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.~~


  1. 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.


  2. I just checked out the Morris Animal Foundation page. Lots of good info on there. Thanks!

  3. 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 funnies animal in the world. My husband and I would love to retire to Ireland and take our Rusty back home.