Monday, February 22, 2010


Desperado and Helpful Buckeye have unexpectedly had to take a trip back to Pennsylvania to help with some family concerns and, at this point, we are uncertain of when we will return home. There won't be enough time available to develop new issues of Questions On Dogs and Cats for the time being...however, Helpful Buckeye doesn't want our faithful readers to go without something important about dogs and cats to read each week. So, since we are still in the month of February, which is always National Pet Dental Health Month, Helpful Buckeye will offer a selection of previous topics on the dental health of your pets.

Dental disease is one of the most common problems experienced by dogs and cats, in large part because they can't take care of their teeth. Add to that the fact that many pet owners are not as aware as they should be of the proper care and treatment that are required and recommended to keep their pets' teeth and gums in good health. For these reasons, a little refresher discussion about pet dental health is always a good idea...even for our faithful readers. For all of our new followers we have acquired in the last year, this will be your first opportunity to take advantage of this valuable series on Pet Dental Health. As always, if you have any questions about any of the material presented, please either send an e-mail to Helpful Buckeye at: or post a comment at the end of each blog issue by clicking on the "Comment" icon and following the simple instructions. Even though we'll be on the road, Helpful Buckeye will still be able to read your e-mails.

In this week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats, the topics will include some natural history of carnivores and their teeth and some general anatomy of the mouths of dogs and cats. Next week, we will consider problems involving the teeth, treatment of those problems, and preventive measures that pet owners should be employing.

Carnivores are animals which depend, to varying extent, on eating the flesh (meat) of other animals. Some carnivores are predators, requiring fresh meat, while others are scavengers, eating already dead animals.

Regardless of their food orientation, all carnivores have certain types of teeth which are very characteristic of their particular environmental niche. Carnivores have large canine teeth (fangs), 2 upper and 2 lower. They also have several incisors for grasping and pulling the meat from the carcass. Lastly, they have premolars and molars, which are sharp-edged rather than flat. These edges help in the shredding and tearing apart of larger pieces of food so that the smaller pieces can then be more easily swallowed. Most of the digestion of a carnivore's food takes place in the stomach and small intestine, so there is no need for flatter-surfaced molars as found in the chewing animals like omnivores and herbivores. Also, because carnivores don't do any chewing of their food, their jaws only move up and own, but not sideways.

Part of the reason your dog and/or cat usually picks up and swallows their food very quickly is that their ancestors ran in packs and they needed to get their meal and then move on to their resting spot. When they finally stopped to rest, their digestion could proceed. They frequently would overeat because they never knew when their next prey would show up. For this reason, some of your pets will sometimes appear ravenous even though you feed them regularly.

Perhaps a few pictures and diagrams will help you have a better understanding of the mouth of your dog or cat. The tooth arrangement of the maxilla (upper jaw) of the dog:

SIDE VIEW (left)


...and of the mandible (lower jaw):

SIDE VIEW (left)

UPPER VIEW (right)

Puppies begin to show their puppy (deciduous) teeth at 3-8 weeks of age and their permanent teeth at 3-6 months of age. Most puppies will have 28 teeth (14 upper, 14 lower), while mature dogs will have 42 teeth (20 upper, 22 lower).

Now, for the cat's tooth arrangement, the different views are all on one drawing:

Kittens begin to show their kitten (deciduous) teeth at 3-8 weeks of age and their permanent teeth at 3-6 months of age. Most kittens will have 26 teeth (14 upper, 12 lower), while mature cats will have 30 teeth (16 upper, 14 lower).

