Sunday, August 30, 2009


After all your efforts at house training your pets, it can be disheartening to start seeing puddles of urine around the house. There are a lot of reasons for why this happens and the solutions to this problem are invariably directly related to those reasons. Caroline, in Oregon, sent in this question to Helpful Buckeye after reading about urinary incontinence 2 weeks ago in SPAYING AND NEUTERING, PART 3, in Questions On Dogs and Cats: "I have an older female dog that has been spayed and she has been leaving wet spots where she sleeps. I have been told this is from being spayed. Several years ago, I also had an older female dog that squatted frequently and left puddles of urine all over the house. Are these the same thing?" That's a great question, Caroline, and it will make up the DISEASE portion of this week's blog issue.

Helpful Buckeye expects that most dog and cat owners have dealt with pet urinary problems if they've had a pet long enough. Many of you have probably even been frustrated enough, when cleaning up the puddles of urine, to hum this tune to yourself: ...with apologies to Christie and their big hit from 1970.

The results of last week's poll question about the possibility of an income tax deduction for pet health care were pretty much evenly spread out over the range of choices....which isn't so strange when you consider how difficult it is to get anyone to agree on health care OR taxes! Be sure to answer this week's poll question in the column to the left.


1) Now that college campuses are starting to fill up again with students, the SPCA International is reminding those students that college and pets don't mix very well. To properly care for a pet requires a certain amount of free time and a ready supply of money...both of which are usually in short supply for most college students. If you know a college student who is considering doing this, you might want to mention this article to them:

2) The topic that is getting most of the press coverage in the USA has to be the state of our current health care system, does it need reform, and, if so, what type of reform. Take a few minutes to read this recent column from the Wall Street Journal, written by a British physician, who makes several good tongue-in-cheek points by comparing health care for dogs with health care for humans:

3) Yesterday was the birthday observation of Henry Bergh, born August 29, 1811. "Who was Henry Bergh?," you ask. Henry Bergh was a philanthropist in New York City and he founded the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in known as the ASPCA. Bergh also served as Abraham Lincoln's ambassador to Russia. The Henry Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital is now a part of the ASPCA's New York City headquarters:


Caroline's question about "Puddles of Urine" will require us to define 3 words in order to facilitate this discussion. Those words are micturition, incontinence, and polyuria.

  • Micturition: the act of passing urine.

  • Incontinence: unable to control natural discharges of urine or feces.

  • Polyuria: the passing of an excessive quantity of urine.

Caroline's current dog is apparently having bouts of urinary incontinence, which is recognized as being a form of abnormal micturition. Her previous dog was having a problem with polyuria, which is also a form of abnormal micturition. Do you have that straight, now? A few more details should make this easier to understand.

Urinary disorders can be classified as medical or behavioral in origin. At times, there may be a little haziness to the boundary between medical and behavioral because they can both have an effect on each other. Behavioral urinary disorders will be left aside right now for discussion at a later date. The most common medical urinary problems will make up the bulk of this discussion.

Urinary incontinence is the failure of voluntary control of micturition, with the constant or intermittent unconscious passage of urine. The most common cause of this type of incontinence is the decrease or absence of the sex hormones, estrogens for the female and testosterone for the male. These hormones will decrease normally as dogs age but the largest group of dogs with this problem are spayed females. Estrogen and testosterone help to control the sphincter muscle at the base of the urinary bladder, so, no hormones...sometimes no control.

Incontinent dogs may leave a pool of urine where they have been lying or they may dribble urine while walking. The hair around the vulva or the penile sheath (in the male dog) may be constantly wet with these dogs and the skin in those areas can be severely irritated from urine scalding. Hormone replacement therapy was used for years with fairly good success, but those medications have been gradually removed from the market. The medicine that is most often used for urinary incontinence control now is Proin, which your veterinarian would prescribe for your dog. Scalded areas of skin will need to be treated topically with anti-inflammatory ointments that also contain antibiotics.

The important thing to remember about this form of urinary incontinence is not to get angry with your dog...they probably can't help what's going on and they are undoubtedly as upset you are.

Polyuria, passing an excessive amount of urine, is quantified as passing more than 20 milliliters per pound of body weight of urine per day. To do the math, a 50-lb. dog would need to pass more than 1000 milliliters of urine per day to qualify as showing polyuria...which is 1 liter...which is a little more than 1 quart. Polyuria is frequently accompanied by polydipsia, which is an increased thirst, as the body tries to compensate for the loss of water in the urine.

Polyuria and polydipsia are signs of many disease processes in the dog, some more serious than others. The more common of these diseases are chronic kidney failure, diabetes mellitus, liver disease, pyometra, and Cushing's Disease (overactive adrenal glands). There are also numerous medications that can lead to polyuria, such as diuretics (Lasix), anticonvulsants (for epilepsy), cortisone-type drugs (prednisone), salt, and fluid therapy. Since there are so many potential causes of polyuria and polydipsia, the underlying cause must be determined before appropriate treatment can be initiated.

Without knowing more details about Caroline's previous dog and its puddles of urine, Helpful Buckeye has to assume that any one of these diseases could have led to the polyuria. However, chronic kidney failure is usually considered to be the most common of these disorders in the older dog.

Helpful Buckeye will address these urinary disorders that usually involve polyuria or abnormal micturition, including those peculiar to cats, in future issues of Questions On Dogs and Cats. Frequent squatting to urinate should not be confused with polyuria, because that usually does not involve producing more than the normal amount of is usually associated with other types of urinary disorders, such as urinary bladder infections or urinary bladder stones.

Any questions or comments, please send an e-mail to: or click on the word "Comment" at the end of each blog issue.


1) For those of you who live in or near earthquake-prone areas, these new "suits" for your dogs and cats may be of interest:

2) The new P@W Bag allows you to safely carry your laptop AND your small pet at the same time:


1) "Busy Pets Are Happy Pets" says the ASPCA in one of their press releases this week. “With nothing to do, dogs and cats are forced to find ways to entertain themselves,” explains Kristen Collins. “Their activities of choice often include behaviors we find problematic, like excessive barking or meowing, gnawing on shoes, raiding the garbage, eating houseplants and scratching furniture.” For the rest of this interesting report, go to:

This cartoon from the New Yorker shows how to NOT approach this situation:

2) If you are looking for a worthy organization for your charitable donations, you might want to consider Dogs For The Deaf. They are located in Oregon and for the last 30+ years, they have rescued and placed more than 3000 dogs in homes. Read more about their mission at:

3) Computer gurus say that your desktop photo says a lot about you. If that's true, then all of you dog lovers might want to consider taking a look at this web site that offers a lot of really neat dog photos for downloading to be used as your computer desktop: Don't be afraid to look around this web site...they have at least 3 pages of different breeds of dogs in interesting poses.

