Sunday, April 26, 2009


Much has been said and printed about the dangers of Secondhand Smoke, as it relates to humans. However, only recently have we become aware of the dangers of secondhand smoke for our pets, both dogs and cats. The ASPCA released a news alert this past week for the purpose of helping pet owners become more mindful of the imminent dangers posed for their dogs and cats if they are exposed not only to secondhand smoke but also to other tobacco products and by-products. More on this topic will follow below....

Helpful Buckeye is very grateful that there will plenty more opportunities to see and visit with...Junebug, as a result of things that happened this past week! Ah, yes, our long-time readers will remember that Junebug was the lead "guest" for our first issue of June 2008 and she prompted numerous positive comments. Helpful Buckeye and Desperado are also thankful that Junebug's human "mama and papa," our two favorite "Cowpokes," will continue to be enduring friends and, in the words of Simon & Garfunkel, Old Friends: "Old friends, Winter companions, The old men Lost in their overcoats, Waiting for the sunset. The sounds of the city, Sifting through the trees, Settle like dust On the shoulders Of the old friends. Can you imagine us Years from today, Sharing a park bench quietly? How terribly strange to be seventy." Hold that thought and listen to Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel perform the song from 1968:
The "Cowpokes" will understand the significance of this....the rest of you can just sit back and enjoy a really nice, sentimental oldie!

Helpful Buckeye is always trying to learn something new and what I have learned this past week is that perhaps our readers aren't interested in a polling question that resembles a test question! We had the fewest responses to last week's question since the introduction of this feature. For those of you who were interested in the difference between infectious and contagious but were reluctant to answer the question, all 6 choices are infectious but only 3 choices are contagious. From the definitions you were given last week, that a contagious disease is easily passed directly from dog to dog or cat to cat, the correct choices were Sarcoptic Mange, Roundworms, and Rabies. The other 3 choices, Heartworms, Lyme Disease, and Tapeworms, require some other form of life in between. Be sure to take a look at this week's poll questions (If you dare!)...that's right, there are two questions this week in the left column and participate.

For those of you who are new to Questions On Dogs and Cats, you will find a listing in the left column under the heading of "Labels." These topics serve as an index of what we've covered the past year. Click on any of those topics and it will take you to the particular issue with that topic.


1) As an important follow-up of the news release from the AVMA last week, the Environmental Protection Agency has provided a more thorough description of the flea and tick products that are under more intense scrutiny:

As many as 44,000 pets were adversely affected by over-the-counter flea and tick products in 2008 and the EPA has offered this further news release: Their product information is currently being updated; therefore, if you are using any over-the-counter products, you should check back with this web site soon to see if you need to be more careful in your choice of products.

2) From the AVMA, a New Jersey appeals court issued a precedent-setting decision this week when it ruled that a pet's "special subjective value" to its owner should be considered in custody cases. Previously, courts have ruled that "pets are personal property lacking in the unique values typically associated with heirlooms, family treasures, and works of art that induce a strong sentimental attachment." For the rest of the story:

3) The Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine has announced that the National Center for Veterinary Parasitology, launched in late February, will be based in the university's Center for Veterinary Health Sciences in Stillwater. The whole news release: 4) Regular readers of Questions On Dogs and Cats will remember that we have addressed the topic of bequests for dogs in 2 previous issues, which can be found at: . The original news report stated that Leona Helmsley's estate of $8 billion would go mostly "to the dogs!" Now that the estate has been allocated by the trustees, the Humane Society of the US is disappointed in the results. The $8 billion now translates into just $1 million:

5) Normally, Helpful Buckeye steers away from news items that seem to be mostly of "shock" value...however, I'll let you decide on this one. A group of scientists in South Korea has come up with a "glowing puppy!" Here's a picture of the puppy, followed by the news release: Read the report and you make the call....


Helpful Buckeye can remember when the concept of Secondhand Smoke and its effects on non-smokers was first being discussed. As evidence piled up, the direct relationship was established beyond a doubt. During my years of veterinary practice, we may have felt that there was some type of influence on respiratory function of pets by secondhand smoke, but there was no medical evidence to back that up. Well, now there is medical evidence and it's piling up as more research is done. The ASPCA has now taken up the cause of calling attention to this growing problem of dogs and cats being kept in an environment where there are smokers:

Helpful Buckeye addressed this concern in a previous issue: , including references to some of the studies done on the subject. In addition to the established links to nasal and lung cancers in dogs and lymphomas in cats, secondhand smoke has also been implicated in many inflammatory-type respiratory disorders in pets.

Let's let Maggie, of the Utah Tobacco Prevention and Control Program (, describe the further concerns about pets living in a smoking environment:

  • Ingestion of cigarette or cigar butts which contain toxins

  • Drinking water that contains cigar or cigarette butts (which usually have high concentrations of nicotine)

  • Ingestion of nicotine patches or gum


  • Breathing problems in dogs and asthmatic-like symptoms in cats

  • Salivation

  • Diarrhea

  • Vomiting

  • Cardiac abnormalities

  • Respiratory difficulties and/or distress

  • Death....From 1-5 cigarettes and from 1/3-1 cigar can be fatal if ingested


  • As in the case of children and others in the home, don't smoke in the house

  • Don't allow others to smoke around your pets

  • Keep ashtrays clean....Don't leave butts in them for pets to find

  • Dispose of nicotine gum and patches in receptacles that can't be accessed by your pets

Lastly, Breathe New Hampshire has published the following considerations at :

  • Dogs that inhale secondhand smoke are three times more likely to develop lung or nasal cancer than dogs living in smoke-free homes.