Dental care for animals has made huge strides over the last 25-30 years. Your regular veterinarian can take care of many of the more common dental needs and preventive care that your pets might require. However, if those dental problems are more complicated, there are many dental specialists in the USA, including those board-certified by the American Veterinary Dental College. There are even veterinary dentists who do their work primarily on the more exotic species of animals (a jaguar at the Phoenix Zoo), as shown in this article from Arizona Wildlife Views: The picture we showed you last week of the German Shepherd exhibiting his teeth brought a lot of comments. Here is the picture again, followed by the comments:

Somebody has a BAD case of DOGBREATH!!!
Tell that one about the cat again HAHAHAHAHAHA!
That was dog-gone funny!
Look, no cavities.
Somebody call the Dog Whisperer!
Fangs for the memories....
Kid, that was too funny!
“This kid’s a riot!!!”

Basically, what Helpful Buckeye would like all of you to do this week is to take a closer look at your dog's or cat's teeth. Be careful and gentle when you do so, but look at the arrangement and structure of the teeth. Then, you'll be better prepared for our discussion next week. So, let's get started on your homework!

Monday, February 15, 2010


Wow, not only is this a 3-day Presidents Day weekend, it's also Valentine's Day! The combination was too good to pass up, so Desperado and Helpful Buckeye decided to make a short trip down to Tucson for 3 days to enjoy some warmer temperatures and desert explorations.

The poll question from last week aroused several sentiments about a cat's nocturnal activities and many of you sent e-mails relating some interesting tidbits about the night-time behavior of your felines. About half of 21 respondents said they were concerned about what their cats do through the night and the other half said they weren't concerned. Be sure to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.

Hopefully, in addition to that special Valentine in your life, you will find some extra sentiment for your "pet" Valentine this weekend....


The Humane Society of the United States offers the following position regarding breed-specific policies:

The HSUS opposes legislation aimed at eradicating or strictly regulating dogs based solely on their breed for a number of reasons. Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is a common first approach that many communities take. Thankfully, once research is conducted most community leaders correctly realize that BSL won't solve the problems they face with dangerous dogs.

There are more than 4.5 million dog bites each year. This is an estimate as there is no central reporting agency for dog bites, thus breed and other information is not captured. Out of the millions of bites, about 10-20 are fatal each year. While certainly tragic, it represents a very small number statistically and should not be considered as a basis for sweeping legislative action.It is imperative that the dog population in the community be understood. To simply pull numbers of attacks does not give an accurate representation of a breed necessarily. For example, by reviewing a study that states there have been five attacks by golden retrievers in a community and 10 attacks by pit bulls in that same community it would appear that pit bulls are more dangerous. However, if you look at the dog populations in that community and learn that there are 50 golden retrievers present and 500 pit bulls, then the pit bulls are actually the safer breed statistically.

For the rest of this position statement by the HSUS, go to:


The pancreas is a fairly large gland, located in the anterior abdomen near the stomach, liver, and the duodenum portion of the small intestine of the dog and cat.

Part of the pancreas produces and secretes digestive enzymes, such as amylase and lipase, which are released into the small intestine...thus making this part of the pancreas an exocrine gland. Another part of the pancreas, the Islets of Langerhans, produces the hormones insulin and glucagon which are secreted directly into the bloodstream...meaning that this part of the pancreas is an endocrine gland.

As mentioned in last week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats, insulin is probably the most well-known hormone of all. Malfunctions in the ability of the body to either produce enough insulin or properly utilize available insulin usually result in the development of diabetes mellitus. When starches and carbohydrates are eaten, they are broken down into the sugar glucose. The glucose is absorbed through the wall of the digestive tract and passes into the bloodstream. Insulin allows glucose to leave the bloodstream and enter the body's tissues. Glucose can then be utilized as energy for the cells. Sometimes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to make this transport of glucose possible and, in other cases, the body's tissues become unable to use insulin effectively.

Most cases of diabetes mellitus occur in middle-aged dogs and cats. In dogs, females are twice as likely to develop the disease as are males. Any breed of dog can be affected, but the incidence appears to be higher in certain smaller breeds, such as Miniature Poodles, Dachshunds, Schnauzers, Cairn Terriers, and Beagles. No breed predisposition has been observed in cats.

