Monday, December 28, 2009


No, contrary to appearances, this issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats is not a fashion show of sweaters for your canine and feline friends. Helpful Buckeye has received a few questions from readers about whether it's OK to have a cat or dog wearing a sweater and, if so, under what conditions would a sweater be considered appropriate "outerwear." These questions will be addressed a little later in this issue.

A few months ago, Helpful Buckeye informed our readers of a contest being sponsored by the folks at, a health blogging community that aspires to helping readers with any health questions they might have. Well, a lot of our readers here at Questions On Dogs and Cats must have gone to and cast their votes before the deadline of December 15th for Helpful Buckeye because yours truly has been been chosen as the Top Blogger in the Pet Health Community as part of the 2nd Annual People's HealthBlogger Awards. The special award badge can be seen in the column to the left. Thanks to all of you who took the time to go to the Wellsphere site and cast your vote for Helpful Buckeye!

Helpful Buckeye would like to remind our readers of the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) icon also in the left column that allows you quick and easy access to their web site for "Tips and Updates" of information relating to pet health and safety. Helpful Buckeye suggests you click into this site every time you make a visit to Questions On Dogs and Cats so that you don't miss any news that might be of interest to you and your pets. It's informative...and FREE!

Last week's poll question about what type of food you feed to your pet(s) produced very predictable results. Helpful Buckeye received 24 responses, 10 of which said "Dry," 9 said "Canned," 9 said "Semi-moist," and 7 said "Home-made." The reason the total is larger than 24 is that you were allowed multiple answers. Many of you actually feed your pets a combination of the 4 choices. Be sure to respond to this week's poll question in the column to the left.

In case you haven't heard all the holiday music you would like, here's one last chance to listen to Rascal, winner of the "World's Ugliest Dog" award, as he serenades you with his holiday sentiments:

For those readers who like things a little bit out of this world, the folks in Roswell, New Mexico take their holiday spirit seriously...even the aliens from the UFOs are in the holiday mood.


1) Well, we've all been waiting for the other shoe to fall as the world of the H1N1 influenza virus has expanded. With cats and ferrets recently being infected by the virus, could dogs be far behind? The answer came this past week as a dog in New York was shown to be positive for the Swine Flu. The American Veterinary Medical Association provides this update:

So far, the infection has only gone from affected humans to these animals. Epidemiologists are watching closely to determine if the infection starts going the other direction.

2) The American Kennel Club continues to remind pet owners to heed warnings about an alarming rise in "dog–nappings." State houses across America have taken notice and are proposing laws to toughen penalties for those who steal pets. For the rest of this disturbing story, and some valuable tips and suggestions from the AKC, go to:

3) From the Mayo Clinic comes this good advice:

Health Tip Of The Week

Why is laughter good medicine? Humor can help reduce stress by providing a positive way of looking at problems. Humor can also help you perceive what's ridiculous or absurd in a situation. To promote humor in your life, follow these steps:

  • Be open to humor. Give yourself permission to laugh, even during tough times.

  • Surround yourself with humor. Try hanging cartoons in your workstation.

  • Seek out humor. Look for humor in everyday situations, but don't laugh at the expense of others. Or watch a favorite comedy DVD.

  • Share your humor. Tell a funny true story to a co-worker or friend.

During the extra stress of the holidays, humor can help you through the rough spots. Whether these rough spots are related to your pets or your human colleagues, a good dose of humor could be just what the doctor (or veterinarian) has ordered!


Now, on to the question about sweaters for your pets....

Dog and Cat Sweaters - Prissy Or Practical - Sensible Or Silly?
By Victoria Blackstone

Does your dog or cat really need to wear a sweater? Well, perhaps. Providing your pooch or kitty with a winter sweater may be just what the doctor ordered.

Many older dogs and cats, just like older people, have poor circulation and difficulty maintaining their body temperature. A sweater may be needed to keep them comfortable, even in a heated home. Arthritic dogs or cats, regardless of age, can have limited mobility that leads to inactivity. With insufficient exercise, they can lose body heat and their arthritic pain escalates. Simply wearing a sweater will help trap their body heat and ease some of their discomfort.

Similarly, many handicapped dogs and cats experience challenges to their mobility resulting in their inability to exercise adequately. Care must be given to find a well-fitting sweater that accommodates different handicaps. Crippled dogs and cats who spend much or all of their time lying down can develop sore spots from sweaters that have underbelly fasteners. A smooth, flat bellyband that goes underneath the body and fastens at the back will be their most comfortable option. Amputees will need sweaters that stay secure without slipping and restricting their movement.

Convalescent and postoperative dogs and cats may "kick the covers off", so to speak, while they are resting. Without a blanket covering them, they may get chilled which can slow the healing process. However, if they are wearing a sweater, it's like wrapping a blanket around them that stays in place and provides the constant warmth they need. Once they are restored to full health, wearing a sweater may be unnecessary.

