Monday, November 9, 2009


The last few weeks have been very interesting for veterinary medicine. First, we learned of two pet ferrets that had come down with swine flu, most likely contracted from their owners. Both of the ferrets died. Then, this week, a pet cat in Iowa was treated at Iowa State University veterinary hospital for swine flu. The cat has since recovered. A couple of people in the cat's household had been experiencing flu-like symptoms before the cat became sick. What does this all mean for you and your cats and dogs? Helpful Buckeye has already discussed swine flu in a previous issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats, at: and these recent events have required an update to that information. That update will be presented in the "Current News" section below. In the meantime, be alert for the swine flu virus:

Helpful Buckeye was surprised by how many of our readers had either read the book or seen the movie, Marley & Me. There were 26 responses, both at this site and by e-mail and 18 of those had read the book AND seen the movie! Remember to answer this week's poll question in the column to the left.


1) The Food & Drug Administration, as reported by the American Veterinary Medical Association, has issued an alert about the insulin product, Vetsulin, from Schering-Plough Animal Health. The concern is that the concentration of the active ingredient may have variations between formulations. If your pet is using this product, read more about it at:

2) The FDA, through the AVMA, has also issued a recall for pig ear and beef hooves pet treats. These pet treats, produced by Pet Carousel, may be contaminated with Salmonella organisms. The affected products are as follows: Pet Carousel Pig ear pet treats...Doggie Delight and Pet Carousel Beef hooves pet treats...Choo Hooves, Dentley’s, Doggie Delight. For more information on these products, go to:

3) The AVMA has released a new public health statement this week to address new information about swine flu and its effects on household pets. Take a few minutes to read the questions and answers so that you will be aware of the important new recommendations:


Helpful Buckeye has received just about as many e-mails about kennel cough in dogs as for any other pet disease. Since kennel cough is the most common upper respiratory ailment seen in dogs, many of our readers have most likely experienced it with their dogs.

Kennel cough, known medically as canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is a highly contagious disease in dogs. It is found worldwide and probably will infect a very high percentage of all dogs at some point in their lifetime. The disease became known as kennel cough since it usually showed up soon after a dog had been boarded in a kennel. We now know that, due to the highly contagious nature of the causative agents of the disease, dogs can also become infected at vaccination clinics, obedience classes, local dog parks, animal shelters, veterinary hospital waiting rooms, and grooming parlors. Kennel cough is the most prevalent upper respiratory ailment of dogs in the USA.

Kennel cough usually begins as a result of inflammation of the upper airways. It is currently thought that this inflammation occurs mainly from an inhalation of canine parainfluenza virus, canine adenovirus, or even canine distemper virus. The damage to the linings of the upper airways by these viruses can then allow certain bacteria to complicate the already bothersome viral infection. The most common bacteria to do so is Bordetella bronchiseptica, a close relative of B. pertussis, the cause of human whooping cough. The illness spreads rapidly among susceptible dogs which are in close confinement, particularly if they are stressed by extremes in ventilation, temperature, and humidity. Both the viral and bacterial components are mainly spread through the air by infected dogs which are sneezing and coughing. They are also spread through contact with contaminated surfaces and through direct contact with infected dogs.

Signs and Symptoms

The first sign of a kennel cough infection is usually a dry, hacking cough, which may be followed by a lot of gagging or retching. There may also be sneezing and snorting. The dog’s owner will frequently describe this as “my dog sounds like it has something stuck in its throat.” Any or all of these signs may be easily brought on by exercise, excitement, or simply rubbing on the dog’s windpipe. In most cases of kennel cough, it is considered to be a self-limiting disease and the dog will recover on its own, without any medical intervention. Most of these dogs will maintain their level of activity and a normal appetite, in spite of the frequent fits of coughing. They usually don’t have a fever or show any listlessness. Puppies and adult dogs with compromised immune systems from other problems are most likely to suffer more serious complications as a result of kennel cough. The main and most serious complication is bronchopneumonia, which would be accompanied by a fever, lack of appetite, lethargy, and a productive cough.


