Sunday, October 11, 2009


A few months ago, Helpful Buckeye discussed "How to Know if Your Cat is Sick," "Getting Your Cat to Your Veterinarian," "Cat Traveling Tips," and "Care For the Aging Cat" in one issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats, which readers can find at:

Erica, from Baton Rouge, LA, sent an e-mail to say that she understands what those topics offered, but that she would like something that provides some guidance for keeping her cat healthy so that she doesn't have to be confronted with those other feline concerns. Well, Erica, thanks for the'll get your wish later in this week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats. In addition, Helpful Buckeye is even going to use a phrase from your request as the title of this week's issue.

A while ago, Helpful Buckeye was selected as a Top HealthBlogger and Featured Expert on Wellsphere, which is a large health community on the Internet, at: . Wellsphere has many different health communities for different interests and one of those is a Pet Health Community. That's where Helpful Buckeye spends some time each day, answering many questions from pet owners and exchanging ideas about dogs and cats. Wellsphere has just this week announced a People's HealthBlogger Award they will be presenting in mid-December to what they are calling their "Top Bloggers" and they want all of their bloggers to let their readers know about this award. You can vote for Helpful Buckeye anytime up until the 15th of December on their web site by clicking the "Vote Now" box in the newly-added "People's HealthBlogger Award" emblem at the top of the left column and proceeding according to their instructions. Since most of Wellsphere's bloggers and readers are related to the human health fields, Helpful Buckeye has no delusions about competing at a high level in this voting. They are just getting started with the Pet Health Community this year. However, it would be nice to see that their readership for pet-related concerns is beginning to grow. So, as they say on Dancing With The Stars, please vote! And, if you have a few spare minutes, take the opportunity to move around the Wellsphere web site and sample some of their's all free!

Last week's poll question about dressing up your pet for Halloween aroused a lot of interest, both in the voting and by e-mail. There were 23 responses and 19 of them said they would never dress up their pets for Halloween. That's a pretty decisive number, don't you think? Don't forget to vote in this week's poll question in the column to your left.


1) Pets could be called 'wonder drugs'

COLUMBIA, Mo. (UPI) -- Pets lower hypertension, spur exercise and improve psychological health, and if this appeared in pill form it would be called a wonder drug, a U.S. researcher says. "Research in this field is providing new evidence on the positive impact pets have in our lives," Rebecca Johnson, an associate professor in the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing, the College of Veterinary Medicine and director of the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction, says in a statement. Johnson says the International Society for Anthrozoology and Human-Animal Interaction Conference in Kansas City, Mo., Oct. 20-25 will include conference discussions on ways that human-animal interaction benefits humans and animals. "Pets are of great importance to people, especially during hard economic times," Johnson says. "Pets provide unconditional love and acceptance and may be part of answers to societal problems, such as inactivity and obesity." ReCHAI sponsored the Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound and Stay Fit for Seniors program that matched older adults with shelter dogs, while another group of older adults walked with humans. For 12 weeks, participants were encouraged to walk on an outdoor trail for one hour, five times a week. "The older people who walked their dogs improved their walking capabilities by 28 percent," Johnson says. "They had more confidence walking on the trail, and they increased their speed. Those who walked with humans had a 4 percent increase in their walking capabilities."

That's quite an impressive difference between walking with your dog and your human friend!

2) A new variant of the Canine Parvovirus has shown up. The American Veterinary Medical Association has put together a Q&A about this variant that you can read at: One of the important points made in this presentation is that: Although there is no vaccine to specifically prevent Canine Parvovirus-2c infection, studies have shown that all of the currently available vaccines produced by the five major vaccine manufacturers, when administered appropriately, provide excellent immunity to all variants of the canine parvovirus.

That's good news for all dogs (and their owners)!

3) The annual Columbus Day parade in New York City this year will be featuring a tribute to dog breeds of Italian heritage, as reported by the American Kennel Club. The AKC says that, "For the first time ever the parade will include a procession of rare Italian dog breeds, recognizing Italy’s great contributions to the dog world. The one million parade spectators will enjoy a contingency of over 30 marchers and 13 furry friends including the Bergamasco, an ancient shepherding breed with a striking coat of dense, flat mats that reach the ground; as well as the Cirneco dell’Etna, an ancient dog used in Sicily for rabbit hunting; the Lagotto Romagnolo, a dog from Northwest Italy with thick curly hair and a history dating back to the 16th century and the only two native Italian gun-dog breeds, the Bracco Italiano and Spinone Italiano. There are only 3 dog breeds recognized by the AKC that hail from Italy, the Italian Greyhound, the Neapolitan Mastiff, and the Spinone Italiano.


Keeping Your Cat Healthy

You can maintain your cat's overall health in two important ways:1) schedule an annual preventive visit (including shots and an examination) with your veterinarian as well as other visits as needed; and 2) perform daily home examinations—petting and health care go hand in glove.

