski observes. “Considering that approximately 63 percent of U.S. households have at least one pet, hundreds of thousands are in danger of being abandoned or relinquished to animal shelters.”
To avoid or ease the heartbreak of losing an animal companion due to economic hardship, the ASPCA urges pet owners who are faced with foreclosure to think of alternatives ahead of time:
· See if friends, family or neighbors can provide temporary foster care for their pet until they get back on their feet.
· If they are moving into a rental property, get written permission in advance that pets are allowed.
· Contact their local animal shelter, humane society or rescue group before they move.
If a shelter agrees to take the pet, they should provide medical records, behavior information and anything else that might help the pet find a new home.
“Everyone is being affected by the current economic crisis in some way,” says ASPCA President & CEO Ed Sayres. “Community animal shelters and rescue groups across the country may soon be seeing an increase in homeless pets or a decrease in the donations they rely on.”
We urge ASPCA News Alert readers to help in any way that you can:
· Adopt a homeless pet.
· Donate used blankets, towels or even tennis balls to your local animal shelter.
· Foster adoptable animals until they find their forever homes. Help community members who may be struggling to take care of their pets.

With our economy apparently worsening almost by the day, these numbers may not be an exaggeration at all. Questions On Dogs and Cats has covered this type of situation many times in our weekly issues, some of which can be found under the labels of "Pet Adoptions" and "Pet Advocates."


OK, since this is the last Sunday in February, National Pet Dental Health Month, Helpful Buckeye will present the third and final portion of the questions and answers from Dr. Brook Niemiec. Dr. Niemiec is the board-certified veterinary dentist from San Diego. For the final questions and answers about pet dental health:

Why does a dental cleaning have to be done under anesthesia?
ANSWER: It is impossible to do a thorough cleaning and definitive oral examination (including periodontal probing) on a pet who is awake. Your veterinarian can provide the appropriate pre-anesthetic protocol and treatment plan to provide your pet with the best care.

When is a pet too old to have a dental cleaning?
ANSWER: NEVER. Healthy pets, even when they’re older, handle anesthesia quite well. Age does increase the possibility that the patient will have some degree of organ malfunction, and those with systemic problems will be at an increased risk. Therefore, we recommend pre-operative testing on all patients prior to anesthesia. The important organs include the liver, kidneys, heart and lungs. Recommended tests include a complete blood panel and urinalysis in all patients. Thyroid testing and thoracic radiographs are recommended in all patients over 6 years.

As a pet owner, what can I do at home to prevent periodontal disease?
ANSWER: The gold standard of home care is tooth brushing. To be effective, however, it must be performed at least three times a week; daily brushing is ideal. See How do I brush my pet’s teeth? (above) for directions. Another form of home care consists of rinsing with an antiseptic agent. CET® Oral Hygiene Rinse (Virbac) is an excellent antiseptic rinse for veterinary patients. The active agent (chlorhexidine) impregnates the teeth and gums, and its antibacterial effect lasts up to six hours. Additionally, Maxiguard® (Addison Biologics) has been shown to decrease gingivitis. It is also very palatable, making it an excellent choice for feline patients. Both of these are excellent ways to decrease gingivitis and periodontal disease in your pet. It may be challenging for some pet owners to make the commitment to daily tooth brushing for their pets, or to teach their pets to tolerate handling of their mouths. When frequent brushing is not practical, feeding an effective dental food provides a convenient solution. There are numerous products touted as “dental” foods or treats. Pet owners must be careful, as these typically only clean the tip of the teeth, not the areas that are necessary for control of periodontal disease. Of the dental foods available, only Hills® Prescription Diet® t/d® is clinically proven to reduce gingivitis, plaque and calculus. A combination of brushing and feeding the right dental food is best for oral disease control.

What should I look for when I examine my pet’s teeth?
ANSWER: Look for anything that appears abnormal. The first sign of periodontal disease is redness of the gums. No matter how minor it seems, if this is present, disease is present. The pet needs veterinary care in order to treat the disease and avoid all the problems associated with it. (See above, Is dental disease really a big deal?) If periodontal disease is not treated early, advanced signs of disease include swelling of the gums, calculus on the teeth, receding gums, and mobile teeth. Any of these is a sign of advanced periodontal disease, and immediate medical attention is required. Other things to watch for include swelling or masses, broken or worn teeth, and discoloration of the teeth. Any of these things should also be brought to the attention of a veterinarian right away.

What should a pet chew on?
ANSWER: There is a fine line between being too easy to chew up and swallow, and being too hard, possibly damaging the teeth. Many commercial chew toys are far too hard and can break the chewing teeth. There are two guidelines I recommend using:
If you cannot make an indentation in it with a fingernail, the treat or toy is too hard.
If it would hurt to hit yourself in the knee with it, the treat or toy is too hard. Pets who are prone to quickly swallowing large pieces of chew toys should be monitored during their use, to avoid an obstruction.

