Sunday, October 4, 2009


We all remember Presidential candidate Bill Clinton answering a question about people suffering from AIDS by saying, in early 1992, "I feel your pain." Empathetic humans frequently exhibit this trait as they relate to others who are suffering a distressing sensation in a part of their body, typically from an injury or illness. Since we usually understand what other humans are describing when they verbalize how they are feeling, the concept of PAIN is easier to comprehend in a human than it is in a cowering dog or a cat that insists on hiding. To be able to help our pets recover from painful experiences, injuries, or illnesses, we must first be able to recognize and understand the signs of pain that they might exhibit. Later on, in this issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats, Helpful Buckeye will discuss our feature topic of "Feeling Your Pets' Pain"...a must for every pet owner!Desperado and Helpful Buckeye just returned from a short trip that included a stop at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Signs of Fall were very much in evidence there, mainly due to the 8000 ft. elevation. The aspens were at their height of golden yellow and the overnight temperature dropped to 20 degrees. The cold temperatures seemed exaggerated by the fact that we had just been in Las Vegas and St. George, Utah 2-3 days earlier where the daytime temperature was 106 degrees!

The North Rim is different in many ways from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon--it's less commercialized and thus has fewer visitors, it is 1000 ft. higher in elevation, it is much more rustic in its architecture, and it has its own bison herd!

A final word on the transition from Summer into Fall comes from Faith Baldwin (1893-1978), American writer: "Autumn burned brightly, a running flame through the mountains, a torch flung to the trees."

For last week's poll question about any experience you might have had with an ear hematoma, we had 21 responses, either by actual voting or by e-mail. Ten readers had never had this happen to one of their pets, eight had it with their dog, 2 with their cat, and one unlucky person with both a dog and cat. Be sure to answer this week's poll question in the column to the left.


The American Kennel Club has announced plans to include mixed-breed dogs in certain events being held by individual clubs around the USA. For a description of the benefits for the owners of mixed-breed dogs, the events being offered, and frequently-asked-questions, got to:

These events will start taking place in the Spring of 2010.


Feeling Your Pets' Pain

As different as humans can be at expressing their own levels or types of pain, a pet owner must realize that their dog or cat brings a whole new dynamic into the equation of you understanding what they are feeling and why. To be able to help your pet through a painful injury or disease, you must first be able to "feel your pets' pain"....

The International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM) has presented a very complete outline that should help all of our readers understand what to look for when trying to decide if your dog or cat is in pain, and to what degree. Helpful Buckeye has made a few modifications to make this a little easier to follow.

What Are The Signs Of Pain In Dogs And Cats?

The behavior and interactions of dogs and cats can be unique to the type of pain they are experiencing. Their reaction to pain is dependent upon their personality and the degree of pain they are experiencing. The characteristics listed below do not include everything that you may see, but the list gives you a general idea of what to look for if you think a dog or cat is in pain. Some of these characteristics (marked with an asterisk *) are also things you might see when a dog or cat is anxious or nervous or in poor health, which can make things confusing. Remember that there is no substitute for being familiar with an individual dog or cat in order to recognize how it shows pain. Also, you should know that cats are extremely good at hiding their pain until it becomes almost unbearable. For entries that apply only to cats, italics will be used.


  • Hunched back

  • Guarding (protecting) the painful area

  • “Praying” position (front legs and head on floor, hindquarters in the air)

  • Sitting or laying abnormally

  • Attempting to rest in an abnormal position

  • Head hanging down *


  • Stiff

  • Bearing no or partial weight on affected limb

  • Any degree of limp

  • Thrashing and restless *

  • Trembling or shaking *

  • Weak tail wag or low carriage of tail *

  • Limited or no movement when awake *

  • Slow to rise *


  • Screaming

  • Whining

  • Crying

  • Barking or growling *

  • Lack of vocalization (no greeting bark or noise) *

  • Hissing or growling, especially if you touch a painful area

  • No noise of greeting or wanting to be fed


    • Agitated *

    • Poor or no grooming *

    • Decreased or absent appetite *

    • Dull *

    • Inappropriate urination or defecation, or not moving away from it *

    • Acts out of character (gentle dogs may bite or become aggressive) *

    • Licking wound or surgical site *

    • Hyperventilation (rapid shallow breathing)

    • Sleeping excessively

    • Aggressive or playful cats may become docile or quiet

    • Hiding or retreating to quiet areas of the house for long periods of time

    What Causes Pain In Dogs And Cats?

    Just like with people, different kinds of stimuli or injury can cause different levels of pain in dogs and cats. Below are some examples of things that may cause pain. These items are listed according to what level of pain characterizes them. This list does not include all things that cause pain, but it will give you an idea of what to look for in your dog or cat. Remember that not every animal reacts the same way, and these categories are not concrete separations of how pain is felt. We can only try to anticipate, based on clinical experience, what the pet is feeling.

