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.~~

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