This concludes the 3 weekly installments of questions and answers about pet dental health. The AVMA has provided this review of pet dental care:

Dental Care

Pets At Risk: Bad Breath Isn't Funny Anymore
Frisco caught the guest by surprise in the living room. He planted a big, breathy smooch on her face. "Ugh! Dog breath!" The room erupted in laughter.
It wasn't so funny the next day when Frisco had his yearly check-up. The 2-½-year-old dog was diagnosed with gum disease, and he was in danger of losing a tooth if he didn't begin a regular dental care program.
According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, Frisco's case is not unique. Studies show that more than 80 percent of dogs by age three and 70 percent of cats by age three show some signs of gum disease. Bad breath could be an early warning sign of the dangerous gum disease gingivitis.Pets Need Dental Care, Too!
During National Pet Dental Health Month each February, pet owners are reminded that dogs and cats need good oral care. An educational campaign to consumers, sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Veterinary Dental Society with an educational grant provided by Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc., helps pet owners understand the importance of regular dental care for their pets.
Particularly at risk are small dog breeds, such as Pekingese and Shihtzu. Experts say these breeds are more likely to develop tooth problems because their teeth are crowded into small mouths. This can create a haven for plaque buildup.
Cervical line lesions (CLL) are the most common dental disease of domestic cats. Studies show that about 28 percent of domestic cats that veterinarians examine have CLL. Because the lesions often begin beneath the gumline, owners usually are unaware that there is a problem until the tooth is seriously damaged. Prevention is the key to helping pets maintain good oral health. The American Veterinary Dental Society recommends that pet owners follow three important steps:
Visit Your Veterinarian
Just as dental visits are the cornerstone of a human dental program, visiting a veterinarian is the key to ensuring the health of your pet's teeth. A veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical examination of your pet as part of the dental evaluation.
Start a dental care routine at home
Removing plaque regularly from your pet's teeth should be part of your pet's home dental care routine. Ask your veterinarian about the procedure for brushing your pet's teeth. Dog owners also may feed specially formulated dietary foods that help reduce the accumulation of plaque and tartar from teeth when the pet eats. Your veterinarian can offer more information on dietary options.
Get Regular Veterinary Dental Checkups
The family veterinarian needs to monitor the progress of your pet's preventive dental care routine much the same way a dentist monitors your teeth. Regular dental check-ups are essential.
Once a pet's teeth display the warning signs — bad breath, a yellow brown crust of tartar around the gumline, pain or bleeding when the pet eats or when you touch its gums — gum disease may already be present. For a professional dental check-up, call your veterinarian today!


1) And now for the "Serendipity" of this week's issue. In last week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats, Helpful Buckeye mentioned a comment from Greg, in western Pennsylvania, about a previous blog issue devoted to Service Animals. It turns out that Greg writes his own blog, titled Pitt Rehab, and we exchanged a few e-mails and comments on each other's blog. I asked Greg if he would be willing to give me a write-up of his experiences with a Service Dog and he readily agreed. Here is the first part of his experience:

A Little About Me
My name is Greg and in 1999 at the age of 31, I broke my neck at the C4/C5 vertebrae. As a result I am a quadriplegic paralyzed from the chest down. Since 1999 I have been in the process of recovery. One of my first goals after leaving Shepherd Center ( a specialty spinal cord hospital in Atlanta, Georgia was to receive a service dog.I had a Labrador retriever puppy named Buddy prior to my accident but was unable to keep him. I was fortunate to find out about Susquehanna service dogs in Harrisburg Pennsylvania ( and quickly started the enrollment process. It wasn't long before I was traveling to Harrisburg to train with Nala; I needed to learn all of the correct commands and pass a public access test. Little did I know how much Nala really had to teach me. I'm very fortunate to have family and friends that have helped me complete many goals along my journey, but there's something very special about the bond I have with Nala. She and I attended the University of Pittsburgh to receive a Masters of Science in rehabilitation counseling, it took five long years but we finally graduated. All through the rain and snow Nala never complained, if a professor was exceptionally long winded she would give out a loud groan that eventually would lead to a break. Many more individuals on campus knew Nala's name than knew my name.It's hard to believe I have had Nala for seven years but I truly believe dogs are good for the soul. She continues to teach life lessons in a gentle, tail wagging, dog slobbering, black hair shedding disguise.I have to share what happened recently with Nala in the kitchen. I was having her close a drawer in the kitchen, and it had a box of 10 number two pencils; the box of pencils were keeping the drawer from shutting, so I had Nala take the box out of the drawer. Unfortunately the box was opened and all 10 pencils fell out onto the floor! She had the patience to pick up all 10 pencils and place them on my tray. I know service dogs do much more important task than picking up pencils, however I don't think I've ever been more proud of her. Nala never complains or looks at me like I am an idiot for dropping the pencils (cell phone, hat, toothbrush, fork, pen or practically everything I touch). I truly believe there's a lot to learn from a dog if we only take the time to listen.I'm curious to see where Nala and I end up on our next adventure now that graduation is over. Fortunately for me I have a very cute lab, she is always wagging her tail ready to meet the next adventure. Who knows there maybe treats involved.

This is one of the pictures Greg sent me of him with Nala, a black Labrador Retriever:

You surely must now understand why Helpful Buckeye refers to this as a serendipitous occasion. This was a very fortunate contact that arose entirely by accident and now I feel that I have made a new Internet friend. Greg has referred many of his blog readers to Questions On Dogs and Cats and Helpful Buckeye has, in turn, referred readers to Greg's blog:

We'll run the second installment of Greg's experience with Nala next week. Thanks again, Greg, for your willing participation! I think my readers will find your story quite inspiring and interesting.

