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.~~

1 comment:

  1. The caption for that photo should be, "Know when to hold 'em; know when to fold 'em."