The onset of diabetes mellitus can be very inconspicuous for a pet owner to notice. The most common signs associated with this onset are increased thirst, increased urinations, increased appetite (frequently accompanied by weight loss), generalized weakness, and cataracts in both eyes (dogs only). These all are related, in one way or another, to the excessive build-up of glucose in the the bloodstream.

The diagnosis of diabetes mellitus results from a combination of a good physical exam and history with the appropriate lab work. Your veterinarian will want to evaluate blood and urine levels of glucose, in addition to a few other specialized blood tests for a confirmation.

Treatment of diabetes mellitus is considered to be a long-term proposition and its success will largely depend on the understanding and cooperation of the pet owner. The overall treatment plan involves a combination of weight reduction, diet, the administration of insulin, and possibly the use of oral medications that reduce blood glucose. Each of these factors will be discussed by your veterinarian and you really need to understand why they are important to the success of the treatment. After your veterinarian has made a complete evaluation of your dog or cat for any other potentially complicating factors, they will present you with a game plan for controlling and managing the disease. A good channel of communication between you and your veterinarian is a must when dealing with diabetes mellitus.

A short note about the use of the word, "mellitus," is in order at this point. Way back in medical history, when diabetes was first described, early physicians noticed that the urine of those patients was sweet-tasting (yes, they actually did taste it!) and thus the name mellitus was added to diabetes, signifying "sweet diabetes." This differentiates this disease from diabetes insipidus, "bland diabetes," which arises from a deficiency of anti-diuretic hormone, which is produced in a part of the pituitary gland. Diabetes insipidus also involves an increase in thirst and urinations, so you can see why there could be some confusion, thus the difference in their names.

The bottom line is that you should report any of these signs in your dog or cat as soon as you notice them. If the diagnosis turns out to be diabetes mellitus, the sooner treatment is started, the better the chances are for a good result.

The Humane Society of the United States has put together a very interesting and informative description of how to properly read a pet food label:

Reading Pet Food Labels
Getting to the meat of the matter

Pet food companies invest millions of dollars into designing labels to appeal to people. It's important to look beyond the appealing words and focus on the fine print—the ingredient list and guaranteed analysis.

Spend a few minutes reading this presentation at:

General Interest

1) The American Veterinary Medical Association has produced another podcast, titled "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" (with apologies to the Temptations)....
If your pet begs for food, take a few minutes and listen to this report at: and be sure to click the MP3 link.

2) Here's a fun video of a Sheltie puppy trying to figure out what to do with a toy ball:

3) For those dog owners who might want to immortalize their pooch, the folks who make Milk Bones are offering to put your dog's photo on the front of one of their boxes...but it does cost a few bucks. I guess this would be the canine equivalent of having your photo on a Wheaties box? For how to get this done, go to:

4) The first ever recorded cat knee replacement has been accomplished in England. Read the interesting story of Missy and her new knee:

5) Now that large portions of the USA are covered by a lot of snow, enjoy Tillman, the athletic Bulldog, as he and a few other pets try some of the Olympic events: Yes, for those of you who are wondering, you've seen Tillman before on his skateboard!

6) Are cat owners smarter than dog owners? The London Daily Mail asked that very question and you may or may not agree with the conclusion of their study. Read about it at:

7) According to one of the biggest pet insurance companies, the most common cause for a dog visit to the veterinarian is an ear infection, while for a cat is a lower urinary tract infection. See the top 10 list at:

This website was sent in by my former partner back in Richmond.


"Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of traveling." --Margaret Lee Runbeck (1905-1956)

Desperado and Helpful Buckeye are certain to be happy in our manner of travel the next several days...we sure can use the recharge after all the snow we've shoveled and endured!

"We build too many walls and not enough bridges." --Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) English mathematician and physicist

~~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, February 8, 2010


Not all diseases and disorders of dogs and cats are of the infectious or contagious variety, as are the skin fungus infections we discussed in last week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats. Sometimes things happen to parts of the body that don't involve an infectious process. These can include trauma, genetic abnormalities, chemical imbalances, behavioral disorders, and malfunctions of various organs of the body. In this week's issue, Helpful Buckeye will introduce endocrine glands and how they fit into the overall health of the dog and cat.

