Sunday, June 28, 2009


The end of this week will be Independence Day, otherwise known as the 4th of July. Traditional observances will include get-togethers with family and/or friends, picnic and barbecues, watching fireworks displays, and perhaps, taking in a baseball game.

If you do take your pets with you to any of these festivities (particularly the barbecues and fireworks), be extra careful to watch what they try to eat at the picnic and that they don't become disoriented and get lost during the boom-boom-booms. Fireworks displays are right up there with Halloween as the two nights of the year when pets tend to get lost. A little caution goes a long way toward keeping your pets safe!

Several years ago, a flower seed farm in Lompoc, CA planted a large field in red, white, and blue flowers as a memorial to the tragedy of 9/11/2001. Some of you may have already seen this photo in an e-mail, but it's still appropriate to include it as a visual example of the patriotic spirit in our country. For Independence Day, here it is:

Immediately following the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, the Bodger Seed Company of Lompoc, California wanted to do something to lift the our Country's collective patriotic spirits. They decided that they wanted to plant an American Flag. Not just ANY American Flag, but a really, really, BIG American Flag. They were going to plant a really big American Flag using nothing but flowers. Lots and LOTS of Red, White, and Blue Larkspur flowers. It's not like the Bodger Seed Company was new to the Flower Flag making business. After all, the family-owned flower seed business had done it several times before: they had showed their patriotism during World War II in 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945; and then again in 1952. So for the first time in 50 years, they were going to plant an American Flag, and it was going to be a BIG one, and it was going to be made up of thousands of Larkspur plants, and it needed to be ready for Flag Day, June 14th, 2002, and the Lompoc Valley Flower Festival that was to follow a week later! For the 2002 Floral Flag, they planted more than 400,000 Larkspur plants. Each plant was estimated to have had 4-5 flower stems each for a total of more than 2 million flowers. So, HOW BIG was the Floral Flag ??? The 2002 Floral Flag was approximately 740 feet long and 390 feet wide. The Floral Flag covered 6.65 acres! Each of its Red and White Stripes was 30 feet wide and each of its White Stars was 24 feet in diameter!

Lastly, take a few minutes to enjoy Ray Charles and his rendition of America, The Beautiful in this video:

Holly, from PA, sent in a nice comment after last week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats on her experience with a pet having arthritis. Her comment: "My first Cairn Terrier, McKeever lived with my father who was a severe invalid. He got very sedentary...more like a cement block than a canine...At any rate, arthritis became a real issue. And, it was because the dog wasn't moving. So, my Dad was sad, but I took him to live with me. The best medicine turned out to be gentle walks, short ones at first, then longer...and longer. Eventually, we got him so that he was moving again quite well. And, that's how he remained until he finally left us at 15. Arthritis is a problem of under use more than over use. We seem to forget that. And, now that there are so many different with it is so much more possible. But, movement is the best treatment of all. Welcome home, Doc!" Thanks, Holly, for sharing your experience.

Helpful Buckeye thanks Neil, over at Life With Dogs, a very interesting and entertaining blog about the everyday activities of his dogs, for the generous recommendation of Questions On Dogs and Cats in his blog issue of this past Friday, 26 June. Life With Dogs can be followed at: and Helpful Buckeye suggests that our readers should check it out. My guess is that you will all find something you like and keep going back!

Don't forget to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.

Any comments, send an e-mail to: or click on "Comment" at the end of this issue.


1) Teams from The Humane Society of the United States and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture moved the more than 200 dogs rescued from a Pennsylvania puppy mill earlier this week to the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex. Some have been transported to area animal shelters and rescue groups, while others will be moved in the days ahead. The HSUS tells the rest of the story at:

2) Coming right on the heels of our report last week on MRSA and Your Pets, a new study has shown that transmission of the infectious superbug from dogs and cats to humans, and back again, is becoming an increasing problem. Read the results of this study at: and see if the conclusions don't make a lot of sense.

3) An important headline earlier this month from the Food and Drug Administration was this:

FDA: First Drug to Treat Cancer in Dogs Approved

Read the whole press release to understand why this is news-worthy:


Many of you sent e-mails after last week's feature on Arthritis and Your Pets, describing how your pet is acting and asking if it could be some form of arthritis. Most of those questions will be answered in this week's installment:


How do you know if it’s arthritis? Your dog can’t explain what’s wrong with him, so it’s important to watch his non-verbal cues closely and take even subtle changes seriously.

Signs that your dog may have arthritis:

  • Favoring a limb

  • Difficulty sitting or standing

  • Sleeping more

  • Seeming to have stiff or sore joints

  • Hesitancy to jump, run or climb stairs

  • Weight gain

  • Decreased activity or less interest in play

  • Attitude or behavior changes

  • Being less alert

    You can expect dogs with all types of arthritis to show similar signs of joint pain. They will limp on one or more legs. They may find it hard to get up, and they may be stiff for those first few steps. Perhaps they'll want to turn back early from their walk, or they can't jump up on the couch for a cuddle. They may not want to play, and they may even become a bit more grumpy when they're touched.

    If a dog has infective arthritis, it will show the symptoms described above, but the affected joints are also usually swollen and painful. It will often have a fever, and be quite unwell. The lymph nodes in the area of the infected joints may be enlarged.

    Similarly, dogs with immune mediated arthritis also might have a fever, reduced appetite and lethargy. The lameness may come and go, and it may appear to affect one leg, then another. This is known as a shifting lameness.

    If your dog seems to have any of these symptoms for more than two weeks take it to your veterinarian for an examination, which will involve a physical exam and possibly X-rays. If your veterinarian feels that some form of arthritis is probable, the best thing to do for your dog in managing its arthritis is to get a diagnosis and start a treatment plan as soon as possible.
    At your pet's appointment, your veterinarian will give it a general physical and an orthopedic exam. The vet will look for swelling, heat, or asymmetry between the animal's limbs. They will flex and extend each joint to check for decreased range of motion, pain, or abnormal joint sounds. X-rays may be recommended. The animal will be examined for bone changes, such as mild dislocation or bony outgrowths known as osteophytes, which are early signs of degenerative joint disease. Sometimes the only way to check for early onset is by checking the fluid that lubricates the joint (synovial fluid). This is done by draining off and analyzing some of the fluid from a suspicious joint and is known as a joint tap. Your veterinarian may also recommend other diagnostic tests for arthritis.

    Obviously, the treatment of arthritis depends on the cause of the disease in an individual dog.
    If the arthritis is infectious, the appropriate treatment is antibiotics. It's often a good idea also to flush the joint to remove any thickened joint fluid and bacterial debris. With the immune mediated diseases, treatment involves using medication such as corticosteroids and non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs to suppress the immune system, and to reduce the inflammation in the joint. There are many approaches to treating degenerative joint disease. If the dog is overweight, he needs to go on a strict diet. Low impact exercise such as swimming or hydrotherapy is very important in maintaining joint function.

    Veterinarians usually advise a three-way approach to the medical management of arthritis; exercise moderation, weight control, and anti-inflammatory medication. Too little exercise can cause an arthritic animal to become stiff and sore, but too much can cause pain. Weight control is important because excess weight places undue stress upon the joints, accelerating joint degeneration. If you have an overweight animal, talk with your vet about a suitable weight loss program. Exercise moderation and weight control keep most arthritic pets comfortable for the most part, but when your pet has a bad day from time to time, your vet may prescribe an anti- inflammatory medication until the acute inflammation has subsided - usually in a couple of days.

    Therapies may include:

    • Healthy diet and exercise to help maintain proper weight.

    • Working with your veterinarian to find a drug treatment that helps relieve the pain.

    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS): the most common form of pharmaceutical treatment for arthritis in dogs.

    • Over-the-counter pet treatments, such as pills or food containing either glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate or Omega fatty acids. Both have shown to help relieve the symptoms of arthritis in dogs.

    • A veterinarian-prescribed NSAID and an over-the-counter treatment that together may help decrease pain and disease progression.

    Pain relief is an important part of making sure your dog has a good quality of life. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are the commonest prescription medications used to treat arthritis in dogs. They may cause side effects such as kidney disease and stomach ulceration, so it's important to perform blood tests on a regular basis, to make sure no problems are developing.
    Never give your dog human medication without checking first with your veterinarian. Certain medications can be toxic to dogs – particularly acetaminophen and ibuprofen – and a safe dose will differ between a greyhound and a dachshund. No matter how you decide to treat your dog’s arthritis, make sure you work with a veterinarian to ensure that you select a program that helps your best buddy.