2) The ASPCA, acknowledging that winter isn't over yet, has published their guidelines for winter exercise for your dog:

Top 10 Winter Exercise Guidelines for Dogs
Does your pooch turn into a couch potato when winter’s chill settles upon your neighborhood? ASPCA experts assure us that while short-haired and smaller breeds may require cozy apparel to protect them from winter’s bite, others simply need a little training to learn how to enjoy a cold-weather romp.
"Getting pets who dislike the cold to go outside during the winter months can often be a behavior-related challenge,” observes ASPCA Animal Trainer Kristen Collins, “but with a few simple training tricks—and the right attire—pet parents can teach animal companions to be more enthusiastic about playing outdoors in winter.”
Wanna learn our insider's tips? Here’s a sneak peak at our Top 10 Winter Exercise Guidelines for Dogs:

· Get your dog excited about outdoor exercise with off-leash play like tug or fetch, or let her romp with canine buddies—the more aerobic the activity, the warmer your pooch will be.
· While on a brisk walk, pop something delicious into your pooch’s mouth—or feed her breakfast by hand as you go.
· Winter is a great time to enroll in indoor training classes. Agility and flyball are often taught in heated facilities and are excellent exercise for your dog's body and mind—you'll enjoy them, too!
· Consider walking your pet in wooded areas during the winter months. Forests not only provide protection from wind but, rich with smells, sights and sounds to investigate, they can be infinitely interesting to dogs and distract them from the chilly temperatures.
· Keep your pet warm—especially puppies who have less body fat than adults—with a well-fitting coat that covers your dog's back and underside, where most dogs have no fur. (Fleece is nice!)
And please remember, if you’re cold, your pet probably is, too—that means it’s time to come home.

A lot of humans could benefit from a regular program designed to get them exercising outdoors during the winter as well! Perhaps Helpful Buckeye should try some "tug or fetch" in order to get his good friend, Ken, more excited about outdoor winter exercise!


1) Aunt Cathy has sent in an interesting picture, one which embodies many underlying messages:

Helpful Buckeye can come up with numerous captions for this about you?

2) Enjoy this video of a very well-trained, very obedient dog:

How many of our readers feel their dog is this obedient?

3) Two separate web sites with some funny and interesting pictures of cats have come to our attention. Try both of these sites when you have a few moments: and


The Los Angeles Dodgers have started their spring training practices...we've picked up another 2nd baseman, who we maybe didn't need...and still no news about Manny Ramirez, who we do need!


In the words of Steven Wright, the comedian, "Right now I'm having amnesia and deja vu at the same time. I think I've forgotten this before."

Hopefully, I haven't forgotten to include everything I wanted to in this issue and that our readers haven't forgotten to answer our poll, check out the listed web sites, and perhaps send along a few comments to us. Send an e-mail to: or enter a comment at the end of the blog.

~~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, February 15, 2009


DARWIN AND LINCOLN....Twin Peaks: Their shared birth date is an intriguing coincidence, but what truly unites Darwin and Lincoln is how they shaped the modern world....

This is the title of an excellent article in Smithsonian Magazine, February 2009, written by Adam Gopnik. The article begins with this paragraph: "We are all pebbles dropped in the sea of history, where the splash strikes one way and the big tides run another, and though what we feel is the splash, the splash takes place only within those tides. In almost every case, the incoming current drowns the splash; once in a while the drop of the pebble changes the way the ocean runs. On February 12, 1809, two boys were born within a few hours of each other on either side of the Atlantic. One entered life in a comfortable family home, nicely called the Mount, that still stands in the leafy English countryside of Shrewsbury, Shropshire; the other opened his eyes for the first time in a nameless, long-lost log cabin in the Kentucky woods."

For the rest of this fascinating article, go to: and you can probably still find this issue at your favorite bookstore if you'd like a hard copy for your own library.

Our "old friend," Mark Twain, had a few views and opinions on Darwin's Theory of Evolution.

"I believe our Heavenly Father invented man because he was disappointed in the monkey."- Mark Twain in Eruption

"It now seems plain to me that that theory ought to be vacated in favor of a new and truer one...the Descent of Man from the Higher Animals."-Mark Twain in "The Lowest Animal"

Apparently, this was Twain's effort at humor, since Darwin postulated the "Ascent" of Man from the "Lower Animals."

Helpful Buckeye received a nice comment this week from Tom, in Muncie (I am assuming the one in Indiana): Say "Happy Birthday" to Desperado for birthday was on the same day! Luv the blog and have shared it with several friends! Great info on dental stuff...I really should have been looking closer at Ginger's mouth!
Tom, Muncie

A second comment from Greg, in western Pennsylvania, about an issue in our archives, 21 Sept 2008, titled "You've Got A Friend....," which was authored by Desperado: "What a great article, and so much information!" To review this issue, look under "Labels" to the left and click on Service Animals. Thanks a bunch for the kind words, Greg! Greg suggested that Susquehanna Service Dogs at: could use a little publicity for their services.

Another feature of Questions On Dogs and Cats that allows you to share each issue of this blog with your friends can be found at the very end of each week's issue. Right after: Posted by Helpful Buckeye at 10:00 PM...Comments, there is an envelope with a black arrow on it. Simply click on the envelope and follow the instructions that will allow you to send this issue of the blog to 10 of your friends. Thanks for sharing!!!