Due to the self-limiting nature of uncomplicated kennel cough, most of these dogs will not need to receive any treatment while they are recovering. Ideally, they will be kept at home, away from other dogs that might be susceptible. Limiting exercise and any form of excitement should help to reduce the “tickling” feeling in their windpipes that brings on the spasms of coughing. Most veterinarians now feel that uncomplicated cases of kennel cough should not be treated with antibiotics. If these dogs need anything at all, it might be beneficial to use a cough suppressant or a bronchodilator, but only on the advice of your veterinarian. For the more complicated or chronic cases, your veterinarian may recommend antibiotics in order to deal with the secondary bacterial components of the infection. The more seriously affected dogs and those with probable bronchopneumonia will need to be hospitalized in order to be more closely monitored.


The best way to prevent your dog from contracting kennel cough is to not expose your dog to other dogs. However, in many situations, this cannot be avoided. That being the case, then having your dog up-to-date on its vaccinations would be the next best protection. Most of the annual vaccines given by your veterinarian will include parainfluenza and adenovirus. The Bordetella vaccine is available as an injectable or an intranasal preparation. The important thing to remember about these vaccines is that your dog needs to have the vaccine several days before being exposed to any of those diseases in order for its immune system to build a decent response. If your dog is going to a boarding kennel or a dog show, don’t wait until the day before to have it vaccinated. Also, it must be pointed out that vaccination is not useful in a dog that is already incubating kennel cough. Spend a little time discussing your dog’s circumstances with your veterinarian in order to put together the proper vaccination program. Have your dog well-protected before a disease exposure moment arises.

There has been some recent research that seems to show that Bordetella bronchiseptica might cause disease in certain humans, especially young children and those with a compromised immune system. Normal, healthy adult humans do not appear to be at risk.

Please send any questions or comments to: or click on the comment icon at the end of this issue and leave your comment.


1) "Clipnosis"…A new technique can calm cats in a veterinarian’s office and at home. Using clips to gently squeeze the skin at the back of a cat's neck before minor veterinary procedures or even a nail-trimming at home is an effective and pain-free way to humanely hold cats that might otherwise put up a fuss, according to a study conducted in the College of Veterinary Medicine of The Ohio State University. Read more about this new technique in the OSU Veterinary School newsletter at:

2) Part 2 of the ASPCA's winter health tips for your pets is here.

Top Ten Cold Weather Tips

Brrrr…it’s cold outside! The following guidelines will help you protect your companion animals when the mercury dips:

  1. Keep your cat inside. Outdoors, felines can freeze, become lost or be stolen, injured or killed. Cats who are allowed to stray are exposed to infectious diseases, including rabies, from other cats, dogs and wildlife.

  2. During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.

  3. Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm—dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags.

  4. Thoroughly wipe off your dog's legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.

  5. Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him out for a walk. Own a short-haired breed? Consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.

  6. Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.

  7. Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train him inside. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself.

  8. Does your dog spend a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities? Increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him—and his fur—in tip-top shape.

  9. Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center more information.

  10. Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.

Part 3 of the ASPCA's winter health tips will appear next week.


The QuickFinder and QuickFinder Deluxe are a new type of pet nail trimmer that will actually give you a red light or a green light when trimming your pet's nails. Red're too close to the quick. Green're safely away from the quick. Read about these at: Click on either product to learn about its availability.


1) The Top 10 Pet-Safe Vehicles as determined by and reported in Highroads magazine are (in alphabetical order):

  1. Dodge Journey

  2. Ford Flex

  3. GMC Acadia

  4. Hyundai Tucson

  5. Jeep Liberty

  6. Kia Borrego

  7. Mazda 5

  8. Mitsubishi Outlander

  9. Subaru Tribeca

  10. Volvo XC70

The criteria for making this list were pet safety restraints, tri-climate control, fold-flat rear seats, treat holders, and backup cameras.