    Natural therapies such as acupuncture and massage can help ease a dog's pain. Physical therapy such as gentle bending and straightening of the affected leg may also improve joint mobility.

    The "last resort" treatment for arthritis is a procedure called arthrodesis. The cartilage on the end of the bones is surgically removed, and a bone graft is placed between the bones. The joint is then splinted, so the bone can heal together. The result is a joint that doesn't move any more. The leg will still be functional, but the joint is fused, so there is no more pain.

    There may be things you can do to your dog's environment to make it easier for him to live with arthritis. Avoid polished floors, as they may be slippery, and your dog may fall. Give him a soft place to sleep, and keep his bed off the floor in a draft free environment. Try and avoid the need for him to climb stairs to get to his bed or food bowl.

    We can’t help it. We spoil our pets. If you focus more on your dog’s health than on yours, try these tips to keep both of you healthy and active:

    • Visit the doctor. Your pet needs to see the veterinarian at least once a year for a check-up – maybe more. When you make his appointment, call your own doctor and schedule one for yourself. Make sure you both get some baseline X-rays to chart your bone deterioration.

    • Shed excess pounds. Pay more attention to what your pet eats and when, and do the same for yourself. Read the food labels for each of you to make sure that every bite is giving you both good energy and nutrition. Limit your servings and don’t cheat by eating between meals or slipping Fido extra snacks.

    • Coordinate your dog’s medication schedule with your own to make sure you both take your dosage every day. Arrange medicine with mealtime if it needs to be taken with food. Use colorful stickers or permanent markers to help distinguish whose medication is whose, especially if you have trouble reading small print.

    • Never let your dog take your medicine – and don’t take his – without discussing it with your doctor.

    • Let Rover take you for walk. Instead of kicking your dog off the couch so you can stretch out, kick him off, grab the leash and stretch out together. Take a walk or run with your four-legged friend. You’ll both strengthen the muscles around your joints, which reduces stress on the joint itself. But don’t over do it. Both of you need to increase exercise levels slowly and stay hydrated. Monitor how you both feel after the walk to determine if you need to increase or decrease your level next time. Don’t only treat your own blisters and sore feet – be sure to check Fido’s paws and pads after exercising for lesions or lacerations.

    How To Prevent Your Dog Developing Arthritis

    There is not much you can do to avoid the erosive immune mediated joint diseases. Without knowing exactly what causes rheumatoid arthritis, you can't take steps to prevent it.

    With non-erosive immune mediated arthritis, it occurs secondary to a disease process elsewhere in the body, but not all dogs with disease develop this arthritis. All you can do is treat the disease, and hopefully there won't be any effects on the joints. Your veterinarian can help with the diagnosis of what these other diseases might be.

    Infective arthritis similarly is just an unfortunate occurrence. All dogs have the occasional accident, and that may include a wound to a joint, such as from a stick when you're out hiking. If your dog has an infection elsewhere in the body, early treatment with a suitable antibiotic can stop it spreading in the bloodstream and infecting the joints.

    Dog fanciers can reduce the occurrence of degenerative joint disease in their favorite breed by only mating dogs which have normal joints. This will reduce the incidence of conditions such as hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia, which often lead to osteoarthritis.

    All dogs can develop osteoarthritis if they're overweight. Vets estimate that up to 40% of dogs are too heavy. This not only leads to joint pain, but may also lead to heart disease, skin fold infections and diabetes. You would be doing your dog a great favor if you restricted its diet.

    Arthritis In Dogs - Conclusion

    Arthritis is a very common disease in dogs, and it can be debilitating. Pain and stiffness make a dog miserable, and the fever and ill health that accompanies infective or immune mediated arthritis only makes them feel worse. Fortunately, there is help available for your dog. There are several options for treating arthritis that will ease the pain and improve its well being. It may take some trial and error to find what works best for your dog, but when you do, it will again hopefully enjoy a more comfortable life. Be sure to include your veterinarian in the process of deciding how to approach this very common problem.


    Dysplasia--noun; an abnormal growth or development of cells, tissue, bone, or an organ. More specifically, Hip Dysplasia in the dog is defined as an abnormal formation of the hip socket that, in its more severe form, can eventually cause crippling lameness and painful arthritis of the hip joints. Hip Dysplasia will be an upcoming feature topic.


    1) "The state of Maine takes great pride in taking care of pets" goes the lead-in for this column by Sharon Peters of the USA Today. Ms. Peters grew up in Maine and relates her opinion of why Maine is one of the nation's leaders in taking care of pets:

    2) "When Merlin, a Labrador/Doberman mix, was nearing the end of his life last summer, the family that had loved him for 14 years resolved that he would draw his final breath at home. The at-home euthanasia was performed by veterinarian Ann Brandenburg-Schroeder, whose Denver area practice, Beside Still Water, is devoted exclusively to providing that service." In another article by Sharon Peters, in the USA Today, the interesting story of veterinarian Ann Brandenburg-Schroeder comes to life: This is a type of service that might see more interest in coming years.

    3) Earlier this month, scientists in California say they have cloned a dog that helped with search-and-rescue efforts after the New York terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Five German Shepherd puppies have been cloned from the hero dog, Trakr:

    4) Under the category of "You thought you had heard it all, " there are now dogs being involved in wedding ceremonies! The last of the articles from Sharon Peters, of the USA Today, this week, Ms. Peters explores this new concept: Wow, at least, the tuxedoes and gowns are comparatively less expensive!


      The LA Dodgers have still been playing pretty well, but you can almost sense the team is waiting to see what happens when Manny Ramirez returns to action this Friday, 3 July. Helpful Buckeye hopes the team chemistry (no pun intended) is not disrupted too much by his return.


    Helpful Buckeye's special friend, Ken, celebrated a birthday today. Ken, a graduate of another "OSU," needs to remember that: “Age is something that doesn't matter, unless you are a cheese.” ---Billie Burke...(1884-1970), Oscar-nominated American actress remembered for her role in the musical film The Wizard of Oz.

    ~~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, June 21, 2009


    Helpful Buckeye and Desperado are really glad to be back home after our recently completed 6000 mile driving trip. We enjoyed a lot of good times on the trip, some hectic moments, some reflective periods, and some outright laughable situations. For the driving portions of the trip, our mantra seemed to derive its impetus from the classic song by The Doobie Brothers, Rockin' Down The Highway. Not that we weren't taking the opportunity to smell the roses along the way, it was just that we were destination oriented on this particular trip. We played a lot of music and sang along with most of the songs. Come along and join the Doobie Brothers on their big hit, Rockin' Down The Highway:
    That should help carry you on any road trip you have planned for the summer!

    Helpful Buckeye and Desperado would like to share a few photos with you from our trip that illustrate scenes of interest related to Questions On Dogs and Cats:

    • Thinking of our previous columns on obesity and pets, this "restaurant" in Springfield, MO, exemplifies the over-eating indulgence shown by a lot of pet owners.

    • This facility in Terre Haute, IN, offers so many options, you'd think it was everything a dog or cat needs in life.

    • The Nemacolin Resort in southwestern Pennsylvania had some nice sculptures spread around the grounds, including this depiction of an attentive dog.

    • A different way of taking the dogs for a walk was seen at The Villages, Florida.

    • Finally, Helpful Buckeye had to be alert when riding his bicycle on Sanibel Island, Florida.

    Hopefully, all of our readers enjoyed the last 3 issues of Questions On Dogs and Cats, which were written ahead of time and did not cover any items of current interest. Many of you sent e-mails saying that the 3 separate topics were very educational and several of you said that you had printed an entire issue for future reference. Now that I'm home again, the blog will get back to its normal format of including some current pet news items and tidbits of general interest, in addition to a few medical concerns. Thanks for staying with us and sending so many e-mail responses!

    Don't forget to answer this week's poll question in column to the left.

    As Jackie Gleason used to say, "...and away we go!"


    1) "Is your dog ready for the daily grind? On Friday, June 26, workers across the U.S. will bring their best friends to the office to celebrate Take Your Dog to Work Day." That is the lead-in to this news item from The Humane Society of the United States. Take Your Dog To Work Day was created by Pet Sitters International (PSI) to celebrate dogs as great companions. According to PSI, the annual event encourages employers to experience the value of pets in the workplace. The event also encourages pet adoptions from shelters, humane societies and rescue groups. Read more about the event at:

    Further information is also available from Pet Sitters International:

    If any of you have the opportunity to participate in this event on Friday, take a minute to let us know it goes for you and your pet. Just send an e-mail to: or submit a comment at the end of this blog issue.

