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.~~


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