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.~~

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