    2) "More than 1,500 service dogs receive free eye examinations...." begins a news report released by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists, and Merial. The report describes their Exam Day back in May: "The event brought together more than 150 board-certified veterinary ophthalmologists across the United States and Canada to provide free sight-saving eye examinations to more than 1,500 dogs." To read more about this annual event, go to: and

    3) The AVMA has released another podcast on MRSA and Your Pets. Most of us are aware of the dangers of the drug-resistant pathogen MRSA, particularly in health care settings such as hospitals. But as Kristy Bradley, Public Health Veterinarian and Epidemiologist for the State of Oklahoma, explains, MRSA is an emerging threat for our pets as well. To listen to this very informative podcast, go to:

    Helpful Buckeye has discussed MRSA infections in a past issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats, which you can review at:


    A long time ago, back when I was just beginning to work as a veterinarian, one of my clients, an elderly lady, brought her aging Cocker Spaniel in for an examination. The presenting complaint was a slight lameness on one of the rear legs and a generalized lethargy of a few weeks duration. After asking her some questions in order to find out a little more about the dog's history, I got ready to do the physical exam. She politely interrupted me and said, "I think he's had a visit from Uncle Arthur." I replied, "I'm sorry, but what do you mean?" She then patiently explained, "Oh, Uncle Arthur visited me a long time ago and now he's visiting my Laddie." Smiling at me, she went on, "You know what I mean...Uncle Arthuritis! That's what we've always called it."

    Well, I learned something new and important that day! Most clients had a good idea of what they were observing in their pets...they just sometimes described it a little differently than what I'd been taught. I went on to see a lot of "Uncle Arthuritis" in both dogs and cats through the rest of my working days, but I always remembered my first encounter with Uncle Arthur!

    Arthritis is one of the oldest diseases in history. We know that the dinosaurs had it, from evidence found in their fossils, and there is evidence that early humans lived with the same chronic aches and pains. So it makes sense that dogs and cats get arthritis, too. In fact, it is a common ailment of man’s two most common pets. Arthritis doesn’t discriminate. It affects not only people of all ages -- including children -- but also strikes our furry friends, too. If you’re a pet owner, you make sure your pet eats well, looks bright-eyed and playful, and greets you when you come home. You notice changes in mood and activity, so if your pet isn’t feeling its best you may suspect some type of illness…but it could be arthritis. In fact, arthritis affects about one in every five adult dogs in the U.S. and is one of the most common sources of chronic pain that veterinarians treat.

    Arthritis can affect dogs and cats of any age, although we frequently think of it as a disease of the geriatric animal. There is still no cure, but veterinarians are able to offer a variety of treatment choices to allow our pets to live a fairly active and comfortable life. Early diagnosis is extremely important in finding effective medical treatment, and pet owners are the best equipped to notice day to day changes and first subtle signs of this crippling disease. Catching arthritis early is key to helping your pet live comfortably if diagnosed with this disease. So pay close attention to your dog's activities and movements.

    Arthritis is basically the inflammation of a joint. When we talk about arthritis in dogs, we're usually referring to the leg joints, and describing dogs which are stiff and sore when they move. It is one of the most common reasons for a dog to visit their vet. To understand what happens in dog arthritis, we need to know what a normal joint is like. The end of a bone, where it meets another bone, is covered by a thin layer of cartilage. This cartilage allows the bones to move smoothly against each other. The whole joint is enclosed in a membrane, which also contains joint fluid. Joint fluid is a thick, clear liquid that acts as a shock absorber. It also helps to lubricate the joint as it moves. When a dog's joint becomes arthritic, the cartilage becomes damaged, and the joint fluid becomes thin. There is less cushioning and lubrication, and wearing of the cartilage may result in bone rubbing on bone. The result is pain and a distressed dog.

    Arthritis can affect any joint area...some of the more common sites are:
    • Hips - Hip dysplasia ( a loose hipbone - thighbone connection) allows excessive movement in the hip joint. This leads to bone degeneration and is one of the most common causes of canine arthritis.
    • Elbows - A fragmented bony piece, floating in the joint can cause inflammation and arthritis.
    • Knees - If the cruciate ligament ruptures, it creates instability in the knee joint - allowing the tibia (shin bone) to move forward in relation to the femur (thigh bone) - which can lead to arthritis.
    • Backs and necks - If chronic disc disease develops, arthritis can occur between the vertebrae causing a condition call spondylosis. This can be a very debilitating disease.


    Most people consider arthritis to be a disease of elderly dogs. This isn't necessarily the case.
    Degenerative joint disease, also known as osteoarthritis, is the condition that most commonly occurs in older animals. It can affect any joint, but most dogs have pain in the legs and occasionally in the spine. Wear and tear over the years leads to erosion of the cartilage, especially if a dog is overweight. It can also occur in young animals if a joint has been injured, or if they were born with a joint abnormality, such as hip dysplasia.

    Infectious arthritis can develop in dogs of any age. This develops when organisms enter a joint and multiply, causing pain and swelling of the joint. If only one joint is affected, the infection may have started from a wound to the joint which allowed infection to enter. However, sometimes dogs can have infectious arthritis in many joints. In this type of arthritis, the bacteria usually come from another part of the body where there is an active infection. Some possible sources of bacteria are bad teeth, abscesses or urinary tract infections. The bacteria are carried in the bloodstream into all the joints of the body.

    A dog's immune system is designed to protect the body from infections, but it can sometimes do more harm than good. It is involved in the development of a particularly painful type of arthritis. When it is stimulated, the immune system can form little particles of antibodies which are deposited on the lining of the joint membrane. These little particles then cause severe inflammation in the joint, with thickening of the membrane and movement of immune system cells into the joint. Symptoms of this type of arthritis include pain, but affected dogs can also show fever, lethargy and a poor appetite.
    Just to make things more interesting, immune-mediated arthritis can be further divided into erosive arthritis, and non-erosive arthritis. In erosive arthritis, also known as rheumatoid arthritis, the inflammatory cells that move into the joint release enzymes that wear away the cartilage and the underlying bone. The joint becomes very unstable and may become quite deformed.
    Rheumatoid arthritis is a very poorly understood condition, and veterinarians can't really explain why a dog develops this disease. Small breeds of dogs, including Poodles and Shetland Sheepdogs, appear to be affected more than other breeds. Perhaps there's some genetic tendency that hasn't yet been discovered.

    Dogs with non-erosive arthritis don't have any wearing of the cartilage, but they do have an increase in white blood cells in the joint fluid, and the joint fluid can turn into thick mucus clots.
    Non-erosive immune-mediated arthritis usually occurs in conjunction with disease in another part of the body, for example certain types of cancer or infection.

    When it comes to degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis), there is much more information available on possible causes of the condition. Some breeds of dog are much more likely to develop degenerative joint disease. For example, Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds have an increased incidence of hip dysplasia, which is a hereditary abnormality of the hip joint. This leads to excessive stress and wear on the cartilage, and results in pain and stiffness. Canine obesity is a major cause of degenerative joint disease in dogs of any age. It's hard work for a joint to carry excessive weight, and if a dog is carrying excess weight, it will develop joint disease years earlier than a lean and healthy dog would. Lastly, working dogs or athletic dogs such as those who compete in dog agility often put increased stress on their joints. This too can wear the cartilage, or damage ligaments, leading to osteoarthritis.

    That will conclude Part 1 of the story on Uncle Arthur. Part 2, next week, will finish up with what to look for as an indication that your pet might have arthritis, treatments available, and how to possibly prevent arthritis from bothering your pet. Stay tuned....


    1) The AVMA has also produced this podcast, "Caring For Your Senior Cat," which provides a nice refresher for our featured "Cat" issue 2 weeks ago. Listen to the podcast at: and then go back to our recent issue at:

    2) The SPCA International has recognized the increasing popularity of dog parks for "canine community exercise": "As warm spring air begins to roll in, dog lovers need to prepare for more time outdoors with their furry friends. Dog parks are a great place to enjoy the outdoors, but can also be unsafe if proper measures aren’t taken. Following these simple tips will help you know what to watch for, what to avoid and how to handle difficult situations at the dog park. Educate yourself about dog body language and communication signals so you can tell the difference between fear, play and anger." They have released this list of Dog Park Safety Tips: Following these suggestions should help you and your canine "buddy" stay out of trouble at your local dog park.


