Sunday, March 29, 2009


March Madness leads to....April Fools

Yes, the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament remains the most exciting sports event of the year and April Fools Day remains the preeminent hoaxing jokester day of the year. April Fools Day is observed in many countries with many variations on the theme, but with a hoax of some type being the underlying element. Helpful Buckeye scanned the list of the Top 100 April Fools Day Hoaxes of All Time for anything involving dogs or cats and only found one, #41. Scan the list yourself. There are some interesting hoaxes described:

More on the basketball tournament will follow below in the SPORTS NEWS section.

According to the results of last week's poll on dog and/or cat bites and/or scratches, it seems as though not very many of our readers have had those unfortunate experiences. And, that's a good thing! Be sure to answer this week's poll question in the left column.

The first two readers to "translate" the quote from William Jennings Bryan at the end of last week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats, "Do not compute the totality of your poultry population until all the manifestations of incubation have been entirely completed," were Helpful Buckeye's Aunt Cathy, in Florida, and Neil, who writes the blog, Life With Dogs. This interesting blog is told from the point of view of the family dogs...check it out. The translation of the quote is..."Don't count your chickens until the eggs have hatched!"

Among the comments submitted last week, Helpful Buckeye really appreciated this one: "Count me a new fan of your blog. When it comes to dogs, there is so much to learn. Cheers,"
Neil (Life With Dogs) at:

Helpful Buckeye would like to thank our new "Followers" this week, Neil, Donna, and Hearnoevil80. Any of you can sign up as a "Follower" by simply clicking on the "Follow" icon and filling in a few blanks. You can either sign in anonymously or use a photo. Join us for our weekly chitchat.

If you live in an area where you don't give your dog heartworm preventive medication during the winter months, it's time to get back on schedule due to mosquitoes making their appearance again.
In actuality, except for the very coldest wintry locations, a dog owner would be wise to give the preventive medicine year round. For a review of heartworm infection in dogs and cats, click on "Heartworms" under the "Labels" section in the left column.


1) The American SPCA has designated April as the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month.

Signs That an Animal Might Be Abused
Recognizing cruelty is simple, right? Not quite, say ASPCA experts. Obvious behaviors such as aggression, timidity and fear don’t always tell the whole story. Animals may appear to be timid or frightened for many reasons other than abuse.
“It’s almost impossible to make conclusions based on a pet’s behavior alone,” says the ASPCA Animal Behavior Center’s Kristen Collins, CPDT. “The best way to tell whether a pet is being or has been abused is to examine him and his surrounding environment.”
Check out our list of signs that may alert you an animal needs help:
Physical Signs

  • Collar so tight that it has caused a neck wound or has become embedded in the pet’s neck

  • Open wounds, signs of multiple healed wounds or an ongoing injury or illness that isn’t being treated

  • Untreated skin conditions that have caused loss of hair, scaly skin, bumps or rashes

  • Extreme thinness or emaciation—bones may be visible

  • Fur infested with fleas, ticks or other parasites

  • Patches of bumpy, scaly skin rashes

  • Signs of inadequate grooming, such as extreme matting of fur, overgrown nails and dirty coat

  • Weakness, limping or the inability to stand or walk normally

  • Heavy discharge from eyes or nose

  • An owner striking or otherwise physically abusing an animal

  • Visible signs of confusion or extreme drowsiness

Environmental Signs

  • Pets are tied up alone outside for long periods of time without adequate food or water, or with food or water that is unsanitary

  • Pets are kept outside in inclement weather without access to adequate shelter

  • Pets are kept in an area littered with feces, garbage, broken glass or other objects that could harm them

  • Animals are housed in kennels or cages (very often crowded in with other animals) that are too small to allow them to stand, turn around and make normal movements possibly with too many other animals

“Reporting suspected animal cruelty ensures that animals in jeopardy receive prompt and often lifesaving care,” says ASPCA Supervisory Special Investigator Annemarie Lucas. “By making a complaint to the police or humane society in your area—you can even do so anonymously—you help ensure that animals in need are rescued and that perpetrators of animal cruelty are brought to justice.”
If you see signs of animal abuse, don’t keep it to yourself.

2) Scientists at North Carolina State University say: they have devised a method of making medical adhesives that might replace sutures and result in less post-surgical scarring. Using the natural glue that marine mussels use to stick to rocks, along with a variation on the inkjet printer, the researchers say the technology might also result in faster recovery times and increased precision for exacting operations such as eye surgery. Traditionally, there have been two ways to join tissue during surgical procedures: sutures and synthetic adhesives. But the new research shows adhesive proteins found in the "glue" produced by marine mussels might be an improvement over synthetic adhesives because they are non-toxic and bio-degradable. Associate Professor Roger Narayan, the study's co-author, said the new medical adhesives give surgeons greater control of the placement of adhesives. "This helps ensure that the tissues are joined together in just the right spot, forming a better bond that leads to improved healing and less scarring," said Narayan. The study, performed in collaboration with Professor Jon Wilker, is to be published in the April issue of the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research.

If this adhesive gains general usage, it might be very beneficial in veterinary medicine as well. Any dog or cat owner who has brought their pet home with sutures in a wound or incision knows that the pet is persistent, if nothing else, about licking or chewing at the sutures.

3) Scientists Develop Canine Cancer Drug

SALT LAKE CITY (UPI) -- A U.S. scientist says he's developed a "Trojan horse" drug treatment that is showing promising results in treating dogs suffering from cancer. Joseph Bauer of the Cleveland Clinic has developed a drug called nitrosylcobalamin that has successfully battled cancer in four canines with no negative side effects. Bauer says the drug might lead to a new cancer treatment for humans. "The beauty of using a dog or a cat to test a cancer drug is two-fold. First, the animal can get the benefit of the most up-to-date drug in cancer medicine," said Bauer. "Second … if you can find an agent to treat cancer that occurs in a dog with success, there is a higher likelihood you can take that to the human population and have a much higher response rate than with mice." The drug targets cancer cells with "biological Trojan horse technology." Bauer said cells have receptors for vitamin B12 on their outer surface. In order to divide at their abnormally rapid pace, cancer cells grow extra B12 receptors -- 100 times more than normal cells. Bauer and his colleagues attach nitric oxide molecules to vitamin B12. The nitric oxide kills cancer cells. The B12 acts as the "Trojan horse," easily slipping into cancer cells. The subsequent release of nitric oxide kills the cancer cells from within. The team's goal is to move the drug into human trials as soon as possible. The research was presented this week in Salt Lake City during a national meeting of the American Chemical Society.

4) The American Animal Hospital Association has released a list of The Top 10 Cat-Friendly Cities in the USA. The list was compiled after reviewing the top 25 standard metropolitan areas for such data as cat ownership per capita, level of veterinary care, microchipping and cat-friendly local ordinances.