Last week's poll question on ringworm and the family pets produced several e-mail responses. Most of the pet owners responding were lucky enough to not have contracted ringworm themselves (10% said yes), but 40% said their pet had been diagnosed with ringworm at some point. Be sure to answer this week's poll question in the column to the left.


A few weeks ago, it was announced that archaeologists had uncovered the remains of an old Egyptian temple that was important to the understanding of the position of cats in historic Egyptian society. "Archaeologists have unearthed a 2,000-year-old temple that may have been dedicated to the ancient Egyptian cat goddess, Bastet," the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt said.

"This limestone feline is among some 600 cat statues from a newfound temple dedicated to the Egyptian cat goddess Bastet. The ancient temple was recently discovered under the streets of modern-day Alexandria, Egypt. Egyptian archaeologists who found the temple say it was built by Queen Berenike II, wife of Greek King Ptolemy III, who ruled Egypt from 246 to 221 B.C.
Cats were important house pets in ancient Egypt and were often depicted in private tombs. In some cases, cats were mummified in the same way as humans and buried at temples."
One source for this story was:


A gland is a structure (either an organ or a group of cells) in the body of a dog or cat that specializes in producing secretions of a substance or substances that are essential and vital to the existence of that animal. There are several types of glands found in the body and the 2 most familiar of these are exocrine glands and endocrine glands.

Exocrine glands are those which have their secretion passed by ducts to the exterior surface of the body or to another surface in the body that is continuous with the external surface. An example of the former would be the sweat example of the latter would be the salivary glands in the mouth.

Endocrine glands also produce a secretion but that secretion is passed directly into the bloodstream for transit to a target gland or organ which it will influence. The major endocrine glands are the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal, pancreas, ovaries, and testicles.

The activity of all these glands is regulated by chemical or nerve signals, or a combination of both. The endocrine system encompasses a group of tissues that release hormones into the blood circulation for travel to distant target glands or organs. Not all cells in the body are affected by hormones, and only certain cells of a particular organ may respond to a specific hormone. Some hormones control the release of other hormones.

The pituitary gland has been referred to as the "master gland" since it secretes more kinds of hormones than any other gland and because its hormones control the release of hormones from the other endocrine glands. The pituitary gland produces growth hormone, which controls body growth; the hormone prolactin, which stimulates the mammary glands to produce milk for nursing; thyroid-stimulating hormone, which controls the thyroid gland; luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormones, which influence the ovaries in the direction of heat cycles and ovulation; adrenocorticotropic hormone, which causes the adrenal glands to produce cortisol and other hormones; and anti-diuretic hormone, which regulates the metabolism and proper levels of body water.

The thyroid gland produces its own hormone, thyroxine. The ovaries produce progesterone and estrogen. The testicles produce testosterone. The pancreas produces probably the most well-known hormone of all...insulin. The adrenal glands produce cortisone-like steroids, the sex steroids, and assorted other types of vital natural steroids.

If your pet's hormone and endocrine gland system malfunctions, a wide range of serious medical conditions can develop and the overall health of your dog or cat could be severely affected. In coming issues of Questions On Dogs and Cats, Helpful Buckeye will discuss some of the more common endocrine disorders seen in dogs and cats, what they do to the body, and what can possibly be done to treat them. If you have any specific questions pertaining to endocrine disorders, be sure to send them by e-mail to: and Helpful Buckeye will address your concerns at the appropriate time.


1) The American Association of Feline Practitioners, in conjunction with Purina, has produced a very comprehensive and informative booklet titled, Friends For Life: Caring for your older cat. This is a 32-page brochure that you can read at: and, if you want, you can print your own copy for further reference.