  • Dogs can experience allergic reactions to secondhand smoke. Common symptoms of this allergic reaction are the scratching, biting, and chewing of their skin. Their owners often confuse this action with fleas of food allergies.

  • Cigarette butts can also be deadly. Two butts, if eaten by a puppy, can cause death in a relatively short period of time.

  • Birds can react badly to secondhand smoke and may develop eye problems, as well as other respiratory problems like coughing and wheezing.

  • Birds that sit on a smoker's hand can experience contact dermatitis from the nicotine that remains on the smoker's fingers. This can cause them (the birds) to pull out their feathers.

  • Cats exposed to secondhand smoke in the home have a higher rate of an oral cancer called squamous cell carcinoma, which may be due to the way cats groom themselves. When cats groom themselves, they swallow the poisons from secondhand smoke that have settled on their fur.

  • Cats exposed to secondhand smoke have a higher rate of feline lymphoma, a deadly form of cancer, than cats not exposed to secondhand smoke.

  • Cats can develop respiratory problems, lung inflammation, and asthma as a result of secondhand smoke.


1) As Sharon Peters writes in her recent column in The USA Today, there are so many things to be aware of that might be a danger for your pets. To this list, she has added...the retractable leash. You've all seen these and probably have used one on your dog.

Ms. Peters presents several scenarios involving retractable leashes that you will want to avoid:

2) An ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement Officer made an interesting discovery when responding to a call about a dead dog. He started the ball rolling for what would be a nice adoption story later on:


1) The American Kennel Club maintains a list of Breed Rescue Groups on their web site. Many of the AKC-recognized pure breeds are represented on this list. If you might be considering adopting a rescued pure breed dog, check out the list at:

2) To see some of the "Top Dogs, by City," browse through these photos. Perhaps you'll see one of your "Top Dogs!":

3) Singer Sara McLachlan accompanies this Public Service Announcement from the ASPCA:

4) "A white-and-ginger-colored cat with odd markings, lopsided ears and a grumpy expression has become an online celeb with followers so devoted they eagerly await his every post and rally to contribute to animal causes he promotes." So begins a story in The USA Today by Sharon Peters about Romeo, the "Twitter Cat." Read Romeo's fascinating journey through the cyber world of Twitterers in his efforts to raise donations for animal shelters and rescue groups:

5) The Mayo Clinic has published a column on Friendships: Enrich Your Life and Improve Your Health. One of the many suggestions they offer concerns pets: Get out with your pet. Seek out a popular dog park. Make conversation with those who stop to talk on your daily neighborhood jaunts, or make pet play dates. For the rest of this informative column, go to: ....Sounds a little like the movie, Must Love Dogs, huh?

6) A heart-warming story from Minnesota showed up this week about a large cat named Bob, which got lost from his owners. Read the story and watch the video of his reunion, thanks in part to a Facebook entry his owners had made:

7) A few weeks ago, Questions On Dogs and Cats ran a story about Pet Hospice and several of our readers sent in positive comments about it. The Colorado State University School of Veterinary Medicine has a Pet Hospice Program which has been receiving some attention as well:

8) An innovative program, Paws To Read, combining the efforts of the local medical center, the school district, and Delta Society-registered therapy dogs, has been showing some success in Flagstaff, AZ. Paws To Read lets students practice reading aloud by reading to a therapy dog. For the rest of the story, go to:

9) Just 28 years ago, on 24 April 1981, IBM introduced the first personal computer. Not so long ago, is it? Without the PC, we wouldn't be doing this blog.


The Los Angeles Dodgers are currently tied for the best record in the National League. Our hitters have been getting the job done even though some of our pitchers haven't.

The Arizona Cardinals have made "Beanie Wells," from Ohio State, their #1 draft choice. Helpful Buckeye is already looking forward to summer training camp, here in Flagstaff.

The San Antonio Spurs are down 3-1 in their playoff series. This series will be over shortly.


This past Wednesday was Earth Day. Any special observances on your part? To some, it was just another day. As Jay Leno said: "Happy Earth Day... or as the oil companies call it — Wednesday."

Helpful Buckeye will leave you with these two thoughts on happiness: First, from Mahatma Gandhi: “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Second, from Vincent Van Gogh: "Happiness... it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort."

~~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, April 19, 2009


No, this is NOT a sequel to the bloody movie from a few years ago, featuring the Oscar Award-winning performance by Daniel Day-Lewis. The main topic for this week in Questions On Dogs and Cats arose from a question that was sent in to the Phoenix newspaper, combined with some questions to this blog by our readers. More on this will follow below....

From time to time, Helpful Buckeye has been fortunate to be able to exchange information with other web sites and blog sites that deal with matters of concern to dog and cat owners. One of these sites, All About Dogs and Cats, , has published one of Helpful Buckeye's recent columns this past week. Go to this web site and right there on the home page under the heading, New Articles This Month, you'll see the topic of Seizure in Dogs, from one of our recent issues. All About Dogs and Cats provides extensive breed rescue information for dogs and cats, Dog Breed list ( 400 +), Health, Nutrition, and Pet Behaviour articles by veterinarians and animal specialists, as well as information on travel with pets and shopping. The site administrator offered this statement: "I am always interested in offering my visitors worthwhile information and advice on caring for their furry friends." Sometime this week, take a few minutes to check out this nice web site...there are numerous options for you to explore from its home page!

Even though this issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats is set to go out to the public late Sunday night, and most of you won't read it until Monday morning or later in the week, Helpful Buckeye has this great recap to offer about 2 nice bike rides over the weekend: Go ahead, turn up the volume on your speakers, and enjoy this hand-clapper and toe-tapper. It's a feel good song from 1972 and its infectious beat was running like an endless loop through my mind as I pedaled away the miles on Saturday and Sunday.

