Sunday, April 25, 2010


OK, our regular readers must be wondering just how much more mileage Helpful Buckeye can get out of this "Dog Park" topic.  Well, it only makes sense that if you and/or your dog experience a problem as a result of visiting a dog park, it might be wise to keep that from happening in the first place...right?  With that in mind, Helpful Buckeye will discuss some "Common Sense Measures...." a little later in this issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats.  Hopefully, these "Common Sense Measures" will keep your Saturdays, Sundays, or whatever day you choose to spend at the dog park much safer and enjoyable.  In the words of Spanky and Our Gang, from 1967, may you and your dog be able to say (or sing): 

Most of our readers read the "Current News" item BEFORE answering the first poll question last week.  Yes, 19 of 23 responses were correct...Missouri has more puppy mills than any other state.  Oklahoma used to have that status, but not any more.  Secondly, only about 1/3 of respondents indicated a pet owner/human problem associated with a dog park...6 of 20.  Be sure to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.

Any comments or questions should be sent to: or posted at the "Comment" icon at the end of this issue.


1) The American Veterinary Medical Association has just released this advisory bulletin concerning a potential poison for pet owners to be aware of:

Phosphine Product Precautions

In April 2010, the Michigan Department of Community Health notified the AVMA of two situations where veterinary personnel were affected during the treatment of dogs that had ingested zinc phosphide rodenticide pellets; it is suspected that human exposure resulted from the release of phosphine gas into the examination rooms when the dogs were induced to vomit.

Zinc phosphide is a common component of rodenticides for home and commercial use, and aluminum phosphide is commonly used in agriculture as an insecticide for the fumigation of grains and animal feed. Both products liberate phosphine gas, which is highly toxic to animals and people.

Dogs and cats can be exposed to the toxic effects of zinc phosphide when they eat rodent bait containing the product. Trade names of zinc phosphide-containing rodenticides include Arrex, Denkarin Grains, Gopha-Rid, Phosvin, Pollux, Ridall, Ratol, Rodenticide AG, Zinc-Tox and ZP.

Clinical signs of phosphine poisoning in animals can occur within minutes to hours of ingestion of a toxic dose, and include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting (which may be bloody), abdominal pain, diarrhea, lethargy, incoordination, convulsions, paralysis, coma and death. Once clinical signs are observed, the prognosis is guarded at best.

Symptoms of phosphine intoxication in people include headaches, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. More severe symptoms, including gastrointestinal and respiratory distress, convulsions and death, can occur with severe phosphine poisoning. Veterinarians, veterinary staff and animal owners who handle animals with phosphine poisoning can also be affected and sickened by phosphine gas.

Guidelines for Pet Owners:

• If your pet has eaten (or you suspect it has eaten) a rodenticide or pesticide of any type, immediately contact your veterinarian or an animal poison control center. Provide them with as much information as possible about the product.

o ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: 1-888-426-4435 (a consultation fee may apply)

• If you are instructed to make the dog vomit, take it outdoors to vomit – preferably on a grassy area or near a drain. Stay upwind of the dog and avoid kneeling or lowering yourself to its level (phosphine gas is heavier than air and will be in higher concentrations closer to the ground). Once it has vomited, move all people and the dog away from the area and flush the area with copious amounts of water.

• If your dog has been poisoned by a phosphine product and it vomits indoors, evacuate the area and call 911. If you or anyone else in the immediate area are experiencing headache, nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, chest pain, dizziness, or staggering, seek immediate medical attention.

• Always store and use rodent baits and other potentially toxic products out of reach of children and pets.


Common Sense protect your dogs, yourself and others

• Consult your veterinarian about the best preventive program for your dog(s), including vaccinations, heartworm prevention and parasite prevention (deworming and regular stool checks). One further reminder from the AVMA about interactions involving your puppy:

• Do not let your puppy come into contact with other dogs' stool.

• Make sure you keep your dog's vaccinations up to date so it is fully protected from disease. Consult your veterinarian about the best vaccination schedule for your dog.

• If your dog has a disease or it is receiving steroids or other medications that suppress its immune system and decrease its resistance to infection, you should not take it to dog gatherings without first consulting your veterinarian.

• If your dog is ill, do not take it to a dog gathering.

• Do not pet or handle a dog that appears unhealthy. If contact with an ill dog cannot be avoided, wash your hands thoroughly and change clothes (or cover your clothes) before handling your own dog or another apparently healthy dog.

• Clean up after you own dog(s) and place stool in appropriate containers.

• Follow the rules and guidelines associated with the event or area.

• Teach your dog good leash manners and obedience. If your dog does not behave well around other dogs or people, you should not take it to dog gatherings.

• Remain in sight of your dog and be aware of its behavior while at a dog gathering. Remember, your dog and its behavior are your responsibility in these situations. If your dog shows signs of aggression, fear or illness, remove your dog from the situation and consider leaving the site altogether.

• Avoid contact with dogs that appear aggressive and report their presence and behavior to the proper authorities.

• Before your children accompany you and your pet(s) to a dog gathering, make sure they are aware of safety around dogs. While present at the dog gathering, monitor your children closely to make sure they are safe and protected from harm (e.g., injury, bites, etc.).

• Do not allow your dog to have contact with any wildlife. This includes rabbits, squirrels and other wildlife that may be present in areas frequented by dogs.

• If you observe wildlife or other animals acting in an abnormal way, do not approach the animal, do not allow your dog to come in contact with the animal, and call the appropriate authorities.

• Do not swim in water frequented by dogs (e.g., in dog parks, etc.)

• Avoid letting dogs drink standing water or water that is obviously not fresh. If possible, bring water for yourself and your dog to the dog gathering.

• Take appropriate measures to reduce your risk of tick and mosquito bites, including the following:

o Wear light-colored clothing.

o Wear long sleeves and pants (where practical) and tuck the pant leg hems into socks to prevent ticks from crawling up your legs from the ground.

o Use insect repellent.

o When practical, avoid being outside during times of high insect activity.

• Check your dog for ticks after any outside dog gatherings and remove the tick(s) as soon as possible. Prompt removal of ticks is very important because it lessens the chance of disease transmission from the tick to your pet.

o Remove ticks by carefully using tweezers to firmly grip the tick as close to the pet's skin as possible and gently and steadily pulling the tick free without twisting it or crushing the tick during removal.

o Do not attempt to smother the tick with alcohol or petroleum jelly, or apply a hot match to it, as this may cause the tick to regurgitate saliva into the wound and increase the risk of disease if the tick is infected.

o Crushing, twisting or jerking the tick out of the skin while its head is still buried could result in leaving the tick's mouth parts in your pet's skin; this can cause a reaction and may become infected.

o After removing the tick, crush it in a napkin or tissue to avoid contact with tick fluids that can carry disease.

Allowing your dog to interact with other dogs can provide good opportunities for exercise and socialization that can help your dog's mental and physical well-being. However, these situations are also associated with some risk to dogs and their owners. By using good common sense, you can minimize the risks while still providing for your dog's well-being and your enjoyment.

A note about puppy socialization and the risk of disease

The socialization period for puppies, which takes place from 6-14 weeks of age, is critical for a dog's behavioral development. During this time positive experiences with other dogs, people, noises and activities can reduce the likelihood of fearful behaviors, such as aggression and phobias, later in the dog's life. Puppies that are not properly socialized are more likely to develop behavioral problems that can make them unsuitable pets and increase the chances their owners will relinquish them to shelters.

