Monday, February 1, 2010


Helpful Buckeye appreciates the patience and understanding shown by all of our readers as a consequence of the necessity of changing the format for last week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats. Actually, the "Snow Bound...." issue allowed for the opportunity to run a few informative pieces of information that otherwise might have not fit in with our regular weekly topics. Helpful Buckeye appreciates all the e-mails about the different topics last week.

If you haven't already read the title for this week's issue, you might be thinking this photo is from one of the science fiction movies so popular today. No, this is something that some of you may have experienced yourself or perhaps your dog and/or cat had the misfortune to encounter. This is a dermatophyte....more about this later in this issue.

Questions On Dogs and Cats is bringing back the weekly poll question this week. We haven't run a poll question for a couple of weeks and it was nice to get so many e-mails asking why not. Due to the structure of the 2 previous issues, it just wasn't feasible. So, be sure to answer this week's poll question in the column to the left.

As a reminder, readers can send an e-mail to Helpful Buckeye at: and you can also register a comment at the end of each issue by clicking on the "Comment" icon and proceeding as directed.


1) The American Veterinary Medical Association is reminding all pet owners that February is National Pet Dental Health Month. You can read their announcement, which begins with this introduction: "It is estimated that 80 percent of people brush their teeth every day, but far fewer pet owners do the same for their pets. Pet Dental Health Month, celebrated every February, teaches pet owners proper dental hygiene is equally as important for their pets." at:

Questions On Dogs and Cats published several topics on dental disease in pets during last year's National Pet Dental Health Month of February, which can be found at:

A good review of dental care is a great idea for any dog and cat owner, take a few minutes, go back and review these short articles, and your pet will appreciate it!

2) A recent study, reported by the American Animal Hospital Association, has shown some connections between certain types of air pollution and lung cancer in dogs. Read the preliminary findings at:

3) A fire department in Georgia has been using pet oxygen masks for resuscitation of pets that have been rescued from house fires. Read about the program designed to provide a pet oxygen mask for every firetruck at: and be sure to watch the short video of the product in use.


Sometimes the name of a disease can be misleading. This week's featured disease is one of those. Ringworm doesn't always have to appear as a round ring and it for sure does NOT involve a worm. The name ringworm arose several hundred years ago when early physicians thought the circular lesions on humans were the result of a skin worm infestation.

Ringworm in dogs and cats is caused by a small group of fungus organisms. There are numerous fungal infections seen in dogs and cats, ranging from the more serious systemic (affecting the entire body, mainly the internal organs) diseases like Histoplasmosis, Blastomycosis, Cryptococcosis, and Coccidiodomycosis to the more superficial skin infections like ringworm. In dogs, ringworm can be cause by any of 3 species of fungus, with 70% of infections being caused by Microsporum canis. In cats, 98% of ringworm infections are caused by Microsporum canis.

The main mode of transmission for ringworm is by direct contact with another infected animal or with a human who has the disease. Ringworm can go from human to animal, animal to animal, and from animal to human (zoonotic). Fungal spores from infected animals can be shed into the pet's environment and survive on their own for more than a year. These spores can be found in carpeting, bedding, furniture upholstery fabric, and on grooming equipment that has been used on an infected animal. Contact with these items can also lead to the spread of ringworm.

The clinical appearance of ringworm varies from animal to animal. The characteristic circular appearance seen in humans isn't always the way it appears on dogs and cats. These photos show the classic appearance usually seen in humans:

Even though this circular form can be seen in dogs and cats, the lesions can also be irregular in shape. Dogs usually show a scaly patch of skin that is devoid of hair or perhaps has just a few broken hairs present. These lesions may or may not be itchy and the exposed skin may or may not be reddened and inflamed. They are most commonly found on the face, ears, tail, and paws, but can be on the torso as well. There may be infected pustules present, especially in the center of the lesion. Cats usually don't show much of the itchiness, reddening, or infected pustules and most ringworm infections are found on the ears, face, and legs. This photo of a dog with ringworm shows a fairly large affected area on the torso in addition to the spot on the tail.

This photo of a cat with ringworm shows the more typical location of the hairless spots.