Speaking of an "infectious" beat to that song, it's time to review the difference between infectious and contagious. How many of you can describe the difference and what it might mean when characterizing a disease? Infectious is a term used to describe a disease that is caused by bacteria, a virus, a fungus, a parasite, or a other words, diseases caused by transmissible agents. Contagious is usually reserved for those diseases that can be easily passed from human to human, dog to dog, or cat to cat. If you feel you understand this difference, take a look at this week's poll question in the left column and test yourself. The poll will refer only to those dog and cat diseases that we have already discussed. Last week's poll question about which of the external parasites you or your pets have experienced was top-heavy with fleas, ticks, and ear mites being most represented. Sarcoptic mange was only mentioned a few times and Demodectic mange wasn't mentioned at all.

For those of you who are new to this blog site, you will find a listing in the left column under the heading of "Labels." These topics serve as an index of what we've covered the past year. Click on any of those topics and it will take you to the particular issue with that topic.


1) In this news release from the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Environmental Protection Agency is increasing their scrutiny of topical flea and tick products: In response to more than 44,000 potential adverse reactions to spot-on flea and tick products reported in 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency is intensifying its evaluation of these products. No recalls have been issued at this time. The AVMA will continue to maintain contact with the EPA and monitor the situation, and updates will be posted as they come to our attention. For the rest of this release, go to:

2) By now, most of you have seen the new "First Dog" for President Obama's family. Yes, it's the Portuguese Water Dog, that will be known as "Bo." The AVMA has issued this press release about the occasion, along with a nice overall evaluation of the situation by one of our esteemed animal behavioral specialists, Dr. Bonnie Beaver:


Now, for the question that was sent to the Arizona Republic columnist, Clay Thompson, this past week: "If your dog needs a blood transfusion, where do they get the blood?" To read Mr. Thompson's complete answer, go to:

From time to time, dogs and cats may have need of a blood transfusion. This can arise as a result of either internal or external bleeding caused by trauma, hemorrhaging during surgery, ingestion of certain toxins, and many other diseases that can cause a pet to lose red blood cells and develop a life-threatening anemia.

Red blood cells, among other functions, incorporate the hemoglobin molecule which carries oxygen throughout the body. If their concentration level drops enough, then a transfusion becomes necessary. Blood transfusions must be given with care because they do have the potential for further compromising the recipient dog or cat. The diversity of blood groups in animals make blood-typing and matching difficult, but not impossible. The most serious risk from a transfusion is hemolysis (breaking down and destroying) of the red blood cells, which, fortunately, doesn't happen very much anymore, now that crossmatching is available and there are more accessible blood banks for dogs and cats.

Blood is species specific, in other words, dogs can receive only dog blood and cats can receive only cat blood. Both species do have different blood types, therefore they require blood-typing and crossmatching before the transfusion can proceed. As with human blood donors, animal donors are tested to make sure certain blood values are high enough and no infectious disease is present before the blood is collected. Donor dogs and cats usually have to also meet minimum weight requirements, approximately 50 lbs. for dogs and 10 lbs. for cats.

The different blood components (red blood cells, platelets, and plasma) can be separated if needed. Red cells are given to a patient that may be anemic due to trauma or due to a treatable disease. Plasma is used to build up blood volume in situations where the animal is not making enough protein or is losing too much protein. Platelet-rich plasma is used for those patients whose platelets are depleted or dysfunctional.

Pet blood donation is an essential resource for veterinarians and their patients. Private veterinarians sometimes will use their own pet dogs or cats as blood donors when emergencies arise. Some animal hospitals will maintain a list of prospective donor animals from their regular clients as well. In addition, there now many centralized animal blood banks around the USA which can get blood to a needy patient very quickly.

For more information about pet blood transfusions or blood donation, talk with your regular veterinarian. For a really nice over-view of blood donations and blood transfusions in pets, spend a few minutes watching this very informative video from the Southern Arizona Animal Blood Bank: Another web site, The Pet Blood Bank, has a well-presented set of "Frequently Asked Questions" about blood donations and transfusions at:

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


1) The American Kennel Club offers puppy training tips for both the White House and your house!

"All of America has been anxiously awaiting the pitter-patter of President Obama's Portuguese Water Dog in the White House. But now that the Obamas' new dog has arrived, how will they prepare him for his high-profile life in Washington? And, as the Obamas are not only a First Family but also first-time dog owners with the eyes of of the world upon them, what can the public learn from their experience?" (From the AKC) For a sometimes tongue-in-cheek training proposal for the First Family, read the rest of the AKC's list:

2) For the purpose of a nice review about ticks and your pets, listen to this AVMA podcast:

3) The AVMA has also produced a podcast that helps the public understand all the different roles played by veterinarians in our society:


For this week, just a few words about the Retriever breeds of dogs will be the subject. Retrievers are a part of the AKC larger group of Sporting Dogs. Naturally active and alert, Sporting Dogs make likeable, well-rounded companions. Members of the group include pointers, retrievers, setters and spaniels. Remarkable for their instincts in water and woods, many of these breeds actively continue to participate in hunting and other field activities. Potential owners of Sporting dogs need to realize that most require regular, invigorating exercise. Of 27 breeds in the AKC Sporting Dog group, 6 are known as retrievers. These are the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Curly-Coated Retriever, Flat-Coated Retriever, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, and Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. A retriever is a type of gun dog that retrieves game for a hunter. Retrievers were bred primarily to retrieve birds or other prey and return them to the hunter without damage. To this end, retriever breeds are bred for soft mouths and a great willingness to please, learn, and obey. A soft mouth refers to the willingness of the dog to carry game in its mouth without biting into it. "Hard mouth" is a serious fault in a hunting dog and is one that is very difficult to correct. A hard-mouthed dog renders game unpresentable or at worst inedible. The retriever's willingness to please and trainability have made retrievers such as the Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever popular as Service Dogs. Does this cartoon from The New Yorker illustrate the spirit and performance of a Retriever in the great outdoors?:


1) The ASPCA has been observing April as its Prevention of Animal Cruelty month and it brings to mind this quote from George Bernard Shaw: "The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essence of inhumanity."