Do a nose-to-tail checkup every time you cuddle with your cat on the couch. Call your veterinarian if you detect any abnormalities during these regular checks. Start with the head. Are your cat's ears clean and pink? Do they give off an unpleasant odor? Have mites appeared as a black, waxy mess inside the ears? Are the eyes bright, clear, focused, and free of discharge? Are the gums pink and the teeth clean? Has tartar appeared along the gum line? Is your cat's breath inoffensive? Don't check a cat's nose to see if it's cold and damp—contrary to myth, this is not a sign of health.

Proceed to a neck-to-tail inspection. Feel your cat's body for lumps, bumps, puffiness, sores, and any irregularities. Also look for flea dirt (which resembles black pepper and turns red when wet), scratches, and parasites. Be sure to check behind the ears, between the toes, and down the entire length of the tail.

Next, treat your feline companion to a good brushing. Rubber curry brushes are excellent at removing dead skin cells and loose hair. Fine-toothed metal combs are specifically designed to lift fleas out of the coat. It's important to brush your cat daily to remove as much loose hair as possible. When cats groom themselves, they ingest a great deal of hair, which is often vomited out as hairballs. If your cat brings up hair, talk to your veterinarian to evaluate the situation and find out about hairball remedies.

Keeping your cat's claws clipped is an important part of grooming. If not kept at the proper length, a cat's claws can actually grow into the paw pads, so attend to the claws weekly. If you have never trimmed a cat's claws, have your veterinarian show you how. Briefly, you should snip off just the sharp tip (about an eighth of an inch) of each claw. Do not clip into the pink section of the nail, where a blood vessel and nerve endings reside.

All cat owners should have at least one book on cat care (recommended by a veterinarian) that includes a section on emergency first aid. Home care alone is not appropriate in most cases of serious illness or injury; there are also some emergency procedures that could keep your pet relatively comfortable on the way to the veterinarian. Familiarize yourself with emergency procedures before an emergency happens.

Never give your cat any medications, including aspirin, without the advice of your veterinarian. Many common human drugs (like acetaminophen [Tylenol]) are poisonous to cats.

Detecting Illness in Your Cat

Cats can't tell us where or when it hurts. In fact, many animals will try to mask pain or illness. That's why it is extremely important that you get to know your cat's regular habits and behaviors. Any deviation from his or her normal behavior could indicate a problem with his or her health. Some symptoms and behaviors are obvious: diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, sneezing, runny nose or eyes, and trouble using the litter box. There are other, more subtle, physical and behavioral signs that might indicate a trip to the vet is in order. Take note if your cat does any of the following:

  • Misses more than one meal

  • Shows a sudden change in eating habits

  • Stops using the litter box

  • Develops puffiness or a lump under the skin

  • Hides for more than a day

  • Becomes suddenly short-tempered or intolerant of attention

  • Shakes his head frequently

  • Changes his routine or loses interest in his favorite games

  • Stops grooming

7 Cat Emergency Signs From

Arnold Plotnick, DVM

Although some emergencies can be managed at home, others require immediate veterinary attention:

  • Non-responsiveness: A non-responsive kitten is usually in serious trouble. If you get no response or reaction when you call, stroke or touch your kitten, immediately check its breathing. Airway obstruction, cardiac arrest and poisonings are a few things that can cause non-responsiveness.

  • Labored breathing: Respiratory problems require immediate attention. Fluid in the lungs or the chest cavity can obstruct breathing and kittens can go into respiratory arrest, followed by cardiac arrest, if untreated.

  • Drooling profusely: Electric cord burns to the mouth and tongue, contact with household poisons or plants and nausea from other systemic illnesses can cause profuse drooling.

  • Incessant vomiting: Serious electrolyte abnormalities and dehydration can occur from continuous vomiting. Intestinal obstruction from a ribbon, rubber band or string is a common cause of chronic vomiting in kittens and requires immediate attention.

  • Profuse diarrhea: Diarrhea can cause severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalances leading to rapid deterioration in kittens if not addressed promptly.

  • Abnormal coloration of the gums: Pale gums imply anemia, bluish gums suggest a cardiac or respiratory problem and yellow gums denote red blood cell destruction or severe liver disease. All of these conditions require immediate assessment by a veterinarian.

  • Fever: Fevers in kittens often are caused by infectious conditions. Fever increases kittens' fluid requirements and often depresses their appetite. Malnutrition and dehydration prove a dangerous combination. Kittens with a temperature greater than 103 degrees F. should be examined promptly.

Any of our readers who are cat owners should be in the proper position now to not only keep their cat healthy, but also make decisions about what to do when they see something that just doesn't look right with their cat.


The Humane Society of the United States has prepared this article about the benefits of training your dog with a head halter:

How to Use a Head Halter

"Whoa, Rover, whoa!" Sound familiar? If that's what it's like when you take your dog for a walk, you may want to consider getting a head halter. A head halter is a special kind of collar designed for dogs who like to pull their people when they walk. It consists of a strap that goes around your dog's nose and another strap that goes around his neck, just behind his ears. The leash fastens to the halter under the dog's chin to a ring that's also attached to the nose strap. When your dog begins to pull, the design of the head halter causes the dog's nose to be turned down and back toward you, which makes it physically difficult for him to continue pulling.