This socialization period overlaps a period of vulnerability to disease, including canine parvovirus and canine distemper virus infection. Puppies need socialization with other dogs, but those dogs must be well vaccinated and healthy.  To fully protect your puppy from canine parvovirus, the last dose of the parvovirus vaccine must be at 14-16 weeks of age, regardless of the number of doses given at an earlier age. Until your puppy is fully protected, avoid taking it to dog parks or other areas where it has uncontrolled exposure to dogs with questionable or unknown vaccination histories.

Having a puppy 6-14 weeks of age in socialization classes can offer excellent opportunities to properly socialize puppies but there is a disease risk. To reduce the risk, puppies in the classes should be of similar age and vaccination history and should be examined and found to be healthy by a veterinarian prior to starting classes. Proper sanitation (including immediate cleanup of 'accidents') during the classes helps provide additional protection from infection. The puppies' first vaccine should be administered at least 7 days prior to the first class. Puppies with signs of illness (diarrhea, coughing, fever, etc.) should not attend puppy socialization classes until they have recovered from their illness.

If you allow your puppy to interact with dogs belonging to family or friends, make sure the dogs have been appropriately vaccinated and are adequately socialized to avoid bad experiences that could have negative long-term consequences to your puppy's behavior. Similarly, if you own an older dog and plan to introduce a puppy into your house, make sure the older dog is adequately vaccinated.

It is important to understand that it is not until 7-10 days after the last vaccination at 14-16 weeks of age that the risk of infection is very low and you can increase the puppy's introduction and socialization with all dogs.

The AVMA would like to thank the Council on Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Robert Belden, Dr. Ron Schultz, the American College of Veterinary Behavior, and the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior for their roles in developing this document.


In conjunction with the above "Common Sense Measures," the ASPCA adds these reminders as a way of improving your and your dog's interactions with the public:

Urban Dog Etiquette
How to properly promenade your pooch in public

City-dwelling dogkeepers are faced with greater challenges than their suburban and rural counterparts. Without a large, fenced yard for exercise, the city dweller must take to the streets three or more times a day with Fido or Fifi in tow. Crowded sidewalks replete with joggers, construction scaffolding and double-wide strollers turn each outing into an obstacle course. The following tips will make walks safer and more enjoyable for you, your dog and your neighbors.

It's the Law

Most cities and counties have some form of leash, license and pick-up-after-your-dog laws. These ordinances are designed to protect both the dog and the community at large. When leashed, a dog is safe from traffic and unable to follow his instincts to chase children, investigate garbage cans or dig up landscaping. Whether a dog is friendly or aggressive, a leash keeps him in check and allows the public to pass undisturbed. Some communities have leash-length restrictions. Whether it's the law or not, keep leashes to six feet or less on public sidewalks. Retractable leashes should not be used in areas frequented by joggers, skaters or cyclists; the thin line blends into the background and,all too often, athlete and dog collide.

Licensing a dog enables an animal control agency to return a lost pet to his rightful owner. Also, licensing fees often support local animal control efforts. In addition, the number of licenses issued gives government officials an idea of how many dogs are in the community, statistics that are very helpful when planning dog runs, shelter expansions and the like.

Pooper-scooper laws are essential for both the health and beautification of the community. Canine diseases and parasites are often shed in feces, which puts other dogs and children at risk. And no one enjoys maneuvering through unsightly piles of dog waste when out for a stroll. Pick up feces using a plastic bag, and knot the top to control odor and flies before disposing of it in a waste receptacle. Train your dog to urinate in gutters or on nonliving vertical surfaces, such as lampposts or hydrants. Avoid trees and flowerbeds.

Etiquette Lessons and Safety Tips

The well-trained city dog needs to respond to a minimum of four basic commands: “Sit-Stay,” “Heel,” “Leave it” and “Come.” When you’re waiting at a traffic light, a dog in a sit-stay is out of harm’s way. And while walking nicely on a loose leash is enough for most forays, there are times when your dog will need to be at heel position, which keeps her under control at your side.

The command “Leave it” is employed when it is necessary for Fido to avert his gaze. Whether he’s being tantalized by chicken bones or a jogger, getting your dog to break eye contact with “forbidden fruit” before he acts enables you to draw his attention to safer rewards and pursuits. Or, should the dog slip his collar or break his leash, a recall command (“Come”) could save his life. Most, if not all, of these commands are taught in basic obedience/manners class. Contact your local shelter for a referral to a class near you.

Remember that dogs can be frightened by sudden loud noises, such as running children, motorcycles, skateboarders and in-line skaters, to name a few. Be aware that such situations may demand quick and complete control on your part to prevent your dog from lunging or biting.

Before leaving home to run errands with your dog by your side, take a moment to consider which places permit dogs and which do not. For your pet’s safety, leave him at home when he is not allowed to go into an establishment with you. A dog left tied to a post or parking meter is an easy target for teasing or theft.

Remember the Good Neighbor Policy

Keep in mind that not everyone loves dogs, so it’s up to the urban dogkeeper to present a dog who is well-socialized and under control. When riding in an elevator, sit your dog in a far corner to avoid door-dashing each time the elevator makes a stop. Do not allow Fido to jump up on other riders, even when the greeting is friendly. Hurry through lobbies or take freight elevators and back exits if the building rules mandate it. Never allow your dog to soil in front of the building’s entrance. If you have a young pup or dog-in-training who can’t control himself, be sure to carry paper towels and odor neutralizer.

Many dogs enjoy the company of other canines, but always ask before allowing your animal to launch himself at another dog—for both their sakes. The same is true regarding children. First ask the child or her parent, “May my dog say hello to you?” before allowing physical contact. The greeting should not include jumping, bouncing off or grabbing at the child—even if it is done in the spirit of friendliness. If your dog is physically challenging, consider using a head halter for better control.

When we choose to keep dogs in crowded urban areas, we take on additional responsibilities. Unfortunately, when little consideration is shown for the neighbors, more doors close to dogkeepers. On the other hand, with a little training and thoughtfulness, more businesses and public areas will begin to put out the welcome mat for both you and your dog.


1) Dr. Mary Burch, behavior specialist for the American Kennel Club, has just published an interesting and relevant book titled, CITIZEN CANINE - THE ESSENTIAL SKILLS EVERY WELL-MANNERED DOG SHOULD KNOW, which is available at:

2) A second book about your relationship with your dog, Dogology: What Your Relationship with Your Dog Reveals about You, is available at:

3) A new product from PawsOFF Bed Covers sounds like it has a lot of potential for dog and cat owners who have been fighting the battle to keep your bed coverings presentable.  Go to their web site, watch and listen: 


1)  Anyone with a giant breed of dog should be aware of the increased incidence of bone tumors, such as osteosarcoma, in those breeds.  This is a report of a St. Bernard that was diagnosed with osteosarcoma and went through a special type of radiation treatment.  Not only did the dog survive the cancer, it also did not have to have the affected leg amputated.  As the story unfolds, this type of treatment may also help young children who develop osteosarcoma: 

2) A couple of weeks ago, Helpful Buckeye presented an article about different types of burial or memorial procedures pet owners have done for their pets.  Here's a story that takes the loss of a pet to a whole new level:

Take a look at one facility that provides this service: you can see, this is not inexpensive.