4) Just when you thought that poodle groomers had all the work they needed, along comes Creative Poodle Grooming. Take a closer look at 12 of their creations and, if you've been reading Questions On Dogs and Cats for a while, you should be able to guess which one Helpful Buckeye likes the best: Send your guess to:

5) If you've ever thought of having your pet immortalized in a custom painting, this might be the web site for you:

6) Researchers at the National Human Genome Institute have made a discovery about dog hair that they feel might hold some answers for treating human diseases. Read more about this very interesting possibility at:

7) A special award for being the "Dummy of the Year" should be given to the pilot of this airplane. Watch the video and see if you don't agree:


The LA Dodgers took 2 of 3 from the Rockies, who were breathing down our necks, and just finished taking 2 of 3 from Cincinnati. We'll go back to LA tomorrow with a more comfortable cushion in the standings.

The Steelers continue to look good in their pre-season games.


As Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918), French writer, said: "Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy." He was well ahead of Bobby McFerrin's sentiment in song: "Don't worry, Be happy!"

For those readers who did not get a chance to read the comments from last week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats, here is what Holly had to say: "Thanks Doc! Always interesting to come here and get the 411 to reduce the 911! Have a great week. Rory & Fiona say, " 'Aroo!' " Holly is a frequent commenter and sometimes contributor to this blog and Helpful Buckeye really appreciates her participation, especially when she turns an interesting phrase that works in some telephone lingo! Thanks a bunch, Holly!

~~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, August 23, 2009


Now that the American public has been inundated with information on Swine Flu and indoctrinated as to its potential severity, we find out that Swine Flu is really just like the common flu we've known for years. Most communities, schools, and health departments are not even going to be doing any tests for Swine Flu, figuring that it doesn't make sense to waste resources to find out what it is, if the treatment is the same as for the traditional flu.

Virologists and epidemiologists have been and will continue to be vigilant for influenza viruses that cross species barriers (Avian Flu, Swine Flu) since they are more likely to cause problems of major proportions. With that thought in mind, dog owners might now be confronted with a relatively new influenza virus that represents a very rare event in adaptive evolution: the entire sequence of genetic information of the equine influenza virus was transferred to dogs and the virus adapted to the canine species to emerge as a new canine-specific virus (photo from Ken, in Flagstaff):

Helpful Buckeye will not attempt to turn all of our readers into virologists (I'm not one either) with this column of Questions On Dogs and Cats; however, it is important that all dog owners be informed as to the development of this new disease and what the current recommendations are. Stay tuned later in this issue for this discussion! Meanwhile, be sure to study this model of the basic Influenza virus:

Our polling question for last week provided some uplifting information. Most of you, as it turns out, have been able to successfully give medicine to your a rate of 75%! That's pretty good when you consider how tough some dogs can be when you try to open their mouths. Be sure to answer the polling question this week in the column to the left.


1) How many of you, while filling out your income tax returns, have mused about the possibility of deducting your costs of pet health care? Well, if a Congressman from Michigan has his way, that possibility might become a reality. Read about his proposal here:

2) Many cities have tried different approaches to the pet population problem of unwanted litters. Ft. Worth, TX, has instituted a fairly high fee for the registration of intact (not neutered or spayed) pets and it will be interesting to see if this might be a solution:

3) A man in Virginia is attempting to have a court decide if a dog has only the monetary value of its purchase or a greater value, based on emotional attachment. This decision could have some interesting ramifications:

4) In preparation for their upcoming pure breed event this Fall, the world's largest showcase of cats and dogs, the Cat Fanciers' Association and the American Kennel Club hope to inspire a little healthy competition by asking you to declare your canine or feline allegiance. You can register your vote here:


Helpful Buckeye has briefly touched on the subject of Canine (Dog) Influenza in past issues of Questions On Dogs and Cats, at: and

The number of confirmed cases of this flu-like disease has been increasing and it has now been reported in more than half of the 48 contiguous states. In much the same way that humans are being made more aware of the new types of influenza infections, the American Veterinary Medical Association just released this update:

Canine Influenza--August 21, 2009

Causative Agent

Canine Influenza represents a very rare event in adaptive evolution; the entire genome of the equine influenza virus was transferred to dogs, and the virus adapted to the canine species to emerge as a new canine-specific virus. Although the virus spreads readily from dog to dog, there is no evidence to support that it can be transmitted from dogs to humans.

Natural Distribution

The first recognized outbreak of canine influenza is believed to have occurred in racing greyhounds in January 2004 at a track in Florida. From June to August of 2004, outbreaks of respiratory disease were reported at 14 tracks in 6 states (Florida, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, West Virginia, and Kansas). Between January and May of 2005, outbreaks occurred at 20 tracks in 11 states (Florida, Texas, Arkansas, Arizona, West Virginia, Kansas, Iowa, Colorado, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts). Florida, Colorado, and the New York City region have become endemic for CI (the virus is considered to be established in those areas), and Pittsburgh (PA) and Lexington (KY) may also be emerging as endemic areas. Sporadic seropositive dogs have been found in many other states throughout the nation. As of October 2, 2008, 1,079 cases of canine influenza were confirmed by the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine Animal Health Diagnostic Center. At least one case of canine influenza was confirmed in 28 of the 48 contiguous states; no cases were confirmed in Alaska or Hawaii. Because this is a new influenza virus in dogs, they are not expected to have any immunity to canine influenza when first exposed to the virus. If the virus enters a kennel or other closed group of dogs, a high percentage of the dogs will probably become infected, and most of these dogs will show signs of sickness.


Canine influenza is spread via air-borne respiratory secretions and contaminated inanimate objects and people moving between infected and uninfected dogs. The incubation period is usually two to five days. Infected dogs shed virus for seven to 10 days after clinical signs first appear. Because this is a newly emerging pathogen, all dogs, regardless of breed or age, are susceptible to infection and have no naturally acquired or vaccine-induced immunity. Approximately 20-25% of infected dogs are expected to show no signs of illness, but can still shed the virus and disseminate the disease. Although most dogs will have a milder form of canine influenza and recover, some may develop severe pneumonia.

Clinical Signs

Virtually all dogs that are exposed become infected with the virus, but approximately 80% of these will develop clinical signs of disease. The approximately 20% of infected dogs that do not exhibit clinical signs of disease can still shed the virus and can spread the infection.
Canine influenza virus causes clinical disease that mimics kennel cough. Clinical disease may be mild or severe.

The majority of infected dogs (80%) exhibit the mild form. In the mild form, the most common clinical sign is a cough that persists for 10 to 21 days despite treatment with antibiotics and cough suppressants. Most dogs have a soft, moist cough, whereas others have a dry cough that is similar to that seen with kennel cough. Many dogs will have a purulent (pus) nasal discharge and a low-grade fever. The nasal discharge is usually caused by secondary bacterial infections.
Some dogs are more severely affected with clinical signs of pneumonia, such as a high-grade fever (104°F to 106°F) and increased respiratory rate and effort.