For the whole article, see:


Ticks are skin parasites of most land-dwelling vertebrates wherever these animals are found. There are about 850 described species of ticks and they transmit a great variety of diseases. For the most part, this disease transmission occurs during the tick's attachment of its mouth parts to a dog, cat, human, or other vertebrate. The two most common tick-borne diseases in small animals in the USA are Borreliosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF).

Borreliosis (also known as Lyme disease) is a tick-borne, bacterial disease of domestic animals and humans in the USA, with the areas of greatest incidence including the Atlantic seaboard, upper Midwest, and Pacific coast. The Deer Tick is the main carrier of this bacterium and the risk of its transmission is highest during the spring and fall when the different stages of the tick's life cycle are seeking hosts for a blood meal. In dogs, the main signs of this disease are lameness, fever, loss of appetite, lethargy, swollen lymph nodes, and painful joints. More serious involvement of the kidneys, heart, and nervous system may follow. Diagnosis of Lyme disease is based on the history, clinical signs, laboratory data, regional considerations, and response to antibiotic therapy. There is a vaccine available, but its effectiveness and usage have been a bit controversial. In areas heavy with deer ticks, it is fairly well agreed upon that very young dogs would benefit from vaccination before having a natural exposure to the ticks.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is also a disease of dogs and humans that is caused by a bacterium carried by the American Dog Tick. Because of their susceptibility to RMSF, dogs are an excellent sentinel of this infection in humans in the same geographical area. Clusters of RMSF are frequently reported in both dogs and humans. Direct transmission of RMSF from dogs to humans has not been reported, although human infection may occur following contact of abraded skin or conjunctiva with tick body fluids during the removal of engorged ticks from pets. Dogs are highly susceptible to infection with RMSF, while cats are rarely diagnosed with it. The early signs of infection in dogs are fever, loss of appetite, swollen lymph nodes, sore joints, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, and swelling of the face or legs. There may even be some bleeding in to the whites of the eyes or the gums in more severe cases. Diagnosis requires some repeated blood tests and, once suspicion of RMSF is confirmed, the response to antibiotics is usually dramatic.

Ehrlichiosis and Babesiosis are caused by organisms that invade red blood cells (Babesia) and white blood cells (Ehrlichia) and are carried by the Brown Dog Tick. Both are seen in dogs, while only Ehrlichiosis is found in cats. Again, as with the other tick borne diseases, the signs of these diseases include loss of appetite, lethargy, stiffness and reluctance to walk, swelling of the legs, and difficulty breathing. Most of the acute infections are seen in the warmer months, with the greatest activity of the Brown Dog Tick. Chronic cases of Ehrlichiosis can be seen in dogs, with German Shepherds seemingly more predisposed. The diagnosis is made from a combination of clinical signs, blood tests, and the response to treatment with the proper antibiotic.

There is one other important tick-caused disease that is seen in dogs and children. Known by the general name of Tick Paralysis, it is an acute, progressive disease of the motor nerves caused by a nerve toxin in the saliva of any of the above-mentioned ticks. Early signs of tick paralysis include change or loss of the dog's bark, incoordination of the back legs, difficulty in breathing, and dilation (widening) of the pupils. Cats appear to be resistant to this disease. The diagnosis is confirmed by the presence of ticks combined with the sudden (12-24 hour) appearance of rear leg weakness or incoordination. The main treatment involves the removal of the ticks. The whole dog should be examined for ticks, even though most of these ticks are found around the head and neck. Long-haired dogs can present a challenge in locating all the ticks and the search must be diligent. Removal of all the ticks usually results in obvious improvement within 24 hours.

Prevention of these tick borne diseases revolves around the avoidance of tick-infested environments and the control of ticks on your pets. There are many effective products available for use on dogs (you need to be more selective on your cats) but they must be used religiously, carefully, and regularly during the tick season. Dog owners should check their dog daily during tick season and long-haired dogs might even benefit from a hair trim during the season. Talk with your veterinarian about the products that are available, their limitations, and their safety.

In next week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats, Helpful Buckeye will cover some of the other important disorders caused by parasitic mites.


There has been much talk about non-toxic products that can be used for flea and/or tick control. "The magnitude of the potential risk to public health is what makes the inclusion of such chemicals in pet products so troubling: Surveys show that as many as 50 percent of American families report using some kind of flea and tick control product on pets, subjecting untold millions of children to toxic chemicals on a daily basis. Initial research also shows that thousands of pets may be sickened or die each year as a result of chronic low-dose exposure to OPs through their flea and tick collars. Fortunately, several non-toxic alternatives to OP-laden flea and tick control products are now available. NRDC tested upwards of 125 pet-oriented flea and tick control products for its Poisons on Pets report and found less than two dozen that don't contain harmful chemical compounds. Stripe -- On formulations from Adams, Breakthru, Demize and Scratchex get high marks from NRDC for low-toxicity, while tabs (pills) from Comfortis, Program and Sentinel also make the safety grade. Hartz, which uses OPs in most of its product line, also offers some safer formulations (Spot-On, Advanced Care and Ultra Guard) for cats and kittens. These products rely on insect growth regulators, which arrest the growth and development of young fleas, rather than pesticides to simply kill them. NRDC notes, however, that even these safer formulations contain chemicals, and that all such products should be used with caution." For the rest of this article from Earth Talk, go to:

In the final analysis, pet owners should talk about flea and tick control with their veterinarian, in addition to considering the above-mentioned alternative treatments, and then chart a course for their best chances of success in the fight against fleas and ticks.


1) "A pet's life is never long enough for those of us who love him or her. However, barring disease or trauma, today's pets can live at least 10 to 12 quality years because of advances in nutrition and medical care. Of course, many pets live well past 12. Older pets have different needs and can benefit greatly from specialized care, testing and dietary planning." So begins a nice article, titled Respect Your Pet in its Golden Years, written by Dr. Tracy Acosta, a veterinarian in Biloxi, MS. For several thoughtful suggestions on how you can make your older pet's life a lot easier and more comfortable, check out the rest of Dr. Acosta's article at:

From The New Yorker:

2) For a truly heart-warming story of Kiki and Adam, a service dog and a young boy affected with cerebral palsy, read this article by Sharon Peters in the USA Today:

3) There was an interesting story in the USA Today this week about a study being conducted on the sled dogs that participate in the Iditarod races in Alaska. The study, being headed by a scientist at Oklahoma State University, is centered on how the energy efficiency of these dogs might be related to diabetes and obesity problems in humans. To read the whole article, go to:

4) For our humorous addition this week, we turn to an anonymous contributor for this tongue-in-cheek version of how to bathe a cat:

1. Thoroughly clean the toilet.

2. Add the required amount of shampoo to the toilet water, and have both lids lifted.

3. Obtain the cat and soothe him while you carry him towards the bathroom.

4. In one smooth movement, put the cat in the toilet and close both lids you may need to stand on the lid so that he cannot escape).CAUTION:Do not get any part of your body too close to the edge, as his paws will be reaching out for any purchase they can find.