Many dogs with very short hair can also benefit from the extra warmth of a sweater. Chihuahuas, miniature pinschers, and Italian greyhounds are examples from the toy-breed group of dogs that routinely wear sweaters. It's not only small dogs who need sweaters, but also other breeds including greyhounds and whippets. Larger dogs with short hair and slender builds are typically good candidates for needing a little more insulation in cold weather. In addition to purebred dogs, there are many mixed-breed dogs whose need for sweaters is just as important.

Anomalies of the dog world like the Chinese crested and the Peruvian Inca orchid are hairless dogs and the Sphynx cat is their hairless feline counterpart. With no body hair to insulate them, these dog and cat breeds certainly need the added warmth of a sweater. Yorkshire terriers, Maltese, silky terriers, and shih tzus are dogs that have hair, not fur. They lack the undercoat of other dogs, which acts as an insulating layer. Even when their hair is long, it does not always provide sufficient warmth because of the absence of a fur undercoat.

At first glance, dogs and cats wearing sweaters may appear excessively prissy. There are, however, valid reasons that support this choice as a sensible, caring gesture. Gone are the days when apparel for dogs or cats was reserved only for pampered pooches or chichi cats whose owners wished to make fashion statements. Not just for looks any more, dog and cat sweaters serve a useful purpose and may actually be just what the doctor ordered.

If any of you have a photo of your cat and/or dog wearing a sweater, feel free to send it to Helpful Buckeye at: and we'll publish it in our next issue.


Victoria Blackstone, who wrote the above article on sweaters for pets, has a company called Gracie & Co., which specializes in many unusual pet products...including dog and cat sweaters. Check out their product line at:


1) While visiting Roswell, New Mexico this past week, Desperado and Helpful Buckeye saw this guy and his Basset Hound partner as they biked through town.

Marshall Lee, an Army veteran and his dog, Antigone, are making the 2000-mile journey from Chicago to San Diego. In addition to dogs, Helpful Buckeye also has a soft spot for bicyclists and their stories. For the rest of this story, go to:

2) The ASPCA has released this short video to serve as a reminder of their extensive efforts toward animal welfare in the USA. Listen to this short summary of their year in 2009:

3) Through the course of the last several months, Helpful Buckeye has published several AKC web polls about various dogs that were the most popular in their particular field of entertainment. Now, the AKC has compiled the final listing...and the "hippest dog of all pop culture" is:

The web link lists all of the dogs involved in the voting for the various categories.

4) Also, while traveling in eastern New Mexico, Desperado and Helpful Buckeye became aware of the greyhound mascots of Eastern New Mexico University. Enjoy this video of them from the Albuquerque Journal: 5) Many of our readers enjoyed the issue back around Memorial Day... ...that discussed pet cemeteries and Helpful Buckeye still gets the occasional e-mail about that topic. There is also a famous pet cemetery in Calabasas, a suburb of Los Angeles, that received some press coverage on Christmas Day in the Arizona Republic:

6) Let's finish with this last "news" segment of the year:

If any of you have a photo with your dog or cat with Santa, consider sending it to Helpful Buckeye at: for publication in next week's issue.

Wow, it's hard to believe the Pittsburgh Steelers actually have a chance to make the playoffs after losing 5 games in a row...however, that's the situation going into the last weekend of the regular season.

The Ohio State Buckeyes will play Oregon this Friday in the Rose Bowl. Oregon can score a lot more points than the Buckeyes can, so our defense will have to show up for this game.


On 26 DEC, Helpful Buckeye established a new personal record for biking miles in a previous record was 4950 miles and the new one is 4973 miles and counting...since there are still several bike-riding days left in the year. Stay tuned for the final total, which will be posted in next week's issue.

From the Little America Hotel here in Flagstaff, enjoy this last view of some holiday lights:

Desperado and Helpful Buckeye are excited about participating in the annual New Year's Eve celebration in downtown Flagstaff, which revolves around the "dropping" of a 6-ft. tall pine cone from the roof of one of our historic hotels. It's always a happy event....


~~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.~~

Monday, December 21, 2009


Due to a travel commitment, this week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats will be a bit shortened and lacking some of the up-to-date news items. The conclusion of What Your Pets Are Eating will follow below.

WHAT YOUR PETS ARE EATING....a discussion of dog and cat nutrition, Part 3

Most commercial dog and cat foods are fortified with vitamins to levels that exceed minimal requirements. There is no Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) dietary requirement for vitamins C or K for dogs and cats have no documented dietary requirement for vitamin C.