The diagnosis of a ringworm infection would be accomplished by your veterinarian as part of the examination. There are 3 main tests for determining if ringworm is the culprit behind the skin problem of your dog or cat. The first of these is called a Wood's lamp, which is a type of ultraviolet light also known as a black light. About 50% of ringworm infections will give off a fluorescent yellowish-green glow when illuminated by the Wood's lamp and that would be indicative of a ringworm infection. However, the other 50% of ringworm infections will not cause this glow. The second test involves mixing a sample of the broken and surrounding hairs with a chemical and examining the preparation with a microscope in search of actual fungal elements. Again, this method doesn't always produce diagnostic results. The most reliable and accurate test involves culturing some of the scales, crust, and hairs from one of the spots in a special culture medium that turns red when a ringworm infection is present. This test takes a few to several days to complete, so the results aren't known for a while. The positive result is on the right:

Veterinarians can perform all of these tests in the office.

As far as treatment is concerned, most of the smaller lesions on healthy animals will heal on their own within 2-4 months. The only problem with this wait-and-see approach is that there is the concern of the fungal infection being contagious to other pets or the humans in the household. The resolution of these infections can be sped up by certain treatments. Your veterinarian has several types of medications available for consideration, depending on many factors. Since most dogs and cats are healthy enough to never get infected with ringworm, an infected pet needs to be evaluated for any other possible health complications before treatment is begun. There are several types of rinse and shampoos available, although their overall effectiveness has never been confirmed. There are also a few creams which do provide effective treatment for individual lesions. For the truly chronic or severe cases, your pet might require some of the systemic medications, which are usually given orally. These also have the additional concern of certain side effects which your veterinarian would have to discuss with you.

Every pet owner should be aware of the signs, possibility of transmission, and treatment of ringworm in their dog and/or cat.


There has been a lot of news coverage of the terrible aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti and many of the rescue stories are heartbreaking. One small, but very important, aspect of the rescue effort has been the canine search-and-rescue teams. This is a summary of those efforts presented by Matthew Margolis, who, among other endeavors, reports on dog stories for NPR.

Dog Talk with Uncle Matty: Fide Canem
By Matthew “Uncle Matty” Margolis

Fide canem: the creed of canine search-and-rescue organizations. These two words often adorn their logos or sit high atop their websites. Reassuring words. They are Latin for "trust the dog."

"Trust the dog" is the first rule new SAR dog handlers learn. That rule has paid handsomely in Haiti, where SAR teams have been responsible for a record number of saved lives. Debra Tosch, executive director of the Search Dog Foundation, told the Los Angeles Daily News, "When you go on a mission like this hoping to get one rescue, one find, the fact that they're having multiple rescues is just amazing."

SDF is a nonprofit organization whose mission is "to strengthen disaster response in America by recruiting rescued dogs and partnering them with firefighters and other first responders to find people buried alive in the wreckage of disasters."

Since Jan. 12, when a monumental earthquake shook the Western hemisphere's poorest country to its core, at least 175 SAR dogs and their handlers have arrived on the scene to do their part. Dogs from the Netherlands and China. From Ireland and France. From the United States, Britain and Canada. Mexico, Peru and Taiwan. Dogs from Spain, Iceland, Germany and Venezuela.

What makes these dogs so invaluable?

In the context of a calamity like quake-ravaged Haiti, one certified SAR dog is the equivalent of 40 human beings trained in disaster relief. A certified SAR team -- one dog, one handler -- can accomplish more in these circumstances in 10 minutes than a single person could in several hours.

How do they do it?

By the divine light of their natural-born gifts, in part. Dogs possess night-vision without the funny goggles. Their ears pick up more sound frequencies than ours, and their bodies are more agile. They are smaller, lighter and fearless under conditions that would reduce most of us to nightmares.

The reason behind the credo, though, is that famous canine sniffer. While a person has about 5 million olfactory sensory cells, a dog can have up to 220 million. Canines perceive certain smells in the range of one part in 10 quadrillion. And one-third of a dog's brain is devoted to olfaction, meaning he is "scent smart." According to Gary Settles, professor of mechanical engineering at Penn State University, who studied the canine olfactory system for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, "They use scent the way we read the newspaper."