5. Flush the toilet three or four times. This provides a "power wash and rinse" which I have found to be quite effective.

6. Have someone open the door to the outside and ensure that there are no people between the toilet and the outside door.

7. Stand behind the toilet as far as you can, and quickly lift both lids.

8. The now-clean cat will rocket out of the toilet, and run outside where he will dry himself.

Sincerely, The DOG

5) Wolves come in gray, white and, in North America, black. Where did those unusual black coats originate? Scientists from Stanford University and elsewhere compared the DNA of wolves from the Canadian Arctic and Yellowstone National Park with the DNA of coyotes and dogs. The black coat gene, the researchers found, appears to have come from dogs. Some North American wolves likely interbred with domesticated dogs, now extinct, that accompanied people who crossed the Bering Strait from Asia more than 10,000 years ago. Smithsonian, April 2009.... From the New Yorker:

6) Since we already talked about the springtime emergence of mosquitoes, this new piece of research might be of benefit to our readers. If you are able to wear clothing that looks like this: you might be able to avoid being bitten by so many mosquitoes. It seems that mosquitoes are attracted to the color blue twice as much as to any other color...and there isn't much blue in this pattern!

7) If you are in need of deodorizing your pet's bedding, perhaps you should try this simple tip from the folks at Dryel: From the New Yorker: SPORTS NEWS

Well, for Helpful Buckeye, the college basketball season is over, at least as far as personal rooting interest is concerned. The Pitt Panthers ran into a well-coached, hard-playing team in Villanova and we just weren't good enough on that particular day to get it done. For the Final Four, the favorites here will be Villanova and Michigan State. In the age old story of the hammer and the nail, the Pitt Panthers were the hammer for most of the season, even including a stint in the #1 spot. However, as the NCAA tournament progressed, the Panthers became the nail! The Los Angeles Dodgers will be finishing up spring training this week on a high note of expectation for a great season. Manny Ramirez seems to be healthy again and the patchwork pitching staff appears to be better than expected. Our defense of the National League West Division champ begins a week from Monday!

The San Antonio Spurs have finally gotten their starting lineup back together after several key injuries. Everybody knows that the NBA season really doesn't start until mid-April and the Spurs should be hitting their best stride by then. Most fans expect a Lakers/Cavaliers final, but....


Mark Twain had this to say about April Fools Day: "This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four."--From Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar

Don't let yourself be caught out on a hoax this Wednesday!!! ~~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, March 22, 2009


Spring has finally sprung this past Friday, the 20th. Remembering last week's opening quote, get from winter's dream to summer's magic..., we must first experience spring. Helpful Buckeye's good friend, Link, from Schwenksville, PA, sent this quote last week from Albert Camus, French author, about winter: "In the depths of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer." Even so, one must still feel the interim pleasure of spring. This final quote from Emily Dickinson will get us started in the right direction: "A little Madness in the Spring, Is wholesome even for the King." Clearly, Ms. Dickinson must have been a college basketball fan, as indicated by her use of the term "Madness," as in "March Madness," Helpful Buckeye presumes. More on March Madness farther down the page under SPORTS NEWS.

One of the outstanding harbingers of spring is the daffodil. Daffodils are Helpful Buckeye's favorite flower.

To paraphrase the lyrics of a popular song, when the daffodil blossoms are in bloom, "It surely must be spring!" Enjoy that song, the Academy Award winner for best song in 1945's State Fair, presented here by Shirley Jones:

Our poll last week asked which of the "Irish" breeds you would have for a pet and our readers were pretty evenly divided among the Irish Setter, the Irish Wolf Hound, and the Kerry Blue Terrier. Remember to answer this week's poll question in the column to your left.

There were 3 interesting comments sent in to last week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats. In case you missed them, here they are:

  • Holly said...
    As always, I come here on a Monday and my noggin gets filled with fun and weighty stuff. So, thanks. I want you to take a peek at my blog,, for the posting entitled, I Feel So Safe Now, most particularly the comments after I re-read the story of the couch living calico...since your from this area, I think the entry will give you a laugh.And, it was a toss up as to which Irish breed I'd own. I said the Wolfhound because who doesn't stand respectfully when you encounter such a gentle giant...but I should have said the Kerry Blue.I had severe breathing issues when I was a kid, they thought it may be Cystic Fibrosis. Luckily it wasn't or we wouldn't be having this any rate, when I was graduating from high school, my Dad decided I had been devoid of a dog for way too long so he set out to find a no shed, hair dog for me to love. He researched and learned that the Blue is such a one.Off he went to buy one, and well, not having the AKC info readily at hand, he didn't remember the spelling of the name, and that's how he came home with McKeever, the first of my five CAIRN Terriers! What a diff in size, huh? I've loved all five of my Cairns. Great dogs. And they got me mentally ready to handle these two Scotties of mine...but no one and nothing can really have one prepared for life with Scotties.

  • Mike V said...
    I just checked out the Morris Animal Foundation page. Lots of good info on there. Thanks!

  • Donna said...
    I have a beautiful Irish Setter name Rusty. Ok, so not very original...I know. He's actually our fourth Irish Setter, he's the most funniest animal in the world. My husband and I would love to retire to Ireland and take our Rusty back home.

Thanks to all three of you for your pertinent anecdotes and comments! All of our readers are encouraged to submit comments while reading each issue. Your comments provide subjects and questions for future topics, offer critique (both good and otherwise), and generally supply valuable feedback. To post a comment, you should go to the very end of each issue and click on the word "comment." Then, follow the instructions, either sign in or write as anonymous, and post your comment. To read the comments from each issue, again click on "comments" and they will appear. If you'd rather simply send an e-mail to Helpful Buckeye for inclusion as a comment, send your message to:


1) Our readers will recall a previous posting about the state of California considering adding a tax on veterinary medical services as a way to help balance their state budget. Opponents of the bill argued that this additional expense would make it more difficult for animal owners to afford proper veterinary medical care. Well, the apparently very vocal opponents of the bill have succeeded in getting the bill squashed:

2) The American Kennel Club has announced plans for sponsoring the "World's Largest Showcase of Cat & Dog Breeds" to be Held in October in New York City. Meet the Breeds is a showcase of over 160 AKC registered dog breeds and 41 CFA registered cat breeds and will be the first stand-alone event of its kind in the world. Read more about this event at:

Helpful Buckeye has always recommended that anyone interested in getting a new dog or cat try to attend a dog or cat show in their area, mainly for the purpose of seeing all of the various breeds available. You don't have to go to NYC if you don't want to...there are plenty of dog and cat shows near most of you. It's a fairly inexpensive and enjoyable way to educate yourself on dogs or cats. If you have children, it's a great way to introduce them to the joys of diversity in the dog and cat worlds.