The water-soluble vitamins include all of the B series and Vitamin C. Water-soluble vitamins are readily excreted in the urine if excess amounts are ingested and rarely cause disease even in very high doses. Thiamine, also known as Vitamin B1, usually is not a problem arising from properly prepared commercial cat food; however, a deficiency can occur if a cat is fed uncooked freshwater fish, which contains high levels of thiaminase, an enzyme which destroys thiamine in the rest of the diet. Thiamine-deficient cats develop loss of appetite, scruffy-looking hair coat, a hunched position, and neurologic signs including balance problems and convulsions.

Fat-soluble vitamins include those in the A, D, E, and K series and some of these can be associated with serious diseases if ingested in too high quantities. Excessive consumption of liver can lead to high levels of Vitamin A, resulting in skeletal deformities in dogs. Cats, on the other hand, can suffer from too little Vitamin A being available in their diet and the list of disorders associated with this deficiency is too long to include here. Suffice it to say that most commercial cat foods do have the necessary supplement of Vitamin A.

Vitamin D deficiency results in rickets in young animals and osteomalacia (softening of the bones) in adult animals. The classic signs of rickets are most often seen in puppies and kittens when homemade diets are fed without supplements being added. Too much Vitamin D can result in high blood calcium and phosphorus which then lead to chronic kidney failure and death in both dogs and cats.

A balanced amount of the necessary dietary minerals in relation to the energy density of the diet is important. Indiscriminate mineral supplementation should be avoided due to the likelihood of causing a mineral imbalance. Mineral deficiencies are rare when pets are fed a well-balanced diet.

In both dogs and cats, the requirements for dietary calcium and phosphorus are increased over normal maintenance levels during growth, pregnancy, and lactation. Calcium and phosphorus deficiency is uncommon in well-balanced growth diets. The most common problem is an all meat diet which has an imbalance of the calcium/phosphorus ratio and can lead to demineralization of bone, resulting in bone weakness and pathologic fractures. Excessive supplementation of calcium and phosphorus not only leads to bone formation problems in the larger breeds of dogs but also contributes to a decreased absorption of magnesium, which can cause lethargy and muscle weakness in puppies. Excessive supplementation of magnesium can contribute to the formation of urinary crystals in male cats, which then can lead to the "plugged cat" syndrome.

Nutrition is an important part of disease management, even though few disorders can be cured solely with diet. The interaction between illness, health, and nutritional status is multifactorial and complex. The nutritional requirements of sick dogs and cats are qualitatively the same as those of healthy ones. However, they differ in the amounts required...certain nutrients may be needed in greater amounts or may need to be restricted.

Manufacturers of all commercial dog and cat foods are legally required to provide certain information on the label, including the name of the product, guaranteed analysis, ingredient guarantee, net weight, and name and address of the manufacturer or distributor. The most important nutritional information on the label is the guaranteed analysis, ingredient list, and the statement of nutritional adequacy. In the USA, all pet foods sold must be registered with state feed control officials and must contain approved ingredients generally regarded as safe, unless they are for specialized purposes such as the improvement or prevention of disease. Such foods are considered to be drugs and must be approved by the FDA.

Commercial dog and cat foods are available in 3 principal forms: canned, dry, and semi-moist. These classifications depend more on the processing method and water content than on the ingredient content or nutrient profile. Complete and balanced commercial pet diets are formulated to provide adequate quantities of each required nutrient without an intolerable excess of any nutrient. Any supplementation of particular nutrients to commercially produced complete and balanced pet foods should be done carefully and only with appropriate justification, along with some consultation with your veterinarian. Remember that dog foods are not going to be satisfactory for cats because most dog foods are lower in protein than what cats need and usually are not supplemented with taurine.

Dry food is the most popular category of pet foods in the USA. It usually contains 90% dry matter and 10% water. The advantages of dry food would include lower cost than canned or semi-moist, and refrigeration is not necessary for unused portions. Additionally, it provides some beneficial massaging of the gums and teeth to help reduce periodontal disease.

Canned pet foods will usually contain 70-75% water and 25-30% dry matter. The advantages of canned food are mainly a fairly long shelf in a very durable container and its high degree of palatability. The main downside is the's more expensive than dry foods.

Semi-moist pet foods will contain 60-75% dry matter and 25-40% water. They usually do not require any refrigeration, have been preserved by substances that do not allow bacteria and molds to grow. This also gives them a good shelf life. Other advantages of semi-moist pet foods include convenience of packaging, high energy digestibility, and higher palatability. Similar to canned foods, they are more expensive than dry foods.

Dogs can be successfully maintained on properly formulated home-cooked diets, but this is much more difficult for cats. The advantages are obviously the use of fresh, high-quality ingredients that are chosen by the dog owner. The disadvantages include preparation time, unreliable quality control and diet consistency, higher costs, and the difficulty in formulating and preparing a nutritionally complete and balanced diet. Some of the most common problems with home-cooked diets is that they result in high protein and caloric density, inappropriate calcium/phosphorus ratios, and inadequate levels of calcium, copper, iodine, fat-soluble vitamins, and several of the B vitamins.