3) Even though most dog owners really do love their pets, every once in a while, you can be annoyed by something your dog does.  Enjoy these short video interviews with dog owners about their dogs: 

4) Helpful Buckeye came across this story about the Dog Scouts of America and it brought back some long ago memories of my experiences in the Boy Scouts...right down to the "merit" badges.  Check out this organization at:

Instead of the sash that we wore displaying our merit badges, these dogs proudly wear a wraparound vest or neckerchief to show off their badges:

For a list of all the Dog Scout troops in the USA, go to: 

5) I've saved the best for last this week.  Enjoy this story and video of heroism by Buddy, a German Shepherd, in Alaska, as he sought help for a fire in part of his family's home: 

Buddy is a smart dog!


The LA Dodgers continue to play like a very average team.  If they persist in giving away leads late in the game, it will be a long season....

The San Antonio Spurs are off to a good start in their playoff series against Dallas...winning 3 of the first 4 games.


....came across this anonymous quote this week: "Good friends are like stars--you don't always see them, but you know they are there." 

Of course, there is also this consideration about some people.  From a bumper sticker I saw this week:

Thanks again for sticking with us here at Questions On Dogs and sure to tell a friend or two about the blog.  Enjoy your week!

~~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.~~

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Making the transition from Chicago to the Doobie Brothers shouldn't be too difficult....

They both had big hit songs in the 1970s about going to the park.  In last week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats, Helpful Buckeye discussed some of the problems encountered by dogs on their visits to dog parks.  This week's issue will focus on some important human concerns of dog owners as they enter the world of dog parks.  As you contemplate what those concerns might be, enjoy the Doobie Brothers and their song from 1974: 

The voting in last week's poll questions couldn't have ended up more evenly split.  Half of 18 responses said they have had a problem with their dog at a dog park...and half of 22 responses said they groom their dogs themselves and half use a groomer.  Be sure to answer this week's poll question in the column to the left.

Kevin, from Denver, was partially correct with his suggestion that the song accompanying the frisbee-playing dog in the video last week was part of the soundtrack from the movie, Pulp Fiction.  Full credit would have been given for the title...Misirlou, by Dick Dale & his Del-Tones.

Helpful Buckeye got an e-mail last week asking if I provide a list of my e-mailers to anyone else.  They were concerned that they might be receiving some unsolicited e-mail from a third party.  I can assure you that your e-mails stop with me and the only time I would use your e-mail address would be to answer one of your questions.  If you do have any questions or comments, please send an e-mail to: or click on the "Comment" icon at the end of this issue and send your comment.


1) The Food & Drug Administration has announced the following voluntary recall: 

Response Products of Broken Bow, Nebraska has issued a voluntary recall of two lots of Advanced Cetyl M® Joint Action Formula for Dogs because the products may have been contaminated with Salmonella. The supplements are sold through veterinarians and online and other retailers. No illnesses have been reported to date. The affected lot numbers include 1210903 and 128010.

Go to this FDA web site link for further information about the product and what to do if you have purchased and/or used the product already: 

2) The ASPCA is involved in a campaign to help eliminate "puppy mills" and the animal abuses commonly associated with them.  Their efforts in Missouri are very important this month:  

Live from Missouri: ASPCA Supports Landmark Puppy Mill Initiative

Home to an estimated 3,000 puppy mills—far more than any other state—Missouri has rightly earned the nickname “Puppy Mill Capital of America.” Puppy mills are large-scale commercial dog breeding operations where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs. The overcrowding and lack of basic hygiene, veterinary care and exercise that are the hallmark of puppy mills create puppies with numerous health and social issues—but it is the breeding dogs, the ones who never get to leave, who suffer the most.

However, help is on the way! Missourians for the Protection of Dogs—a coalition made up of the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the U.S., the Humane Society of Missouri and the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation—is sponsoring a landmark ballot initiative to put the Missouri Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act before the state’s voters in November 2010. If the act reaches the ballot and passes, it will prohibit some of the worst abuses prevalent in Missouri’s commercial dog kennels—but the first step is gathering 130,000 signatures of support from Missouri voters by the end of April.

“The Missouri Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act is a crucial step in combating some of the most horrific cruelty perpetuated by commercial breeders in Missouri,” says Cori Menkin, ASPCA Senior Director of Legislative Initiatives. “It will provide dogs with basic humane care, including sufficient food, water, housing and necessary veterinary care—things that, unfortunately, are sorely lacking in many commercial breeding facilities.”

With only a few weeks left to go before the April 27 deadline, the pressure is on. Several ASPCA staffers have volunteered their time to help count and process the flood of petition signatures, and are currently on the ground in Missouri.

“I am so happy to be part of this historic grassroots effort,” says Tawnya Mosgrove, an Illinois-based member of our Government Relations department. “Our hope is not only to help the dogs in Missouri, but that other states will follow suit with similar initiatives of their own. The work here is hard, but the end result will be worth every blister on my finger!”


In last week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats, Helpful Buckeye provided a comprehensive list of many of the health problems dogs can face when they are in a "social" setting with other dogs.  As you saw in one of our poll questions, half of our readers who responded said their dog had suffered some type of problem at a gathering of dogs.  To take this dilemma one step further, what about the dog owners who attend these "social" gatherings with their dogs?  Are they at risk for some type of infection, injury, or unknown ailment?

The American Veterinary Medical Association has followed up last week's topic with:

Disease Risks For People

People attending dog social events can be at risk of zoonotic diseases, which are diseases that spread from animals to people. Some of these diseases can be spread directly from dogs to people, while other diseases may come from the environment where the dog social gathering is taking place.


Cryptosporidiosis is caused by a single-celled, microscopic parasite that lives in the intestines and can be present in high numbers in the stool of infected animals or people. It is generally spread by the fecal-oral route, meaning that a person or animal comes in contact with the stool (or a surface or soil contaminated by the stool) of an infected animal or person then touches their mouth or eats or drinks something; often, the person can't see their hands are contaminated, and they accidentally eat the parasite and become infected. Infection can also come from swimming in or drinking contaminated water. People infected with Cryptosporidium may develop stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting and fever.

Dog bites

Dog bites are always a risk when people and dogs come together. Most people are bitten by their own dog or a dog they know. At dog gatherings, people may be bitten when they try to break up a dog fight. Prevention is the best method for avoiding dog bites. Socialize your dog and train it to be obedient. Neutered and spayed dogs are less likely to bite. Be a responsible dog owner and be careful around unfamiliar dogs.

All dog bites should be immediately cleaned with soap and water and the rabies vaccination status of the biting dog should be determined. If bitten, consult your physician. Some states require animal bites to be reported to local health authorities, so be sure to notify them as well, if necessary.


People can be infected by several species of tapeworms. Echinococcus multilocularis and Echinococcus granulosus can infect people who come into contact with the infected animal's stool (or anything, including the animal's fur, that is contaminated with stool). The symptoms of disease vary with the type of worm, but can include respiratory or digestive problems.

External parasites

Just like their dogs, people can become the victims of fleas, ticks and Cheyletiella mites. Itching and bumps with dark/blackened centers may occur with Cheyletiella infestation. Flea bites cause itching and raised, reddened skin. In certain parts of the U.S., certain types of fleas can carry diseases such as plague. Ticks are capable of transmitting tick-borne diseases such as ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and others.

People can also become infected with the mange mite that causes sarcoptic mange in dogs and develop itchy, reddened skin.