    Irritating or mild pain

    • Dried blood or urine scald

    • Clipper burns or cuts

    • Intravenous (IV) catheterization

    • Full bladder, needing to urinate or defecate

    • Minor cuts or scrapes

    • Anal gland evacuation

    • Surgery or other procedures on the eyelid (eyelash removal, eyelid surgery)

    Mild to moderate pain

    • Endoscopy with biopsy

    • Dental cleaning with or without tooth extraction

    • Muscle biopsies

    • Stabilized fractures of smaller leg bones (tibia/fibula, radius/ulna)

    • Surgeries of the lower abdomen (castration, spay, urinary bladder surgery)

    Moderate to severe pain

    • Small areas of burns or ulcerations

    • Corneal ulcers

    • Eye removal

    • Surgery of the mid and lower spine, including disc surgery

    • Declawing procedures (dewclaw removal in dogs)

    • Stabilized fractures of larger leg bones (femur, humerus) or pelvis

    • Mastectomy (breast tissue removal)

    • Surgeries of the upper abdomen (diaphragmatic hernia, abdominal exploratory)

    Severe pain

    • Large areas of burns or ulcerations

    • Infections within the abdomen (peritonitis, pancreatitis)

    • Surgeries of the neck, including disc surgery

    • Procedures in the nose (endoscopy)

    • Leg amputations

    • Surgery of the chest (opening the chest cavity)

    What Are Some Treatments For Pain In Dogs And Cats?

    Treatments can vary from simple physical therapy to complicated drug combinations. Working together with your veterinarian will be important in determining the most appropriate treatment plan for your dog or cat. Remember that there are two major categories of pain that you might encounter: acute and chronic. Acute pain occurs with trauma and surgery while chronic pain is associated with things like arthritis and cancer. The types of therapy you can use will often depend on whether the dog or cat is experiencing acute or chronic pain as well as the level or degree of pain. Listed below are some of the treatments available.

    Acute pain treatments (associated with surgery or trauma)

    • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDS

    • Steroids (dexamethasone, prednisone, prednisolone)

    • Local anesthetics (lidocaine)

    • Opiates and their derivatives (morphine, Torbugesic®, fentanyl patches)--mainly for dogs

    • Acupuncture

    • Heated cage or warm blankets to prevent trembling and muscle tension

    • Plenty of comfortable bedding and quiet area for recovery

    • Splinting or other support of fractured legs

    • Urinary catheterization for animals unable to move or urinate normally

    • General nursing care including cleaning, grooming, and petting

    Chronic pain treatments (associated with arthritis, cancer, etc.)

    • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDS

    • Steroids (prednisone)

    • Opiates and their derivatives (morphine, Torbugesic®)--mainly for dogs

    • Neurectomy (removal of part or all of a nerve) or other therapeutic surgery

    • Radiation therapy (cancer)

    • Acupuncture

    • Physical therapy (massage, range-of-motion exercises)

    • Heat or cold packs

    • Limited low-impact exercise when appropriate (mostly for dogs)

    • Comfortable bedding with plenty of support

    • General nursing care including cleaning, grooming, and petting

    • Weight management for obese animals with arthritis

    To help you better decide "Is Your Pet In Pain?", take a few minutes and listen to this very informative video produced by the IVAPM and Washington State University:

    Hopefully, this review will help dog and cat owners be able to better evaluate their pets' actions in terms of "are they feeling pain or not?" If you are able to feel their pain, you will be able to make the right decision about whether or not to seek further help. In the words of Will Rogers: "Pain is such an uncomfortable feeling that even a tiny amount of it is enough to ruin every enjoyment."


    When you lose much of your strength or mobility, simple tasks like walking a dog or cleaning a cat's litter box can seem overwhelming. And if your immune system is weakened by HIV/AIDS, cancer, kidney or liver disease, old age, or pregnancy, you must take extra precautions to avoid disease-causing agents that any human or animal—including pets—can transmit. So begins a recent report from The Humane Society of the United States on Caring For Your Pet When You're Ill. The rest of the report follows:

    Yet living with an illness or immunocompromising condition doesn't mean you have to live without your beloved pet. And, in most cases, you need not give up your pet. After all, research indicates that companion animals enhance immune functioning by decreasing stress levels and increasing levels of self confidence and self esteem. Pets provide us with a source of affection, support, and acceptance; enable us to feel needed and valued; and ease the pain, sorrow, and loneliness often experienced during illness.

    That's why, for someone with a serious medical condition, the psychological and physical benefits of pet caregiving usually outweigh the risk of acquiring an illness from the pet—provided that proper precautions are followed.