3) The SPCA International has issued this public service bulletin for those of us who may encounter wildlife as spring makes its appearance:

By SPCA International Staff
As parts of the country begin to thaw out from the winter cold and people venture back outside to enjoy the beginning of spring, they will undoubtedly encounter wildlife. During the upcoming months wild birds and mammals will be born along park trails, in backyard bird houses and maybe in the tree outside your office window. Many of these creatures will grow and eventually venture out on their own, never encountering or needing the help of human beings. Some however, will not be as fortunate.
Throughout the spring wildlife rehabilitation centers receive desperate phone calls from people who have found baby wildlife in need. These creatures may or may not survive, depending in part on what you do if you are the first person to encounter them.
Here’s a checklist of information you should know and refer to if you come across the path of what you think might be injured or orphaned wildlife: (SPCA International developed this informative list with the help of Shelter of the Week recipient
Sierra Wildlife Rescue.)
- Is there a visible injury? Is the animal unable to walk or fly? Do you see blood? If you can answer yes to any of these questions, call your local wildlife facility or animal control for further information on caring for the animal. - If no injury is apparent, be sure that the animal is truly alone. Many times a baby animal is not truly alone; the parent is usually not too far away. The parent may be afraid to approach the baby if they think there is any danger. Unless the baby is in some kind of imminent danger, it is best for you to step back and observe them for a while from a distance. In many cases you will be relieved to see the mother return to care for her youngster. - Do not remove a baby animal unless you know the mother is dead or the baby is in any immediate danger. Well-intentioned people often “kidnap” young animals.Example: Mother rabbits only feed their babies a couple times a day. In between feedings they are off looking for food and doing the other parts of their daily routine. During the mom’s absence the bunnies are fine, but if a person comes across a nest they may think they have been abandoned. - If a baby bird has fallen from their nest, put them back in it if you can do it safely. The mother bird will not reject them. - If you have decided that the animal needs to be rescued, keep it away from children, pets and curious people. Unnecessary handling and observation can cause the animal to die from stress. - Put small birds in a paper bag with tissue on the bottom. Put small mammals or large birds in a box lined with a towel or cloth. Keep the animal in a warm, dark, quiet place, out of direct sunlight until you get in touch with your local wildlife facility or animal control. Do not offer food or water as this could actually cause more harm than good. - Do not handle mammals or raptors. They can injure you and some carry serious diseases. Instead, call your local wildlife facility or animal control as quickly as possible.
Taking the time now to identify who you would call if you had a wildlife emergency could save the life of a bird or mammal you find, so look in your local phone book and make note of any wildlife care resources in your community.
SPCA International also recommends finding out if there are any wildlife care workshops offered in your area. Taking such a course will provide you with basic skills to care for baby birds and mammals until you can hand them over to the experts. And, in the spring wildlife rehabilitation centers are always in need of volunteers, so you may decide you want to spend some time helping feed orphaned hummingbirds or offering small morsels of food to a baby squirrel. Observing wildlife in their environment can be a very enjoyable thing to do this spring. Just do it from a distance, do not offer them your sandwich left over from lunch and leave as little impact as possible on their habitat. But if they do need your help be wise and handle them gently.

4) The American SPCA has designated April as the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month. Helpful Buckeye will present more information on this effort in next week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats. Stay tuned....


Strychnine poisoning is not a topic that you would expect to hear being discussed every day by veterinarians. It just isn't that common in the USA. However, as the following newspaper article proves, when it does happen, it gets a pet owner's attention. This article from the Arizona Republic recounts what happened in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa:

Strychnine is mainly used as a pesticide to help control rats, moles, prairie dogs, gophers, and coyotes. It is available as a commercial bait in pelleted form and is usually dyed red or green. It is highly toxic to most domestic animals. Poisoning by strychnine, whether malicious or accidental, occurs mainly in small animals, especially dogs and less frequently cats. Dogs in very urban settings are not as likely to be exposed to this danger as are dogs in suburban or rural areas.

The onset of strychnine poisoning is very fast. After swallowing the bait, a dog may show clinical signs within 15-60 minutes. These signs could include apprehension, nervousness, stiffness, and severe seizures. These seizures can be initiated by any external stimulus, such as touch, sound, or bright light. Seizures are soon replaced by an extreme rigidity, with the dog appearing to have all four legs rigidly extended. This extreme muscle activity quickly leads to exhaustion and death if not treated immediately. Obviously, strychnine poisoning is an emergency and treatment must be initiated swiftly. The problem is that frequently the dog owner has no idea that there has been an exposure to strychnine. Once the signs of illness appear, an immediate trip to a veterinary hospital or emergency clinic is a must.

Diagnosis of strychnine poisoning is based on a history of possible exposure and the classical signs shown by the dog. Analysis of stomach contents and kidney or liver tissue would provide a definitive diagnosis. This photo is of the stomach contents, with the visible pellets, from one of the dogs in Mesa:


Most dogs and cats will at some point in their lives be confronted with the discomfort that is caused by external parasites. Fleas would be the most common of these and have been discussed at length in a previous issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats. You can access that discussion by clicking on "Fleas" under the "Labels" column on the left. The remaining external parasites are several species of ticks, ear mites, Sarcoptic mange mites, and Demodectic mange mites.

Hosting a tick is the price dogs, or less commonly, cats, may pay for investigating shrubbery, underbrush, or basically any area of uncared-for vegetation. Tick exposure may be seasonal, depending on your geographic location. Ticks are most often found around your dog's neck, in the ears, in the folds of skin between the legs and the body, and between the toes. Cats may have ticks on their neck or face. Tick bites can cause skin irritation and heavier infestations can cause anemia or paralysis in pets. Ticks are also capable of spreading serious infectious diseases, such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease, Ehrlichiosis, and Babesiosis to your pets or to you.

Ticks need to be attached to your pet for a while before they can adequately transfer their package of infection. Ticks that are just crawling through the hair or on the skin are not infecting your pet yet. Checking your pet thoroughly at regular short intervals can assist in removal of these ticks before they become attached. Pets at risk for tick infestation should be treated during the tick season with one of the tick preventive medicines that are available from your veterinarian. If your pet picks up ticks in your yard, trimming bushes and removing excess brush and vegetation may help reduce the exposure to tick habitats.

