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.~~


  1. Oh, I am sorry to hear that Skidboot has died. I loved that story. I always wonder how any person who is lucky enough to have such an extrodinary animal as part of their lives, ever finds as much joy after they're no longer with them.

    I know all of us suffer loss when our animal family must leave us, but those truly exceptional animals who bring such public attention and do great work? They must really, really leave a hole in one's heart.

  2. Love the product of the week!!!! I've seen those before, but always wonder what the clean up process is like. Probably not so fun!

    Our new pups just got spayed and neutered about 2 weeks ago. They are healing up great.

    Thanks again for another GREAT post!

    :) Martine

  3. AVDH has the most advanced on-site diagnostics, medical and surgical facility in Texas. Our equipment and high level of training enables us to quickly and affordably diagnose and treat a majority of diseases. Urinary infections in cats