2) The American Veterinary Medical Association has produced another podcast, this one dealing with pet cats that are active at night. Enjoy listening to this entertaining and informative interview at:


From: are intelligent and naturally curious creatures. Without daily challenge and mental stimulation, they'll quickly become lethargic and bored, leading to depression or unwelcome behaviors. The simplest way to prevent boredom in cats is with a variety of stimulating toys. Playtime ensures your cat will engage its hunting instincts or allow it to solve challenges, all while getting its daily exercise. A well-stocked cache of toys will include a selection of self-play opportunities for your cat to entertain itself while you're away, as well as interactive toys for when you and your cat can play together. Check out these Peek-A-Prize cat toys from:, these Cheesewedge Plush Mice cat toys from:, and these Cat Track cat toys from:

That should help keep your cat happy and occupied for some time!


1) The Smithsonian Channel has put together a 47-minute "dogumentary, " titled Unleashed, about a lot of really special dogs in Santa Barbara, CA. Granted, this is quite a bit longer than the videos we normally recommend for your viewing. However, it was intended for a 1-hour TV time slot and Helpful Buckeye knows that each and everyone of our readers will waste more than an hour each week "channel surfing" the TV. So, set aside 47 minutes and watch this's worth your time! Go to:

2) Since we're in a video/educational mode this week, take a look at this exciting video of adult heartworms being removed from a dog in order to save its life: This video was sent to Helpful Buckeye by his former business partner...he's also a very helpful Buckeye! If you're also looking for a nice review of heartworms in the dog, go to one of our previous issues at:

3) In our January 17, 2010 issue, we included a listing of the ASPCA's Top 10 Pet Poisons of 2009...and one of the items was avocados. The ASPCA has since offered this explanation for why avocados were put on the list: According to the ASPCA, the avocado plant contains a substance called persin. "Different species of animals have different toxic reactions to avocados," said Dr. Tina Wismer, the senior director of veterinary outreach and education at the ASPCA. "Animals such as birds can develop respiratory distress, fluid build-up around the heart, and death. Horses, rabbits and goats can develop both mastitis [inflammation of the mammary glands] and cardiac problems. They also get a build-up of fluid under the skin in the face and chest.""In dogs, cats and ferrets there are no reliable reports of poisoning," she added. "However, dogs commonly ingest the pit and it can get stuck in the digestive tract." 4) For some pet owners, dealing with the loss of a cherished animal companion is as emotionally difficult as losing a human member of the family. Fortunately, there are many ways to help in coping with the mourning and grief surrounding your loss, whether the animal was euthanized, lost, stolen or had to be placed in a new home. The University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching School runs a hotline, Companion Animal Related Emotions (C.A.R.E.) Pet Loss Helpline (877-394-CARE), that helps pet owners deal with their heartbreak. To read more, go to:

5) Enjoy this really short video, simply titled, "Surprised Kitty": The kitty has surely learned the routine!


It was great to see the New Orleans Saints show everybody that the Colts aren't unbeatable! Not only did the Colts lose, but also Peyton Manning threw a costly interception...and then, in typical Peyton Manning style, he went over to the intended receiver and ripped into him. As a final classless act, Manning left the field without ever congratulating the Saints' QB, Drew Brees, the real MVP of the league. Helpful Buckeye was sitting in the cat-bird seat, dreaming of the can of salted Virginia Diner peanuts that will be making its way across country, from my former partner and really good friend. Trust me, good buddy, this will be easier on you than a chunk of desert ironwood would have been for me!

Well, those of us who are football fans have watched the last game for this season. Those of you who don't follow other sports will have to wait until August when football training camps begin again, both at the college and pro levels. Others, like Helpful Buckeye, will be able to smoothly transition into what's left of basketball season, both college and pro, in addition to awaiting the opening of Spring Training for Major League Baseball.


John Steinbeck, American writer, had this to say about dogs: "I've seen a look in dogs' eyes...and I am convinced that basically dogs think that humans are nuts." Anyone out there dispute that???

~~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, 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.~~