For any of you who have found your dog covered with ticks, you will easily relate to the "dark" humor in this video and empathize with this dog owner:

Ticks are arachnids, having 8 legs, not insects, which have 6 legs. They are close relatives of spiders and mites. The 3 most common ticks in the USA to infest dogs and cats are:

Brown Dog Tick (Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis) American Dog Tick (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever)
Deer Tick (Lyme Disease)
The Brown Dog Tick and the American Dog Tick are several times larger than the Deer Tick. In next week's issue, Helpful Buckeye will discuss these tick-borne diseases; then, in following weeks, the diseases associated with the mites will be covered.


1) OK, let's loosen you up a bit. An enterprising cat owner has filmed their cats trying to accustom themselves to a moving treadmill. Fortunately, since these cats are quite agile, the results were only humorous rather than devastating. Enjoy:

2) Jay Leno had this quote earlier this week about the news that President Obama's family had finally decided on a choice for their dog: "The Obamas are expecting the arrival of the first dog in April. Actually, this will be the Obamas' second choice of a dog. The first dog had some tax problems."

3) The ASPCA is offering a free Pet Safety Pack to any pet owner who requests one. This safety pack includes a pet rescue window decal and an ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center magnet. Simply fill out their request form online at:

4) Sometimes we feel that an observation is true but there aren't any studies to back it up. Such is the case with feeling that there are more dog bites of humans during the warmer months. Granted, it almost seems intuitive that this would be the case, but....

Now, a study has been completed on this very subject and it concludes that:

5) For our readers who remember the picture of the python swallowing the dog several months ago, who then sent in comments saying that it was unbelievable, here's what could almost be an instant replay. This story and photo from Australia aren't quite as graphic, but:

6) Many of you had a chuckle last week about the woman who bought a used sofa, only to find out later that she had received an unexpected bonus.....a calico cat! Comedians had a field day with this story and Helpful Buckeye especially liked this quote from Jimmy Fallon: "In Washington, a woman who bought a used couch found a live cat in its cushions. This should serve as a reminder to everyone: please, have your couches spayed or neutered." Don't you just love his concern for the exploding sofa population problem?

7) This past week would have been the 90th birthday of Nat King Cole, born 3/17/1919. Helpful Buckeye is fairly certain that all of our readers can think of several of Nat's big hits, but this song (from 1955) is appropriate for the season and the blossoms of the daffodils:

8) Then, on 20 March 1916, Albert Einstein published his Theory of Relativity. Einstein, ever the funny guy, was later heard to say (when everyone was making such a fuss about his theory): "When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But, let him sit on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems longer than any hour. That’s relativity!"


Manny Ramirez has strained one of his $12.5 million hamstrings and has not been able to play. The LA Dodgers know they are a decent team without him, but a seriously contending team with him.

The Ohio State Buckeyes bowed out in double overtime to Siena in the first round of March Madness...too many underclassmen in the lineup. Perhaps next year?

The Pitt Panthers probably took their first 2 opponents too lightly. It has been said that the really good teams will find a way to win, even when they're not playing their best. However, starting this Thursday, when we play Xavier, there are no more cupcakes. It's time for the real game face!


As a way of tying together last week's sentiment about pessimists and optimists with this week's approach to spring, comes this quote from Susan Bissonette: "An optimist is the human personification of spring."

For those of you who just finished eating that great-tasting Snickers bar comes this information from the FDA: The average chocolate bar has 8 insect legs in it!

Just to see how many of you are reading this issue the whole way to the end, here's a quote from William Jennings Bryan, an American political leader, orator, and attorney in the early 20th century: "Do not compute the totality of your poultry population until all the manifestations of incubation have been entirely completed." Now, for the test...translate this quote into everyday language and send your answer to: or post it in the comment section just below this.

~~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, March 15, 2009


"St. Patrick's Day is an enchanted time -- a day to begin transforming winter's dreams into summer's magic."-- Adrienne Cook

Ah, yes...St. Patrick's Day is Tuesday, a day on which most of us will feel at least part Irish. Helpful Buckeye can taste the corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, and carrots right now, just thinking about it. In fact, Helpful Buckeye and Desperado will be enjoying just that, courtesy of a recipe from good friend Dianne, now up in Chico, CA, which we have used for several years.

The American Kennel Club has published a "Celebration of Irish Dog Breeds in A Spirit of St. Patrick's Day" tribute to Ireland: Let's let a leprechaun present the eight Irish breeds of dogs that are recognized by the AKC:

Irish Setter

Irish Terrier

Irish Water Spaniel
Irish Wolf Hound
Glen of Imaal Terrier
Kerry Blue Terrier
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
Irish Red and White Setter
A description and short history of each of these breeds can be found at the AKC web site listed above. Two of these Irish breeds of dogs, the Irish Setter and the Irish Water Spaniel, were among the original nine breeds first recognized by the AKC when it was formed back in 1884.

In last week's poll on the appropriateness of having a pet with you in the workplace, 87% of respondents said, "Yes, but only under certain circumstances," which Helpful Buckeye feels is a fairly open-minded response. Be sure to answer this week's poll question in the column to the left.


1) Still, another pet food/snack recall due to Salmonella contamination of peanut butter has been reported by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Check these two new producers to find if you may have purchased some of their products:

Bird food recalled due to Salmonella contamination: Dead birds found in N.C. initiates testing of bird food (12 Mar 2009) Alaska Canine Cookies Recalls Certain Canine Cookies Because of Possible Salmonella Health Risk (10 Mar 2009

In a very closely related story, President Obama appointed the new head of the Food & Drug Administration yesterday, with these words: "The nation's food safety system is a hazard to public health and overdue for an overhaul." When you consider the recent E. coli and Salmonella contamination outbreaks, the difficulty of tracking down the sources of contamination, and the money lost (see item #1 in General Interest below) over these food recalls, maybe it's about time to pay closer attention to this potential serious disaster that is waiting to happen. For the whole story, go to:

2) The AKC has introduced their AKC Pet Healthcare Plan, with this statement: As the largest registry for purebred dogs in the world, the American Kennel Club (AKC) understands the concerns and needs of dog owners. This includes understanding the high costs of modern veterinary treatments, surgery and prescriptions, and the financial burden these costs create when you need to provide the very best care for your dog. The AKC web site for a description of their pet insurance plan is:

If you have been considering pet health care insurance, Questions On Dogs and Cats has covered this topic in depth in three separate issues of the blog. Look in the "Labels" column to the left and click on "Pet Health Insurance" to review those discussions. This AKC Pet Health Plan does have some interesting aspects which any pet owner should at least consider.


