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.~~

No comments:

Post a Comment