Hookworms and roundworms

Human infections with hookworms and roundworms usually occur when a person accidentally eats the larvae (for example, the person may handle infected soil or an infected dog and then eat without washing their hands) or when the larvae burrow through the person's skin.

Roundworm infection in people can cause serious, even life-threatening, illness when the parasites enter the organs. Lung, liver or brain damage can occur. If the parasites enter the eyes, permanent blindness can result.

Hookworms can cause severe itching and tunnel-like, red areas as they move through the skin. If they are eaten, they can cause intestinal problems.

Fungal infections

Like their dogs, people can be exposed to the fungal organisms that cause histoplasmosis, blastomycosis, cryptococcosis and coccidioidomycosis. Inhalation of fungal spores is the most common route of infection in people. The symptoms may include flu-like or pneumonia-like symptoms, chest pain, fever, coughing, headache, skin rash or muscle aches. Immunosuppressed people are at the highest risk of infection and illness.

People can become infected with canine ringworm caused by the fungal organism Microsporum canis through contact with an infected dog. Symptoms include itching, scaly skin, hair loss and possibly "ring-like" skin rashes.

Mosquito-borne diseases

Any outdoor activity that occurs during mosquito season puts people at risk of mosquito bites and mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile Virus and the equine encephalitis viruses. Although these diseases aren't spread from dogs to people, people are at risk of being infected with these diseases any time they are outside during periods of mosquito activity. The symptoms caused by these diseases can vary in severity, but include fever, headache, neckache, flu-like symptoms, abnormal behavior, seizures, coma and death.

Tick-borne diseases

Ticks are capable of transmitting tick-borne diseases such as ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and others. The symptoms caused by these diseases vary, but may include pinpoint (or larger) blood spots on the skin and rashes, joint pain, muscle ache, fatigue and headache.

Water-borne diseases

People who swim in water frequented by any animals (or people, for that matter) can be exposed to water-borne diseases such as Cryptosporidium (covered separately above because it is also spread by contact with the stool of infected animals), Giardia, Shigella and E.coli. The symptoms can vary based on the infection, but can include diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps.

People can also develop leptospirosis from exposure to water contaminated with Leptospira-contaminated urine. Symptoms can include fever, headache, muscle aches, diarrhea and vomiting,

Although the possible disease issues to be transmitted from dogs to humans may seem overwhelming, veterinarians are experts on zoonotic diseases and animal-related health hazards. Please consult with your veterinarian if you have questions or need more information about any of the diseases described here. Your veterinarian may also wish to consult with your physician regarding any health issues to ensure that both you and your dog remain as healthy as possible.

The AVMA would like to thank the Council on Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Robert Belden, Dr. Ron Schultz, the American College of Veterinary Behavior, and the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior for their roles in developing this document.

All of this information notwithstanding, Helpful Buckeye is not trying to scare any of you away from enjoying an afternoon at the dog park with one or more of your favorites canines.  As long as you are aware of these potential risks, you should be able to minimize your chances of any exposure.


1) Along the lines of enjoying the onset of spring and summer with your pets, it's always a good idea to review some of the safety measures associated with lawn and garden preparation and care...and how they might relate to your pets' health.  The AVMA has a really interesting podcast about this topic at:


1) When I first read about this new device, the Shapoopie, I had some doubts as to its usefulness.  Here is a review that is mostly positive: 

After reading this review, Helpful Buckeye still can imagine a lot of dogs not wanting something like this shoved under their rear end while in the act of defecating.  What do you think?

2) Big Daddy Dog Biscuits appear to be making quite an impression on the dog world.  Read this review of these all-natural, organic dog treats:  and then head on over to their web site for your chance to order some for your pooch: 

3) How many of you have scratched window sills from your dog's paws and nails rubbing there while looking out the window?  Helpful Buckeye suspects this might be more common than we think.  Here's an easy-to-use product that will protect your window sills: 

Read this review about Sill Shield and Door Shield: 


1) The ASPCA has some food for thought as we approach Earth Day this week.  With Earth Day, April 22, just days away, there are plenty of ways to show the planet some love with eco-friendly pet parenting. Just like us, our beloved animal companions love to eat and play—but they haven’t yet mastered the art of recycling or composting. Here are some simple steps you can take to reduce your pet’s carbon paw print:

• Tap is where it’s at! Give your pet filtered tap water instead of bottled to drink. If you must use bottled water, be sure to recycle the bottle.

• Scoop the poop with biodegradable bags instead of plastic bags. Kitty parents, go for eco-friendly cat litters, avoiding brands containing mined minerals.

• Don’t reach for the bleach to clean your pet’s messes. Use vinegar instead—it’s green, removes odors and kills bacteria.

• Get Moving! Walk your dog to the doggie park rather than driving there.

• Buy pet supplies in bulk or the largest available size. You’ll make fewer trips to the store and cut down on discarded packaging.

2) The ASPCA reports that 3 dogs were the victims of strychnine-laced meatballs in the Spokane, WA vicinity: Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service (SCRAPS), an ASPCA community partner, has launched an investigation into the recent deaths of three dogs at two different locations in the South Hill neighborhood of Spokane, WA.

On February 19, a woman reported to SCRAPS that she let her dogs outside at approximately 6:00 A.M., and when she went to feed her horses, saw one of the dogs eating something off the ground. She called her dog away from what was later identified as meatballs. Approximately 30 minutes later, the dog started having convulsions and was taken to an emergency clinic, where he died. Two other dogs were reported dead by another pet parent in the South Hill neighborhood on the same day.

Test results from Washington State University indicated that the meatballs were laced with strychnine, which was most likely from gopher bait or a gopher control pesticide. The gopher bait product was mixed with the meat and then cooked. This type of gopher bait product is a “restricted-use” pesticide in the state of Washington, but it is available for purchase at licensed pesticide dealers by those who are eligible.

“There are many ways an individual could have obtained this product, either legally or illegally,” said SCRAPS Lead Animal Protection Officer Nicole Montano, the primary officer investigating these crimes.

SCRAPS is urging everyone to help spread the word about the poisonings in Spokane, and is advising pet parents to keep a close eye on their furry friends and thoroughly inspect their yards and surrounding properties for foreign or toxic substances.

If anyone has any information related to these incidents, please call SCRAPS’s emergency line at (509) 477-2533. This level of cruelty can lead to a charge of animal cruelty in the first degree, a class C felony that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Regular readers of Questions On Dogs and Cats will recall that Helpful Buckeye discussed strychnine poisoning in a previous issue.  A review would be a good idea: 

3) Have you ever considered having your dog certified as a Therapy Dog?  The folks at Local Lowdown:  have several suggestions.

You don't need to refer to the countless research studies that have proven the mental and physical benefits that animal companionship can give. You live it. So why not consider sharing your pup's friendly charm and companionship with those who would appreciate it? Consider getting your dog certified to become a Therapy Dog. Opportunities for certification are offered year-round across the country, and once certified, you and your dog can volunteer for rewarding work that helps others. Here's what you need to know:

What do Therapy Dogs Do?

Therapy Dogs and their owners work to help children feel comfortable reading aloud, to assist veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, to simply help brighten the day for those in nursing homes and hospitals, and more. Once your dog is certified as a Therapy Dog, you'll volunteer together at hospitals, libraries, nursing homes, and other places to provide comfort and companionship.

What kinds of dogs can become Therapy Dogs?