To put that in normal domestic dog terms, that's how your dog can mark the same spot on the carpet repeatedly, no matter how much perfumed cleanser you drown it in. But for bomb-sniffing dogs, cadaver-sniffing dogs or search-and-rescue dogs, this heightened sensitivity becomes the stuff of superheroes. And it is why SAR canine handlers are taught, above all: Fide canem.

Specialized training with an expert handler turns a dog's unique gifts into a lifesaving skillset. Tosch said of the SAR teams' role in Haiti, "All SDF handlers are experts in reading their canines" The canines are literally the Task Force's most precious tool in the hunt for survivors: Their well-being is mission-critical."

And that well-being is ensured. SDF repays their debt of gratitude to these distinguished dogs by guaranteeing a cushy retirement. Not that these hardworking canines seem overly concerned with their benefits plan.

Terry Trepanier, a lieutenant with the Washington Twp. Fire Department, and his golden retriever, Woody, spent 10 days at Ground Zero after September 11. "To know what they've been through and to see how they performed makes you proud. And they never complain," said Trepanier. "They just wag their tails and say, 'Let's go.'"

These remarkable dogs are a part of our lives. We pass them in airports, cruise by them at border crossings and sail past them at our nation's ports. We read about them when children go missing or when a victim of Alzheimer's disappears. More than eight years ago, we all sat riveted as they reported for duty when the Twin Towers crumbled in New York City. And today, we stand by as they respond to the cry for help in Haiti.

Next time you encounter one, be sure to issue a much-deserved scratch behind the ears.

To find out more about SDF's SAR dogs or to make a donation, visit Or google "search and rescue dogs" to extend your research to other similarly worthy organizations.


1) For those dog owners striving to find the ultimate indestructible dog toys, here is a list of 5 promising products:

The "Kong" might be a good place to start!

2) "Calming Collars" makes this claim: The beauty of our products is not only that they work, but that they work using NATURAL methods. You just clip our collars on your pet and let the herbal blends work naturally to calm your pet. Stress relief is just minutes away for your loved one. Reduce dog anxiety and or cat stress! Check out their products at:


1) The American Kennel Club has released their list of the Top 10 dogs of the year for 2009, according to the number of registrations. And you guessed it, the top dog breed for 2009 is: The Golden Retriever...for the 19th year in a row!!! The rest of the Top 10 are:

  • 1. Labrador Retriever

  • 2. German Shepherd Dog

  • 3. Yorkshire Terrier

  • 4. Golden Retriever

  • 5. Beagle

  • 6. Boxer

  • 7. Bulldog

  • 8. Dachshund

  • 9. Poodle

  • 10. Shih Tzu

The AKC web site has all the descriptive information about these breeds and some interesting history at:

2) According to an American Hotel & Lodging Association survey of 8,000 hotels in the U.S., 60% welcome pets. Here's a roundup of ten of the most easily found pet-friendly hotels in America, including points of interest for each of the ten:

On a similar note, here are some resources to get you started on a successful search for an animal-friendly apartment. If an organization is listed but no website link is provided, call them for help finding animal-friendly housing in that area. This information is brought to you by the Humane Society of the United States:

3) Dog parks are an incredible resource for dog owners and animal lovers. For city dwellers, dog parks provide a rare space where dogs can run free. Even suburban and country dogs love dog parks for the ever-so-important socialization opportunities that they provide. New dog owners, long-time dog owners, and dog owners' associations find dog parks to be an oasis in which to commune. Many even hold events at these parks, adding to their fun. This article reviews the best dog parks in the USA's biggest cities:

4) Several months ago, Questions On Dogs and Cats ran a story about Tama, a cat in the Japanese town of Kishi, that had been appointed as stationmaster of the local electric railway. Now, Tama has been appointed as a corporate executive of the company. Read about this special cat at:

5) Not only do the Japanese honor their cats in unusual ways, but they also apparently make TV commercials using the cutest cats in the world. Watch the very short video at this web site and tell me this isn't the cutest cat you've ever seen:


The Ohio State University Buckeyes men's basketball team has established their position in the Top 25 rankings.


My Dad celebrated his 88th birthday this past week and Desperado has one coming up very soon...her ??th (which we'll celebrate either at the Grand Canyon or in Sedona)...everyone's getting older...except for Helpful Buckeye!

~~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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