    The Norwegian Lundehund has received some attention as possibly becoming the "next interesting dog breed." Part of the reason is that the breed has at least 6 toes on each foot and they do serve a purpose. The Norwegian Lundehund Association of America offers this interesting description: With just 250 or so in the United States, and around 1500 in the whole world, the Lundehund is possibly the rarest breed of dog in existence. But this dog doesn't just have a name that's fun to say (try it -- Lundehund rolls right off the tongue); it has lots of other unique characteristics as well. Lundehunds are originally from the remote islands of arctic Norway, and the name means "puffin dog." Fitting, as the breed was used specifically for hunting puffins. To aid in the hunt, the dog is polydactyl, meaning it has six working toes on each foot. American Kennel Club Spokesperson Lisa Peterson says, "Each toe has muscle and skeletal structure, which was used for climbing rock crevices." Additionally, these dogs are freakishly flexible, able to turn their heads 180 degrees, bend their face backwards to touch their spine, lie totally flat with all four legs out to the sides, and rotate their legs over their heads. Plus, they can clamp their ears completely shut for protection from the elements. Sounds like these pooches could find jobs in the circus! Perhaps the most interesting fact of all: The Lundehund was nearly extinct during World War II. Only six purebreds were left after a wave of distemper killed nearly all of them, but they've since returned to safe, if not large, numbers. While not recognized by the AKC just yet (the breed is currently in the miscellaneous category), the plan is to recognize the Lundehund in January 2011. Interested in adopting a Lundehund of your own? It's easy to understand why -- they're medium size (maxing out around 30 pounds) and "energetic, loyal and protective ... wary of strangers, but never aggressive towards people," according to the NLAA, Inc. Keep in mind, this is an outdoorsy working dog, so while, as Peterson said, "Puffins aren't required, and you don't have to take them rock climbing," they do need to be active and engaged.

    The Norwegian Lundehund Association of America has more information at:


    1) Kyle Farnsworth, a relief pitcher for the Kansas City Royals, learned the hard way that you have to be very careful when trying to break up a fight between 2 dogs, even if they are your own dogs. Farnsworth tried to separate the 2 fighting bulldogs and ended up getting stitches in his non-throwing hand. Bad enough for you or me, but really bad for a guy who makes his living throwing a baseball. For the whole story, go to:

    2) The College of Veterinary Medicine at the Ohio State University produces the Greyhound Health and Wellness Newsletter several times a year. If you have an interest in this breed and some of the rehabilitation efforts for racing greyhounds, you can read any of the newsletter issues by going to: You will need Adobe Reader to be able to view them.

    3) In the 24 May 2009 issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats, Helpful Buckeye told you about a new airline that is specializing in pets-only airplanes:

    This past week, USA Today had a nice article describing this new airline and some of the different options available to pet owners who need to transport their cats and dogs by air:

    Helpful Buckeye is wondering if the dogs and cats will be charged an extra fee every time an attendant gives them water or a piece of food!

    4) Under the heading, Laid Off K-9 Police Dog Gets His Job Back!, PawNation reports that Nitro, a German Shepherd police dog for the Aberdeen, Washington Police Department was laid off, the victim of a worsening economy. However, as the story goes, his handler was able to raise enough money from other sources to get Nitro's job back:

    5) For this last week of June, Helpful Buckeye would be remiss for not mentioning the only dog I know with "June" in its name. Here's Junebug one more time!!! Luv that little girl!


    The Los Angeles Dodgers still have the best record in Major League Baseball, by a large margin. Even without Manny Ramirez, the rest of the team has been playing remarkably well. Of course, the team with the next best record is the Boston Red Sox, the favorite team of my former partner and his wife. We have often joked in the past about both of our teams being in the World Series. Now, that idea is starting to look like it might have possibilities this year. And, to think I couldn't get him interested at all in baseball when I was still working with him!!!


    One of our readers, Janie from Wyoming, sent in this tidbit:

    Q: What is the difference between a cat and a comma?

    A: One has the paws before the claws and the other has the clause before the pause.

    OK, I think I've got that straight! When riding my bicycle, I am guilty, at times, of going too fast for the conditions. A town council in London, England has come up with a unique solution to bicyclists going too fast in their downtown spaces:
    It's a 3-D crater painted on the road surface, designed to look like the real thing! I know it would get my attention!

    Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762), an English writer, had this to say about reading: "No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting." Helpful Buckeye hopes that all of our readers feel the same as much as you can, whenever you can!

    See you next week....

    ~~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, June 14, 2009


      Now that summer has arrived for the whole country, your pets will be having more opportunities for exposure to poisonous substances, some outdoors and some indoors. Even though a lot of poisonings can be treated if caught early enough, it is still much better for your pets if they NEVER have the chance to be exposed. The ASPCA has been a longtime supporter of poison control for animals and they publish a lot of information on poisons and toxic materials on their web site. Questions On Dogs and Cats is devoting this whole issue to this problem and much of this information comes from that provided by the ASPCA.

      By taking the time to read this material closely, pet owners should be able to make the proper decisions ahead of time in order to limit their pets' exposure risks. In addition, educating yourself ahead of time will help you to act promptly and decisively if your pet should happen to be poisoned. Helpful Buckeye suggests that all pet owners should consider printing this whole blog issue and keeping the copy handy for any future reference. The longstanding Boy Scout motto, "Be Prepared," is the best way to handle Common Poisons and Your Pets.


      Top 10 Pet Poisons of 2008
      With various dangers lurking in corners and cabinets, the home can be a minefield of poisons for our pets. In 2008, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) in Urbana, IL, handled more than 140,000 cases of pets exposed to toxic substances, many of which included everyday household products. Don’t leave it up to Fido or Fluffy to keep themselves safe. Below is a list of the top ten pet poisons that affected our furry friends in 2008.

      • Human Medications
        For several years, human medications have been number one on the ASPCA’s list of common hazards, and 2008 was no exception. Last year, the ASPCA managed more than 50,000 calls involving prescription and over-the-counter drugs, such as painkillers, cold medications, antidepressants and dietary supplements. Pets often snatch pill vials from counters and nightstands or gobble up medications accidentally dropped on the floor, so it’s essential to keep meds tucked away in hard-to-reach cabinets.

      • Insecticides
        In our effort to battle home invasions of unwelcome pests, we often unwittingly put our pets at risk. In 2008, our toxicologists fielded more than 31,000 calls related to insecticides. One of the most common incidents involved the misuse of flea and tick products—such as applying the wrong topical treatment to the wrong species. Thus, it’s always important to talk to your pet’s veterinarian before beginning any flea and tick control program.

      • People Food
        People food like grapes, raisins, avocado and certain citrus fruit can seriously harm our furry friends, and accounted for more than 15,000 cases in 2008. One of the worst offenders—chocolate—contains large amounts of methylxanthines, which, if ingested in significant amounts, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst, urination, hyperactivity, and in severe cases, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors and seizures.

      • Rodenticides
        Last year, the ASPCA received approximately 8,000 calls about pets who had accidentally ingested rat and mouse poisons. Many baits used to attract rodents contain inactive ingredients that are attractive to pets as well. Depending on the type of rodenticide, ingestions can lead to potentially life-threatening problems for pets, including bleeding, seizures and kidney damage.

      • Veterinary Medications
        Even though veterinary medications are intended for pets, they’re often misapplied or improperly dispensed by well-meaning pet parents. In 2008, the ASPCA managed nearly 8,000 cases involving animal-related preparations such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, heartworm preventatives, de-wormers, antibiotics, vaccines and nutritional supplements.

      • Plants
        Common houseplants were the subject of nearly 8,000 calls to the Animal Poison Control Center in 2008. Varieties such as azalea, rhododendron, sago palm, lilies, kalanchoe and schefflera are often found in homes and can be harmful to pets. Lilies are especially toxic to cats, and can cause life-threatening kidney failure even in small amounts.

      • Chemical Hazards
        In 2008, the Animal Poison Control Center handled approximately 5,500 cases of pet exposure to chemical hazards. A category on the rise, chemical hazards—found in ethylene glycol antifreeze, paint thinner, drain cleaners and pool/spa chemicals—form a substantial danger to pets. Substances in this group can cause gastrointestinal upset, depression, respiratory difficulties and chemical burns.

      • Household Cleaners
        Everybody knows that household cleaning supplies can be toxic to adults and children, but few take precautions to protect their pets from common agents such as bleaches, detergents and disinfectants. Last year, the ASPCA received more than 3,200 calls related to household cleaners. These products, when inhaled by our furry friends, can cause serious gastrointestinal distress and irritation to the respiratory tract.

      • Heavy Metals
        It’s not too much loud music that constitutes our next pet poison offender. Instead, it’s heavy metals such as lead, zinc and mercury, which accounted for more than 3,000 cases of pet poisonings in 2008. Lead is especially pernicious, and pets are exposed to it through many sources, including consumer products, paint chips, linoleum, and lead dust produced when surfaces in older homes are scraped or sanded.