Secondly, be sure to answer this week's poll question in the left column. In last week's poll, all those who responded were pleased with the format currently being used in the blog. So, away we go!


1) It appears that this spot will be reserved for a while, at least, for the latest recall of pet food/snack products that are associated with contaminated peanut butter. The American Veterinary Medical Association has released a list of the latest products to be recalled during the past week:

Product recalls related to the peanut butter-related Salmonella investigation include:
Western Trade Group, Inc. Recalls Roasted Peanuts Because of Possible Salmonella Health Risk (10 Feb 2009)

American Nutrition, Inc. Announces a Voluntary Recall of Baked Dog Treats (10 Feb 2009)

Hialeah Products, Inc. d/b/a New Urban Farms Conducts Nationwide Recall of Various Snack Products Because of Possible Health Risk (09 Feb 2009)

Stay tuned!

2) The American Kennel Club has announced its congratulations to "Stump," the Sussex Spaniel that won the Westminster Dog Show "Best in Show" award this past week:

The American Kennel Club®, a non-profit organization whose rules govern more than 20,000 canine competitions each year including the famed Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, is pleased to congratulate Ch. Clussexx Three D Grinchy Glee, a 10-year-old Sussex Spaniel who goes by the name "Stump." Owned by Cecilia Ruggles, Beth Dowd and his handler Scott Sommer, Stump is the first Sussex Spaniel to win Westminster. The breed originated in England in the 1800s and was among the original nine breeds in AKC’s registry 125 years ago.

Sussex Spaniel:

Wow, I guess that would be like the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series, huh? Not only was Stump the first Sussex Spaniel ever to win the coveted award, but he also was the oldest dog to ever win it. Enjoy a few pictures of Stump being lavished with attention:

Also, enjoy a short video of pooches getting pampered before a big dog show:


1) Helpful Buckeye has received a lot of e-mails about our continuing series of articles on dental health care of dogs and cats. Most of you have become more aware of how widespread dental problems can be. There are still two weeks remaining in National Pet Dental Health Month and there are just enough questions and answers from Dr. Brook Niemiec left to take care of the next two issues of Questions On Dogs and Cats. Dr. Niemiec, you will recall, is the board-certified veterinary dentist, in San Diego. Here is the second portion of those questions:

Why is it important to have my pet's teeth cleaned regularly?

ANSWER: There are two main reasons for routine cleanings. First, they help prevent periodontal disease. Second, and possibly more importantly, a cleaning allows for a COMPLETE oral examination. Only with general anesthesia can most oral health problems be noted. This includes screening for oral cancer, broken teeth, cavities, and in cats, tooth resorption. Finally, general anesthesia is required for periodontal probing, which is the method of diagnosis of periodontal pockets.

My dog eats hard food. Isn’t that like brushing his teeth?

ANSWER: NO! This is a myth, which came about from the surface of the teeth being slightly cleaner in pets fed dry food. Typical dry food does not protect against periodontal disease. This relates to the root cause of periodontal disease, which is subgingival plaque (plaque below the gumline). Supragingival (above the gumline) plaque accumulates and causes local changes in the gum tissue that allow attachment and growth of subgingival bacteria, however after this has occurred; supragingival plaque has little to no effect on periodontal disease. Traditional dry foods break apart at the tip of the tooth and have little to no dental benefit. There are specially formulated and processed dental foods that effectively clean a pet’s teeth as the pet chews and are an excellent adjunct to routine tooth brushing. Look for the VOHC Seal of Acceptance on the dental food you choose.

How do I brush my pet’s teeth?

ANSWER: Start with a soft toothbrush and veterinary toothpaste. The malt flavor from Virbac appears to be the favorite of my dog and cat patients. Do not use human toothpaste, as it contains detergents that may cause stomach upset. Go slowly and be very positive, using food treats if necessary. Place the brush at a 45-degree angle to the gumline. Brush in a circular motion, with a firm stroke away from the tooth. Try to reach all tooth surfaces, but concentrate on the outside surface.The hardest part is getting started. It’s best to start young, because the earlier you introduce brushing, the easier it will be for your pet to accept it. I recommend handling your pet’s mouth from the time you bring him home. For puppies and kittens, introduce the brush at around 6-7 months. Be consistent; animals like routines, so if you make it a habit it will be easier on both of you.

My veterinarian has recommended a dental cleaning. What is involved?