To date, there is no reliable rapid test for diagnosis of acute canine influenza virus infection. The most reliable and sensitive method for confirmation of infection is serologic testing. Antibodies to canine influenza virus may be detected in the blood as early as seven days after onset of clinical signs.


As for all viral diseases, treatment is largely supportive. Good care and nutrition may assist dogs in mounting an effective immune response. In the milder form of the disease, a thick green nasal discharge most likely represents a secondary bacterial infection that usually resolves quickly after treatment with a broad-spectrum antibiotic. Pneumonia in more severely affected dogs responds best to a combination of broad-spectrum bactericidal antibiotics (to combat secondary bacterial infections) and maintenance of hydration via intravenous administration of fluids.
Currently available antiviral drugs are approved for use in humans only and little is known about their use, effectiveness, and safety in dogs.

Morbidity and Mortality

The morbidity rate (the number of exposed animals that develop disease) associated with canine influenza is estimated at 80%. Deaths occur mainly in dogs with the severe form of disease; the mortality rate is thought to be 1-5% or slightly higher. Higher case fatality rates have been reported in small groups of greyhounds that developed hemorrhagic pneumonia during outbreaks.

Prevention and Control

In veterinary hospitals, boarding and shelter facilities, the canine influenza virus appears to be easily killed by disinfectants commonly used in these facilities, including bleach. Protocols should be established for thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting cages, bowls and other surfaces between uses. Employees should wash their hands with soap and water:

  • before and after handling each dog

  • after coming into contact with dogs' saliva, urine, feces, or blood

  • after cleaning cages

  • upon arriving at and before leaving the facility.

Isolation protocols should be rigorously applied for dogs showing clinical signs of respiratory disease. Clothing, equipment, surfaces and hands should be cleaned and disinfected after exposure to dogs showing signs of respiratory disease. Dog owners whose dogs are coughing or exhibiting other signs of respiratory disease should not participate in activities or bring their dogs to facilities where other dogs can be exposed to the virus.

In May 2009, the USDA approved the licensure of the first influenza vaccine for dogs developed by Intervet/Schering Plough Animal Health Corporation. The canine influenza vaccine contains inactivated whole virus.

The vaccine is intended as an aid in the control of disease associated with Canine Influenza virus infection. Although the vaccine may not prevent infection altogether, trials have shown that the vaccination may significantly reduce the severity and duration of clinical illness, including the incidence and severity of damage to the lungs. In addition, the vaccine reduces the amount of virus shed and shortens the shedding interval; therefore, vaccinated dogs that become infected develop less severe illness and are less likely to spread the virus to other dogs. These benefits are similar to those provided by influenza vaccines used in other species, including humans.

The canine influenza vaccine is a non-core (not yearly) vaccine, and is not recommended for every dog. In general, the vaccine is intended for the protection of dogs at risk for exposure to the virus, which include those that either participate in activities with many other dogs or are housed in communal facilities, particularly where the virus is prevalent. Dogs that may benefit from canine influenza vaccination include those that receive the kennel cough vaccine, because the risk groups are similar. Dog owners should consult with their veterinarian to determine whether their dog's lifestyle includes risks for exposure to the virus, and if the vaccine is appropriate for their dog.

Helpful Buckeye would like to point out these additional facts about Canine Influenza:

  • Unlike human influenza, this infection is not a seasonal infection. It can occur year round.

  • Fortunately, most dogs will recover within 2 weeks without any further health complications.

  • There is no evidence for any breed or age susceptibility for developing pneumonia during this infection.

  • Dogs that mainly stay at home and walk around the neighborhood are at low risk. Dogs in shelters, boarding and training facilities, day care centers, dog shows, veterinary clinics, pet stores, and grooming facilities are at the highest risk for exposure to the virus.

  • In addition to Canine Influenza not infecting humans, there is no documentation that cats have been infected either.


For those of you searching for just the right type of cover for a piece of furniture that will protect it as well, check out this product:


1) In what may be an indication of an upcoming featured service for your pets, read this interview with a small animal massage therapist:

2) Some of you must have experienced a "Candid" camera moment with your cat or dog. See what other pet owners have witnessed:

3) There is still enough summer weather remaining to enjoy these "Summer Hot Dogs":

4) Continuing with that thought, here are "10 Signs It's The Dog Days Of Summer":

5) Since we're being a little corny this week, there's no reason to stop now! Enjoy these cat-dog hybrids that are someone's fantasy (cursor down the page to see all 13 of them):

6) If you think you know your dog breeds, here is a fun quiz for you (sponsored by the AKC):

7) Here's an interesting story about Lacey, a retired police dog, and her adoptive owners in Vermont. From the USA Today:


The LA Dodgers continued to have problems beating the St. Louis Cardinals...if we have to face these guys in the playoffs, we will be in trouble.


Desperado and Helpful Buckeye saw the movie, Julie & Julia, this week and really enjoyed it! The discussions about food were mouth-watering and the creation of Julie's blog was interesting. We highly recommend it!

In the words of Count Basie, the esteemed jazz band leader, "I'm saying: to be continued, until we meet again. Meanwhile, keep on listening and tapping your feet."
~~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, August 16, 2009


Let's get this week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats started with a warm welcome to our new readers from the Wellsphere HealthBlogger Network! If you decided to check out our blog and learn a little bit more about dogs and cats while you're here, then Helpful Buckeye hopes you'll enjoy your stay. As a reminder, you can also follow Helpful Buckeye on the pages of Wellsphere HealthBlogger Network by going to their web site at: , click on the word Community, then click on Pet Health, then type in Helpful Buckeye in the space that says "Search site for", then click on "Find." That will take you to an archival listing of all the issues of Questions On Dogs and Cats. Last week's poll produced an interesting tie in the votes. The same number of you thought that ear crops, tail docks, and devocalizations were OK as opposed to those who felt these procedures are inhumane. That surprised Helpful Buckeye. Be sure to vote in this week's poll in the column to the left.