1) Last week, Helpful Buckeye finished the discussion of "worm" intestinal parasites. This week, Questions On Dogs and Cats will address the only other fairly common intestinal parasites, the protozoa, or one-celled organisms. The first of these would be the group known as "Coccidia." Don't expect to see these parasites in your pet's stools...they are microscopic and cannot be seen with the naked eye. Because of this, they can only be diagnosed by your veterinarian, usually in doing a routine fecal microscopic exam.

Coccidia can damage the lining of the intestine, leading to an inability of your pet to absorb necessary nutrients, and resulting in a watery (sometimes bloody) diarrhea and subsequent dehydration. They produce oocysts, which are passed in the animal's stools, incubate on the ground, and become infective to another cat or dog. Eating oocyst-infected soil or licking contaminated paws and/or fur will complete the life cycle of the Coccidia.

Coccidia are not considered a major, serious intestinal parasite, except in large kennel conditions where many animals live in close quarters and in both young and older pets which might have a weakened immune system. Treatment is available from your veterinarian if this parasite has been diagnosed and, in the cat, treatment might not even be necessary because many cats are capable of spontaneously eliminating the infection.

The other protozoan parasite for consideration is Giardia. These are also microscopic and not visible in the stools. In fact, Giardia can even be difficult for your veterinarian to detect with a microscope. The life cycle of Giardia is similar to that of Coccidia, including the passing of cysts in the stools. As with the "worm" parasites, overcrowding and humidity favor the survival and transmission of Giardia.

Most Giardia infections do not cause illness, but a severe infection could lead to an unexplained diarrhea. For this reason, your veterinarian will want to check for Giardia organisms if your pet's diarrhea does not respond to commonly successful treatments. Since Giardia can also infect people, it is equally important to know if this organism is present in the environment. Several non-approved treatments are available and your veterinarian will discuss these with you should this parasite become a problem for your pet.

In summary, some important considerations about internal parasites and your dog and/or cat:

  • If your pet has diarrhea, weight loss, a dull hair coat, or if you see worms in its stools, you should have the pet examined by your veterinarian.

  • Prompt treatment of internal parasites decreases your pet's discomfort, the chances of intestinal damage, and the chance that your pet will infect humans or other animals in the area.

  • Good hygiene and sanitation reduce the chances that your pet will infect people and animals. You can help prevent the spread of internal parasite infection by always cleaning up your pet's droppings immediately.

Now that the transition of seasons is upon most of us and Spring is either at or just around the corner, your pets will most likely be spending more of their time outdoors. External parasites of dogs and cats are usually associated with being outdoors (even for short periods of time) during warmer weather, which will be arriving soon. Helpful Buckeye has already discussed the problem of flea infestation in a previous issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats, which you can access by looking under "Labels" in the left column and clicking on "Fleas." Next week, Helpful Buckeye will cover the other two major external parasites which bother your pets, the ticks and the mites.


The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center has compiled this list of the 10 most common pet poisonings that result from human medications:

Top 10 Human Medications That Poison Our Pets
Although pet parents are well aware of poisons lurking around their home, many don’t realize that some of the biggest culprits are sitting right on their own nightstands. In 2007, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center received 89,000 calls related to pets ingesting over-the-counter and prescription medications. To help you prevent an accident from happening, our experts have created a list of the top 10 human medications that most often poison our furry friends.
If you suspect your pet has ingested any of the following items, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435. And remember to keep all medications tucked away in bathroom cabinets—and far from curious cats and dogs.
NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen or naproxen are the most common cause of pet poisoning in small animals, and can cause serious problems even in minimal doses. Pets are extremely sensitive to their effects, and may experience stomach and intestinal ulcers and—in the case of cats—kidney damage.
Antidepressants can cause vomiting and lethargy and certain types can lead to serotonin syndrome—a condition marked by agitation, elevated body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure, disorientation, vocalization, tremors and seizures.
Cats are especially sensitive to acetaminophen, which can damage red blood cells and interfere with their ability to transport oxygen. In dogs, it can cause liver damage and, at higher doses, red blood cell damage.
Methylphenidate (for ADHD)
Medications used to treat ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in people act as stimulants in pets and can dangerously elevate heart rates, blood pressure and body temperature, as well as cause seizures.
Fluorouracil—an anti-cancer drug—is used topically to treat minor skin cancers and solar keratitis in humans. It has proven to be rapidly fatal to dogs, causing severe vomiting, seizures and cardiac arrest even in those who’ve chewed on discarded cotton swabs used to apply the medication.
Often the first line of defense against tuberculosis, isoniazid is particularly toxic for dogs because they don’t metabolize it as well as other species. It can cause a rapid onset of severe seizures that may ultimately result in death.
Pseudoephedrine is a popular decongestant in many cold and sinus products, and acts like a stimulant if accidentally ingested by pets. In cats and dogs, it causes elevated heart rates, blood pressure and body temperature as well as seizures.
Many oral diabetes treatments—including glipizide and glyburide—can cause a major drop in blood sugar levels of affected pets. Clinical signs of ingestion include disorientation, lack of coordination and seizures.
Vitamin D derivatives
Even small exposures to Vitamin D analogues like calcipotriene and calcitriol can cause life-threatening spikes in blood calcium levels in pets. Clinical signs of exposure—including vomiting, loss of appetite, increased urination and thirst due to kidney failure—often don't occur for more than 24 hours after ingestion.
Baclofen is a muscle relaxant that can impair the central nervous systems of cats and dogs. Some symptoms of ingestion include significant depression, disorientation, vocalization, seizures and coma, which can lead to death.


1) As referred to in the above-mentioned article on food safety overhaul, the current Salmonella-contamination of peanut butter products could cost peanut growers more than $1 billion in lost production and sales. For this type of expense to occur more frequently, our economy would take even more hits than it has already. Read the whole story at:

2) There has been a noticeable confirmed increase in the incidence of rabies in the fox population around the city of Flagstaff. This has prompted the following warning and advice (which actually applies to just about anywhere in the USA):

The following precautions will help to reduce risk of exposure to rabies:

  • Avoid any wild animals. People who feed or handle wild animals, and pets coming into contact with wild animals, risk possible exposure to rabies.
  • If hiking with a dog, keep it on a leash no more than six feet in length. Do not let your dog wander freely on the trails as it could come into contact with a wild animal, increasing its risk of exposure to rabies.
  • Bring a trekking pole or walking stick with you on your hikes. If you see a fox near you, turn around and go the other way. Do not run. Walk slowly and keep an eye on the fox to ensure it is not following you. If a fox runs at you, use your trekking pole or walking stick to stun the fox and move as quickly as you can out of the area. If you do not have anything with you to defend yourself, kick the fox and move out of the area. Remember normal behavior in a fox is shyness and avoiding any human or domestic interaction. If a fox is coming at you or at your dog something is wrong.
  • Report any unusual behavior. Call your local animal control office. Be sure to give very specific directions to the person taking your information and a contact number so the officer can contact you.
  • If you are bitten by a fox or other wild animal immediately go to the hospital and inform the staff of your situation. The hospital staff will contact the appropriate agency to collect the animal. Try to give specific directions to the agency investigator to ensure they can locate the animal.
  • Have your pet vaccinated against rabies. States requires all dogs to be properly vaccinated and licensed. It is also strongly recommended that cats be vaccinated against rabies if you live in a state that does not require this.