2) Regardless of one's opinion of Rush Limbaugh, he does deserve credit for his sponsorship of these messages for The Humane Society of the United States: and

3) The AKC has just recently begun a program designed for mixed breed dogs. "Our goal in creating a program specifically designed for mixed breeds is to share our passion for dogs and our sport," said AKC President and CEO Dennis Sprung. "AKC will broaden its legislative influence by representing more dog owners and achieve greater exposure for our responsible dog ownership messaging. But ultimately, the positive developments that this program creates will benefit dogs the most, and this is what we value above all." For the rest of the details of this interesting program, go to:

4) Walmart has gone "ORANGE" along with the ASPCA during April by offering certain pet supplies at discounts: Take a look at this might find just what you've been looking for!

5) Under the heading of "What was she thinking?," a woman in Colorado was charged by police for taping her boyfriend's dog to their refrigerator! She obviously had issues with the boyfriend, but why does the animal always seem to be what suffers? Here's the whole story:

6) This past week, a 4-month old puppy is being credited for helping to save a 2-year old toddler who had wondered away from his house. As the article explains, the young boy was really fortunate to be found unharmed:

7) On 18 April 1775, young America was treated to the "Midnight Ride" of Paul Revere, during which Paul Revere was heard to be yelling, "The British are coming!" Enjoy a latter day version from Paul Revere & The Raiders, in this 1966 rocker:

8) Also, on 18 April 1906, the San Francisco earthquake decimated the "City By The Bay." If Jerry Lee Lewis had been around at that time, he would have been singing, "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On!" Join the Killer in this rock and roll classic from 1957:


My former business partner and his wife have been in Boston over the weekend, enjoying a chance to see their beloved Red Sox beat the Orioles.

The LA Dodgers won their 8th game in a row today to take over 1st place in the NL West division. All 11 of our games so far have been against divisional opponents, which admittedly might not be the strongest teams in the National League. On Tuesday, we step out of the division, so we'll start to get a better idea of how good we really are.

The San Antonio Spurs lost their fist game in the playoff round, which was not entirely unexpected since Manu Ginobili is out for the rest of the year.


Our reliable friend, Mark Twain, had this to say about possibly being sick: " far as being on the verge of being a sick man, I don't take any stock in that. I have been on the verge of being an angel all of my life, but it's never happened yet either." --Mark Twain, a Biography

Roger Caras, American wildlife photographer and writer had this to say about dogs: "Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole." How about a show of hands on this one? OK, just what I's unanimous!

Even though it was pretty windy over the weekend here in northern Arizona and tough on bicyclists, the warm temperature made the bike riding a real joy! It reminded me of a popular bumper sticker that I'll paraphrase: "Even a windy day biking is better than a calm day sitting inside and watching TV."

While biking on Saturday, Helpful Buckeye pulled up to a stop sign beside a motorcyclist who had a pug-type dog strapped to his chest by some form of harness. I hollered at the guy to ask him how it worked out with the dog strapped to his chest. He replied that the dog seemed to tolerate it without struggling at all. The harness looked pretty sufficient and the dog also had on a set of goggles. The guy then said that his dog used to be a smallish-sized German Shepherd, but after riding so many miles at high speeds had acquired the face of a pug! At that point, Helpful Buckeye realized that he had just been punked! Was this a conventional way of doggie transport? Probably not! Was the dog adequately protected? Probably....

To close out this week's issue, let's turn to Samuel Johnson, British writer, for this thought on remaining silent: "Silence propagates itself, and the longer talk has been suspended, the more difficult it is to find anything to say." Don't be silent when reading Questions On Dogs and Cats! If you have a thought or a question, please send an e-mail to: or make a comment at the end of this issue, just below.

~~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, April 12, 2009


Let's hear it for the rest of the mites! We've discussed the ticks and the ear mites, which leaves us with the last of the 8-legged external parasites...those pesky, burrowing creatures that are not-so-affectionately paired with the word "MANGE!" Now that we've got your undivided attention, welcome to Questions On Dogs and Cats for this week's visit with the veterinarian.

Congratulations to several of our readers who sent in e-mails correctly identifying John Fogerty's guitar, in the video of "Centerfield," as a modified Louisville Slugger...a baseball bat!

In last week's reader's poll, 2/3 of you felt that an animal hospice might have some benefits under the right circumstances. That strikes Helpful Buckeye as an open-minded and very receptive attitude from our readers! Be sure to answer this week's poll in the column to the left.