1) This past Tuesday, the Humane Society of the United States helped rescue more than 500 dogs from a Kaufman, Texas puppy mill where they were suspected of being mistreated. Read more about this rescue operation from the viewpoint of the Senior Director of Emergency Services of the HSUS:

Also, part of this rescue effort was filmed and you can see some of what goes on during a rescue at:

2) Zoonotic diseases don't always seem to get the publicity they deserve, which is unfortunate...because, if everyone was a little more aware of these diseases, that are communicable between animals and humans, there might be a lower incidence of these infections. Take a minute and listen to this excellent short presentation on zoonotic diseases by Dr. Ron DeHaven, CEO of the American Veterinary Medical Association:

3) The HSUS has put together an interesting video of one of their Pit Bull Training Teams in action with a group of inner city dog owners in Chicago:

4) In a fascinating news story from Florida, we are again reminded of the uncertainties of day to day life in the animal world:

Dog Pack Attacks Gator In Florida

At times nature can be cruel, but there is also a raw beauty, and even a certain justice manifested within that cruelty. The alligator, one of the oldest and ultimate predators, normally considered the "apex predator", can still fall victim to implemented “team work” strategy, made possible due to the tight knit social structure and "survival of the pack mentality" bred into these dogs (See the remarkable photograph below, taken in Florida). Note that the Alpha dog has a muzzle hold on the gator preventing it from breathing, while another dog has a hold on the tail to keep it from thrashing. The third dog attacks the soft underbelly of the gator. WARNING!! Not for the squeamish.


This week brings the third, and final, part of Helpful Buckeye's discussion of SPAYING AND NEUTERING. There has been a lot of feedback on the first 2 parts of this series, so join in with us as we finish up this important topic.

Medical Benefits From Spaying Your Dog

There are several significant medical benefits to be gained from spaying your dog:

  • Mammary (breast) Cancer—Females spayed prior to their first heat cycle have a significantly reduced risk of developing mammary cancer, a common cancer in older, unspayed female dogs. The chances of developing this cancer increase if a female isn’t spayed until after her second heat cycle, but they still remain lower than the risk for unspayed females. So, if your dog has already gone through a first or second heat cycle, it’s not too late for the surgery. Having her spayed will still somewhat reduce her risk of mammary cancer.

  • Pyometra—Bacteria can infect a female dog’s uterus, causing a potentially fatal infection, called pyometra. Pyometra usually occurs in older females (7-8 years of age) and approximately 25% of all unspayed females will suffer from pyometra before the age of 10. If your unspayed older female shows signs of lethargy, depression, loss of appetite, excessive water drinking, vaginal discharge, excessive urination, pale gums, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, or abdominal distension, she should be examined right away by your veterinarian. These can all be signs associated with pyometra and aggressive treatment is usually required if they are to survive.

  • Ovarian and uterine tumors—These tumors are more uncommon in dogs than is pyometra, although certain breeds may be predisposed to them. Having your dog spayed completely eliminates the possibility of her developing either one.

  • Injury, stress, and disease related to having puppies—carrying and giving birth to puppies can be both physically dangerous and stressful for a dog.

Common Myths Associated With Spaying

  • Don’t spay your dog until after her first heat cycle—There’s no behavioral or medical benefit to waiting to spay your dog until after her fist heat cycle. In fact, each heat cycle your dog experiences increases her risk of developing the above-mentioned serious medical conditions.

  • Letting a dog have one litter will calm her down—There’s nothing magical about giving birth that leads to a calmer, better-behaved dog. The two things that do lead to a better-behaved dog are proper obedience training and regular, structured exercise.

  • Spaying is a quick fix for all behavior problems—Some people think that spaying a dog will get rid of all her behavior problems. Although spaying often reduces undesirable behaviors caused by the heat cycle, there’s no guarantee that your dog’s behavior will change after she’s spayed. The effects of spaying are largely dependent on your dog’s individual personality, physiology, and history. Even if spaying does remedy behavior problems that are influenced by hormones, it’s not a quick fix that will instantly transform your dog into an angelic companion. If you want her to learn polite and proper manners, you’ll still need to teach her basic obedience skills.

Potential Detriments From Spaying

Although spaying is very beneficial in many ways, there are a few potential effects and results to be aware of:

  • A small number of studies report that some unspayed female dogs that are aggressive to family members may become more aggressive after they’ve been spayed. This possibly could be caused by a decrease in estrogen and oxytocin, both of which may have calming, anti-anxiety effects.

  • Spayed females have a slightly increased risk of developing urinary tract infections.

  • From 5-20% of spayed females experience urinary incontinence, which means they have poor urinary sphincter control and are less able to hold their urine. The risk is higher for overweight dogs and dogs of certain breeds. Fortunately, this kind of urinary incontinence is almost always responsive to certain medications.

  • Dogs who are spayed before they reach their adult size may grow slightly taller than they would have had they not been spayed. The emphasis here is on the word slightly!

  • There is a very slight risk for spayed dogs to develop transitional carcinoma of the urinary bladder, osteosarcoma, and hemangiosarcoma, particularly those breeds that are already predisposed to these types of cancers.

  • Spayed dogs may be at increased risk of developing hypothyroidism.

It’s important to realize that these potential drawbacks of spaying are minimal relative to the benefits. However, you should still discuss both the benefits and detriments with your veterinarian so that you can make the best decision for the health and well-being of your pet.

Are There Risks Associated With The Surgery?

Like any surgical procedure, spaying or neutering is associated with some anesthetic and surgical risk. However, the overall incidence of complications is very low, especially in younger pets. Pets can be spayed or neutered as older adults, but there is a slightly higher risk of post-operative complications, especially in pets that are overweight or those experiencing other health problems. Your veterinarian will advise you on both the benefits and risks of the surgical procedure.

What Are The Alternatives To Spaying And Neutering?

The oldest and in some respects the easiest way to prevent mating is to keep your pet confined during its fertile periods. Once they reach sexual maturity, male pets can mate any time they are not confined. Since pets are capable of mating so easily, confinement is usually not very convenient for the owner. It also does not eliminate such afore-mentioned problems as blood-spotting, urine-spraying, or susceptibility to uterine infections or mammary cancers.

Will Spaying and Neutering Stop the “Pet Population Explosion”?

Spaying and neutering pets should help reduce the problem of surplus cats and dogs, but surgery alone is not enough. Unowned animals are a major part of the problem. In addition to creating a public nuisance and possible health hazard, stray dogs and cats give birth to unwanted litters at an alarming rate.

Many communities have tremendously reduced or nearly eliminated their unwanted animal populations simply by enforcing existing animal control regulations. Others have come to grips with the problem by passing more stringent laws and enforcing them rigidly.

As a concerned citizen, you should do everything you can to see that leash laws and other animal control regulations in your community are up to date and adequately enforced. And, finally, as a responsible pet owner, you should make sure your pet does NOT contribute to the problem.

That does it for the discussion on SPAYING AND NEUTERING. Any of our readers who are in the position of considering one of these procedures for their pet should now have plenty of information upon which to base a well-informed decision. Helpful Buckeye again thanks Martine, from California, for suggesting this topic.


The web site,, periodically has some very informative and instructive videos for pet owners. This week, they have this offering on how to give your dog a pill:

Many of you may already feel comfortable giving medicine to your dog, but these suggestions should help make it easier for you.