Dogs of any breed, size and shape can become Therapy Dogs as long as they have one important characteristic: An excellent temperament. They must be patient, gentle, calm and well mannered, and like all kinds of people. Since they'll be petted and handled, they also must enjoy human contact. Dogs must also be healthy and at least one year old.

What's involved in Therapy Dog certification and training?

Certification and training varies by organization, but typically requires behavioral and obedience tests. Therapy Dogs International (TDI), the oldest and largest therapy dog organization in the U.S., requires a therapy-dog evaluation for suitability, which includes the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Test, among other tests that assess the dog's behavior around people.

What are the kinds of programs that my dog may participate in?

Here are a few examples of animal activity and therapy dog opportunities found in's state-by-state guide to local therapy organizations :

Alabama: Hand-in-Paw in Birmingham has many programs including "Sit, Stay, Read! which helps reluctant young readers who are performing below grade level to overcome embarrassment and improve skills by reading aloud to a non-judgmental therapy animal."

Minnesota: Bark Avenue On Parade in Minneapolis focuses on pet-assisted therapy with people who may be isolated due to age, illness or disability. Bark Avenue's regular visit schedule includes four monthly visits at three area hospitals.

Oklahoma: Creatures and Kids in Edmond, used pets and their handlers to teach "kindness and compassion toward all living things." They offer 37 programs including a "Kind Kids" class for kindergarten and elementary students, "The Power of Empathy" for high school students and an array of adult classes.

How do I find a local Therapy Dog certification program?

In addition to visiting you can also contact one of the national organizations, such as such as Therapy Dogs International or the Delta Society, both of which list upcoming test dates by state.

4) According to AARP Magazine, May & June 2010, a poll titled Ruff Love, has found that 24% of pet owners 55 years and older celebrate their pets' birthdays.  The poll also determined that 57% of pet owners over 55 say their pets are more likely than their significant other to give them welcome-home kisses!  I'm not sure what that's supposed to mean....


The LA Dodgers finally have battled back to the .500 mark by taking 2 out of 3 games from our hated, long-time rivals, the SF Giants.  Helpful Buckeye knows the season is still young, can't let a team get too far ahead of you.

The San Antonio Spurs begin the NBA playoffs against Dallas tonight.  Spurs fans are concerned about age catching up with our three big stars...Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili.

~~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.~~

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Ah, geez, can it be 38 years since we heard the singing group Chicago bring us Saturday In The Park?  Granted, going to the park may have different connotations now than back in 1972.

With our "SPRINGTIME" issue now behind us here at Questions On Dogs and Cats, it's time to be getting outdoors and going to the park...even if it's the DOG PARK.  Reminisce with Chicago:  while we get our ducks (I mean, dogs) in a row!

According to the votes in our poll questions last week, plus the e-mail messages, about half of you (11 of 21) have given bones to you dog.  Hopefully, those 11 also went ahead and read the warning about feeding bones to your dog from the Food & Drug Administration....

Also, only 2 of 19 responses indicated anything more elaborate than cremation for a deceased family pet.  Be sure to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.

If you have any comments or questions, remember to either send an e-mail to Helpful Buckeye at: or click on the "Comment" icon at the end of this issue and submit your comment.


1) In connection with our featured topic of "Barking and Growling Dogs" from 2 weeks ago, comes this news headline from the town of Piscataway, New Jersey:
Jersey Town Out To Ban Dog Barking
Read the story at:

Sounds like this could be a tough sell, huh?

2) The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has released the results of their study that shows a big increase in the incidence of canine distemper in raccoons, dogs, coyotes, foxes, and skunks during the year 2009-2010.  Since the disease continues to spread around the county, it is important to alert dog owners about the distemper risk and encourage them to keep their dog’s distemper vaccinations up to date.  For the rest of their report:


The American Veterinary Medical Association has presented a thorough overview of the considerations involved in letting your dog mingle with other dogs. 

Dogs’ Social Lives and Disease Risks

Whether it's the dog park, doggie day care, boarding, competitions or training classes, mingling dogs with varied or unknown health histories can present health problems for dogs as well as their owners. The very reason you take your dog to a dog gathering – social mixing with other dogs – is the same thing that can put them at risk. Diseases can be spread through direct contact between dogs, shared bowls and equipment, contaminated water, stool, insects and other methods. People who visit these areas and interact with the dogs may also become infected with zoonotic diseases, which are diseases that can be spread from animals to people. In addition, any gathering that puts people and dogs together introduces the risk of dog bites.

The following is a list of the most common diseases to which your dog(s) may be exposed at a dog gathering. There may be specific risks in your area that are not listed. For more information about specific diseases in your area, consult your veterinarian.

People can also spread some diseases (such as mange, ringworm, kennel cough and canine influenza) from dog to dog through shared brushes, collars, bedding, etc. or by petting or handling an infected dog before petting or handling another dog.

Canine distemper

Canine distemper is caused by a very contagious virus. Puppies and dogs usually become infected through virus particles in the air or in the respiratory secretions of infected dogs. Infected dogs typically develop runny eyes, fever, snotty nose, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and paralysis. It is often fatal.

Fortunately, there is an effective vaccine to protect your dog from this deadly disease. The canine distemper vaccine is considered a "core" vaccine and is recommended for every dog.

Canine influenza ("canine flu" or "dog flu")

Canine influenza is caused by the canine influenza virus. It is a relatively new disease in dogs. Because most dogs have not been exposed to the virus, their immune systems are not able to fully respond to the virus and many of them will become infected when they are exposed. Canine influenza is spread through respiratory secretions, contaminated objects (including surfaces, bowls, collars and leashes). The virus can survive for up to 48 hours on surfaces, up to 24 hours on clothing, and up to 12 hours on people's hands.

Dogs can be shedding the virus before they even show signs of illness, which means an apparently healthy dog can still infect other dogs. Dogs with canine influenza develop coughing, a fever and a snotty nose, which are the same signs observed when a dog has kennel cough.

There is a vaccine for canine influenza, but at this time it is not recommended for every dog. Consult your veterinarian to determine if the canine influenza vaccine is recommended for your dog.

Canine parvovirus ("parvo")

Parvo is caused by the canine parvovirus type 2. The virus is very contagious and attacks the gastrointestinal system, causing fever, vomiting and severe, often bloody, diarrhea. It is spread by direct contact between dogs as well as by contaminated stool, surfaces, bowls, collars, leashes, equipment, and the hands and clothing of people. It can also survive in the soil for years, making the virus hard to kill. Treating parvo can be very expensive and many dogs die from parvo despite intensive treatment.

Fortunately, there is a vaccine for parvo. It is considered a "core" vaccine and is recommended for every dog.

External parasites (ticks, fleas and mange)

External parasites, such as ticks, fleas and mange, are fairly common dog problems. Ticks from the environment, fleas from other dogs and the environment, and mange from other dogs pose risks at dog gatherings. Ticks can transmit diseases (see tick-borne diseases below). Fleas can transmit some types of tapeworms as well as some diseases, and they may end up infesting your home and yard if they hitchhike home on your dog(s).

There are many approved products available to effectively prevent and treat external parasites on dogs. Consult your veterinarian about the best product for your dog.

Cheyletiella mites cause "walking dandruff" on dogs (itching and flaky skin on the dog's trunk). They are spread from dog to dog by direct contact, and may require more aggressive treatment than fleas.

Fertilizers and pesticides

Some fertilizers and pesticides can be toxic to dogs. Avoid letting your pet walk, run, play or roam in areas that have recently been treated with fertilizers or pesticides.