1) The College of Veterinary Medicine of the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, will be offering free eye exams for Service Dogs on May 4 and May 6, 2009. Drs. Anne Metzler and David Wilkie, board certified by the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists, are two of more than 150 board certified veterinary ophthalmologists across the U.S. and Canada offering these eye assessments to thousands of service dogs nationwide as part of the ACVO®/Merial® National Service Dog Eye Exam Day. For more information on this program and how to register for the free exam, go to:

2) Again, at Ohio State University, the College of Veterinary Medicine has been organizing a Greyhound Health and Wellness Program. With the increasing popularity of retired racing Greyhounds, veterinarians are likely to evaluate dogs of this breed more frequently in their practice. Adoption efforts have made a positive impact in reducing the number of Greyhounds that are killed every year due to poor performance in the racetrack. To read more about this program, go to:

3) The Humane Society of the United States is offering guidance and suggestions for anyone wanting to get a job working in the animal welfare field. They have provided a lot of information and ideas in this notification:

4) The state of Arizona is bracing for a bad rabies year. We are already well ahead of last year's reported cases of rabies in animals by this date. Read the report from the Arizona Health Department: For more information on rabies and the vaccinations available for your dogs and cats, from previous issues of Questions On Dogs and Cats, click on "Rabies" in the "Labels" column to the left.

5) The SPCA International is asking for everybody's help and support in the killing of an injured Navy SEAL's service dog in Texas. This web site tells the story of the Navy SEAL's injuries, the drive-by shooting of the dog, and the upcoming prosecution of the alleged criminals, while asking for you to sign a petition asking for full punishment under the law:


In bidding good-bye to the 8-legged external parasites, Helpful Buckeye presents the two final diseases associated with mites, both of which come under the general name of "Mange." These two forms of mange are similar only in the definition of mange: "a parasitic infestation of the skin of animals; common symptoms include hair loss, sometimes intense itching and inflammation, all of which are caused by microscopic mites." The numerous differences between these two forms of mange begin with the type of mite involved and include mode of transmission, prolonged severity of the infection, ease of treatment, and contagiousness to other animals or to humans.

The first of these is Sarcoptic Mange, also known as Scabies, caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei. This microscopic mite burrows into the skin of a dog after being transmitted by direct contact with an already infected dog. Scabies is considered to be a highly contagious disease. Intense scratching is the main characteristic of this disease and is probably due to a hypersensitivity to the waste products of the mites. Typically, the damage starts on the abdomen, chest, ears, and elbows, and, due to self-trauma, can easily progress to thick crusts of secondary bacterial and yeast infections.

Diagnosis of Sarcoptic Mange is based on the history of severe scratching of sudden onset, possible exposure to an infected dog, and possibly, a human case of scabies in the household. Your veterinarian will perform a skin scraping in an attempt to isolate one of the mites, which would confirm the diagnosis. After confirming the disease or by having a strong suspicion of its presence, your veterinarian will recommend a course of treatment that might involve topical treatments of just the affected spots or a systemic treatment which takes care of the whole body. This treatment should include all dogs which have contact with the affected dog. If secondary infections have developed, further specific treatment may also be necessary. The human form of this disease is uncomfortable at worst and is easily treated with topical products available from your physician. Helpful Buckeye has "survived" several infestations of this mite with no more than a disturbing itch!

The last of the mite diseases is Demodectic Mange, or Demodicosis, caused by the mite Demodex canis. This microscopic mite inhabits the hair follicles and sebaceous glands of dogs and, in small numbers, these mites are considered to be a part of the normal inhabitants of the skin of dogs and actually cause no clinical disease. Demodectic mites are transmitted from the mother to her puppies during nursing within the first 72 hours after their birth. These mites spend their entire life cycle on the same dog, and the disease is not considered to be contagious. The actual development of Demodectic Mange is complex and not completely understood. There is a lot of evidence that certain breeds of dog are predisposed to demodicosis and that a weakness of the immune system can precipitate the disease.

Demodectic Mange is seen in two forms, localized and generalized. The localized form usually occurs in dogs under 2 years of age and is characterized by small patches of hair loss and perhaps redness or darkening of the skin. The intense scratching seen with Sarcoptic Mange is usually absent in these localized forms. Most of the localized forms of demodecosis will spontaneously resolve themselves without much, if any, treatment.

The generalized form is a much more severe disease that is usually complicated by secondary bacterial infections. Frequently, the toes or the whole foot will be involved, swollen, and draining with infection. These dogs have difficulty even trying to walk. Your veterinarian can easily detect these mites on a skin scraping and a bacterial culture may also need to be done in order to choose the proper antibiotic to include with the treatment plan. Since the immune system is probably weakened in these dogs, there will need to be further evaluation to identify any other possible underlying disease that may be contributing to the generalized nature of this mange. In some generalized cases, the treatment may only control the condition, rather than cure it. Due to the probable breed predisposition to Demodectic Mange, even if your dog survives this infection, it should NOT be used for breeding. The breeds that seem to be the most predisposed to this disease are the Afghan Hound, American Staffordshire Terrier, Boston Terrier, Boxer, Chihuahua, Shar Pei, Collie, Dalmation, Doberman Pinscher, Bulldog, English Bull Terrier, Miniature Bull Terrier, German Shepherd, Great Dane, Old English Sheepdog, American Pit Bull Terrier, West Highland White Terrier, Rat Terrier, and Pug.

As an additional educational example, Helpful Buckeye encourages you to watch the following video, which depicts many of the microscopic organisms found on the skin of...humans! Yes, if you can bear to watch it the whole way through, you just might see something you recognize:


The American Veterinary Medical Association is promoting their "Easter and Spring Tips for Pet Owners" this week. Some of these we've already discussed, but the review will be beneficial:

Ah, spring! The greening of lawns, Easter egg hunts, giant chocolate bunnies, baby chicks and beautiful Easter lilies are all harbingers of the season. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reminds pet owners the coming of spring brings with it certain risks to your pet's health. Take a few moments to review AVMA's top Easter and spring hints for pet owners:

  • Chocolate bunnies and Easter baskets. Chocolates are poisonous to dogs and cats, but dogs will eat them up if they can get at them.