The bottom line here is that you should discuss your pet's individual dietary needs and considerations with your veterinarian. The type of food you choose may be different for each of your dogs or cats. Remember, your pets really can't go to the refrigerator, pull open the door, and fix their own meals. They are relying on you to make the right decision for them!

If any of our readers have a story you'd like to share about your choice of pet food or about any problems or concerns you've had with your pets' food, either send an e-mail to: or post a comment at the end of this issue.


1) Most of our readers will remember the old TV show, MacGyver. Well, there's a cat owner who thinks their cat is Kitty MacGyver:

Looks to me like all the right moves....

2) Helpful Buckeye is starting to wonder if dogs and cats are beginning to read our news updates. That would be the only logical explanation for all the "copy cat" antics we're hearing about:

Maybe he was looking for MacGyver?

3) Sadie, a Scottish Terrier, won the best in show award at the recent AKC/Eukanuba National Dog Show:

She has won shows at all levels and now has her sights set on the upcoming Westminster Dog Show in February.

4) The following video was sent to Helpful Buckeye by 4 different readers, but Dianne from Chico, CA was the first. If any of you had these dogs, you wouldn't have to spend so much time trimming the Christmas tree! Enjoy:


For your holiday pleasure

~~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.~~

Monday, December 14, 2009


Hopefully, the introduction last week to what your pets are eating has stoked your interest enough that you just can't wait to learn more about the various important nutrients your pets require. Instead of "must see" TV, our readers have made this the "must read" blog! Thanks for your continued interest and loyalty. The next part of What Your Pets Are Eating will appear a little further down the page.

With many of our readers still considering what presents to buy for that certain someone, the Humane Society of the United States has this pertinent "Holiday" advice: Finally, think twice before giving an animal as a gift. "The recipient of your furry gift may not be ready for the commitment involved with the lifetime care of a pet," says Betsy McFarland, The HSUS' senior director, companion animals. "Instead of a puppy among the presents, give the gift of adoption. Many shelters offer adoption gift certificates so the recipient can be actively involved in choosing the perfect pet who will share their home for years to come." When you stop to think about all the hustle and bustle surrounding the Holidays, it's easy to imagine a new puppy or kitten being slighted for attention.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has made available a new widget for inclusion in blogs such as Questions On Dogs and Cats. This widget will be located in the column to the left and will allow our readers to regularly check for "Tips and Updates" from the FDA relating to pet health and safety. The widget will include topics such as how to report a problem with pet food, purchasing pet drugs online and caring for a pet during a disaster. The widget also allows users to access content on the FDA's Web site without having to leave another site or Web page. As Helpful Buckeye has stated at the top of each issue of this blog, one of our goals is to "enrich the owner/pet relationship," and this will be one more way to ensure reaching that goal. Spend a couple of minutes checking it out and be sure to let Helpful Buckeye know your impressions of the additional site. For comments and/or questions, e-mail Helpful Buckeye at or submit a comment, where prompted, at the end of this issue.

This will be the last week for you to vote for Helpful Buckeye on the People's HealthBlogger Awards at Wellsphere, as the voting ends on December 15th. To vote, simply click on the "Vote Now!" on the Wellsphere icon in the column to the left. Thanks to all of you who have already voted!

The polling question from last week about any of your pets ever being involved in a recall of a pet treat or pet food revealed that 8 readers responded "Yes" and 11 responded "No." Hopefully, the ones who said yes did not have a pet that died from the incident. Be sure to answer this week's poll question in the column to the left.


1) As reported by the American Veterinary Medical Association, 2 more cats have died from infection with the H1N1 (Swine Flu) virus, 1 in Pennsylvania and 1 in Oregon:

2) Also, from the AVMA, comes this advice about amphibians being a possible source of Salmonella infection:

In addition, the advice continues: In the movies, kissing a frog can result in a prince. But, as the disclaimer often says, "Do not try this at home." Frogs, like all amphibians and reptiles, can be a source of Salmonella infections in people. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians (ARAV) are reminding the public that instead of a prince, improper handling of amphibians and reptiles—and that includes kissing a frog—can result in a nasty illness. For the rest of this news release, go to:

Helpful Buckeye is aware that frogs aren't dogs or cats; however, a lot of our readers may well have a frog as a pet and this is important enough to mention.

WHAT YOUR PETS ARE EATING....a discussion of dog and cat nutrition, Part 2

This week, we'll start to talk about the various components of the food you should be feeding to your pets. When you look at the guaranteed analysis and ingredient portion of the information panel on your package/can of pet food, one of the first items listed will be protein.