Fungal infections (blastomycosis, histoplasmosis, cryptococcosis, coccidioidomycosis, etc.)

Fungal organisms in the soil can infect dogs when they eat or sniff contaminated soil. Dogs can also be infected through the skin, especially through a skin wound. The types of fungus seen vary throughout the U.S.: histoplasmosis is more common in the Eastern and Central U.S.; blastomycosis is more common in the Southeast, Southcentral and Midwest regions; cryptococcosis is more common in the Pacific Northwest region; and coccidioidomycosis is more common in the Southwest U.S. Histoplasmosis can be spread by bird or bat droppings.

In general, the fungus infects the body through the respiratory tract and causes fever, coughing, lethargy and flu-like or pneumonia-like signs. If eaten, digestive problems (e.g., pain, diarrhea) can occur. Immunosuppressed dogs (dogs whose immune systems are weakened because of disease or certain medications) are much more likely to become infected with these fungi and develop disease.


Heartworms are spread by mosquitoes and can cause coughing, lethargy, difficulty breathing, heart disease and death. Fortunately, there are many approved products to prevent heartworm infection. Consult your veterinarian about the best product for your dog.


Heatstroke is a big risk during warm and hot weather. Remember that your dog is always wearing a fur coat and they are usually warmer than you are. A temperature that seems only a little warm to a person can be too hot for a dog. Add to that the fact that dogs at dog gatherings are often active and playing, and the heat could become deadly for your dog. Never leave your pet in the car on warm days. Even a 70°F day can be too hot in a car. Short-nosed breeds, such as pugs, Boston Terriers, boxers, bulldogs, etc. are more prone to heatstroke and breathing problems because they don't pant as effectively as breeds with normal-length noses.

Signs of heatstroke include excessive panting and drooling, anxiousness, weakness, abnormal gum color (darker red or even purple), collapse and death.

Any dog showing signs of heatstroke should be immediately taken to a shaded area and cooled with cold, wet towels that are wrung out and rewetted every few minutes. Running cool water over the dog's body and quickly wiping it away (so the water absorbs the skin's heat and is immediately wiped away) can also help. Transport the dog to a veterinarian immediately, because heatstroke can rapidly become deadly.


Any time unfamiliar dogs and/or dogs with different temperaments are mixed, there is a risk of conflict and injury. Bite wounds should be immediately evaluated by a veterinarian and efforts should be made to determine the rabies vaccination status of the biting dog. Overweight dogs and dogs accustomed to more sedentary lifestyles should be encouraged to become more active, but excessive activity can put them at risk of injury to joints, bones or muscles. If your dog is overweight and/or you plan to increase its activity level, consult with your veterinarian about the best plan to get your dog active with the least risk of injury.

Intestinal parasites

Intestinal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms lay eggs that are passed in the dog's stool and infect other dogs when they eat contaminated soil, lick contaminated fur or paws, or drink water contaminated with the stool from infected dogs. Tapeworms are spread when dogs eat fleas, lice, or rodents infected with tapeworms.

These worms can cause malnutrition (because they steal nutrients as food is being digested) and diarrhea, and hookworms can cause blood loss. There are many products available to treat worms, and you should consult their veterinarian for the appropriate products for your pets.

Coccidia and Giardia are single-celled parasites that damage the lining of the intestine. Dogs can become infected with coccidia by eating infected soil or licking contaminated paws or fur. Puppies are at the highest risk of infection and illness.

Kennel cough

Kennel cough can be caused by a combination of viruses and bacteria. It is very contagious and your dog can become infected if it comes into contact with an infected dog. Dogs with kennel cough may not seem ill in the early stages of the disease but they can still infect other dogs. Most commonly, dogs with kennel cough will have a snotty nose and a dry, hacking cough.

There are vaccines for kennel cough, but not all dogs need to receive the vaccine. Consult your veterinarian about whether or not the kennel cough (Bordetella) vaccine is right for your dog.


Leptospirosis is caused by species of the Leptospira bacteria. The bacteria are shed in the urine of infected animals, and animals and people usually become infected by drinking contaminated water or coming into contact with contaminated soil or food. Dogs infected with Leptospira may develop fever, muscle weakness, vomiting, lethargy, abdominal pain, and kidney or liver failure. There is a vaccine for leptospirosis; consult your veterinarian about whether or not the vaccine is appropriate for your dog. Some canine distemper combination vaccines include a Leptospira vaccine.


Any mammal is capable of being infected with the virus that causes rabies. Most dog parks and organized dog gatherings require proof of rabies vaccination, but some do not. Rabies is caused by the rabies virus and is 100% fatal in animals once they start to show signs of disease. The virus is spread by saliva, either by a bite from an infected animal or by saliva contaminating a skin wound. In addition, any contact with wildlife (including bats) can introduce the risk of rabies infection. Raccoons, skunks and other wild animals can carry the rabies virus and may be present in areas where dogs gather.

Fortunately, rabies infection is preventable with vaccination. Many local and state governments require regular rabies vaccination for dogs.

Regional wildlife risks and feral animals

Wildlife mixing with dogs can increase the risk of diseases, such as rabies and plague, as well as the risk of injury. In some areas of the U.S., prairie dogs often invade dog parks. Prairie dogs carry fleas that can carry the bacteria that causes plague. Skunks, raccoons, foxes, feral cats and pigs, and other wildlife can also carry rabies and other diseases that can infect dogs. Feral dogs present disease and injury risks.


Although its name suggests it's a worm, ringworm is actually due to fungal infection of the skin. It can be spread by contact with an infected dog, its bedding or something that has come in contact with the infected dog. The fungus can also survive in the soil. Ringworm gets its name because it often causes circular patches of hair loss. Some dogs will excessively scratch the areas, while others may not be itchy. Many dogs will recover without treatment, but they are often treated to prevent them from spreading the infection to other dogs or to people.

Tick-borne diseases (hemobartonellosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, rickettsial diseases such as Lyme disease, and others)

There is a variety of diseases that can infect dogs and are spread by ticks. Some diseases are more common in specific areas of the U.S. These diseases can cause anemia (blood loss), lameness, weakness, lethargy, organ failure, and even death. The best way to prevent these diseases is to prevent tick bites. There are many products available that reduce tick bites and kill ticks on dogs; consult your veterinarian about the best product for your dog. Check your dog for ticks after any outside dog gatherings and remove the tick(s) as soon as possible.

Toxic plants

Toxic plants can cause a variety of illnesses. Some ornamental plants can be very toxic to animals. Cocoa mulch is also toxic to dogs. For more information about toxic plants, visit the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center Web site at: (888) 426-4435. A $65 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card.

A second part of this story, involving the disease risks for people who accompany their dogs to the Dog Park, will be the feature topic next week.


The AVMA has produced a new podcast covering "How To Select A Groomer."  After viewing previous AVMA podcasts, our readers have responded very favorably to the presentations.  Enjoy this one:


1) If you're interested in trying a new dog treat that you can "make" at home, then perhaps PupCakes2Go is the product for you.  Go to: and watch the video.  For a further testimonial, look at: 

2) For a new and refreshing approach, 3 different pet product companies are offering a pet product that "gives back."  For further details, go to: to find out how certain pet products can also benefit pets in need.