  • If the Easter bunny is hiding a basket of candies for your children, make sure it's in a place where your dog can't find it first. Also remember that live chicks in an Easter basket grow up quickly into live chickens, and Easter chicks and ducks have been reported to cause cases of salmonella in children.

  • Lilies. Lilies are a flower common in the spring, and they are very, very toxic to cats. But cats will often chew them, and even small amounts can lead to kidney failure and death. Cat owners may want to pass on this spring and Easter tradition.

  • Fleas and ticks. They can be tiny, little more than a pinhead in some instances, but they grow and spread quickly once they find a host. The preventative treatments that you may have discontinued in the winter should start early in the spring to keep your pet's coat, and your home, free of pests.

  • Lawn fertilizers. Lawn fertilizers are very toxic to pets. Store fertilizers in a place far from where your dog or cat -- and children -- can get at them. After applying fertilizers to your lawn, follow manufacturer instructions on how long you should wait before allowing your pet on the lawn. If you see a sign posted on a lawn that tells you to keep your pets off, abide by it.

  • Pesticides and herbicides. It's probably not surprising that these chemicals can be toxic to your pets, but, even when they're not lethal, there are some long-term health concerns. Studies indicate the use of pesticides and herbicides may be tied to increased rates of specific forms of cancer in dogs. If your pet is exposed, wash them with soap and water immediately and call your veterinarian.

  • Coco bean mulch. It's becoming common to mulch a garden with the fragrant scent shells of coco beans. But just like chocolate, dogs like to eat them and they are toxic.

  • Rhubarb leaves. Rhubarb makes a fine pie and it's a staple in many vegetable gardens, but the leaves are poisonous and can cause kidney failure.

  • Rat and mouse poisons. Controlling vermin becomes an issue again in the spring. Be aware that the same properties of common rat and mouse poisons that make them irresistible to pests will also attract your pet. If consumed, these can be fatal to your animal.

  • Cleaning products. Spring cleaning is an annual tradition in many households, but make sure the cleaning products don't hurt your animals. If the label states "keep pets and children away from area until dry," follow those instructions carefully, and store all chemicals out of reach of children and pets.

  • Paint and paint thinners. If you're putting a fresh coat of paint on the house, keep the pets away. Paint thinners, mineral spirits and other solvents can cause severe irritation or chemical burns if swallowed or even if they come in contact with your pet's skin. Latex house paints typically produce a minor stomach upset, but some specialty paints may contain heavy metals or volatile substances that could be harmful if inhaled or ingested.

  • Preventative medications. Consult with your veterinarian about seasonal medications to keep your pet healthy. For example, in many parts of the country heartworm medications for dogs are often discontinued in the winter. Springtime is the season to restart this medication to keep your dog free of this parasite. But keep in mind that manufacturers' instructions warn that heartworm medications should not be given without first visiting your veterinarian to ensure that your pet has not developed the heartworm parasite. A simple blood test will give you that peace of mind.


1) In 2003, police in Warwickshire, England, opened a garden shed and found a whimpering, cowering dog. It had been locked in the shed and abandoned. It was dirty and malnourished, and had clearly been abused. In an act of kindness, the police took the dog, which was a Greyhound female, to the nearby Nuneaton Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary, run by a man named Geoff Grewcock and known as a willing haven for Animals abandoned, orphaned or otherwise in need. Geoff and the other sanctuary staff went to work with two aims: to restore the dog to full health, and to win her trust. It took several weeks, but eventually both goals were achieved. They named her Jasmine, and they started to think about finding her an adoptive home. But Jasmine had other ideas. No one remembers now how it began, but she started welcoming all animal arrivals at the sanctuary. It wouldn't matter if it was a puppy, a fox cub, a rabbit or any other lost or hurting animal. Jasmine would peer into the box or cage and, where possible, deliver a welcoming lick. Here is a picture of "Jasmine, the Protector" with several of her "protectees"....

2) This news item was sent in by Holly, from PA, and it relates the story of an Australian family who lost their dog overboard off the coast of Sydney. This is a good one!

"Sophie Tucker" has a story to tell....

3) In keeping with the international flavor of these stories, here's one from Russia. Apparently, Moscow has a big problem with stray dogs and some of those strays have mastered the art of riding the subway. Read more about it and watch the short but interesting video at the end of the photos:

4) There were several informative articles this week about how auto manufacturers are trying to appeal to dog owners. Some of the newer designs and features that might be pet-friendly are covered here from the USA Today: (be sure to click on the video with the Black Labrador). Another viewpoint from the Humane Society of the United States: To enjoy a bunch of photos of dogs and one cat "going for a ride," click through these from the USA Today: least, the one dog is equipped with goggles! Remember our admonition about allowing your dog to ride in the car with its head out the window???

5) Since we're talking about dogs and cars, here's a curious invention that might have you scratching your head a bit. For some background, a police officer in suburban Phoenix forgot that his canine partner was still in his closed vehicle on one of Phoenix's very hot days and the dog died from overheating. Now, a police department in another suburb of Phoenix is experimenting with this warning system that hopefully would keep that from happening again. From the Arizona Republic:

6) Another lost dog was reunited with its owners in California recently. As reported by the ASPCA, this reunion was made possible by the ASPCA using the power of MySpace, the Internet social network: However, don't forget about the benefits of proper collar and tag IDs, in addition to having your pet micro-chipped!