    How could pets increase my risk? Although pets can do wonders for our physical and mental well being, they can get and transmit disease. To minimize the risk your pet poses to your health, you must minimize the risks to your pet's health. The key is to understand how best to care for your pet and to work with your veterinarian to keep your pet healthy.
    Certain pets are more challenging than others. For example, many exotic animals, such as reptiles, are more likely than dogs and cats to transmit certain diseases, requiring owners to take extra precautions. (The HSUS, in fact, recommends that exotic animals not be kept as pets.) Likewise, puppies and kittens may be more susceptible to disease and prone to play-oriented nipping and scratching. And new pets may come with incomplete or unknown medical histories. This does not mean that you have to give up your playful puppy or can't get a new pet. It simply means that you need to rely on a veterinarian or animal shelter adoption counselor to advise you on appropriate pet selection and care.
    No pet is guaranteed to be or remain disease-free. But your veterinarian can suggest preventive guidelines to keep a pet healthy, test your pet for parasites and other problems, and provide medical care to help a sick pet recover. And you can minimize risks for you and your pet by keeping your animal indoors, making sure he's well fed and groomed, and taking him to the veterinarian for vaccinations and annual check-ups.

    What can I do to protect myself?

    • If you have a compromised immune system, follow these precautions:

    • Wash your hands after handling a pet.

    • Wear rubber gloves when changing a litter box or cleaning up after a pet, and wash your hands afterwards.

    • Keep your pet's nails short to minimize scratches.

    • Follow your veterinarian's advice on keeping your pet free of fleas and ticks.

    • Keep your pet indoors and use a leash outdoors to prevent your pet from hunting, scavenging, fighting, and engaging in other activities that expose him to other animals and disease.

    • Feed your pet commercial pet food.

    • Keep your pet's living and feeding areas clean.

    • Keep your pet's vaccinations up to date.

    • Seek veterinary care immediately for a sick pet.

    What can I do to meet my pet's basic needs? If your condition makes everyday pet care too challenging, you'll need to find outside assistance to make sure your pet gets the food, grooming, exercise, and general care he needs. When relatives, friends, and neighbors can't help, a nonprofit pet assistance organization may be able to lend a hand. Typically, these organizations help HIV-infected pet owners by providing everything from emergency foster care and animal transportation to dog walking, pet grooming, and litter box cleaning services. If you can use this assistance, ask local veterinarians, animal shelters, physicians, health care clinics, social service agencies, veterinary schools, and libraries to refer you to resources in your community.


    The folks at Cardboard Accessories have this to say about cardboard: Cats find corrugated cardboard totally irresistible. Not only is it great for kitty to scratch and nap on, it's eco-friendly as well! Cardboard cat items are made from recycled materials, so once your feline has loved it to pieces, you can just toss it in the recycling bin one more time. Check out these incredible cardboard creations from some of the top designers of cat products. Go to their web site to view the unusual and different creations: and click on the arrows.


    1) OK, now we've heard it all! Recently, there was an article in the Arizona Republic about a dating service...for dogs. That's right, you can sign up online to go and meet a dog partner for your dog. Check out their web site:

    Maybe I'm just a little bit cynical, but it really sounds like a way for dog owners to meet other dog owners!

    2) Several weeks ago, Helpful Buckeye listed a web site at which you could vote for the best "Dog Days of Summer Video" as provided by the ASPCA. The winner has been chosen and you can watch this short video at: Our Pug owners will really like this one!

    3) Ever wonder what you could do to keep your cat off the kitchen counter? This video was filmed just to show something that is funny, but...Helpful Buckeye thinks a few exposures to this situation would keep any cat off the counter:

    4) Helpful Buckeye vowed last year to not talk much about pet costuming for Halloween, but...a lot of our readers have sent in photos of their pets in costumes. So, in the interest of "news coverage," here is a web site where you can send your photos of your pets in their best costumes:

    5) With the increasing popularity of the AKC's Westminster Dog Show, here is a very enjoyable article about the efforts of a Glen of Imaal Terrier and her owner to reach the hallowed dog show in NYC:


    The Los Angeles Dodgers finally won a game last night and clinched the divisional title. This last 10 games has not been pretty--losing 7 of 9 games to the 3 worst teams in the National League. Whether this lethargy will carry into the playoffs remains to be seen. Even more of a problem is that we're in line to play the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round, a team that has handled us easily this year.

    The Pittsburgh Steelers play the San Diego Chargers tonight and the game won't be completed by our publishing time. The Steelers have lost 2 games in a row, falling apart in the 4th quarter of each game. Is this still the afterglow of being the Super Bowl champion or are we just not very good this year?


    Saturday, 3 October, 25-35 MPH gusts and swirling, tough bike ride....

    Sunday, 4 October, 35-45 MPH gusts and rain...fortunately for Helpful Buckeye, this was my racquetball day...indoors!

    A second quote from Faith Baldwin for this week has to do with TIME, a commodity of which some of us have too much and some of us have too little: "Time is a dressmaker, specializing in alterations." And what we do with those alterations determines a lot about who we are....

    When those alterations involve a friendship, Truman Capote offers this advice: "Friendship is a pretty full-time occupation if you really are friendly with somebody."

    ~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~

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