1) A researcher at Purdue University is crossing the USA in search of the 15 oldest living Rottweilers for his study of why those 15 Rottweilers have lived 30% longer than their average breed-mates.  From his studies, he hopes to find a correlation between the aging process and cancer formation that will possibly even help humans.  The story, from the USA Today:

2)  For a different approach to quieting a crying baby, this dog just might be the answer: 

3)  Would you pay $52,000 for a diamond dog collar?  Your chance may be right here: 

Whatever happened to the concept of a cubic zirconia???

4)  What if your dog came up to you and said, "I'm going outside to throw AND catch the frisbee all by myself"....

...and then, went and did just that?  Here's a video of Amos, the dog, and his Frisbee: 

Extra bonus points awarded for your identification of the song played in the background....

5)  For those dog owners with a mixed-breed dog, have you ever found yourself wondering just what were the breeds that contributed to the make up of your dog?  Ben Westhoff, of The Doggie Diaries, wondered about that in one of his postings:

In the course of his quest, he also consulted with: 


Oh well, the Butler Bulldogs weren't able to beat Duke, but...they came within 1 shot of winning the game.  Not bad for a school of only 4000 students!

The LA Dodgers opened the season by losing 2 of 3 games to the Pirates in Pittsburgh, essentially a AAA minor league team.  Ouch!  Then, we went into Miami to play the Marlins, a much better team than the Pirates.  We should have won all 3 games in Miami but our relievers gave away the last 2 games.  Something's just not clicking in the early season.


Helpful Buckeye was finally able to ride the bike outdoors on April 8th, a full 2 weeks later than last year.  The culprit was the large amount of cinders remaining in the bike lanes, leftover from our several deep snows over the winter.  However, it was great getting back outdoors on the bike!  Those miles mean so much more than the miles on the bike in the gym, at least psychologically.

My second day riding outdoors, I encountered a herd of 18 good-sized mule deer walking slowly across the road directly in front of me.  They casually looked at me as they finished crossing the road...with not a care in the world.  Life is great!

No, these are not the mule deer from my bike ride...I did not have my camera with me.  I did take this photo of mule deer at the Bosque del Apache, near Socorro, New Mexico last December.  Anyway, you get the idea....

The third day riding outdoors, today (Sunday), was living proof of the old adage that if the wind is blowing, it will ALWAYS be in the face of a bicyclist.

From Mark Twain, comes this quote: "Get a bicycle. You will not regret it. If you live...."

~~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.~~

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Most of the USA is either already into their "SPRINGTIME" season or is just now getting their first dose.  SPRINGTIME CONCERNS don't have to necessarily carry negative or positive connotations.  This is always a good time of the year for a reminder of what all dog and cat owners should be aware of as their pets get ready to face the challenges and excitement of being outdoors again in warmer weather.  The main topic of this week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats will address that reminder so that all of our dog- and cat-owning readers can prepare their pets for a safe and enjoyable "SPRINGTIME".

Desperado, Helpful Buckeye, and our 2 favorite Cowpokes decided to change our environment a little yesterday and experience the "SPRINGTIME" differences between Flagstaff and Sedona.  The decrease in elevation of just 2000 ft. allowed us to eat lunch outdoors in a beautiful setting with warm sun for our companion.

The timing of this issue couldn't be any better since the Major League Baseball season begins tonight.  Baseball is still "America's Pastime" as far as Helpful Buckeye is concerned.  As in past years, it's time to listen to John Fogerty perform "Centerfield".  Enjoy: There are some great old-time baseball clips included as the background to this video.  How many of these players do you recognize?  As the words to the song go, "Put me in, coach....",

"I'm ready to!"

We had several interesting e-mail responses to both of our poll questions last week.  Almost all of the 19 responses (17) about the dog "washing machine" said they were either skeptical about the idea or would never put their dog into one.  That's pretty conclusive.  As for the question on barking dogs, the answers were more diverse, reflecting the thought that a barking dog is maybe only a problem if it's someone else's dog.  That conclusion may be a large part of why this situation can never be solved to everyone's satisfaction.  Be sure to answer this week's poll question in the column to the left.


The American Veterinary Medical Association has released this notice from the Better Business Bureau pertaining to a recent warning about a pet product:
Based on a number of consumer complaints that dogs became seriously ill or died from internal damage due to bone fragments, the Better Business Bureau issued a statement cautioning pet owners about feeding Dynamic Products' Real Ham Bone for Dogs to their pets. According to media reports, the FDA is investigating the complaints.
As part of the FDA investigation, the following guidelines have been released:

“Knick-Knack Paddywhack”—DON’T Give Your Dog a Bone!

You’ve just finished a big weekend family dinner and you are wondering what to do with the bones from the ham and roast, when in trots your big black Labrador Retriever. He longingly looks at the bones, and gives you his saddest puppy eyes. You fall for his begging and think that the bones would be perfect for him to chew on. Even though your vet has told you before that it’s a bad idea to give bones to your dog, you still think that these particular bones are big enough that your dog won’t get hurt. After all, he hasn’t had problems chewing on bones in the past, so what harm could these two bones do? Well, here are 11 reasons why you should think twice before giving your dog any bones to chew on:

1. Broken teeth. (Veterinary dentistry—very expensive)

2. Mouth or tongue injuries. (Very bloody and messy.)

3. Bone could get stuck around the dog’s lower jaw. (May look funny, but it’s not. Time to see your vet.)

4. Bone could get stuck in your dog’s esophagus (food tube). (Time to see your vet.)

5. Bone could get stuck in your dog’s windpipe if he accidentally inhales a small enough piece. (This is an emergency! Very dangerous.)

6. Bone can get stuck in the stomach. (It went in just fine, but is too big to pass out of the stomach into the intestines. Time for surgery.)

7. Bone can get stuck in the intestines and cause a major blockage. (Time for surgery.)

8. Constipation due to bone shards. (Your dog can’t pass the bone shards because they’re very sharp and are scraping the inside of your dog’s intestines, causing him severe pain. Time to see your vet.)

9. Severe bleeding from the rectum. (Known in veterinary speak as Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis—or HGE. Very messy and dangerous.)

10. Peritonitis. (A nasty, difficult-to-treat bacterial infection of the abdomen caused when bone shards poke holes in your dog’s stomach or intestines. This can kill your dog.)

11. Death.

Always talk with your veterinarian first before you give bones to your dog. And always, if your dog “just isn’t acting right,” call your vet right away!

This report is available at the FDA's web site:


Spring represents a time of growth and renewal—but not everything that springs forth this season is good for dogs. With a little awareness and a few simple precautions, dog owners can prevent many of the problems that arise with warmer weather and keep their dogs safe and healthy.  The following was presented by Liam Crowe, CEO and Master Dog Behavioral Therapist, Bark Busters USA, in a column for SPCA International.

Following these simple pointers will help you to ward off spring’s primary culprits.

Heartworm infection

The American Heartworm Society recommends that all dogs be tested annually for heartworm infection. Transmitted by mosquitoes, this serious parasitic disease can be fatal. Fortunately, your veterinarian offers a variety of options for preventing heartworm infection, including an injection, daily and monthly tablets, and monthly topical medications.

Fleas and ticks

Fleas and ticks can cause a host of problems, from flea allergy dermatitis to Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. In large enough numbers, both ticks and fleas can also cause dangerous amounts of blood loss, especially in young dogs. While a number of flea and tick prevention options are available today, monthly spot-on topicals and oral tablets offer convenience and effectiveness in protecting your dog. Ask your veterinarian for more information.