      • Fertilizer It may keep your grass green, but certain types of fertilizer can cause problems for outdoor cats and dogs. Last year, the ASPCA fielded more than 2,000 calls related to fertilizer exposure. Prevention is really key to avoiding accidental exposure, but if you suspect your pet has ingested something lawn-side, please contact your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435.

      Treat or Toxin?

      How many times have you offered your pet a snack or treat without thinking of the potential consequences? Most pet owners think nothing of offering some of their own snacks to their pets. That may or may not lead to trouble. Check out this web site and click through the many descriptive might be surprised by what you find:

      17 Common Poisonous Plants

      • Lilies--Members of the Lilium spp. are considered to be highly toxic to cats. While the poisonous component has not yet been identified, it is clear that with even ingestions of very small amounts of the plant, severe kidney damage could result.

      • Marijuana--Ingestion of Cannabis sativa by companion animals can result in depression of the central nervous system and incoordination, as well as vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, increased heart rate, and even seizures and coma.

      • Sago Palm--All parts of Cycas Revoluta are poisonous, but the seeds or “nuts” contain the largest amount of toxin. The ingestion of just one or two seeds can result in very serious effects, which include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, seizures and liver failure.

      • Tulip/Narcissus bulbs--The bulb portions of Tulipa/Narcissus spp. contain toxins that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation, drooling, loss of appetite, depression of the central nervous system, convulsions and cardiac abnormalities.

      • Azalea/Rhododendron--Members of the Rhododenron spp. contain substances known as grayantoxins, which can produce vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, weakness and depression of the central nervous system in animals. Severe azalea poisoning could ultimately lead to coma and death from cardiovascular collapse.

      • Oleander--All parts of Nerium oleander are considered to be toxic, as they contain cardiac glycosides that have the potential to cause serious effects—including gastrointestinal tract irritation, abnormal heart function, hypothermia and even death.

      • Castor Bean--The poisonous principle in Ricinus communis is ricin, a highly toxic protein that can produce severe abdominal pain, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, weakness and loss of appetite. Severe cases of poisoning can result in dehydration, muscle twitching, tremors, seizures, coma and death.

      • Cyclamen--Cylamen species contain cyclamine, but the highest concentration of this toxic component is typically located in the root portion of the plant. If consumed, Cylamen can produce significant gastrointestinal irritation, including intense vomiting. Fatalities have also been reported in some cases.

      • Kalanchoe--This plant contains components that can produce gastrointestinal irritation, as well as those that are toxic to the heart, and can seriously affect cardiac rhythm and rate.

      • Yew--Taxus spp. contains a toxic component known as taxine, which causes central nervous system effects such as trembling, incoordination, and difficulty breathing. It can also cause significant gastrointestinal irritation and cardiac failure, which can result in death.

      • Amaryllis--Common garden plants popular around Easter, Amaryllis species contain toxins that can cause vomiting, depression, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, anorexia and tremors.

      • Autumn Crocus--Ingestion of Colchicum autumnale by pets can result in oral irritation, bloody vomiting, diarrhea, shock, multi-organ damage and bone marrow suppression.

      • Chrysanthemum--These popular blooms are part of the Compositae family, which contain pyrethrins that may produce gastrointestinal upset, including drooling, vomiting and diarrhea, if eaten. In certain cases depression and loss of coordination may also develop if enough of any part of the plant is consumed.

      • English Ivy--Also called branching ivy, glacier ivy, needlepoint ivy, sweetheart ivy and California ivy, Hedera helix contains triterpenoid saponins that, should pets ingest, can result in vomiting, abdominal pain, hypersalivation and diarrhea.

      • Peace Lily (AKA Mauna Loa Peace Lily)--Spathiphyllum contains calcium oxalate crystals that can cause oral irritation, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty in swallowing and intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue in pets who ingest.

      • Pothos--Pothos (both Scindapsus and Epipremnum) belongs to the Araceae family. If chewed or ingested, this popular household plant can cause significant mechanical irritation and swelling of the oral tissues and other parts of the gastrointestinal tract.

      • Schefflera--Schefflera and Brassaia actinophylla contain calcium oxalate crystals that can cause oral irritation, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty in swallowing and intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue in pets who ingest.

      The ASPCA has very informative 6-minute audio/video with one of their veterinarians describing these plants. Be sure to watch the video accompanying this list….


      A few of these have been mentioned in the previous sections, but a little repetition might be advantageous.

      • Chocolate, Macadamia nuts, avocados--These foods may sound delicious to you, but they’re actually quite dangerous for our animal companions. Our nutrition experts have put together a handy list of the top toxic people foods to avoid feeding your pet. As always, if you suspect your pet has eaten any of the following foods, please note the amount ingested and contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

      • Chocolate, Coffee, Caffeine--These products all contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee and in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas. When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death. Note that darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines, while baking chocolate contains the highest.

      • Alcohol--Alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death.

      • Avocado--The leaves, fruit, seeds and bark of avocados contain Persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Birds and rodents are especially sensitive to avocado poisoning, and can develop congestion, difficulty breathing and fluid accumulation around the heart. Some ingestions may even be fatal.

      • Macadamia Nuts--Macadamia nuts are commonly used in many cookies and candies. However, they can cause problems for your canine companion. These nuts have caused weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and last approximately 12 to 48 hours.

      • Grapes & Raisins--Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits can cause kidney failure. In pets who already have certain health problems, signs may be more dramatic.

      • Yeast Dough--Yeast dough can rise and cause gas to accumulate in your pet’s digestive system. This can be painful and can cause the stomach or intestines to rupture. Because the risk diminishes after the dough is cooked and the yeast has fully risen, pets can have small bits of bread as treats. However, these treats should not constitute more than 5 percent to 10 percent of your pet’s daily caloric intake.

      • Raw/Undercooked Meat, Eggs and Bones--Raw meat and raw eggs can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that can be harmful to pets. In addition, raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems. Feeding your pet raw bones may seem like a natural and healthy option that might occur if your pet lived in the wild. However, this can be very dangerous for a domestic pet, who might choke on bones, or sustain a grave injury should the bone splinter and become lodged in or puncture your pet’s digestive tract.

      • Xylitol--Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products, including gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste. It can cause insulin release in most species, which can lead to liver failure. The increase in insulin leads to hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels). Initial signs of toxicosis include vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination. Signs can progress to recumbancy and seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few days.

      • Onions, Garlic, Chives--These vegetables and herbs can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed. Toxicity is normally diagnosed through history, clinical signs and microscopic confirmation of Heinz bodies. An occasional low dose, such as what might be found in pet foods or treats, likely will not cause a problem, but we recommend that you do NOT give your pets large quantities of these foods.

      • Milk--Because mature pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other milk-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset.

      • Salt--Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets. Signs that your pet may have eaten too many salty foods include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death. In other words, keep those salty chips to yourself!

      Safeguarding Cats from Plants

      As the days grow colder and shorter, plants from window boxes and screened-in porch planters are brought inside. Tulip, an inquisitive tabby, eyes the new additions to her environment, hopping up on the coffee table to get a better view. Within moments, she is nibbling the greenery—and a short time later, she's retching up a foamy green mess on the rug. It's not easy to keep cats and plants in the same space, but with some inventiveness, it is possible.

      • The Need to Nosh--Back in the days when the feline diet was strictly self-caught, cats got their veggies predigested from the stomach contents of their prey. Today, many cats still try to supplement meat-based cat food with leafy greens. In a study by Melanie Morgan and Dr. Katharine A. Houpt of the Animal Behavior Clinic of Cornell University, 36 percent of 122 cats were found to nosh on houseplants.
        This habit can prove dangerous. While not a complete list, the following plants and their relatives can cause everything from mild gastric distress to death: aloe vera, amaryllis, members of the lily family, asparagus fern, azalea, corn plant, dieffenbachia, dumb cane, many ivies, philodendron and the holiday favorites, holly and mistletoe. If you suspect ingestion and notice an abnormal breathing or heart rate, weakness, bloody diarrhea, oral ulcers, severe vomiting, hypersalivation or other serious physical changes, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) immediately (888-426-4435).
        Even cat-safe plants such as wheat grass and catnip can cause vomiting. Feline carnivores cannot properly digest raw grass or plant matter because they lack the microbes necessary to break down plant cellulose. So if you choose to grow greens for your kitty, have spot cleaner and paper towels handy. Some animals make the mental association between vomiting and eating fresh greens, and will purposely seek them out to alleviate stomach discomfort. To meet their need for plant-based nutrients without having to mop up afterward, offer fresh alfalfa sprouts, parsley, spinach, grated carrots (raw or steamed), peas, cucumber, steamed broccoli or green beans, or cantaloupe balls. Trial and error will determine which foods are appetizing to your cat and also sit well once consumed.
        The APCC notes in its Household Plant List that any plant material ingested by an animal may produce vomiting, depression and diarrhea. These signs are usually mild and self-limiting, and often do not require treatment. If you have plants that are mildly irritating to your cats, noshing may be discouraged by applying a commercial repellent to the potted plant or by setting up a motion detector on the plant stand. Changing the taste of the plant or surprising the cat with flashing lights or obnoxious noises will offset the rewarding aspect of the plant-chewing behavior. For truly toxic plants, either re-home them to an animal-free household or keep them relegated to no-pet zones. Hang them from ceiling hooks, for example, or set them atop high, "unscaleable" bookcases. You can also sequester them in a solarium with a door that can be latched shut.