For those of you who cannot always take your pooch outside when it's times for a potty break, these products might be an improvement on your current system. Check out the web site for more information:


1) All dog owners feel that their dog is the smartest pooch in the neighborhood, right? Well, now a study has been released that helps determine which dogs are actually smarter. According to this study, "the top five smartest dogs, in order of their scores, were border collies, poodles, German shepherds, golden retrievers and doberman pinschers. The five breeds that aren't the sharpest spikes on the collar? Borzois, chow chows, bulldogs, basenjis and, in dead last, Afghan hounds (ouch!)." How many of you have a dog that "knows" 165 words, signals, and gestures? Read more about the results of this study at:

2) Nora, the piano-playing cat has captured many hearts since being publicized this past week in the USA Today. Here's Nora playing the piano: and here is the article from the USA Today:

3) Who are you calling shorty? Dogs like dachshunds, basset hounds and corgis are famous for their stumpy little legs. Now researchers at the National Human Genome Research Institute in Maryland have figured out where the low-slung dogs get their stubby stems from, reports National Geographic News. The researchers discovered that 19 short-legged dog breeds all share a single genetic mutation, which suggests that most short-legged dogs descended from a single stunted ancestor. It's possible that the gene could have arisen as many as 30,000 years ago, long before humans started breeding dogs for physical traits. For the rest of this story, go to:
From The New Yorker:

4) The world's tallest dog died this past week in California. Before reading the story, what breed do you suspect he was? Gibson, a 7-year old harlequin Great Dane, died after a battle with bone cancer. He was 7 feet, 1 inch when standing up on his hind legs. That's a lot of dog! Read about Gibson at:

5) How many of you would pay over $6000 for a hypoallergenic kitten? Well, a New Jersey man did just that and then was told by the breeding company that they were "short of kittens." Say what? Read the rest of the story at:

6) Several years ago, a dog in Quinlan, Texas became famous due to the nature of his relationship with his owner. Skidboot was so well trained that he seemed like he knew exactly what his owner wanted all the time. He made many appearances on TV and around the country showing off his routines. For those of you who may not have seen Skidboot, enjoy this video that was sent in by Ken, in Flagstaff: Pretty impressive how they worked so well together, right? Unfortunately, Skidboot died 2 years ago...the end of a well trained dog.

7) What would you get if you cobbled together people's favorite qualities of their pets into one animal? According to an insurance company in England, it would look like this:

To find out what animal makes up the various parts, go to:


The Los Angeles Dodgers had a good visit to San Francisco where they took 2 of 3 from the hated Giants. Then, they came into Phoenix and stumbled against the D'Backs, losing 2 of 3. Our lead over the Giants and the Rockies has been slowly diminishing. We need to get back on a winning streak!

The Steelers took care of the AZ Cardinals...again!


Most of you are familiar with the flying of certain flags to indicate the presence of a hurricane. After yesterday, Helpful Buckeye will be showing the bicycle with the square wheels any time the wind speed in Flagstaff is over 30 MPH. That's what it was yesterday, with gusts up to 45 MPH and Helpful Buckeye felt like the whole 35 miles were ridden on square wheels!

For all those of you who have been regular readers of Questions On Dogs and Cats, this cartoon from The New Yorker is for you: Helpful Buckeye would be remiss to not mention that this weekend is the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock Music & Art Fair in Bethel, New York. As we hit the trail until next week, enjoy Matthews Southern Comfort, with the video of their big hit, Woodstock:

~~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, August 9, 2009


Helpful Buckeye received a lot of e-mails this past week about the discussion of Spaying and Neutering, our current topic in Questions On Dogs and Cats. Apparently, even though this is a fairly familiar topic for most pet owners, many of our readers feel that they don't understand all the reasons for these surgical procedures being so popular. Most of the e-mails posed questions that will be answered either this week or in next week's concluding section. Other messages were of the "Gee, I didn't know that!" variety...and that's great, because one of Helpful Buckeye's stated goals for this blog is to make this an educational experience for all who are interested.

Another matter of some importance has arisen this past week for Helpful Buckeye and Questions On Dogs and Cats. Helpful Buckeye received notification from Dr. Geoff Rutledge, Chief Medical Information Officer of Wellsphere HealthBlogger Network, that Questions On Dogs and Cats was not only invited to be a part of their network, but also that Helpful Buckeye has been awarded their Top HealthBlogger status. The Top HealthBlogger Award from Wellsphere comes with a "badge" which is displayed in the column to the left. Dr. Rutledge wrote: "We are delighted that you have decided to join our exclusive HealthBlogger Network because we value your writing and think it will make a positive impact on the lives of our members and visitors. We're looking forward to promoting your blog and helping you get the recognition you deserve." The Wellsphere HealthBlogger Network draws over 4 million visitors per month and is still growing fast. The network started out as a web site for human health concerns, but has added numerous "communities" of interest to their readers, including a Pet Health Community. You can access their web site at:, then click on Communities, click on Pet Health, click HelpfulBuckeye under the word People, and you will arrive at my Profile page. On this page you will find a complete listing of all my blog issues and any communications ongoing from the network's readers. Helpful Buckeye's full Bio is available at: Wellsphere has also given me an additional "badge" as a Featured Patient Expert on Wellsphere.

There are still a few odds and ends of logistics to be straightened out for locating your desired topics on the Wellsphere pages, so bear with them for a few days. If you have a few free minutes this week, spend them looking over the features of the Wellsphere HealthBlogger may find some things of interest beyond pet health!

Questions On Dogs and Cats will still be a weekly blog with our original goals and format still intact. The only difference is that our blog will now be part of a much larger readership. If that changes anything, it should only be for the better! Thanks to our regular readers for staying with us for the past 16 months!

Last week's poll question showed that most of you feel the dog would still be able to deliver a painful bite, even after having its teeth shortened. Helpful Buckeye agrees with that 100%. Be sure to respond to this week's poll question in the column to the left.


1) The Humane Society of the United States Veterinary Medical Association congratulates Banfield, The Pet Hospital, for making a corporate decision to stop performing ear cropping, tail docking and devocalization procedures at its 745 hospitals throughout the United States. HSUS says that, "Banfield's decision reflects a growing trend in the veterinary profession to take a stand against medical procedures which are performed on companion animals solely for the cosmetic preferences or convenience of the caregiver and which provide no medical benefit to the animal." For the rest of the press release, go to:

2) The American Veterinary Medical Association has released the results of a study showing that Service and Therapy dogs can run a risk of being contaminated with MRSA as well as other pathogens as a result of their contact with patients in health care settings. The study states: "These results suggest that therapy dogs may become infected with pathogens during their visits to health-care facilities and reinforces the importance of good hand hygiene before and after handling therapy animals." To read more about this concern, go to:

3) A health advisory committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends four post-exposure rabies vaccine doses, rather than five, for people without previous rabies vaccinations. For anyone requiring this type of post-exposure treatment, this news from the CDC will be very welcome, reducing the number of injections by 20%. For the rest of the details, go to:

4) Australia will no longer offer importers the option of irradiating imported cat food to reduce microbial hazards following reports of a possible link between irradiated food and neurologic damage in cats. Dr. Georgina Child of the University of Sydney reported finding an association between Orijen cat food from Canada and neurologic damage in Australian cats, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Orijen's manufacturer, Champion Petfoods, recalled the cat food in Australia. Champion, which exports Orijen to dozens of countries, indicated that Australia is the only one that requires importers of Orijen to irradiate the food because Champion does not wish to subject the food to heat treatment. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved irradiation for several types of food, including pet food, but the process is not in widespread use in this country. This update is from the files of the AVMA and might bear watching in the future.