3) Some of you may have already read about this interesting, head-scratching story of the woman who bought a used sofa, brought it home, and later on, heard some strange noises coming from the sofa:

4) Under the title of "Dirty Cell Phones Found In Hospitals," a Turkish study released in the Annals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials says that cell phones carried by hospital doctors and nurses are often covered in bacteria, frequently of the MRSA type. Bacteria was found on 94 percent of cellular phones in a test involving 200 hospital workers. Researchers said MRSA bacteria was found on 25 of the mobile phones. That's 1 out of 8 phones, folks!

5) The Morris Animal Foundation has an "Ask An Expert" section on their web site that offers answers from experts on Pet Insurance, Animal Behavior, and Pain Management. These experts offer a long list of answers to questions already received in addition to allowing you to submit your own personal question. Check it out at:

6) To end this section on a lighter note, enjoy this short video featuring a puppy escape artist:


Manny Ramirez has finally joined the Los Angeles Dodgers for the rest of the spring training games. Hope he helps us get off to a good start for the season....

The Pitt Panthers basketball team bowed out in the opener of the Big East Tournament, but that shouldn't keep us from being one of the #1 seeds in the Big Dance of March Madness, which begins this week.

The Ohio State Buckeyes basketball team has done well this weekend in the Big 10 Tournament...well enough to be one of the 64 teams in the Big Dance.


In a study released this week, and reported by the USA Today, optimists are enjoying a longer life expectancy than are pessimists. Read the short summary of this study at: and draw your own conclusions. Helpful Buckeye has always been in the optimists' corner, to the extent that we here at Questions On Dogs and Cats have adopted Joseph Priestley's (English theologian, scientist, and discoverer of oxygen) quote: "I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning...." as one of our mantras.

As a tandem corollary to this notion of optimism, comes this anonymous quote about happiness: "Being happy doesn't mean everything's perfect; it just means you've decided to see beyond the imperfections." --Author Unknown

To close out this week's issue on a happy, optimistic note, enjoy this 1988 song from Bobby Mcferrin, who turned 59 this past week (on March 11th)...go ahead and sing'll feel better:

~~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, March 8, 2009


"Another Day Older and Deeper in Debt" go the words to an old Tennessee Ernie Ford song, titled Sixteen Tons. The song became a national #1 hit in 1955-56 and you can enjoy the video of Ernie Ford singing his song:

This past week, Helpful Buckeye turned "Another Day (Year) Older...." and this tune seemed appropriate at the time!

Our reader poll last week, with the question about Dolly the cloned sheep, ended up having most of you going in the wrong direction. Dolly was the product of a Scottish research laboratory, headed by scientist, Ian Wilmut. Dolly arose from a mammary gland cell from a 6-year old ewe and, after some discussion among the scientists (including several women,) the cloned sheep was named Dolly, after:

Dolly Parton's agent reportedly said that Dolly was honored by the tribute, joking, "There's no such thing as bad publicity." The very interesting account of the creation of Dolly, the sheep, can be found in: After Dolly, The Uses and Misuses of Human Cloning, Ian Wilmut, 2006. Anyway, only one reader correctly chose the right answer to the poll, with most of the rest of you favoring the "wheeled platform" from among the other answers. Better luck this week! The new poll is in the column to your left.

Helpful Buckeye received several new comments during the past week from readers, the most interesting of which came from "Anonymous" : "....Lots of work but obviously a work of love!" Well, Anonymous, thanks for the compliment...Questions On Dogs and Cats does involve some time putting it together, but it is mostly very enjoyable doing it!

Any reader can post a comment, either by clicking on "Comments" at the end of each issue or by sending an e-mail to:


1) Never let it be said that Helpful Buckeye will let go of a story while the story is still worth following! Still again, another dog treat recall due to possible Salmonella contamination of peanut butter has been announced by the American Veterinary Medical Association. This week's news release is: Breadfarm, Inc. Recalls Sirius Dog Treats Purchased Between January 2007 and October of 2008 Because of Possible Health Risk (04 Mar 2009) sure to click this link if you have purchased some of this product for your dog.

2) In a related story, a scientist at Purdue University says he's developed an ozone device that eliminates bacteria in packaged foods. His process evidently kills both E. coli and Salmonella in food products that have been packaged. If this development proves to be effective and easily reproduced, we may be on the way to solving the bacterial contamination problem. Read the rest of the story: A U.S. scientist says he's developed an ozone device that eliminates bacteria in packaged foods such as spinach and tomatoes. Purdue University Associate Professor Kevin Keener said his device consists of a set of high-voltage coils attached to a small trans-former that generates a room-temperature plasma field in a package, ionizing the gases inside. Keener said the process kills harmful bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella. "Conceptually, we can put any kind of packaged food we want in there," said Keener. "So far, it has worked on spinach and tomatoes but it could work on any type of produce or other food." He said ozone kills bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella and the longer the gas in the package remains ionized, the more bacteria are killed. Eventually, the ionized gas will revert back to its original composition. The technology is outlined in the early online edition of the journal -- Food Science and Technology.

3) The American Kennel Club has posted this explanation of a recently introduced law governing the shipment of live animals by air:
US Live Animal Air Shipping Policy Changes

A new directive regarding transporting live animals by air into/through the United States has been put into effect by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Effective February 1, 2009, the directive requires that all animals, including dogs, coming into the United States from overseas airports booked as manifest cargo—that is, not accompanied by a ticked passenger—must be tendered at their foreign origin airport by a "Regulated Agent" or "IATA-Approved Agent".
Parties NOT AFFECTED include:
Within the US, people (breeders, owners, etc.) either shipping their pets as cargo (i.e., not accompanied by a ticketed passenger) or traveling with their pets as excess luggage or in-cabin.
People traveling with their pets as excess luggage or in-cabin into the US from overseas airports.
People shipping their pets from the US to a foreign country.
AFFECTED parties include:
People shipping pets as cargo not accompanied by a ticketed passenger into the US.
Individuals living overseas who want to send their pets back to the US as cargo not accompanied by a ticketed passenger.