      • Flower Potty?--While Tulip's vice was plant-eating, her companion calico, Violet, saw the ficus tree's big clay pot as an extra litter box. Large planters are frequently targeted as elimination spots, especially by cats who have spent part of their lives outdoors. By covering the entire pot with mesh netting that's gathered and tied around the tree's trunk or by tightly packing pebbles or marbles around the plant, the cat is barred from getting to the dirt and the plant can still be watered in the more conventional sense. To help a former outdoor cat make the litter box transition, put some dirt on top of traditional clay litter. (Note: mixing dirt with clumping litter will hinder the litter's binding properties.) Gradually reduce the amount of soil added to the box until there is none.
        Some cats begin to eliminate in planters for other reasons. If the planter had been out in the yard, a freeroaming neighbor cat may have used it as a toilet, inducing your cat to mark over the scent. In that case, scrub down the pot and do away with the offending soil. If you notice any other changes in your cat's elimination routine, get to the vet! These problems often stem from illnesses such as feline lower urinary tract disease, constipation or inflammatory bowel disease. Medication and planter modifications should resolve the problem.

      If these tips don't solve your cat vs. plant dilemmas, adopt your plants out to a nice family with green thumbs, and learn to love silk or plastic imitations. Jacque Lynn Schultz, CPDT, ASPCA Companion Animal Programs Advisor National Shelter Outreach

      What To Do If Your Pet Is Poisoned

      Don’t panic. Rapid response is important, but panicking can interfere with the process of helping your pet. Take 30 to 60 seconds to safely collect and have at hand any material involved. This may be of great benefit to your vet and/or APCC toxicologists, as they determine what poison or poisons are involved. In the event that you need to take your pet to a local veterinarian, be sure to take the product’s container with you. Also, collect in a sealable plastic bag any material your pet may have vomited or chewed. If you witness your pet consuming material that you suspect might be toxic, do not hesitate to seek emergency assistance, even if you do not notice any adverse effects. Sometimes, even if poisoned, an animal may appear normal for several hours or for days after the incident.

      Call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center
      The telephone number is (888) 426-4435. There is a $60 consultation fee for this service.
      Be ready with the following information:
      · The species, breed, age, sex, weight and number of animals involved.
      · The animal’s symptoms.
      · Information regarding the exposure, including the agent (if known), the amount of the agent involved and the time elapsed since the time of exposure.
      · Have the product container/packaging available for reference.
      Please note: If your animal is having seizures, losing consciousness, is unconscious or is having difficulty breathing, telephone ahead and bring your pet immediately to your local veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic. If necessary, he or she may call the APCC.
      Be Prepared
      Keep the telephone number of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center—(888) 426-4435—as well as that of your local veterinarian, in a prominent location.
      Invest in an emergency first-aid kit for your pet. The kit should contain:
      · A fresh bottle of hydrogen peroxide, 3 percent USP (to induce vomiting)
      · A turkey baster, bulb syringe or large medicine syringe (to administer peroxide)
      · Saline eye solution
      · Artificial tear gel (to lubricate eyes after flushing)
      · Mild grease-cutting dishwashing liquid (for bathing an animal after skin contamination)
      · Forceps (to remove stingers)
      · A muzzle (to protect against fear- or excitement-induced biting)
      · A can of your pet’s favorite wet food
      · A pet carrier
      Always consult a veterinarian or the APCC for directions on how and when to use any emergency first-aid item.
      Visit the ASPCA Store and take a look at the First Aid Kit they have for sale. You might feel more comfortable having this ready to go at home:

      Animal Poison Control Frequently Asked Questions

      The ASPCA has compiled the answers to your most frequently asked questions here. Feel free to bookmark this page for easy reference at this web site:

      Quick Response
      · I think my pet has ingested something potentially dangerous, but she seems normal. What should I do first: call the APCC or rush her to my local emergency veterinarian?
      · What should I do if I think my pet ate something poisonous?
      · What information will I need when I call you?
      About the Animal Poison Control Center
      · How do I get in touch with ASPCA animal poison control experts?
      · What kind of services does the APCC provide?
      · How much does it cost to use the APCC hotline?
      · How many cases does the APCC handle daily?
      · Where is the APCC located?
      · Where does the APCC get its information about toxins and their effects on animals?
      · Does the APCC test on animals?
      · I live in Illinois—can I bring my pet to the APCC to be seen by a vet?
      · I just spoke with a staff member on the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline, but I have more questions. Can I call back?
      General Information
      · Are there certain potentially harmful substances that pets get into more than others?
      · I’m a veterinarian; where can I learn more?
      · What should I include in my pet’s first-aid kit?
      · Are there any plants that are toxic to my pets that I shouldn’t keep around the house?
      · How do I find out if a plant is toxic to pets?
      · What houseplants are safe?
      · I want to send my pet-owning friend a floral arrangement. What flowers are safe to send?
      · What are the most common food hazards I should be aware of?
      · Is milk bad for cats?
      · Why is chocolate bad for dogs?
      · How can I check to see if my pet food has been recalled?
      · Can I feed my dog a human breath mint?
      · Can I give my pet Ibuprofen?
      · Can I give my pet aspirin?
      · Can my pets actually chew through containers of aspirin?
      Around the House
      · What are the most common household items I should watch out for?
      · What cleaning supplies can I use that won’t hurt my pets?
      · Are any types of cat litter poisonous to cats?
      · Is it safe for my pet to drink from the toilet?
      · What are the some dangers pets face during Valentine’s Day?
      · What are the dangerous substances pets should avoid during the Christmas holidays?
      · What are some dangers pets face during the cold winter weather?
      · What are some hazards pets face during the warm weather?

      A Poison Safe Home

      Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pet
      · Alcoholic beverages
      · Avocado
      · Chocolate (all forms)
      · Coffee (all forms)
      · Fatty foods
      · Macadamia nuts
      · Moldy or spoiled foods
      · Onions, onion powder
      · Raisins and grapes
      · Salt
      · Yeast dough
      · Garlic
      · Products sweetened with xylitol
      Warm Weather Hazards
      · Animal toxins—toads, insects, spiders, snakes and scorpions
      · Blue-green algae in ponds
      · Citronella candles
      · Cocoa mulch
      · Compost piles Fertilizers
      · Flea products
      · Outdoor plants and plant bulbs
      · Swimming-pool treatment supplies
      · Fly baits containing methomyl
      · Slug and snail baits containing metaldehyde
      Common examples of human medications that can be potentially lethal to pets, even in small doses, include:
      · Pain killers
      · Cold medicines
      · Anti-cancer drugs
      · Antidepressants
      · Vitamins
      · Diet Pills
      Cold Weather Hazards
      · Antifreeze
      · Liquid potpourri
      · Ice melting products
      · Rat and mouse bait
      Common Household Hazards
      · Fabric softener sheets
      · Mothballs
      · Post-1982 pennies (due to high concentration of zinc)
      Holiday Hazards
      · Christmas tree water (may contain fertilizers and bacteria, which, if ingested, can upset the stomach.
      · Electrical cords
      · Ribbons or tinsel (can become lodged in the intestines and cause intestinal obstruction—most often occurs with kittens!)
      · Batteries
      · Glass ornaments
      Non-toxic Substances for Dogs and Cats
      The following substances are considered to be non-toxic, although they may cause mild gastrointestinal upset in some animals:
      · Water-based paints
      · Toilet bowl water
      · Silica gel
      · Poinsettia
      · Cat litter
      · Glue traps
      · Glow jewelry

      As Helpful Buckeye suggested earlier, you should go ahead and print a copy of this issue so that you have it at hand if the need arises. If it appears to be an "unsafe" world out there for your pets, that's because it can be unsafe. A little preparation in advance can make it into a safer place for all of your beloved pets. Peace....