7) Apparently, some insurance companies are now taking a dim view of whether or not to insure a pet owner against their dog possibly biting someone. Read this somewhat provocative account of how some insurance companies look at certain breeds of dogs and tries to evaluate their biting potential: Helpful Buckeye fully expects many dog owners to say, "My dog wouldn't do that!", but, as the article points out, just about any breed of dog can show aggression if the right buttons are pushed. Here, again, is our favorite out for this one!

8) A woman who might need some insurance is this lady in Idaho, whose cat, Jack, is seemingly a kleptomaniac. Click on the video of the black and white cat for the puzzling story: Are you missing anything lately???

9) By now, most people are somewhat familiar with DNA and its "double helix" structure:

This past week, we celebrated the 81st birthday of James Watson (6 April 1928) who, along with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins, shared the Nobel Prize for their description of the DNA molecule in a 1953 journal. So much has been made possible as a result of this discovery!


The first week of the new baseball season is finishing up today and there have been some surprises. However, as any baseball fan understands, the baseball season is more like a marathon than a sprint. It is in that spirit that Helpful Buckeye is trying to cope with the 4-3 lackluster start of the Los Angeles Dodgers. After all, all those games have been on the road...we'll do better back in Dodger Stadium this week!

Walt Whitman, American poet and essayist, had this to say about baseball: "Baseball will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism. Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set. Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us." Helpful Buckeye thinks that perhaps Walt had it backwards...the lousy playing of your favorite team actually leads to a "nervous, dyspeptic set!"

If you're fortunate enough to be at the ballpark this week, remember the words of Laurence Peter: "The noblest of all dogs is the hot-dog; it feeds the hand that bites it." Put a little mustard on mine, please....


This week is National Public Library Week. Our public libraries are a wonderful resource for all of us. Use them and enjoy them! Former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson had this to say about public libraries: “Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest.”

~~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, April 5, 2009


PUT ME IN COACH...I CAN BE CENTERFIELD! Ah, yes, it's that time of year again, when all the Major League Baseball teams are equal and "there's new grass on the field," as John Fogerty sings in the song, Centerfield. Enjoy this video of John Fogerty, accompanied by Keith Urban, as they sing what Helpful Buckeye considers the best of all the baseball songs: Go ahead and turn up the volume, you'll enjoy this one! For extra points, send me an e-mail with a description of John Fogerty's "guitar", to:

Opening Day always stirs the passions of any baseball fan, human or otherwise, as you can see in the opening photo. The dog even looks like he's in the centerfield area of the ballpark, doesn't he? Baseball has always been Helpful Buckeye's favorite sport, both to play and to follow. Growing up and following the Dodgers when they were still in Brooklyn, Helpful Buckeye always wanted to be Duke Snider, the centerfielder for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Like the song says, "I can be centerfield"....

Last week's poll question confirmed what Helpful Buckeye has suspected for a long time. We've got some really smart followers of Questions On Dogs and Cats! Everybody but one got the right answer of Lyme, Connecticut! There are still many of you who are sending your answer to our e-mail address, and that's OK. It still gets included in the poll results. However, you can simply mark the box for your answer right there in the polling section and click "Vote." Be sure to check out this week's poll question in the left column and be sure to vote!

Another comment from Holly showed up this week:
"Once again, I turn to you to start off a week with some background, additional 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!"

Holly, you'll spoil me if you keep this up! But, thanks for the kind words....and where do I send the check???

Remember, you can submit a comment by clicking on "Comments" at the very end of each blog issue. The process is very easy to follow and your comment will then appear with the others. You can send it anonymously or with your name. You can also send an e-mail to:


1) A story in the news this past week concerns the use of carbon monoxide gas for euthanasia of unwanted pets in animals shelters across the USA. Twelve states currently do not allow this form of euthanasia and several more are considering adopting the ban. Humane societies feel the use of carbon monoxide is an inhumane method of euthanasia, while many of the people who put these animals to sleep, including some veterinarians, feel that it is a necessary addition to their choices of euthanasia, especially where a wild, impossible to handle animal is involved. Read the whole story from the USA Today at:
2) The American Veterinary Medical Association has released this pod cast on food safety and the role of the veterinarian. With all the publicity concerning food contamination and the resulting sicknesses, both in humans and their pets, this audio report describes the contributions of the veterinary medical profession to the goal of food safety:
3) Most of you are familiar with the concept of hospice care, if not in your immediate family, at least in your circle of acquaintances. Well, a veterinarian in Chicago has started a hospice for pets and has been instrumental in forming a group that is trying to make this available nationally. Modeled after human hospice, pet hospice emphasizes managing a patient's terminal illnesses while preparing the family for the end. This is done in a number of ways, from the use of grief counselors to pain management techniques. For the rest of this really interesting concept, read this:

4) Now that Helpful Buckeye has just finishing discussing Borreliosis (Lyme Disease) last week, you will appreciate that April has been designated as "Prevent Lyme in Dogs Month." Here is the press release from the AVMA: You should also understand that this press release is partly funded by Merial Co., which is one of the producers of the Lyme Disease vaccine, and we discussed last week the uncertainties involved in using the vaccine.


Helpful Buckeye spent last week discussing the main diseases carried by ticks, some of the 8-legged parasites that confront your dogs and cats. This week, another of those 8-legged parasites, the ear mite, will be the topic for discussion. Ear mites are fairly common in both dogs and cats, especially the younger ones that tend to roam and have contact with other dogs and cats. Ear mites are spread from pet to pet by casual or close contact with a dog or cat already infected with the mites.