Helpful Buckeye presents the second part of our popular topic--SPAYING AND NEUTERING.

Benefits to Society of Spaying and Neutering

Both of these surgical procedures will prevent unwanted litters and also eliminate many of the behavioral problems associated with the mating instinct. Your community will benefit from this since unwanted animals are becoming a very real concern in many places. Stray animals can easily become a public nuisance, soiling parks and streets, ruining shrubbery, frightening children and elderly people, creating noise and other disturbances, causing automobile accidents, and sometimes even killing livestock or other pets.

Benefits of Spaying My Female Pet

Female dogs experience a “heat cycle” approximately every 6 months, depending on the breed of dog—larger breeds may be a little longer than 6 months. A female dog’s heat cycle usually lasts about 21 days, during which your dog may leave blood stains in the house and may become anxious, short-tempered, and actively seek a mate. A female dog in heat may be more likely to fight with other female dogs, including other female dogs in the same household.

Female cats can come into heat every 2 weeks during breeding season until they are mated and become pregnant. During this time they may engage in unwanted behaviors such as frequent yowling and urination in unacceptable places.

Spaying eliminates heat cycles and generally reduces the unwanted behaviors that may lead to owner frustration and, ultimately, a decision to relinquish the pet to a shelter. Most importantly, early spaying of female dogs and cats can help protect them from some serious health problems later in life.

Benefits of Neutering My Male Pet

Once they are sexually mature (on average, 6 to 9 months of age), male dogs and cats are capable of mating. Both male dogs and cats are likely to begin “marking” their territories by spraying strong-smelling urine on your furniture, curtains, and in other places in your house. Also, given the slightest chance, intact (not neutered) males may attempt to escape from home and roam in search of a female in heat. Male dogs and cats seeking a female in heat can become aggressive and may injure themselves, other animals, or people by engaging in fights. Roaming animals are also more likely to be hit by cars.

Neutering male dogs and cats reduces the mating instinct and can have a calming effect, making them less inclined to roam, less aggressive, and more content to stay at home. Staying closer to home decreases their chances of being injured in fights or automobile accidents. Neutering your male pet can also lessen its risk of developing prostate disease (in the dog) and testicular cancer.

Advantages For You of Spaying and Neutering

For the owner, the surgery results in much added convenience. It eliminates the blood stains on the carpets, floors, furniture, and bedding (both yours and the pet’s). Usually, tomcats will stop spraying their strong-smelling urine on your furniture and drapes. You’ll no longer have annoying or menacing suitors to contend with, either within your house or from the neighborhood. There will be no need to confine your female pet during a heat cycle. No more will you have to be confronted with unwanted litters to take care of or find new homes for. Your pet will be much more likely to stay home and devote more attention to you and your family.

Remember, raising a litter of puppies or kittens, wanted or unwanted, means added expenses. A nursing mother needs extra food and care and, once weaned, the offspring must be fed as well. New puppies and kittens need vaccinations and they may need to be treated for parasites. Even if your unspayed pet never has a litter, she could develop certain “female” disorders that would require more involved surgeries later in her life.

Will Spaying or Neutering Affect My Pet’s Disposition or Metabolism?

The surgical procedures have no effect on a pet’s intelligence or ability to learn, play, work, or hunt. Most pets tend to be better behaved, more gentle, and more affectionate following the surgery, making them more desirable companions. They usually become less interested in other animals and more willing to spend time with your family.

Removing the ovaries or testicles can affect your pet’s metabolism. As a result, some spayed and neutered pets seem to put on weight more easily if they are permitted to overeat and get less exercise. The diet of every dog and cat should be carefully regulated to prevent excess weight, and this is particularly true following a spaying or neutering procedure. If you have any concerns about this aspect for your pet, your veterinarian can advise you as to the best diet and exercise plan for each stage of your pet’s life.

More Behavioral Benefits From Spaying Your Dog

Female dogs usually become sexually mature between 6 and 12 months of age. During this time, they experience a surge of the hormone estrogen and begin their reproductive cycle, which leads to their heat cycles. Only when a female dog is in heat will she be receptive to mating with a male dog.

Having your dog spayed won’t affect her working abilities, friendliness, playfulness, or personality. However, spaying can affect many of the behaviors associated with the recurring heat cycles. You may see a reduction in these behaviors after your dog is spayed:

  • Roaming—While in heat, female dogs often try to leave home in search of males, which puts them at risk of getting lost and being injured or killed on roadways. If you don’t have your dog spayed, you’ll need to confine her indoors or in an escape-proof yard when she’s in heat. Confined in a yard surrounded by most types of fencing is not necessarily a guarantee against a chance mating—a persistent male dog can easily mate a female in heat right through most fences.

  • Frequent urinations—Females in heat urinate often in order to attract male dogs with the scent of their urine. Not only will this cause a line-up of neighborhood male dogs at your door, but it can also lead to urine on your carpets and furniture.

  • Irritability—Each heat cycle causes significant hormonal changes in a female dog. Some of them become irritable or nervous and may even feel some pain due to ovulation.

  • Aggression—Unspayed female dogs sometimes compete for the attention of a male dog by fighting. Female dogs will sometimes behave aggressively if people or other pets attempt to approach or touch their puppies. Some dogs that don’t get pregnant during a heat cycle can experience a “false” pregnancy and often will “adopt” objects and treat them like a litter of puppies. These females may guard the adopted objects as if they were real puppies.

To prevent the development of the behaviors listed above, it’s best to spay your dog BEFORE she reaches sexual maturity (usually 6 months of age). If your dog has practiced these habits for a few years, they might persist even after spaying her. However, if you have an older dog, it’s still worth considering having her spayed. Even if you can’t completely get rid of her problematic behaviors, you might see them less often if she’s spayed—and spaying will still be beneficial to her physical health. Your veterinarian can help you decide if your older dog is still a good candidate for the surgery.

This concludes the second part of our discussion on SPAYING AND NEUTERING. In next week's issue, Helpful Buckeye will finish this discussion with coverage of the medical benefits of the procedures, common myths associated with spaying, and the potential detriments associated with spaying.

