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.~~


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  2. Once again, I turn to you to start off a week with some background, addtional pet thoughts for consideration, and a feeling of gratitude for all the work that you put into this labor of love! Have a great week, Doc, with my thanks!

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