ANSWER: The first step is to place the patient under general anesthesia. Anesthesia-free dentistry is NOT recommended (see below, Why does a dental cleaning have to be done under anesthesia?), and is even illegal in some states. Don’t be fooled by “sedation” dentistry. In my opinion, sedation dentistry is more dangerous than general anesthesia for two main reasons. First, in sedation dentistry (or any other anesthesia-free dentistry), the trachea (windpipe), and therefore the lungs, are not protected from the particles generated during a dental cleaning. These particles are full of bacteria and, if inhaled, can result in pneumonia. The other difference between anesthesia and sedation is the length of effect. Most practices today employ relatively short-acting agents to put the patient under anesthesia, and then a gas to keep the patient under anesthesia. If a problem occurs under anesthesia, the veterinarian can turn off the gas and the patient will recover quickly. But under sedation, the effects generally do not go away until the drug is cleared by the system, which can take too long. General anesthesia is very safe today, thanks to advances in anesthetic drugs, training and monitoring equipment.A true dental prophylaxis consists of several steps, some more critical than others. The required steps that must be performed include:
Supragingival scaling: This is the removal of the plaque and calculus above the gumline (what you can see).
Subgingival scaling: This is the thorough cleaning of the area under the gumline to remove disease-causing bacteria. It is typically performed by hand and is time consuming, but it is the most important step of a dental prophylaxis.
Polishing: Scaling slightly roughens the teeth. This promotes plaque and calculus attachment and reduces the lasting effect of the cleaning, so the teeth are polished afterward. There has been some controversy about this in human dentistry, due to the loss of enamel with many cleanings over time. However, in veterinary dentistry, with relatively fewer cleanings in an animal’s life, this is not a concern.
Sulcal Lavage: Cleaning and polishing results in debris being caught under the gumline, which must be thoroughly rinsed out.
Oral exam, periodontal probing and dental charting: This is a critical and often misunderstood part of the dental prophylaxis. There are teeth that cannot be thoroughly examined in a pet who is awake, when periodontal probing is not possible. With the patient under anesthesia, the mouth is thoroughly and systematically examined, and all findings are noted on a dental chart. Any diseased teeth or tissues are then properly treated.

Any comments, please send an e-mail to: or register a comment at the end of this issue.

2) Possibly related to all the attention the 10-year old Sussex Spaniel got in winning at Westminster, the AVMA has released a very comprehensive list of questions and answers about the proper way to deal with aging pets:

Frequently Asked Questions about caring for an older pet

Due to improved veterinary care and dietary habits, pets are living longer now than they ever have before. One consequence of this is that pets, along with their owners and veterinarians, are faced with a whole new set of age-related conditions. In recent years there has been extensive research on the problems facing older pets and how their owners and veterinarians can best handle their special needs.

The AVMA has posed the following questions:

  • When does a pet become "old"?

  • What kinds of health problems can affect older pets?

  • How do I help my pet stay happy and healthy for as long as possible?

  • My older pet is exhibiting changes in behavior. What's going on?

  • Is my pet becoming senile?

  • What are the common signs of disease in an older pet?

  • How common is cancer in older pets?

  • My pet seems to be in pain and isn't as active as they should be. What should I do?

  • When should we euthanize a pet? How will we know it's the right time?

The answers to all of these questions may be found at: In addition, readers can find answers in Questions On Dogs and Cats previous issues that cover Cancer, Euthanasia, and Feline Dementia, by looking in the "Labels" column to the left.

Any comments, please send an e-mail to: or register a comment at the end of this issue.


SPCA International would like to remind all of us that: Winter Isn't Over Yet!

By SPCA International Staff
Although spring weather is on its way, cold weather is still lingering. Your pets are as vulnerable to cold temperatures as humans. Even though it may feel like spring is here one day don’t leave your animals out for extended periods yet because the temperature can still drop rapidly this month, especially in northern states and countries.
Many pet parents don’t understand that dogs and cats are as susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia as humans are. SPCA International recommends you always keep your animals indoors during extreme cold and only let them outside for short periods of supervised time. Cats and short haired dogs are especially at risk to harm during harsh cold periods. If you live in extreme cold weather for months out of the year, we recommend every dog parent purchase paw boots to protect your dog’s feet from sharp ice, frostbite or road salt creeping into open cuts during long walks.
SPCA International always recommends that all your pets are kept inside during the winter, but if you choose to leave your dog outside you must provide them adequate shelter and frequently check their water to be sure it hasn’t frozen. All outdoor shelters should include quality insulation and should not have an open doorway that lets the cold air in. We highly recommend that you consult a local shelter or pet supply store for their tips on outfitting a winterized dog house in your backyard.
SPCA International also always encourages cat parents to keep cats indoors year-round, but that is especially the case in the winter. Cats are too small to go outside during the winter for more than a few minutes. If you have an outdoor cat, please set up a little box and bring them inside for the winter.
If you tend to turn down the heat in your home while you are away during the day or cozy in bed at night, be sure your pet has a cozy place to cuddle up on thick blankets or a comfortable dog bed too. Another surprising tip, most pet parents know not to leave a dog or cat in a car during hot weather, but the same goes for extreme colds. Your car is not a safe place to keep your animals while you run errands in winter. Not only will your pets face rapidly decreasing temperatures inside the car, they are also in danger of being stolen or let loose should a car thief come along.


Sussex Spaniel-- Sussex Spaniel Breed Standard (from the AKC)

The Sussex Spaniel was among the first ten breeds to be recognized and admitted to the Stud Book when the American Kennel Club was formed in 1884, but it has existed as a distinct breed for much longer. As its name implies, it derives its origin from the county of Sussex, England, and it was used there since the eighteenth century as a field dog. During the late 1800’s the reputation of the Sussex Spaniel as an excellent hunting companion was well known among the estates surrounding Sussex County. Its short legs, massive build, long body, and habit of giving tongue when on scent made the breed ideally suited to penetrating the dense undergrowth and flushing game within range of the gun. Strength, maneuverability, and desire were essential for this purpose. Although it has never gained great popularity in numbers, the Sussex Spaniel continues today essentially unchanged in character and general appearance from those 19th century sporting dogs.
The Sussex Spaniel presents a long and low, rectangular and rather massive appearance coupled with free movements and nice tail action. The breed has a somber and serious expression. The rich golden liver color is unique to the breed.