Protein is required to increase and renew the nitrogen components of the body. A primary function of dietary protein is as a source of essential amino acids and nitrogen for the synthesis of the non-essential amino acids. The amount of protein required depends on the age of the animal and the quality of the protein. The amount differs significantly for dogs and cats, with cats needing almost double what dogs need. The quality of a protein is determined by the number and types of essential amino acids it contains, its digestibility, and how easily the pet's body being able to metabolize it.

The dietary need for protein is satisfied when the dog's metabolic need for amino acids and nitrogen is satisfied. Optimal diets for dogs will contain 20-25% protein as dry matter for growing puppies and 10-15% for mature dogs. Cats will require 25-30% when still growing and about 20% when mature. Protein in cat food must have enough taurine to aid in prevention of certain eye and heart degenerative problems. Protein requirements of dogs and cats will vary with age, activity levels, temperament, life stage, and health status.

Without sufficient energy available from the fat and carbohydrate portion of the diet, dietary protein that is normally used for growth or maintenance of body functions is then less efficiently used to provide energy. In this way, these 3 vital components of the diet need to be in a proper balance. The higher the biological value of a protein, the less protein needed in the diet to supply the essential amino acid requirements. Egg has been designated as the highest biologic value, followed by organ and skeletal meat, then vegetable proteins. Most commercial pet foods contain a combination of cereal (vegetable) and meat proteins.

The signs of protein deficiency or protein imbalance in your pet's diet could include weight loss, skeletal muscle atrophy (wasting away) in dogs, dull or unkempt hair coat, loss of appetite, reproductive disorders, low-grade infections, and a failure to properly respond to treatment of an injury or disease.


A fat is a very concentrated source of energy, yielding more than 2 times as much energy as an equivalent portion of protein or carbohydrate. As much as 60% of the calories in a cat's diet may come from fat. In general, as the fat content of a diet increases, so does the caloric density and palatability (taste). Increase in palatability can lead to excess consumption which can then lead to obesity...we've all heard this story before, huh? Animal fats are the most digestible component of the diet and the addition of too much dietary fat may result in excessive energy intake followed by decreased intakes of protein, minerals, and certain vitamins.

Dietary fat also makes easier the absorption, storage, and transport of the fat-soluble vitamins...A, D, E, and K.

Most dog foods will have less than 20% fat content, depending on the purpose of the, stress, growth, and lactation (milk production in nursing mothers).

Essential fatty acid deficiencies in good quality, commercial diets are very rare in dogs and cats, but are more likely to occur in homemade or unbalanced diets. These deficiencies could cause dry, scaly, lusterless hair coat; inactivity; and reproductive disorders.


Carbohydrates in pet foods will include low and high-molecular weight sugars, starches, and various plant cell wall and fibers. In cats, carbohydrates apparently are not essential to the diet when ample protein and fats are included. Increased levels of crude fiber from plant sources can increase fecal output.

This will leave vitamins and minerals for next week's discussion, which will then finish up with a comparison of dry foods, canned foods, soft-moist foods, and home-cooked diets. Be there or be square!


Questions On Dogs and Cats has previously presented at least 3 discussions on winter safety tips for your pets:

but one more rendering of that topic would be appropriate at this time of the year, especially in light of the 39" snowfall we had in Flagstaff this past week. The Humane Society of the United States offers this short list of considerations to help you avoid winter problems with your dogs and cats:

  • Don't leave pets outdoors when the temperature drops. Dogs and cats are safer indoors, except when taken out for supervised exercise. Regardless of the season, short-haired, very young, or old dogs and all cats should never be left outside without supervision. Short-coated dogs may feel more comfortable wearing a sweater during walks.

  • Pets who spend a lot of time outdoors need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy. Routinely check your pet's water dish to make certain the water is fresh and unfrozen. Use plastic food and water bowls rather than metal; when the temperature is low, your pet's tongue can stick and freeze to metal.

  • Warm engines in parked cars attract cats and small wildlife, who may crawl up under the hood. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car's hood to scare them away before starting your engine.

  • The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet's feet and may be harmful if ingested. Wipe the feet with a damp towel before your pet licks them to remove snow packed between your pet's paws. Pet-friendly ice melts are available at many pet supply stores across the nation or online.

  • Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that can attract animals and children. Wipe up spills and store antifreeze (and all household chemicals) out of reach. Better yet, use antifreeze-coolant made with propylene glycol, which is less toxic in small amounts than traditional ethylene glycol antifreeze.

  • No matter what the temperature, wind chill can threaten a pet's life. A dog or cat is happiest and healthiest when kept indoors. If your dog spends significant time outdoors, however, he/she must be protected by a dry, draft-free doghouse that is large enough to allow the dog to sit and lie down comfortably, but small enough to hold in his/her body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The house should be turned to face away from the wind, and the doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.