The head halter is a very humane method of restraint because it doesn't cause any pain. It works much better to stop a dog from pulling than a choke chain or prong collar. Some brand names of head halters include "Gentle Leader," "Promise Collar," and "Halti."

How Should It Fit?

The head halter must be fitted properly to be effective and comfortable for your dog. The neck strap should be as high up on your dog's neck as you can get it, just behind his ears. The strap should be just tight enough for you to fit one finger between it and your dog's neck. The nosepiece should be adjusted so that when your dog's mouth is closed, the nosepiece can slide down to where the skin begins on his nose—but not so loose that it can slide off the end of his nose. The nosepiece will sit naturally, just below your dog's eyes. Make sure that the metal ring to which the leash attaches is underneath his chin.

How Will Your Dog React?

Most dogs will resist a head halter at first. The amount of resistance varies for each dog. When you first put the head halter on, your dog may try to get it off by pawing at his nose or rubbing his nose on the ground, on you, or on anything he can get close to. The best strategy is to keep his head up and keep him moving by using positive verbal reinforcement and treats. Most dogs eventually accept head halters. When your dog associates the halter with going for a walk, he'll begin to react positively to it, and soon, both you and your dog will enjoy taking walks together!

Things to Remember

  • Make sure the head halter is fitted properly.

  • Fit the halter so that it is snug around your dog's neck and high behind his ears, but loose enough around his nose so that the nose strap can slide easily down to the fleshy part of his nose.

  • Don't confuse the head halter with a muzzle.

  • Keep in mind that a dog wearing a head halter can still eat, drink, pant, bark, and bite, if he chooses.

  • Never use a hard jerk with the head halter.

  • Never use the head halter with a retractable lead.

  • Be sure your dog doesn't run quickly to the end of the lead; if he does, he may give himself a hard jerk.

  • Outfit your dog with the head halter only during on-leash walks with you and/or when you're directly supervising him.

  • Don't allow your dog to wear the head halter around the house; he'll have plenty of time to work at getting it off, and will eventually succeed.

  • Read the information sheet that comes with your head halter.

©2002. Adapted from material originally developed by applied animal behaviorists at the Dumb Friends League, Denver, Colorado. All rights reserved.


1) The ad title says it all...Innovative (and quirky) pet products! Check out this web site from SuperZoo, look through the offerings, and let us know if you'd like to try any of these products:

Helpful Buckeye wonders just how many $125 pooper-picker-uppers will be under anyone's Christmas tree....

2) Summer may be finished but in some of the southern states, there will still be some warm days. This Swamp Cooler Vest may be just what you need for your dog.This vest works on the long-used principle of water carrying away heat from an object and might be a handy addition for next summer as well. Check it out at:


1) With all of the well-publicized TV programs such as "The Biggest Loser" and other weight loss shows, it was only a matter of time before someone came up with a similar program for house pets. This idea is being tried in England and will most likely be showing up here in the USA soon:

2) Now that you all know how to keep your cat healthy, how well do you know your cat breeds? The Cat Fanciers' Association and the AKC have joined in offering this interesting quiz: From The New Yorker:

3) Another poll by the AKC is interested in which is your favorite dog in art or fashion. Answer the poll at:

4) Now that Gibson, the gigantic Great Dane in California, has died, there is a new pretender to the throne of "tallest" dog. Read about Boomer, a Newfoundland, and the claim his owners are staking with Guinness World Records:

Not so fast, as Lee Corso would say. There is now another claim to that title from the owner of George, a Great Dane, down in Tucson. Read about George and you make the decision:

5) We've talked about barking dogs and the problems they can cause in a neighborhood and between neighbors in several issues of Questions On Dogs and Cats:

Here's an interesting city ordinance that is being tried in Chicago:

6) How would you know if you have a budding artist masquerading as your pooch? Look at some of the paintings from this dog:

7) You've all heard about cats getting onto a car engine block to stay warm or dry and then having a problem when the engine is turned on. Here's an account of a kitten which did just that...but the owner of the vehicle found out about it and had to wait 2 days before being able to start his engine:

That kitten just used one of its nine lives!


This has been a great week for Helpful Buckeye's teams. The LA Dodgers swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round of the NL playoffs and now await the winner of the Rockies/Phillies series. Sweeping the Cardinals was unexpected, but that just made it all the sweeter!

The Pittsburgh Steelers won at Detroit, which wasn't a big surprise. I knew they would win the game because my cousin Jeff and his family went to the game...and Jeff would have gone onto the field if he felt the Steelers needed him!


A couple of interesting quotes will finish this week's issue. The first, from Helen Keller: "Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it." What a sentiment! Helen Keller was undoubtedly thinking of humans when she said that, but it could just as easily apply to our pets. Let's all do what we can to overcome the suffering of our pets.

Secondly, Lin Yutang (1895-1976), Chinese writer, had this to say about taking it easy: "If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live."

Hopefully, you have spent part of your "useless" afternoon reading this issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats. Helpful Buckeye will leave you with this nostalgic video by one of my favorite singers, John Mellencamp, who turned 58 this past Wednesday. Like John, I was born in a small town...and here's John to tell you the rest of the story:

~~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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