In previous issues of Questions On Dogs and Cats, Helpful Buckeye has addressed the general topic of intestinal parasites, such as roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms. These are considered to be the most common and most medically important of the intestinal parasites of small animals. However, there are a few other intestinal parasites which merit some discussion, the first being whipworms. Whipworms, found mostly in dogs and rarely in cats, get their name from their whip-like shape:

and the adult is only about 1/3 of an inch long. The adults live in the cecum portion of the intestine where they firmly attach to the lining of the intestine, similar to the action of hookworms. Whipworms usually do not cause health problems unless present in great numbers or if the dog is already ill from another cause. Occasionally, severe infections can produce diarrhea, weight loss, and blood loss. The adults produce eggs which are passed with the dog's stools. These microscopic eggs become infective larvae in 2-4 weeks if in a warm, moist environment. Other dogs can pick up these larvae on their feet, lick their feet, and swallow them. As these larvae develop in the intestinal walls, the life cycle is then complete. The obvious solution to prevention of a whipworm problem for your dog revolves around regularly cleaning up dog stools from your dog's environment and eliminating moist areas. Treatment for a whipworm infection involves the use of any of several products your veterinarian can dispense and should be repeated three times at monthly intervals. There are also several heartworm prevention products that include a treatment for whipworm infection.

Whipworms in dogs should NOT be confused with pinworms in humans (mainly infants and children) because the dog whipworm is a completely different species of parasite.

This concludes the list of major "worm" internal parasites for dogs and cats. The next most common form of intestinal parasite in dogs and cats are the protozoan parasites. The two most common of those will be covered in next week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats.


1) Helpful Buckeye again received many nice comments about Greg's contributions about his experiences with Nala, his service dog and friend. For this week's issue, Helpful Buckeye asked Greg several questions about taking care of Nala and what special challenges that might present. Here is Greg's response:

Service Dog Health Concerns

Just like any pets, service dogs require annual Veterinarian care with a few additions. For the purpose of this article I will be speaking about my personal experience with my service dog Nala. She is a Susquehanna Service Dog who will be 11 years old in just a few short months. She and I have been together nine years, and this is our experience with veterinarian care.
Due to my disability (quadriplegia) I am paralyzed from the chest down with no feeling in my arms or hands. I am unable to independently groom Nala or feel when I touch her. I have an attendant brush her several times a week and bathe her once or twice a month. She also cleans her ears after her shower. It’s important that Nala looks good every time we are in public. My Attendant also gives Nala her monthly heartworm and applies her advantage flea treatment. For dental hygiene Nala has bones, toys, and stuffed animals to play tug with. It’s not the best, but she’s never had any dental problems.
Nala’s good health is extremely important to me because I rely on her daily. Wintertime brings certain concerns due to snow and ice as well as harmful chemicals (salt / deicer) that can affect her paws. Her paws need to be inspected and care for as needed. Her toenails are cut professionally as needed.
As she has gotten older arthritis has become an issue. We no longer travel very fast as she walks beside my electric wheelchair. For the past several years she has been on adult senior light dog food with glucosamine for her joints. I’m very conscious of keeping her weight down which would add pressure to her joints.
Everyday Nala goes for a short walk with my Attendant if I am not out in the community, proper exercising is important. Since Nala has turned 10 years old, I like to refer to her as semiretired. If the trip is not necessary for her to go with me, she stays home. As you can imagine she’s not very pleased with retirement.
Having Nala as my service dog provides me with a great deal of independence. It’s not only the task she performs (opening doors, retrieving objects, getting help, etc.) but the loving companionship she provides every day that makes her indispensable to me.
Because of my disability I rely on others for assistance with Nala’s Care. Her veterinary experiences are not that much different from any other well loved companion.

This is the last of this current series of articles written by Helpful Buckeye's new blog friend, Greg, although we fully expect to be exchanging stories into the future. If any of our readers would like to follow Greg's blog or contact him, you can do so at:

2) The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has made available through their web site a potentially very helpful advice source.

Virtual Pet Behaviorist
Now you can get pet-behavior advice from ASPCA experts 24 hours a day, right from your computer. Their nationally recognized team of animal behaviorists offers possible solutions to a wide range of issues at no charge. Simply type your pet's behavior problem into their easy-to-use database, and you'll receive step-by-step advice -- without leaving home. Just go to: and click onto either dog or cat, then follow their simple instructions. Be sure to send us a comment on how this works out for you.


1) According to the Chinese Ministry of Health website, the top three leading causes of infectious deaths in China for 2008 are AIDS virus, Tuberculosis, and Rabies. To be contrasted with leading causes of infectious deaths in the USA, rabies does not even appear on the list of the top 20 causes, as compiled by the Centers for Disease Control. This is attributable to our strict requirement of rabies vaccinations for all dogs and cats.

2) With so many things having changed in the workplace, given the current economic conditions, it figures that bringing your pet to work with you would get some attention. "Supporters say pets in the workplace reduce stress among owners who worry about home-alone dogs, are a calming presence for even the non-owners and help employees form relationships." For the rest of this story from the USA Today, go to:

3) How many of you ever thought of walking a cat on leash, much less actually trying to do so? Sharon Peters, writer for USA Today, has put together a very interesting guide for doing just that:

4) Even though a lot of us have been watching our expenses while traveling, there are still those few wealthy folks who only want the top destinations and lodgings available...both for them and their pets. Go to: for an eye-opener on luxury accommodations with the pets in mind. Spend a few minutes at this web site, clicking on the different options, and see what's available for dogs and cat...if you have the money!

5) For a short, enjoyable video of a sleeping kitty that is reluctant to be awakened, watch this one: Helpful Buckeye figures a lot of our readers probably exhibit the same response!

6) Finally, for something to occupy a few more minutes of your time and give you a few chuckles, go to this site which features "badly drawn cats" :


There is joy in Mudville (Los Angeles) after the Los Angeles Dodgers finally found what it takes to re-hire Manny Ramirez!!!


Luther Burbank, American horticulturist, had this to say about flowers: "Flowers always make people better, happier and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine to the soul." With the coming of spring, flowers will be bringing their benefits once again!

This past week, Helpful Buckeye and Desperado were fortunate to experience two of the wonders of the state of Arizona. The first was an exhilarating hike through a very concentrated growth of Saguaro cactuses, which only grow in the Sonoran Desert.

The second wonder was visiting a condor "captive release" location, north of the Grand Canyon, for one of their releases of captive young condors into the wild. This very large bird, with a wing span of almost 10 ft., has a very special story. Almost extinct in the early 1980s, there are now almost 200 of them in the wild, with about 75 of them in and around the Grand Canyon. All of the condors are tagged for identification purposes. Below is an adult condor (with the multi-colored head) and two immature condors (still with the darker heads):
~~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.~~