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.~~

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