Any comments or questions, please send an e-mail to: or click on the word, Comment, at the end of this issue and leave your comment.


A while back, we showed you some of the new ideas in dog beds. Now, the cats are drawing some attention for their range of choices:

Check out all 10 of these new cat bed designs at: Click on the arrows to look at all 10, ranging in price from $82-$650...ouch!


1) A story with a nice ending took place at the Humane Society of the Black Hills, in Rapid City, SD recently: "Weak and almost lifeless with deep wounds to her face and right eye, De De -- a 7-year-old dachshund -- had been wrapped in a blanket and heartlessly tossed in a dumpster. Fortunately, the garbage truck driver on that particular route regularly checks the trash bins for fear of finding a human body or pet. On this day, his fears were realized, and after unwrapping the frail dog, he rushed her to the local animal shelter. There, all hearts and hands reached out to De De, who still craved human interaction despite her battered condition. Although it is not known whether her injuries were caused by another animal or by human abuse, a grant from the Second Chance Fund paid for the cleaning of her wounds, the removal of her ulcerated eye and the extraction of 22 teeth. Happily, De De has been adopted by the veterinary technician who fostered her during her recovery -- and who is also the “forever” mom to yet another lovable one-eyed dachshund." Here is De De now: 2) A few weeks ago, Helpful Buckeye referred to a story in Phoenix of a dog owner being fined for her dog making too much noise. Now, other cities around Phoenix are taking on this problem in various ways. From the Arizona Republic: "Ordinances that regulate dog-bark complaints vary widely. Some cities tend to favor the upset neighbor, while others place a heavier burden of proof on the resident registering a complaint." Read the article and look over the list of cities on the right for all the different approaches to the problem of barking dogs in the city:

How many of you are experiencing a troublesome,barking dog in your neighborhood?

3) Not to be outdone by De De's very fortunate rescue and rehabilitation, another dog, named Skylar, was rescued by the ASPCA from a bad situation in Wisconsin. Skylar's hair was so matted, she couldn't walk. Afer her rescue, her story bears a striking resemblance to De De's: ...and here is Skylar:4) A recent study from Northern Ireland may provide some early clues to determining whether your cat is "right-pawed" or left-pawed." Read the details of the study and draw your own conclusions:

Even though the study didn't include very many cats, the high percentage of correlation is still impressive.

5) Now that the recession may be showing signs of easing a bit, some of you might be interested in picking up one or two of these items for your pets:

Wow, it's another world for some people, isn't it?

6) Apparently, Paris Hilton decided she was going to go well beyond the list in #5. Here's a sneak peek at her $325,000 dog house:

It's nice to have a little discretionary loose change laying around....

7) Now, for the story that makes you say, "I thought I'd heard everything!" A man in Florida claims his cat was responsible for downloading more than 1000 pictures of child pornography on his computer. He says the cat jumped onto the keyboard while some music was being downloaded:

I wonder if the cat used its left or right paw for the downloads?

The LA Dodgers have apparently decided it's OK to play mediocre baseball since they had such a big lead in their division. Well, not only do they not have the most wins in baseball anymore, but also, their lead over Colorado and San Francisco has dwindled.
It's a good thing the NFL training camps have opened because Helpful Buckeye can spend some time reading about the Steelers, while the Dodgers are stumbling along.


Helpful Buckeye lost a good friend this week...a molar from my lower jaw. Yes, and this was one of the molars I used for a fair amount of my chewing. A routine visit to my dentist revealed that this tooth might be dead. The same day, I then spent time in the chair of an endodontist, trying to learn more about its status and possibly save the tooth, and ended up in the chair of an oral surgeon in order to have it removed...and it was dead. Such are the curveballs of life that we face from time to time.

Yesterday (Saturday) was one of those really special days, better than the best, with a temperature of 70 degrees, humidity of 8%, a slight breeze out of the SW, and a classic, blue, sunny sky. I took a peaceful, long bike ride as my reward for holding off on any physical exercise (as per the oral surgeon's advice) for a few days. My conclusion at the end of the bike ride was is good!

Some of you might be wondering, "How does Helpful Buckeye loosen up before one of his long bike rides?" Well, I've got the answer for you, right here on video:

My flower garden seems to be approaching the height of its production for the summer. It has done better than in past summers, probably because I've been home more this summer to take care of it. As Luther Burbank, American horticulturist, described flowers: "Flowers always make people better, happier and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine to the soul."~~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, August 2, 2009


Wow, is it possible that football season is back already? Well, sports fans, the NFL training camps all opened over the, those of you who aren't baseball fans now have something to pick you up. As our regular readers here at Questions On Dogs and Cats know by now, Helpful Buckeye is a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan. It has been nice basking in the glow of the Super Bowl victory, but, as they say, it's a brand new season. As our readers also know, Helpful Buckeye lives in Flagstaff, AZ, where the Arizona Cardinals hold their training camp, on the campus of Northern Arizona University. Since the Cardinals played the Steelers in this last Super Bowl, and almost won the game, there has been a lot of interest in their practices. In past years, the crowds have numbered in the low hundreds, while this year, they've been in the 3000-4000 range. Helpful Buckeye has already been to two of the practices and the Cardinals do look like they might be for real. It's hard for me not to like them...their best player, Larry Fitzgerald, went to my undergraduate school (Pitt) and their #1 draft choice this year, Beanie Wells, went to Ohio State. Add to that the fact that most of their coaching staff has roots in the Steelers' system and you can see why they've become my second favorite team. There are a surprising number of Steeler fans out here in Arizona...I see their logos, license plates, shirts, and hats almost every day. The picture to the left is from the back yard of a house in my neighborhood, only 3 miles from the Cardinals training fields. I ran this next photo last year, but it still represents the spirit of NFL fanaticism.

Not very many readers voted in the polls this past week. The poll on Internet pharmacies revealed that most of you have not used one. The poll on Michael Vick and his dog-fighting conviction showed that most of you probably don't care whether or not he plays again in the NFL. Be sure to vote in this week's poll question in the left column...the more votes received, the better the results reflect our readers' feelings.


Helpful Buckeye did receive quite a few e-mails this week about the American Humane Association's response to the Michael Vick situation. Most of you felt their President, Marie Belew Wheatley, gave a well-thought out response about their willingness to give Michael Vick a second chance. However, there were a few of you who wrote that he deserved NO second chance because the dogs never had a second chance. Now, the American Kennel Club has entered the discussion as well. Their Chairman, Ronald Menaker, and their President, Dennis Sprung, co-wrote a letter to the Commissioner of the NFL, asking him to NOT reinstate Michael Vick's playing privileges. You can read the text of their short letter at:

Then, the Humane Society of the United States weighed in with this response by their President and CEO, Wayne Pacelle: As you can see for yourself, opinions on this situation are all over the map. Helpful Buckeye feels that Mr. Pacelle's approach is probably the best scenario for all concerned. The dogs that died are not coming back to life and, if anything positive at all can come from this, the HSUS approach provides the best hope. On the video of Mr. Pacelle, continue watching and you will get to see the HSUS Anti-Dogfighting Training Camp program as it demonstrates some of its activities.