  • If you're feeding homeless cats, be sure to provide an insulated shelter for them. Information about building a shelter, spaying and neutering and more is available at

This last word from The HSUS about your dog and/or cat: The best prescription for winter's woes is to keep your dog or cat inside with you and your family. The happiest dogs are those who are taken out frequently for walks and exercise but kept inside the rest of the time. Dogs and cats are social animals who crave human companionship. Your animal companions deserve to live indoors with you and your family. PRODUCTS OF THE WEEK

1) If you haven't yet finished your holiday shopping for friends, your pets, or yourself, take a look at the HSUS PetFulfillment Store:

2) Then, go over to this web site if you're looking for gifts for a cat:

3) Likewise, there are many offerings for your favorite dog at:

4) Lastly, since this section deals with "products," Helpful Buckeye thought our readers would be interested in seeing the first public advertisement for a dog flu vaccine: Remember, this is not the same influenza virus as the Swine Flu, but it is still something about which you might want to consult with your veterinarian.


1) This interesting report from the UPI indicates that the current worldwide flu distribution may also affect prices for certain dinner recipes:

Ginger prices rise on flu fears
BEIJING (UPI) -- Ginger prices could skyrocket this year because of a supply shortage coupled with an increase in demand during flu season, a Chinese research firm said. Wholesale prices for ginger prices have increased 85 percent so far this year and could go the way of garlic prices, which increased by 1,500 percent since March, Global Markets China Research said in a release Thursday. Garlic and ginger are believed by many Chinese to have health benefits that include flu-fighting properties, the firm said. Ginger prices began to rise after a 3-year drop, which led many farmers to stop growing ginger and turn to more profitable crops. That has led to a shortage in ginger supplies at a time when demand is increasing, Global Markets said. Ginger and garlic also are two of the most important ingredients in the cuisines of India, China, Thailand and Japan.

2) For our readers who already run (jog) with their dogs and for those who might be contemplating doing so, here is a nice overview of considerations to think about:

3) For the first of 3 amazing tales (tails?) about a dog or cat being rescued following a harrowing experience, read about this dog which had been marooned on an island, not far from its home, for 98 days:

No, this didn't occur in the South Pacific...but rather, along the coast of New Jersey. Perhaps Buddy should be re-named Robinson Crusoe???

4) Secondly, this cat survived being closed in a container on a freighter for 2 weeks on a voyage from Egypt to England:

5) Lastly, Millie, an Australian Shepherd, was rescued after spending 2 weeks in a closed storm drain in Utah:

Isn't it amazing that these stories would all show up at the same time?

6) Twenty-nine years ago this past week, the 8th of December, John Lennon was murdered in New York City. Helpful Buckeye can still remember learning of this tragedy while watching Monday Night Football, with Howard Cosell breaking the news. With the Holiday Season upon us, take a few minutes and watch/listen to John Lennon's contribution to our compendium of Holiday music:


The Pittsburgh Steelers are even more DOA this week than they were last week!

Desperado and Helpful Buckeye continued our Holiday movie fest this week by watching White Christmas, Love Actually, Elf, and The Holiday. It's tough duty, but somebody has to do it!

Helpful Buckeye shoveled 39" of snow from the driveway on Monday and Tuesday...with a little help from Desperado. Not bad for the first snow of the season!

Saw this ad in a local newspaper this week: Christmas sale...Handmade gifts for the hard-to-find person.

Thinking back to my early years in western Pennsylvania, where we always seemed to be walking "uphill" in deep snows, this past week brings to mind this short, but meaningful, quote from George Herbert: "Every mile is two in winter."

Whether you're going one mile or two this holiday season, do it carefully!

~~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.~~

Monday, December 7, 2009


According to a recent statistic, dog and cat owners pay about $12 billion annually in veterinary bills. However, before you think, "Wow, that's a lot of money!," consider that those same dog and cat owners spend $17 billion a year on pet food. And when it comes right down to it, how many of you really know what you're feeding to your dogs and cats or why you're feeding that particular food. This issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats will begin the task of sorting out all the important aspects and considerations of what to feed your pets and why. Many of you will probably be right on target with your choices of dog or cat food but, hopefully, Helpful Buckeye can help you fill in the gaps of uncertainty surrounding your choices of what you're feeding your pets and your reasons for doing so.

The 3 polling questions for last week were pretty popular for our e-mailers. Not very many readers actually voted at the individual question site, but a lot of you sent your responses by e-mail along with other comments. That's OK too. There were 14 responses to the question of traveling with your pet over the holidays. It was evenly split with half of the responses saying yes and the other half saying they'd use a kennel or a friend to take care of their pet. As for pets being ill from anything involving the Holidays, 17 said yes and 6 said no. Helpful Buckeye hopes that all the references we've made concerning the dangers of the "Holidays" for pets will help bring that number down considerably! The 3rd question about how much grooming of your pet you are willing to attempt produced interesting results. Of the 18 responses, 12 replied that they do both the bathing and grooming, while 2 bathed only and 2 groomed only. That left 2 respondents saying, "Leave it to the pros!" Be sure to participate in this week's poll question in the column to the left.