1) Next Sunday evening, 22 FEB, the Academy Awards will be presented. Helpful Buckeye would like all of you to think about some of the movies you have seen over the years that involved dogs. Some of Helpful Buckeye's favorites are Cujo (St. Bernard), As Good As It Gets (Brussels Griffon), Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (Bulldog), Michael (Jack Russell Terrier), and Must Love Dogs (the borrowed Terrier that plays "dead"). Send an e-mail with your favorite movie/dog combinations to: and we'll post those next week.

2) The Westminster Dog Show has even gotten the interest of some of the late night talk shows. Craig Ferguson was heard to quip: "Westminster Dog Show is the granddaddy of them all. It is the Oscars of dog shows. It's just like the Oscars, except the speeches are shorter and slightly less butt-sniffing."

3) In trying to close a $41 billion budget gap, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing to tax a number of services — including veterinary care. The idea has both pet owners and veterinarians up in arms.
Many fear the proposed 9 percent tax will put a financial strain on pet owners and result in more animals being abandoned or euthanized.
For the rest of this news item, go to: As states across the country try to get a better handle on their budget shortfalls, this type of a tax may be part of the solution. Most of us are aware that California is frequently the trend-setter for the rest of the USA....

4) According to a just-released study, cat owners are less like to suffer the slings and arrows of seasonal depression (e.g. the winter blues) than those in a cat-less house. Seasonal depression strikes hardest in January and February when the weather is the coldest and people spend more time inside, in the northern hemisphere anyway. For the rest of the study, see:

5) Helpful Buckeye came across this interesting story about some cats that found a sanctuary in the heart of some ancient Roman temples: "Nelson the One-Eyed King" set up a pretty good establishment, wouldn't you say?

6) For the kittens dashing and tumbling around the room, the Washington Humane Society's first Kittengarten class is all about the playtime. But for the humans and the shelter there's a bigger goal: making sure that cats are healthy and happy in their adoptive homes — and that they stay there. Kittengarten is just like what it sounds, a class for kittens and their owners. This story comes to us from Salt Lake City and sounds like it might catch on elsewhere:,5143,705281961,00.html?pg=1

7) My Aunt Cathy, in Florida, sent this video for those of us who need to clean our computer monitor screens:

8) In addition to the birthdays this past week of Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln, the scientific world also observed the birthday of Galileo Galilei, on 15 February (1564-1642). Galileo, an Italian astronomer and physicist, has been referred to as the "father of modern observational astronomy," the "father of modern physics," the "father of science," and "the father of modern science."

9) To leave our readers with a lighter note, enjoy this submitted joke from Connie, in Seattle: A man goes into a pet store and asks the clerk, "Do you have any dogs that go cheap?" The salesman says, "No, we have birds that go cheep. Our dogs go BARK!"


The Los Angeles Dodgers' pitchers and catchers are reporting today to spring training, down in Glendale, a suburb of Phoenix. Helpful Buckeye is eagerly awaiting the beginning of spring training games, on the 1st of March!


Since Desperado celebrated a birthday this past Monday, Helpful Buckeye found this quote that perhaps might ease Desperado's transition: “Age is something that doesn't matter, unless you are a cheese.” by Billie Burke. (1884-1970), Oscar-nominated American actress remembered for her role in the musical film The Wizard of Oz.

Helpful Buckeye offers this quote from Thomas Edison (1847-1931), American inventor, as a final reminder of the long-term perseverance of Charles Darwin, Abraham Lincoln, and Galileo:
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."

Until next week, don't be afraid to roll up your sleeves, put on your overalls, and do a little hard work...and be ready for an opportunity!

~~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, February 8, 2009


Questions On Dogs and Cats has benefitted immensely from the contributions of Desperado...from guest issues to arrangement suggestions to editing. On Monday, 9 February, Desperado will "advance" to the next year, getting better all the time! Even the Eagles, our favorite musical group, felt compelled to mark this birthday with their song: Enjoy!!!

Last week's poll asking about how frequently you work on your pet's teeth at home was pretty revealing. Several readers reported "weekly" or "monthly" attention to their pet's teeth, while a few of you proudly stated that you are "daily" in your efforts...and, then there were the stragglers who admitted only "rarely" or "never" doing so. Perhaps these last two weeks will stimulate all of you to do a better job of preventive your pet's mouth. This issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats will finish up this portion of dental-related problems for your dog and cat. As always, if you have unanswered questions related to any of our topics, please send an e-mail to: or send in a comment from the appropriate location at the end of each issue.
Be sure to answer this week's poll in the column to the left. Your answers will provide important feedback to our format. Thanks!