This week's topic of SPAYING AND NEUTERING does not initially conjure up the idea of a disease, ailment, or medical condition. However, there are some medical considerations that come into the picture once in awhile after these procedures have been done. Several weeks ago, one of our new readers, Martine, from CA, sent an e-mail asking that we discuss spaying and neutering and any medical issues that might be associated with those procedures. So, Martine, this is for you and "Sugar."

For this week, Helpful Buckeye will discuss the actual surgical procedures, along with a list of "Frequently Asked Questions" provided by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Next week, the discussion will cover the medical aspects of the benefits of this surgery as well as the potential negative effects.

From the AVMA:

Is there a pet population problem?

Yes, every year, millions of unwanted dogs and cats, including puppies and kittens, are needlessly euthanized. The good news is that every pet owner can make a difference. By having your dog or cat surgically sterilized, you will do your part to prevent the birth of unwanted puppies and kittens and enhance your pet's health and quality of life.

What is surgical sterilization?

During surgical sterilization, a veterinarian removes certain reproductive organs. If your cat or dog is a female, the veterinarian will usually remove her ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus. The medical name for this surgery is an ovariohysterectomy, although it is commonly called "spaying." If your pet is a male, the testicles are removed and the operation is called an orchiectomy, commonly referred to as castration or simply "neutering."

While both spaying and neutering are considered major surgical procedures, they are also the most common surgeries performed by veterinarians on dogs and cats. Before the procedure, your pet is given a thorough physical examination to ensure that it is in good health. General anesthesia is administered during the surgery and medications can be given to minimize pain. You will be instructed to keep your pet calm and confined for several days after surgery until the incision begins to heal. After the surgery, there may be some discomfort, but this is a part of the normal healing process and can usually be controlled with various medications.

What is the best age to spay or neuter my pet?

Generally speaking, as early as possible. Most veterinarians recommend that a female be spayed BEFORE her first estrus or "heat" cycle, which usually occurs around 6 months of age (although this can be a little earlier in small breeds and a little later in the larger breeds). A male dog or a tomcat can be neutered at 6 months to a year of age. Consult with your veterinarian about the most appropriate time to spay or neuter your pet based on its breed, age, and physical condition. The best time to have this conversation would be during the 2-3 month age period while getting the puppy or kitten vaccinations. Some veterinarians are spaying and neutering pets as early as 4 months of age without any problems.

Is the operation expensive?

Professional fees for spaying and neutering reflect the difficulty of the procedures involved. The actual fee may vary from one area to another, depending largely on the economics of maintaining a veterinary hospital in a particular community. The size, age, sex, and health of your pet may also affect the cost of the surgery.

If the fee seems high, remember that surgical spaying or neutering is permanent. It's a life-time investment in your pet that can solve a number of problems for you, your pet, and a society already burdened with too many dogs and cats. In fact, it could save you money in the long run. The cost of boarding your female pet during just one or two "heat" cycles, for example, probably would pay for an ovariohysterectomy. This surgery can dramatically improve your pet's quality of life and prevent some behavior frustrations for you.

If you are still uncertain whether or not to proceed with the surgery, consider the expense to society of collecting and caring for all the unwanted, abused, or abandoned animals being house in shelters. Having your pet spayed or neutered is a part of responsible pet ownership.

Next week, we'll discuss the medical and behavioral benefits that can be gained from spaying or neutering your pets. We'll also address some of the common myths associated with spaying and neutering, in addition to discussing some of the potential detriments to the procedure.

Any comments, please send an e-mail to: or click on the word, Comment, at the end of this issue and leave your comment.


This past week, a press release got a lot of people's attention. This release detailed the account of a veterinary dentist using a laser to shorten the sharp teeth of a dog that had become a habitual biter. Take a few minutes to read this account and then think about where you would stand on this question. You'll be able to express your opinion in the poll question of the week in the left column. Go to:


If this product is not available on the market, it should be! You can get almost anything else for your dog...why not something in their favorite scent?


1) According to the folks at, they asked 1110 pet-owning Americans whether they are pet friendly or pet frenzied. These pet owners responded that they have done these things with their pets:

  • Taken them along on vacation--42%

  • Included them in a family portrait--35%

  • Included them in a holiday card--33%

  • Taken them to work--17%

  • Taken them places they're not allowed--16%

You can draw your own conclusions from these numbers, but Helpful Buckeye thinks pets are pretty well involved in our family's lives.

2) Speaking of being pet friendly, here's an article that asks the question, "Can a pet friendly hotel actually save you money?" Before you quickly answer, "No way," go to:

3) There were 2 interesting stories this week about dogs surviving falls of great height. The first one involved a Golden Retriever that ran off a 40-ft. cliff on the Isle of Wight (English Channel) and landed on the rocks below. His injuries and subsequent recovery make for a nice ending:

4) The second story involving a dog falling a great distance originated with a New York City man feloniously throwing his dog off the roof of a 6-story apartment building. Like the dog in England, this one also suffered fractures to its front legs and is expected to do OK. For the rest of this story, go to:

How many of you would like to be on the jury for this case?

5) Helpful Buckeye has previously discussed some of the problems associated with feral cats: and

Now, the subject of how to deal with thousands of feral cats has encompassed the Phoenix metropolitan area and this article from the Arizona Republic presents the considerations at hand:

6) Also in Phoenix, a city parks employee has come up with an idea that is saving the city a lot of money:

7) Questions On Dogs and Cats has covered the "Ugliest Dog" contest in California the last 2 years, but now, an "ugliest" dog has made the news in England. "E.T." has been in a dog rescue pound for months because he can't seem to attract an adopter. Read the story and decide if you'd like to adopt him:

8) England seems to be pretty well represented in this week's stories, and this one is no exception. Casper, the cat, has been taking a free 11-mile bus ride every day for the last 4 years, unbeknownst to his owner. Read the details of Casper's escapades at:


The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Atlanta Braves tonight to end their road trip at 3-4. Helpful Buckeye told you last Sunday that we would have a problem with St. Louis...and we did. Back home to Chavez Ravine Monday evening and some home cookin'....


Holly, Helpful Buckeye really appreciates the way you always seem to hit the ground running on Monday morning. Your comment is almost always the first one in line and your feedback has been invaluable! Thanks....for you, from Voltaire, French philosopher and writer, who said, "Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well."

Life is good...the fire-roasted Hatch chilis are back at the Farmers Market! I can smell them right now....

~~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.~~