2) Helpful Buckeye's Aunt Cathy in Florida sent this information about a web site that helps free food and care to be given to animal rescue shelters. Simply go to: and click on the purple icon to start the ball rolling. You can do this once a day. I checked for the credibility of the web site and they declared it as "True."

3) According to a study by a Dublin university, Irish pet owners are much more fond of dogs than they are of cats. To find out some of the reasons, go to:

4) ...But a hidden danger lurks in many lakes and ponds -- toxic blooms of blue-green algae that can be harmful to people and fatal to dogs. These toxins can be neurotoxins, hepatotoxins, and endotoxins. Several cases of human poisoning (and now this dog) have been documented but a lack of knowledge prevents an accurate assessment of the risks. Blue-green algae are probably best known for the extensive and highly visible blooms that can form in freshwater ponds and lakes and can have the appearance of blue-green paint or scum. The association of toxicity with such blooms has frequently led to the closure of recreational waters when blooms are observed. Officials in Minnesota last month warned residents to keep kids and pets away from suspicious looking lakes after linking the algae to the death of a 3-year old black Labrador Retriever, the Minnesota Star Tribune reports. For the rest of the story, read:

5) Due to the recent recall of certain pet treats as described earlier in this issue, perhaps our readers would like to try their hand at making some dog bone treats at home. That way, you can be a little more certain of the safety of the ingredients. For some easy dog bone recipes, go to: and cursor down the page until you get to the list of 9 tasty recipes. Let us know if you try any of these and whether or not your pooch likes them.

For those of you seeking even more pet culinary challenges, you might want to get a copy of the book, The Ultimate Dog Treat Cookbook: Homemade Goodies for Man's Best Friend, which is available at:

6) Now that we've gotten the serious stuff taken care of, let's finish this section with a little "salsa"....

No, not the kind you dip your nachos into...this salsa is the dance. Turn on your speakers and check out this dog doing the salsa. You decide whether the dog needs more practice or not: Desperado gave the dog an "8" and Helpful Buckeye gave it a "9"....


The LA Dodgers announced that Manny Ramirez will be back again next year. That will only be good news if Manny stays away from the forbidden pharmaceuticals that got him suspended for 50 games this past season. He never did get back into his normal style of play after the suspension.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are playing in Denver tomorrow (Monday) night. A win in Denver would keep us in first place in our division, but Denver always seems to enjoy a big home field advantage.

The San Antonio Spurs have lost 2 games this week as they try to get more comfortable with the new players in their lineup.


Helpful Buckeye ran into an unexpected change in biking plans this past week. My bike had a flat front tire while hanging on the rack...I pumped up the pressure to 60 lb...rode 35 miles with no hour after I got back home, the tire was flat again! When getting the problem diagnosed, my bike guru, Lionel, found a long sliver of glass actually puncturing the tire and the tube. Helpful Buckeye decided to go with a Kevlar replacement tire in case there may be more glass slivers in my future.

Galileo felt that discovering truth was important: "All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them." Questions On Dogs and Cats always attempts to help our readers discover some "truths" about their pets.

Albert Schweitzer, the German/French physician and philosopher, had this to say about certain "special" people: "In everyone's life at some time our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit." If you have been rekindled by one of those people, take a minute to thank them this's also very conceivable that a dog or a cat could have done the rekindling?

~~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. Great info as always. You really are a gift to those of us who have pets.

    You know the one thing in the world that absolutely makes me want to pass out is trying to cut my dogs' nails. I actually get wet in the armpits just thinking about it...I know way too much information, but I just wanted to give you an idea.

    I simply can't do it. And, the Scotties nails grow so fast it's amazing to me. I pay the groomer extra to dremel the nails and that seems to be working well for them...most certainly for me!

    Thanks Doc!

  2. There's a chance you are eligible to receive a $1,000 Amazon Gift Card.