1) From the American Veterinary Medical Association, "Two cats (aged 10 and 11 years) from different households in Colorado have tested positive for 2009 H1N1 (Swine Flu) influenza, according to Colorado State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. The felines are expected to recover, but their cases serve as a reminder to pet owners to seek veterinary attention for companion animals that appear to be ill." Read the media release from Colorado State University for further information:

On a related note, a dog in China has been diagnosed as having contracted the same H1N1 (Swine Flu) virus. Authorities are awaiting confirming tests on that one.

2) WASHINGTON (UPI) -- The American Red Cross advises families to make some changes in how they interact and eat during holiday gatherings, to prevent the spread of the swine flu virus.

Avoid kissing, handshakes during holidays

Sharon Stanley, chief nurse of the American Red Cross in Washington, says the holidays are about food, family and friends -- but with H1N1 flu still circulating families can take some steps to keep the celebration happy and healthy. Stanley advises to:

  • Avoid the usual kisses and handshakes when greeting friends and family.

  • Wash hands frequently, before preparing food, while cooking and always before eating.

  • Keep plenty of hand soap in the bathroom, preferably in a pump container. Skip pretty hand towels and use disposable hand towels or a roll of paper towels.

  • Consider putting the glasses away and using plastic cups, or provide a way for guests to identify their drinks to avoid drinking out of anyone else's glass.

  • Put serving utensils in every dish, including snacks like nuts, pretzels or potato chips, so people can spoon out their portion instead of reaching in with their hands.

Think about it...everybody likes to spread cheer during the Holidays. Let's try to NOT spread any flu virus!

3) The bad guys seem to capitalize on everything, especially when things aren't going very well. Now, we find out about an e-mail scheme that takes advantage of someone's fear of Swine Flu and plants a troublesome virus on their computer. Be wary of any e-mail that purports to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention! Take just a minute to read this posting about what to watch out for:

4) Again, from the AVMA, "The Food and Drug Administration has issued an alert warning consumers to dispose of pig ears and beef hooves from Pet Carousel because of potential Salmonella contamination. PetSmart recalled two Pet Carousel products in response to the situation." For further details on this recall, read:

Be sure that you don't already have some of these products at home.

5) An update of a cat food recall from 10 weeks ago has revealed a lack of proper level of thiamine, an essential nutrient for cats. For the rest of the story, go to:

This situation was part of the reason for this week's discussion of dog and cat nutrition.

WHAT YOUR PETS ARE EATING....a discussion of dog and cat nutrition

Let's face it...any discussion on nutrition is not likely to attract much interest, whether it's about human nutrition or pet nutrition. Even when I was in veterinary school, it just wasn't a very glamorous topic. There's a lot of general science and chemistry involved in understanding the basics and it can get downright boring at times. However, as with a lot of other things in life, if you don't have a good grasp of basic principles, you won't be able to comprehend the "big picture." And, the "big picture" on this blog is the overall health of your dogs and cats. So, get ready for this cram course on the basics of pet nutrition so that we can then move into the realm of how your pets' diets are related to their health. Some of this information has been adapted from The Merck Veterinary Manual 2008.

Dogs are a very diverse species, with normal body weights ranging from 2-175 lb. The growth rates of puppies are the most rapid during the first 5 months, while that growth rate begins to flatten out after 6 months of age. Overall growth of dogs may be completed by 9-12 months of age in the smaller breeds and not until 18-24 months in the very largest breeds. By contrast, the average body weight of the adult domestic cat usually ranges from 8-12 lb. Full adult growth in cats is usually attained by the 7 month mark. These vast differences in age and weight account for the reason that dogs and cats require specific dietary nutrient concentrations based on their life stage.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) publishes dog and cat nutrient profiles for growth, maintenance, and reproduction. These are based in part on the 1974 and 1985 National Research Council (NRC) nutrient requirements for these species. Update NRC requirements have recently been established and will be published soon.