      Sunday, June 7, 2009


      Questions On Dogs and Cats has devoted quite a bit of space to cats and their medical problems over this past year. However, Helpful Buckeye has received a few e-mails from cat owners who feel just a little slighted...even by the title of this blog. The cat owners have rightfully pointed out that there are now more cats as pets in the USA than dogs. They also have reminded me that "Cat" even comes before "Dog," alphabetically-speaking.

      So, as my gesture of complete and full acceptance of their desire for more cat information, this week's issue will be solely about cats. For you dog owners, don't despair! Go ahead and read this material might be surprised and actually find something you enjoy. If there's possibly a cat in your future, this would be the place to start.


      • All cats are descendants of one type of cat. Whether your kitty meows or roars, it is a descendant of the Felis silvestris species, which is divided into the African wildcat, European wildcat and Steppe wildcat.

      • The smallest of the descendants is the rusty-spotted cat found in Sri Lanka. It is about half the size of the domestic cat. The largest is the tiger. The male Siberian or Amur Tiger has a total body length in excess of 3m (10 ft) and weighs up to 300kg (660 lb). The lion is the king of the cats. It stands out from the other cats, not just in its distinctive appearance but also in being the only felid that lives in organised social groups. Adult male lions weigh up to 225kg (500 lb) and grow up to 3m (10 ft) in body length.

      • The fastest cat, the cheetah, is also the fastest land animal. It can reach 95 km/h (60 mph) over short distances. Unlike other big cats it does not roar - it makes high pitched yelps, barks and chirruping sounds. And like your kitty, it does purr. The cheetah is the only cat that cannot retract its claws.

      • Domestic cats purr at about 26 cycles per second, the same frequency as an idling diesel engine. A domestic cat hears frequencies up to about 65 kHz, humans up to 20 kHz. Its sense of smell is about 14 times stronger than that of humans.

      • In the rear of a cat's eye is a light-reflecting layer called the tapetum lucidum, which causes cats' eyes to glow at night. This reflecting layer absorbs light 6 times more effectively than human eyes do, allowing a cat to see better than humans at night.

      • There are more than 3000 types of domestic cats, but only 8% are pedigree. And, unlike other cats, they are found all over the world... in abundance.

      • In the US, there are more cats than dogs, and people annually spend more on cat food than on baby food.

      • Domestic cats - or any other cats - do not have nine lives. They also do not always land on their feet. It is said that a cat that falls out of a 20-story building has a better chance of surviving than when falling out of a 7-story building because it takes a cat at least 7 stories to co-ordinate itself to land on its feet.

      • Cats step with both left legs, then both right legs when they walk or run. The only other animals to do this are the giraffe, camel and the maned wolf.

      • The tails of wild cats almost never lift higher than their backs, as opposed to your domestic kitty.

      • Cats cannot see directly below their heads that is why they do not see the food when you put it under their nose. Keep this in mind when you're feeding your kitty.

      • Meow or roar, the cat is a hunter. All cats are direct descendants of the wildcat - even your kitty.

      • Did you know that dogs are mentioned 14 times in the Bible, lions 89 times, but domestic cats are not mentioned?


      A checklist of 10 signs of possible sickness will alert you to the advisability of having your cat examined by your veterinarian:

      • Inappropriate Elimination Behavior
        Client education about litter box care and normal elimination behavior is important for prevention and treatment of medical and behavioral problems. Clients should be aware that inappropriate urination and defecation often accompany an underlying medical condition and do not occur “to get back at the owner.” 1-->A cat that is urinating inappropriately may have any number of conditions associated with the behavior, including lower urinary tract disease, kidney disease, urinary tract infection and diabetes mellitus. It can also be a sign of arthritis, which makes it difficult for the cat to get into the litter box. 2 --> Blockage of the urinary tract signals a veterinary emergency. A blockage is treatable, but timing is critical. Once identified, the cat must receive veterinary care as soon as possible. Otherwise, fatal complications could develop. Signs include straining in the litter box with little or no results, crying when urinating and frequent attempts to urinate.

      • Changes in Interaction
        Cats are social animals, they enjoy interaction with their human family and often with other pets. Changes in those may signal problems such as disease, fear or anxiety. They may also signal pain, which can cause aggression. For example, a cat may attack an individual who causes it pain, such as a person combing over a cat’s arthritic hips or brushing a diseased tooth.

      • Changes in Activity
        A decrease or increase in activity can be a sign of a medical of condition. As cats age, there is increased risk for arthritis. Discomfort from systemic illnesses can also lead to a decrease in activity. It's important to understand cats don't usually slow down just because they are old. More activity is often caused by hyperthyroidism. Changes in activity warrant a visit to your veterinarian.

      • Changes in Sleeping Habits
        The key to differentiating abnormal lethargy from normal napping is knowing your cat's sleeping patterns. The average adult cat may spend 16 to 18 hours per day sleeping. This is normal, but much of that sleeping is “catnapping.” The cat should respond quickly to usual stimuli, such as the owner walking into the room or cat food being prepared. If your cat is sleeping more than usual or has discomfort laying down and getting up, this may be a sign of underlying disease.

      • Changes in Food and Water Consumption
        Contrary to popular belief, most cats are not "finicky" eaters. Look for changes, such as a decrease or an increase in consumption and how the cat chews its food. Decreased food intake can be a sign of several disorders, ranging from poor dental health to cancer. Increased food consumption can be caused by diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidism or other health problems.
        Changes in water consumption may be more difficult to observe, especially in cats that spend time outdoors or drink from toilets and sinks. Increased water intake can be an early indicator of thyroid problems, kidney disease, diabetes or other conditions.
        If food and water intake is questionable, clients can measure the food and water given, and then measure what remains after 24 hours to get a more accurate picture of actual consumption.

      • Unexplained Weight Loss or Gain
        A change in weight does not necessarily correlate with a change in appetite. Cats with hyperthyroidism or diabetes mellitus can lose weight despite good appetites. Many other diseases cause both appetite and weight loss. If your cat goes to the food dish and then backs away from it without eating, nausea may be the source.
        Weight changes often go unnoticed because of a cat's thick coat. You can assess body condition by feeling gently along the ribs. The ribs should be easily felt but not prominent.
        On the other hand, obesity has become a serious health concern in cats, with increased risk of diabetes mellitus, joint disease and other problems. Cat owners can purchase small pet scales to chart weight at home. Take the cat to the veterinarian if there are any unplanned changes in weight.

      • Changes in Grooming
        Typically, cats are fastidious groomers. Note whether your cat's coat is clean and free of mats. Patches of hair loss or a greasy or matted appearance can signal an underlying disease. Also watch to see if your cat has difficulty grooming. A decrease in grooming behavior can indicate fear, anxiety, obesity or other illnesses. An increase in grooming may be a sign of a skin problem.

      • Signs of Stress
        Yes, your cat can be stressed despite having an “easy” life. Boredom and sudden lifestyle changes are common causes of stress in cats. Stressed cats may spend less time grooming and interacting, or they may spend more time awake and scanning their environment, hide more, withdraw and exhibit signs of depression. They could also change their eating patterns. These same signs may indicate a medical condition. It is important to rule out medical problems first and then address the stress. Because the social organization of cats is different from that of people and dogs, changes in the family, such as adding a new pet, should be done gradually. Please contact your veterinary hospital for information on how to successfully make changes in your household.

      • Changes in Vocalization
        An increase in vocalization or howling is more common in older cats and is often seen with some underlying condition such as hyperthyroidism or high blood pressure. Many cats also vocalize more if they are in pain or anxious. If you note a change in vocalization, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out medical problems and to obtain suggestions for minimizing or eliminating the behavior.

      • Bad Breath
        Studies show 70 percent of cats have gum disease as early as age 3. It is important to have your cat's teeth checked every six months to help prevent dental disease or to start treatment of problems. One of the early indicators of an oral problem is bad breath. Regular home teeth brushing and veterinary dental care prevent bad breath, pain, tooth loss and spread of infection to other organs.


      OK, now you've established that there might be a health problem for your cat. How do make the trip to your veterinarian as easy as possible for your cat?

      Getting Your Cat Into the Carrier
      If you don't already own a carrier, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind when buying one.

      • Be sure it is convenient for you, your cat and your veterinarian.

      • Keeping the carrier out in your home and putting favorite treats or toys inside helps train your cat to see the carrier as a safe place.