It would seem that the topic of pet food recalls due to contaminated peanut butter has been adequately addressed in recent issues; however, each week brings a new advisory about another pet food/snack-producing company that has one or more contaminated products of which to be aware. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there are two new additions to the list this week:

Supervalu Inc Recalls Multi-Flavored Dog Biscuits (02 Feb 2009)

Salix Recalls 6" Peanut Butter-Filled Shank Bone Because of Possible Salmonella Risk (30 Jan 2009)

The rest of the article can be read at:

The AVMA has also produced a "podcast" concerning food safety. You can hear the podcast at:


A lot of you sent in comments and/or questions after reading the column last week about the various dental problems experienced by dogs and cats. Obviously, dental disease is a common difficulty faced by our pets as they mature. Being more aware of the dangers presented by periodontal and gingival disease can not only help you keep your pet's teeth where they belong, but also help you provide your pet with better health as they age.

All of you have enjoyed the experience of smelling your pet's breath, especially when it just about knocks you over! From The New Yorker:

Some of the odor does arise from what the pet has been eating, but that part of the odor is not long-lasting. The real underlying cause is most likely the damaged, infected tissue resulting from gingivitis and periodontitis. Sometimes this odor is so strong and pervasive that Helpful Buckeye and his former partner could smell it when the dog or cat came in the front door of the hospital! There are only a few other distinctive odors which can get your attention from a distance: the bloody diarrhea associated with parvovirus in the dog, a nasty ear infection, and an abscess that has just opened up with drainage.

If any of you have the new "scratch and sniff" monitors, you can scratch the screen right now to sample the odor. Otherwise, walk over to your sleeping dog or cat, raise their upper lip, and take a sniff. The really sad part of this story is that most, if not all of it, can be prevented. Regular attention to your pet's teeth at home, coupled with periodic teeth-cleanings by your veterinarian will keep periodontitis and gingivitis to a minimum, thus reducing the odor level. If you really have to struggle to smell anything offensive in your pet's mouth, you have accomplished a lot...and you will, more than likely, have your pet live longer while enjoying better health!

Starting with today's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats and continuing for the next two weeks, Helpful Buckeye will provide you with a list of "Frequently Asked Questions" about dental care for your pets. This list was composed by Dr. Brook Niemiec, a board-certified veterinary dentist, in San Diego. This is the first portion of those questions:

Is dental disease really a big deal?
ANSWER: Dental disease is a HUGE deal. Periodontal (gum) disease is the number one diagnosed problem in dogs and cats. By the age of just two, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some form of periodontal disease. In addition, 10% of dogs have a broken tooth with pulp (nerve or root canal) exposure. This is extremely painful until the nerve dies, at which point the tooth becomes infected! Infectious oral diseases affecting the gums and root canals create systemic bacteremia (bacteria in the blood stream, which can infect other parts of the body). Periodontal inflammation and infection have been linked to numerous problems including heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease, emphysema, liver disease, osteoporosis, pregnancy problems and diabetes. Therefore, oral infectious diseases are known as “the silent killer.”In addition to systemic effects, oral disease can also cause inflammation to the eye, resulting in blindness. Furthermore, jaw bone loss from chronic infection can lead to a jaw fracture known as a pathologic fracture, and these have a very hard time healing. Finally, infectious oral disease can result in osteomyelitis (an area of dead, infected bone), nasal infections and an increased risk of oral cancer.Speaking of oral cancer, the oral cavity is the fourth most common place for cancer. Unfortunately, by the time that most are discovered, they are too advanced for therapy. Early treatment is necessary for cure. That’s why you, the pet owner, need to check your pet for oral growths on a regular basis. Anything suspicious should be shown to your veterinarian promptly.In cats, a very common problem is feline tooth resorption lesions, which are caused by normal cells called odontoclasts eating away at the cat’s own teeth. Approximately half of cats over 6 years of age have at least one. They are similar to cavities in that once they are advanced, they are VERY painful and can become infected. They are first seen as small red areas along the gumline. Other oral problems include bacterial cavities, painful orthodontic problems, dead teeth (which are commonly discolored), and worn teeth. Almost every pet has some form of painful or infectious oral disease that needs treatment. Unfortunately, there are few to no obvious clinical signs. (See below, What are the warning signs of periodontal disease?) Therefore, be proactive and ask your veterinarian for a complete oral exam, and perform regular monitoring at home.

What is periodontal disease?
ANSWER: Periodontal disease is defined as the destruction of tooth attachment (periodontal ligament and jaw bone), caused by bacteria. It begins when bacteria form on teeth in a substance called plaque. If plaque is not removed immediately, two things occur. First, the plaque is calcified by the minerals in saliva to become calculus (or tartar). This is the brown substance on teeth that many people mistakenly equate with periodontal disease, but the truth is that calculus does not result in periodontal disease. The other thing that occurs with chronic plaque formation is that it will start to move under the gumline. Once the plaque gets under the gum, it starts causing inflammation, which is called gingivitis. Gingivitis is the initial, reversible form of periodontal disease. If this inflammation is not controlled, the bacteria within the gingiva change to a more virulent type. These more virulent species create more severe inflammation. Eventually, the body responds to this inflammation. Part of this response is bony destruction, which continues until the tooth is lost. However, in most cases periodontal disease causes problems long before this happens. (See above, Is dental disease really a big deal?)