Spring allergies

Blooming plants, grasses and flowers can trigger atopy, an allergy similar to hay fever. But instead of sneezing, a dog typically develops itchy skin and will persistently scratch, lick and bite to get relief. If you suspect that your pooch may be suffering from seasonal allergies, visit your veterinarian for recommended allergy treatments. These can range from oral medications (like cortisone) to skin tests that pinpoint allergies in more severe cases.

Poisonous plants

Inquisitive dogs might see those fragrant spring blooms as a tasty snack, but dogs can become extremely ill or even die from eating poisonous plants. Ask your vet for a list of poisonous plants you’ll want to avoid having in your garden. You can also help prevent your dog from digging by not gardening with your dog present—he may conclude that digging is acceptable and enjoy digging to underground pipes or chewing on sprinkler heads.

Lawn hazards

If a lawn—yours or another’s—has been treated with fertilizers, herbicides or insecticides, do not let your dog walk on it until these potentially dangerous treatments have dried completely.

Unpleasant odors

If your furry friend has taken on an offensive aroma over the winter, find out where the smell is coming from. Odor in your dog’s mouth could mean dental problems, digestive problems or underlying internal diseases, such as kidney problems or diabetes. If his teeth are discolored or he has an odor worse than his usual doggie breath, have your veterinarian perform a dental exam. Next, check his ears. If the skin inside is red or sore, if the ear has a bad smell, or if your dog reacts in pain when you examine his ears, have your vet check him for an ear infection. Also check your dog’s skin for the common disorder seborrhea, usually characterized by flaky dandruff or an oily, waxy feel to the coat and a strong odor. You can prevent this by frequently bathing your dog with a medicated shampoo that your veterinarian can recommend. Finally, an infection or anal gland problems can also lead to odor and discomfort, in which case your dog will need to be seen by your veterinarian.

Enjoy the Outdoors and Reinforce Training

In addition to the above health and safety tips, Crowe also suggests taking advantage of the longer days and warmer temperature to refresh your training skills and build upon your relationship with your dog. “Remember that we all tend to hibernate a little over the winter. Spring is an invitation to renew our commitment to exercise and a more active lifestyle for us and our dogs,” added Crowe. “After a long winter, your dog may have forgotten his manners about walking properly on leash. Start out slowly and reestablish the proper leash rules for you and your dog’s safety. Using basic obedience disciplines you can help reinforce the relationship you want to have with your dog. Walking to heel, coming when called, and gate manners are some of the basics that can sharpen your dog’s response to you and build a stronger relationship.


With all the attention the Health Care Reform package has been receiving as it worked its way through Congress, is it any wonder that those same concerns might be applied to our pets?  The following was written by Dr. Jon, at:

Health care seems to be the issue on everybody's minds these days and, try as we may, we just can't seem to agree on the right course of action.

It's a tough problem. Medical advances have made it possible to treat and cure illnesses that were previously untreatable. There is a better standard of care. But that care is costly. Many Americans are finding it difficult to meet those costs for their families - including their pets.

We all want to make health care more affordable and available to everyone, but who will pay for it and what will it mean to the future of our health care system?

And what about our pets? Pet health care is equally as expensive. Pet owners face the same dilemma as parents. Pet illnesses, accidents and injuries can also be very expensive to treat, but as good pet parents it is up to us to keep our pets healthy.

So what happens when our pets get sick?

When pet owners can't afford to pay for the medical treatment their pets need, many of these pets must be euthanized. That's an outcome no one wants to see.

So what can you do? We can pretty much rule out a universal health care plan for pets - that's a given. If we can't decide how to fund human health care we will never agree on a plan for pets. So what options do we have?

I always encourage pet owners to put some money aside every month in a health care fund for their pets. That way, if something happens, you'll have the money to cover your pet's treatment costs.

Unfortunately, saving money isn't easy - especially in this economy. For many of us, it's hard to put money aside every month without spending it.

Would a big medical bill be a hardship for you? If you're not good at saving money, I recommend pet insurance. For a small monthly payment, your pet can get the medical care he needs - and you will have the peace mind you need. I know I talk about pet insurance a lot, but that's because I really do believe in it. To find out if pet insurance is right for you, go to You'll be glad you did.

Until next time,

Dr. Jon

Helpful Buckeye has presented a comprehensive summary of pet health insurance coverage in a previous issues of Questions On Dogs and Cats at:


1) For those of you who walk your dog after dark and would like to have a little more protection, here's a lighted dog leash that might appeal to you.  You can buy this leash at: 
2) To help get the loose hair out of your pet's winter hair coat, the FurBuster might be just what you need.  The FurBuster can be found at: 


1) With the 15th of April rapidly approaching, how many of our readers have considered using your dogs and/or cats as a tax deduction?  Look at what the IRS has allowed:

No, You Can't Deduct Fido's Daycare

There are about 75 million household dogs in the U.S. That means millions of pooches are left at home alone each day. To ease his pup's unhappiness, one taxpayer hired somebody to come to his home and watch his dog while the owner went off to work.  The IRS howled, however, when the taxpayer tried to deduct the cost by using a day-care tax credit intended for children and legal dependents. Pets do not qualify.

Maybe the IRS just prefers cats ….

"Here, Kitty-Kitty-Kitty!"

These junkyard owners had finally had enough of a nasty snake and rat problem, so they cleverly set out bowls of pet food each night to attract wild cats. The cats not only ate the pet food, they also took care of the junkyard's unwanted guests. Because the wild cats made the business safer for customers, the pet food was deductible as a business expense. Sounds like the purr-fect solution!

These accounts are from:

2) Go to:  and click on the "play" icon for a great display of what various dog activities look like at 1000 frames per second.  You'll be impressed!

3) For an interesting account of the life of a "rescued" American Eskimo sled-dog, read Sharon Peters' story from the USA Today:

4) Your children may have fought over a bed at one time, but have you ever seen a dog and a cat do it?  Watch this:

5) Most pet owners have "buried" their deceased pets in some manner or other.  However, some pet owners really do go the extra mile when it comes to a funeral and burial for their pets.  Read about some of these burials at:

Helpful Buckeye presented an overview of Pet Cemeteries in a previous issue:

6)  Helpful Buckeye was reading a newsletter from Trader Joe's about maintaining a sustainable seafood source and this statement stood out:

If you study any sort of fish deeply, you'll find a web of confusion and disagreements that nearly always comes down to the conclusion that too many fish are being caught, with too much collateral damage. Tara Austen Weaver, the food writer, reported one visible sign: In British Columbia, eagles have taken to eating chickens and cats because of a shortage of salmon in rivers once so thick with them that bears had only to hold their mouths open midstream in spawning season to get all they could gulp down.

Now, I don't know about you but, if I lived in British Columbia and had an outdoor cat, I'd be looking out for eagles!  read the whole article at:     
As reported at the beginning of this issue, Major League Baseball begins the regular season tonight.  The LA Dodgers won't play their first game until tomorrow, in Pittsburgh, against the Pirates.  Our team will have a big question mark by its name the whole season due to the attention-getting divorce proceedings of our owner and his wife.  Whether it will be a major distraction or not...remains to be seen.

College basketball's final game that will determine the National Champion will be played tomorrow evening between Duke and Butler.  Since Helpful Buckeye has been cheering for "Anybody But Duke" all through this tournament, you know that my favorite will be the Butler Bulldogs.

~~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.~~