In developed countries, nutritional diseases are rarely seen in dogs and cats especially when they are fed good quality commercial rations or nutritionally balanced homemade diets. However, the important words here are "nutritionally balanced." Dog or cat foods or homemade diets derived from a single food item are going to be grossly inadequate for your pet. As an example, feeding predominantly meat or even an exclusive hamburger and rice diet to dogs can induce calcium deficiency, leading to secondary hypoparathyroidism...a glandular disorder involving the balance between calcium and phosphorus in the body. Another example would be the feeding of an exclusive raw, freshwater fish diet to cats, which can lead to a thiamine deficiency. Feeding too much liver can lead to Vitamin A toxicity in both dogs and cats. Taking this a step further, malnutrition has been seen in dogs and cats that have been fed "natural," "organic," or "vegetarian" diets put together by their owners with the best intentions. because the palatability, digestibility, and safety of these recipes have not been adequately or scientifically tested, it is difficult to characterize all of these homemade diets. Generally most of these homemade necessary microminerals such as copper, zinc, and potassium. Commonly used meat and carbohydrate ingredients contain more phosphorus than calcium. Some homemade diets for cats are not actually deficient in fats or energy but, since they contain a vegetable oil that cats do not find tasty, less of the food will be eaten causing a calorie deficiency. Beyond these concerns, homemade diets are rarely properly balanced for the important microminerals or vitamins.

The other oral consumption consideration is that of water. Clean fresh water should always be available. Multiple water sources will encourage consumption. Healthy animals can effectively self-regulate their water intake when provided ample amounts of water. Dehydration can become a serious consequence in problems involving the gastro-intestinal, respiratory, and urinary systems and fluid replacement needs to be administered.

One of the quantitative measures of food being eaten involves the amount of energy of a diet that is retained within the body. Ah yes, that would be the calorie...that word which determines how hard some people work to keep their weight under control. Dogs and cats require sufficient energy to allow for the optimal use of proteins and to maintain optimal body weight and condition through their periods of growth, maintenance, activity, pregnancy, and lactation. Of the 6 recognized nutrient groups, only protein, fats, and carbohydrates provide energy, whereas vitamins, minerals, and water do not. Recent evidence shows that dogs kept in households require less calories per day compared with dogs held in outdoor kennels. Other factors that determine daily energy needs include activity level, life stage, percent lean body mass, age, and environment. For example, energy requirements increased by almost 71% in Huskies as the outdoor temperature decreases from summer to winter levels. Effects of environmental temperature are not well established in cats.

That's enough nutritional information for any of you to absorb in one sitting. In the next part of this discussion on pet nutrition, Helpful Buckeye will cover the 5 remaining nutrient groups: proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Stay tuned....


This isn't a "product," per se, as in, you can go out and buy one for $20. Rather, this is a cat-friendly house built in Japan for the owners of 16 cats and 5 dogs. Enjoy looking through these photos of blissful cats relaxing in their unique abode:


1) Well, it was too good to be true. Cody, the chocolate Labrador, has been booted out of his "job" at the BP gas station/convenience store in Florida. The powers that be in the state health department felt his presence was in violation of food sanitation requirements. For the rest of the story, go to:

2) Pet owners always like to take pictures of their dogs and cats, particularly during the "Holidays." Here are 5 good tips for getting that special photo:
3) A Wyoming family had a recent surprise...18 puppies were delivered by their dog, Ariel. The pups are doing well and all have been spoken for. See Ariel and the pups at:

4) A really interesting story appeared in the USA Today this week about the rare hairless breed of cat known as a Sphynx and how they are serving so well as therapy animals for humans. The affection these cats show to humans and the contact they crave make them ideally suited for this type of therapy. Enjoy this feel good story:

5) The USA Today also ran a story of the unfortunate encounter of a family cat with a Tiger Lily. Read about the danger of the lily family and cats:

The ASPCA has a really thorough index of plants that can be poisonous to pets, including their pictures. You might want to consider keeping this site as a favorite on your computer for future reference:

A previous issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats covered many different plants that are poisonous to cats and dogs and suggested that pet owners should keep a copy of that list handy for future reference: This site should also be kept on your list of favorites.


With today's ignominious defeat at the hands of the Oakland Raiders, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been officially declared DOA. It would appear that a change in coaching might be in order.

The Ohio State Buckeyes found out they would be playing Oregon in the Rose Bowl on New Years' Day. For those of you who don't follow west coast football, Oregon is the team that crushed USC earlier in the year, giving them one of their worst defeats in recent years. This will be a tough game for the Buckeyes.


Desperado and Helpful Buckeye started off the Holiday movie viewing season this past week by watching an "oldie" (Holiday Inn) and a more recent flick (Deck The Halls). In past years, we have tried to watch 2-3 Holiday movies each week of December...we suggest you try it and invite some of your good friends to join you. This week, we have White Christmas, Elf, and Love Actually on schedule. Bring on the popcorn and joviality!

A blizzard warning is posted for most of northern Arizona for Monday and Tuesday. We'll most likely get in excess of 2 ft. of snow by Tuesday morning.

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) British Statesman, Soldier, and Author said: "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." Desperado and Helpful Buckeye will take advantage of the deep snows to enjoy our movies....

~~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.~~