What are the warning signs of periodontal disease?
ANSWER: Unfortunately, there are no obvious outward signs of periodontal disease until it is VERY advanced. The earliest sign is inflammation (redness or swelling) of the gums. This is generally accompanied by buildup of plaque and calculus on the teeth, but unless you are looking for these changes (see above, Is dental disease really a big deal?), they are not noticeable. As periodontal disease progresses, the infection will worsen. The next signs within the mouth are receding gums or loose teeth. This increased infection may result in bad breath or blood on chew toys; however, this should NOT be relied upon for diagnosis. If your pet has bad breath or you see blood on toys, it is almost a sure sign of advanced periodontal disease requiring a trip to the veterinarian. Late signs of periodontal disease include nasal discharge (blood or pus), eye problems, facial swelling or a jaw fracture.


1) Helpful Buckeye has addressed the problem of barking dogs in previous issues of Questions On Dogs and Cats (30 August 2008 and 23 May 2008). Even so, this is a problem that will always bear some attention, especially in urban environments where everything is a little bit closer together. The metropolitan Phoenix area has been experiencing its own share of these difficulties recently, as reported in the Arizona Republic:

Dogs bark for a lot of reasons and it can be difficult to sort out the causes. Training plays an important role in the control of unwanted barking but, as the article above pointed out, there are usually other factors involved that might be difficult to overcome, as this cartoon from The New Yorker illustrates:

Being a good pet neighbor is part of fitting into your neighborhood.

2) The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has released their Guide to a Pet-Friendly Valentine's Day.

Some of their guidelines are:

  • When sending a floral arrangement, request that it contain no lilies, as all species within the plant genera Lilium are toxic to cats. And please de-thorn your roses, as their sharp, woody spines can hurt your pet if chewed, stepped on or swallowed.

  • Stow chocolates in paw-proof drawers and cabinets. The darker the chocolate, the more likely a pet who’s ingested it will suffer vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, seizures and an elevated heart rate.

  • Spilled wine is nothing to cry over—until a curious pet laps it up. Because animals are smaller than humans, a little bit of alcohol can do a lot of harm, causing vomiting, lack of coordination, difficulty breathing and even coma.

  • Gather up tape, ribbons, cellophane and balloons after you open presents—long, stringy and “fun-to-chew” items can get lodged in your pet’s throat or digestive tract.

Furry valentines across the country will be party to all sorts of romantic evenings at home this February 14—are you prepared to keep your pet safe?


The folks at have come up with a list of "The Top Ten Strangest 'How To' Books". Two of the books on this list have something to do with pets. The first is: How to Steal a Dog, by Barbara O'Connor and is available at: As evil as the title sounds, there is an interesting twist to this story. The second strange book is: How to Speak Cat, by Sarah Whitehead and is available at:


1) My Aunt Cathy, in Florida, sent me this video of an unexpected interaction between two unlikely species, a cat and a fawn: to the accompaniment of What a Wonderful World, by Louis Armstrong. Enjoy!

2) The current issue of Smithsonian Magazine has an interesting article entitled, "Cats as Pets and Predators," in which the author "explores the evolution and enigmatic ways of the most popular pet in America -- the house cat." Find it at:

3) Helpful Buckeye has received several e-mails from readers entitled "Pet Rules", perhaps most of you have read these. The first one I received was from Dianne, in California. If you haven't read them yet, here they are (mostly funny and probably always true):

Dear Dogs and Cats: The dishes with the paw prints are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.
The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Racing me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.
I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort, however. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other, stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out on the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm. For the last time, there is no secret exit from the bathroom! If, by some miracle, I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge in an attempt to open the door. I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years - canine/feline attendance is not required.
The proper order for kissing is: Kiss me first, then go smell the other dog or cat's butt. I cannot stress this enough. Finally, in fairness, dear pets, I have posted the following message on the front door:


  • They live here. You don't.
  • If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. That's why they call it "fur"-niture.
  • I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.
  • To you, they are animals. To me, they are adopted sons/daughters who are short, hairy, walk on all fours, and don't speak clearly.


  • eat less,
  • don't ask for money all the time,
  • are easier to train,
  • normally come when called,
  • never ask to drive the car,
  • don't smoke or drink,
  • don't want to wear your clothes,
  • don't have to buy the latest gadgets or fashions, and
  • don't need a gazillion dollars for college....

4) has a contest running in which you can choose your favorite from among 15 adorable shelter pets. Look at the contestants and cast your vote at:

5) also is running the following public service announcement by Felicity Huffman: She may well be a "Desperate Housewife" but she is also big supporter of adopting a shelter pet.

6) The ASPCA has announced that they are offering course work at the University of Florida in the field of...Animal about that? Read about it at:

7) The ASPCA is also promoting a program of animal cruelty awareness, Top 10 Ways to Prevent Animal Cruelty. Read over this list to learn how you might be able to help:

8) This past Tuesday, February 3rd (1907,) was the birthday of James Michener. Michener died in 1997, having written more than 40 books, 2 of which are favorites of Helpful Buckeye...Chesapeake and Centennial.


It's been a slow week, following the activity of the Super Bowl, but there are some things of interest in the sports world. The Los Angeles Dodgers are still pursuing Manny Ramirez, which may or may not prove fruitful. The San Antonio Spurs are leading their division, but are behind the LA Lakers in winning percentage in their conference.



~~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, 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.~~