      • While there are many carriers on the market, it is best to choose one that has both a top opening and possibly an additional opening on the side. Top-loading carriers are much easier for placing your cat inside. Your cat can easily go into and out of an opening on the side. Other options include carriers on which the top half is removable, so the cat can remain in the carrier during the examination.

      • Never dump the cat out of the carrier. Either let your cat walk out or gently remove your cat from the carrier.

      Adjusting to Car Rides

      • When traveling with your cat in the car, always put the cat in a carrier or other protected container. Rather than allowing the cat to roam freely, this is safer for both of you.

      • To make your cat comfortable when riding in the car, take the cat to places other than the veterinarian’s office.

      • Start with short rides at first, then gradually extend the length of the drive.

      • Because cats travel best on an empty stomach, do not feed your cat for several hours before traveling.

      • After each successful car trip, reward your pet with positive attention and treats.

      Pleasant Veterinary Visits

      • To make your cat feel at home in the veterinarian's office, bring the cat's favorite treats and toys with you.

      • When at home, practice regular care routines such as grooming, nail trimming and teeth brushing. Pretend to do routine veterinary procedures with your cat. You can do this by touching the cat's face, ears, feet and tail. This should help your cat adjust to the veterinary hospital and any needed home care.

      • Make trips to the veterinary hospital for visits that don't involve examinations or procedures, such as checking the cat's weight. It sets your cat up for positive experiences at the veterinary hospital, and lets your cat be more comfortable with the clinic and staff.


      Written by: Debra M. Eldredge

      Cats are living longer lives. An 8-year-old cat was considered a senior 15 years ago. Today, many veterinarians wait until ages 10 or 12 to classify a cat as senior. And more and more cats are living into their 20s! However, along with longer lives come increased health concerns. It only takes a few adjustments to your cats daily routine to improve its well-being and quality of life well into the golden years.

      Lifestyle Changes

      Indoor-only is the way to go for your older cat, even if it went outdoors as a youngster. Indoor cats have less exposure to disease and parasites. This lifestyle also protects cats from trauma, such as automobile injuries, vicious animal attacks and unscrupulous human treatment. As your cats vision and hearing become less acute, the indoors offer your pet an abundance of safety and security.

      Its also important to re-examine your senior cats diet. Have you noticed a reduction in activity level? Ask your veterinarian about reducing your cats calorie intake to prevent obesity. Gradually adjust the diet according to your veterinarians recommendation: Abrupt change can cause serious liver damage and even death. Maintain top quality protein in your cats diet so it continues to receive those important amino acids available only in animal protein.
      Older cats often need special diets for their medical conditions, says Betsy Arnold, DVM, a veterinarian and Siamese breeder in Rochester, N.Y.

      In addition to a dietary change, you may need to assist your cat with its grooming tasks. Your consummate groomer may develop arthritis, which makes thorough grooming a challenge. The nails can become brittle and some cats experience trouble removing the old, outer sheaths. Check your cats nails twice a week and trim them as needed. Use a slicker brush on your shorthaired cat or a wide-tooth comb on your longhaired cat to keep its coat shiny and clean. Regular grooming also provides valuable bonding time for you and your cat.

      Your senior cat will especially appreciate creature comforts. Senior cats cannot tolerate temperature changes as well as they did in their younger years. Provide cool places for your cat to lie in the summer and a warm, soft bed for the cold winter months. If climbing is a challenge, offer step stools or ramps, or move a bed to the floor. If arthritis becomes a problem, provide warm, comfortable beds and encourage regular exercise. Ask your veterinarian about safe pain medications and food supplements that can help keep your cat's joints supple.

      Some senior cats become a bit forgetful or lose their orientation. Many cats cry at night or wander around the house as if lost. Usually talking to them, holding them or even leaving a nightlight on can help.

      Health Concerns

      Older cats need regular checkups twice yearly is ideal. Expect your veterinarian to periodically run bloodwork to check for changes in liver or kidney function, along with looking for anemia, diabetes and hyperthyroidism. You may also want to request a urinalysis to detect diabetes and kidney problems. Some veterinarians will check your cat for high blood pressure and do an X-ray or ultrasound to check for signs of heart problems or cancer. Early detection often means more successful and less expensive treatments.

      Many older cats become less active and quieter, but some cats suddenly seem to rejuvenate. If your cat is active, hungry all the time and losing weight, it may be hyperthyroid...having too much thyroid hormone. Possibly caused by thyroid cancer, this disorder leads to an increase in metabolism. A blood test offers the best method of diagnosis, and several treatment options are available.

      Increased hunger may also be caused by diabetes. A diabetic cat tends to drink more and urinate frequently. Veterinarians normally diagnose diabetes with a blood test and urinalysis. Most cats are treated with insulin injections and dietary modifications.

      If your cat suddenly drinks more water than usual, get it checked for kidney failure as well as diabetes. Cats with kidney problems are often not hungry, just thirsty, while diabetics are hungry and thirsty. Most kidney diseases cannot be cured, but many cats improve with extra fluids and dietary changes.

      Dehydration can be a problem in older cats, especially if their kidneys aren't 100 percent, says Nancy Freeboro, DVM, a veterinarian in Syracuse, N.Y. Having fresh water available at all times, and mixing water in with canned food can help.

      Cancer can show up in a wide range of disguises. Obvious growths are one way, but subtle weight loss, decreased activity and a decrease in appetite can all warn of a malignancy. Again, routine checkups are invaluable. Caught early, some cancers are curable and many can be controlled for some amount of time.

      Dental problems and some tooth loss is common for senior cats. Starting a kitten on regular dental care will help prevent some of this. Take your senior cat in for a veterinary dental cleaning, followed by more regular care. If your cat experiences tender teeth and gums, feed it room-temperature or slightly warmed food. Remember that cats can get oral cancer, too. Be vigilant to any changes in eating or chewing behavior, and follow up immediately with your veterinarian.

      Age eventually catches up with us all, and you are your cats best health advocate. If you detect changes in your cats behavior, eating or elimination, take it to the vet for a checkup. Your careful attention and lifestyle modifications, along with your veterinarian's sound advice, make a great health-care team for your aging cat.


      Dr. Jean Hofve is a holistic veterinarian from Denver, Colorado, and a pro when it comes to traveling with pets. She has driven her cats seven times back and forth from California to Colorado without having to endure constant yowls of protest. She offers these six tips designed to maintain your sanity when traveling with cats and checking into pet-friendly hotels:

      • Never feed your cat the day of travel by car or airplane to reduce stomach upset.

      • Select pet carriers that are big enough for a cat to turn around and curl up in, but not too large.

      • Include a current health certificate for your pet. You may need to present it when crossing state lines.

      • Limit car travel to nine hours and include frequent short breaks.

      • Keep your cat in a pet carrier in the back seat of your car with the carrier tethered to the seat belt.

      • Before putting the cat inside the carrier, spritz the carrier with a calming flower essence such as Easy Traveler or Rescue Remedy or Feliway. Stash the bottle in a side pocket of the carrier for easy access.

      “I’ve learned the hard way to not let my cats out of their carriers in the hotel room because they crawl under the bed and it is nearly impossible to get them out,” says Dr. Hofve. “They are far safer inside the bathroom and you are more apt to get a good night’s sleep because they won’t be roaming all over the room at night.”


      • ...the person that had took a bull by the tail once had learnt sixty or seventy times as much as a person that hadn't, and said a person that started in to carry a cat home by the tail was getting knowledge that was always going to be useful to him, and warn't ever going to grow dim or doubtful. -Tom Sawyer Abroad

      • A home without a cat--and a well-fed, well-petted and properly revered cat--may be a perfect home, perhaps, but how can it prove title?- Pudd'nhead Wilson

      • You may say a cat uses good grammar. Well, a cat does -- but you let a cat get excited once; you let a cat get to pulling fur with another cat on a shed, nights, and you'll hear grammar that will give you the lockjaw. Ignorant people think it's the noise which fighting cats make that is so aggravating, but it ain't so; it's the sickening grammar they use. - A Tramp Abroad

      • One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives.- Pudd'nhead Wilson

      • A cat is more intelligent than people believe, and can be taught any crime.- Notebook, 1895

      • Of all God's creatures there is only one that cannot be made the slave of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat.- Notebook, 1894

      • By what right has the dog come to be regarded as a "noble" animal? The more brutal and cruel and unjust you are to him the more your fawning and adoring slave he becomes; whereas, if you shamefully misuse a cat once she will always maintain a dignified reserve toward you afterward--you will never get her full confidence again.- Mark Twain, a Biography

      • Some people scorn a cat and think it not an essential; but the Clemens tribe are not of these.

      • When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction.- "An Incident,"