Ear mites are tiny, almost microscopic parasites, although the adults can be seen by someone with good eye sight. These mites crawl down into the ear canal of your dog or cat and cause a very intense irritation of the skin in the ear canal. Your dog or cat will start with excessive head shaking and/or scratching at their ears. They may scratch to the point that it creates bleeding sores around the ear flaps. You might even notice a strong, offensive odor coming from the ears, in addition to seeing a brown or black waxy discharge building up in the ear canal. Your veterinarian can determine if ear mites are involved by using an otoscope to look down into the ear canal.

The magnifying portion of the otoscope will illuminate the ear mites and confirm the diagnosis. The magnified adult ear mite looks like this: and, if you have good eyes, those adults are visible (the white ovals) on the end of the otoscope speculum:

Treatment of ear mites involves the thorough cleaning of the ear canal, followed by administration of a medication that will kill the mites (a miticide). If the ear mite infection is advanced enough, your veterinarian may need to do the ear cleaning under sedation or anesthesia. A topical treatment will be sent home with you to help kill any mites left in the ear canal. Due to the life cycle of the ear mite, you should use this medication for a 2-4 week period. If your veterinarian feels that some of the ear mites are also damaging the skin around the ear flap, they might recommend a product for more general usage on the skin.

Helpful Buckeye will finish the discussion of mite diseases in next week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats.

Under the theory that humor is the best medicine (and, possibly, the best instructor), enjoy this cartoon from The New Yorker: NON-MEDICAL CONCERNS

1) Most of us are aware of the contributions that dogs make to the betterment of certain humans' lives. Now, the American Kennel Club is sponsoring a "Canine Hero" contest that will award a prize in the following five categories: law enforcement, search and rescue, therapy, service, and exemplary companion dog. To read the rest of this very interesting story, go to:

If you know of a dog that is deserving, go ahead and send in your entry!

2) The Centers For Disease Control has released the results of a study that evaluated pet-related falling injuries and the results were pretty amazing! It turns out that many of us are tripping, stumbling, or just plain being dragged to an injury by our pets. "An average of more than 86,000 people are seen by hospital emergency departments every year because they trip and fall over their pets or their pets' paraphernalia. This accounts for approximately 240 visits per day, but only 1 percent of the total trip-and-fall injuries. Most of the injuries occur at home, and children and seniors were more commonly injured." The rest of the report provides further details of these falls and offers several suggestions to help us avoid them:

3) Since we are getting back into spring-time weather, with its warmer wind patterns, thunderstorms will be spreading across much of the USA. Thunderstorms affect every pet in different ways. Some dogs and cats act as if they don't even hear the thunder, while others seem to become frantic at the first thunder clap. Helpful Buckeye covered this topic last summer, which you can access by clicking on "Thunderstorms" under "Labels" in the left column. Then, go to this article from the USA Today for another perspective on how involved this relationship can be between a dog and a thunderstorm:


Since April has been designated by the ASPCA as the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month, it is only fitting that Helpful Buckeye direct you to the ASPCA's web site for their "Go Orange" products that are available:


1) Several weeks ago, we talked about the increasing presence of pets in the workplace. Now, the new trend seems to be pets showing up in church! The USA Today called it "Paws in the Pews" in an article this past week:

2) For a different view on the types of bedding now available for pets, take a look at these:

Which are you thinking about acquiring?

3) We hear so much about "reducing our carbon footprint" in these times of "Green" concern. Yes, there are now some suggestions for reducing the carbon "pawprint" of your pets:

4) This quote from comedian Bob Hope provides some humor for the week: "They say animal behavior can warn you when an earthquake is coming. Like the night before that last earthquake hit, our family dog took the car keys and drove to Arizona."

5) Most of you have probably seen David Letterman and his "Stupid Dog Tricks," some of which are pretty funny. Here's one that maybe takes top prize:

6) For those of you who may be getting a cat for the first time and have been wondering where might be the best place to put the cat's litter pan, here are a few suggestions:

7) With the onset of warmer weather in most locations, many plants and flowers will be soon coming into full growth and blooms. A lot of you will even have "forced" bulbs to bloom indoors. This warning about the toxicity of lily plants, from the American Association of Feline Practitioners, may be beneficial to your cat:

8) For those of you who were wondering if Donald Trump ever had a dog:

A new breed of dog was discovered in Flagstaff recently: .....a Black Metallic Terrier?


Rabid Fans Face Health Risk
ORLANDO, Fla. (UPI) -- A California cardiologist says living and dying by the success or failure of a favorite sports team can be deadly. Robert A. Kloner, director of research at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, said there was an increased number of deaths for two weeks following the closely contested 1980 Super Bowl between the Los Angeles Rams and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Four years later, deaths fell after the LA Raiders easily beat the Washington Redskins, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday. Similar results were reported following major sporting events in Germany and France. Kloner said becoming emotionally involved in a team isn't always good for the heart. He is presenting the research at an American College of Cardiology meeting in Orlando, Fla., the newspaper said.

Wow, Helpful Buckeye might need to pull back just a little on the enthusiasm level for certain teams...nah, it's too much fun living and dying with my teams and their level of success.

On that note, with college basketball almost finished for the year and my team, Pitt, out of the running, Helpful Buckeye will just sit back and enjoy the Michigan State Spartans trying to disrupt the exploits of the North Carolina Tarheels. At just about the same time as that game is tipping off, my Los Angeles Dodgers will be seeing the first pitch of the baseball season, in their defense of their NL West Champion title.

This song will be played and sung countless times during the baseball season at all of the ballparks, but how many of you knew that there were verses to the song? Sing along and enjoy:


This quote from Rene Descartes, French philosopher and mathematician, helps to settle a burning question we all have asked: "Nothing is more fairly distributed than common sense: no one thinks he needs more of it than he already has."

Common sense decrees that this is the "End":

~~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.~~