Sunday, May 2, 2010



The American Veterinary Medical Association would like all of us to remember that National Pet Week runs from May 2-8 and has been titled:

Pets & People Healthy Together

WHEREAS, The 2010 theme for National Pet Week is “Pets and People—Healthy Together,” promoting the importance of exercise for people and pets; and

WHEREAS, 65% of adult Americans are overweight or obese, according to the American Obesity Society; and

WHEREAS, 44% of dogs and 57% of cats in the United States are overweight or obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention; and

WHEREAS, As is the case with human disease, obesity among companion animals can lead to osteoarthritis, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and various cancers; ....

The poll questions from this past week produced some interesting results.  First of all, only 7 readers responded that they had read a good book on dogs or cats recently.  One of those books is described a little later under "Products...."  Secondly, of 16 respondents, only 1 person said they'd consider having their dog or cat freeze-dried.  Be sure to answer the poll questions for this week in the column to the left.


1) Even with all of the negative publicity the state of Arizona has recently received for its bungled attempt at an immigration bill, the state legislature has banded together unanimously to pass an animal domestic violence bill.  "The bill would allow judges hearing domestic violence cases to award the victim sole custody of the family pets. Domestic violence experts note that an abusive spouse is motivated by the need for power and control. Threatening the family's pet often causes people to remain in abusive households, for fear of what might happen to the animal if they leave. A study found that in households where family pets have been abused, 65 percent of women put themselves in danger by staying in order to protect their pets."

For further details, go to the Humane Society of the United States:

2) The state of Wisconsin has become the 12th state to pass a law that "requires the addition of a bitter flavor agent to antifreeze and engine coolant, in order to prevent animals and children from being poisoned by the sweet-tasting liquid."  The rest of the story from the HSUS: 

For those of you wondering why this should be of such concern, stay tuned for the medical problem of the Questions On Dogs and Cats brings you:


Just about everyone who drives a vehicle in the USA has some type of antifreeze in the vehicle's is used to both decrease the freezing point and increase the boiling point of the radiator fluid.  In addition, many of you keep an extra container of antifreeze on hand for the purpose of "topping off" the radiator fluid level as needed.  Perhaps some of you still drain your radiator fluid in the fall and spring, then replace it with a new batch.  All of this is very important to the normal functioning of your vehicle but how does it fit in with concerns about the health of your dogs and cats?

What is it about antifreeze that attracts your pets?  Here's a clue from the music world:  featuring The Searchers, with a remake of The Drifters hit of 1961. 

Most antifreeze is about 95% ethylene glycol, which is very toxic to both dogs and cats.  Ethylene glycol is what gives the sweet taste to antifreeze.  The widespread availability of antifreeze, its sweet taste, small minimum lethal dose, and the lack of public awareness of its toxicity all contribute to the frequency of this problem.  Whether you leave containers of antifreeze open in the garage or allow spills of antifreeze laying on the garage floor or in the driveway, that might be just enough to kill your pet.

The minimum lethal dose of ethylene glycol is about 1.5 teaspoons for a 10-lb. cat and about 3 tablespoons for a 25-lb. dog.  Doesn't sound like much, does it?  That's how toxic this chemical is. 

Ethylene glycol is rapidly absorbed from the digestive tract.  In dogs, the peak blood concentration is reached within 3 hours after swallowing the liquid.  The clinical signs shown by your dog or cat are dependent on the amount swallowed and the amount of time that has passed since swallowing it.  These signs can include vomiting, increased drinking, increased urinations, and neurologic involvement (depression, stupor, knuckling of the toes, and loss of coordination of the legs)...some of which might show up almost immediately.  If not treated at this point, acute kidney failure usually develops 12-24 hours later in cats and 36-72 hours later in dogs.

Diagnosis of ethylene glycol toxicity is often difficult due to the nonspecific nature of these clinical signs that appear similar to gastroenteritis, pancreatitis, and other kidney disorders.  If no one has actually seen the pet licking or swallowing the antifreeze, a diagnosis is usually based on a combination of patient history, physical examination, and blood/laboratory data.

Once diagnosed, treatment is aimed at decreasing any further absorption of the swallowed ethylene glycol and increasing its excretion from the body.  Your veterinarian will have to move swiftly if these measures are to be successful because, once acute kidney failure develops, the prognosis for these dogs and cats is guarded to poor.  It's easy to see why the passage of time is the worst enemy in this situation.  That's why the best treatment for this problem is preventing it from happening in the first place.  Up until just recently, the only way to accomplish that was to be very strict about not allowing any access at all to antifreeze by your pets.  Now, with this new law that requires a bitter flavor additive in all antifreeze products, we will hopefully see the incidence of this serious problem decrease rapidly.


Dr. Mary Burch, the behavior specialist for the AKC you met in last week's blog issue, provides an answer for this question about an anxious cat:

My 2-year old cat, Blackie, is easily unnerved by new people in the house and loud noises such as thunder. She gets especially upset when she goes to the vet, or to be groomed, or really when she travels at all. I feel bad for her, and I worry when she's scared because she scratches if someone tries to help her or handle her. Do you have any suggestions for making her feel better? I've had her since she was a kitten and she has always been this way.

Having a stressed-out cat can make an owner just as unnerved as the cat. Some of the causes of feline stress include trauma, a change in environment, a lack of early socialization, being removed from the litter too early, a history of abuse (as seen with some shelter cats) and genetics.

Here are some things you can consider for helping Blackie:

1. Control the environment. Make sure Blackie has a place she can escape to. This might include a bedroom where you can close the door and shut out the sounds of the rest of the house (particularly during a noisy party) but it can also be a favorite play spot. Does Blackie have a cat tree? Cats like to be elevated, and many models of cat trees have a hiding place at the top.

For travel, use safety precautions such as a cat carrier that is small and closed in (with air holes of course). This will make Blackie feel a little more secure and safe. Hopefully, trips to the vet are infrequent.

2. Mask upsetting noise. Music or television can be used to cover up sounds that may be unnerving your pet. Some cats respond particularly well to classical music, for example.

3. Try calming remedies. Some products, such as one called Feliway, contain synthetic pheromones which may soothe your pet. (Pheromones are produced naturally in a cat's cheek glands and send chemical signals that indicate everything is okay. These synthetic pheromones may bring about the same result in your cat.) There are also some homeopathic products that you might try. These natural remedies (such as PetCalm) are reported to reduce fear and nervousness in some cats. You could try these to see if you think they make a difference in Blackie's behavior.

4. Don't reward fearful behavior. If Blackie acts nervous, and you pick her up and cuddle her saying, "There there, Blackie; it's OK," you can reinforce the behavior and cause her to act scared whenever she wants to get your attention. Instead, try and make Blackie feel safe and secure by keeping her on the same schedule with regard to when you feed her, change her litter box, and take her out in the yard. Cats love routine.

5. Offer her confidence-building activities, exercise, and games. This can be as simple as playing with toys, training her to do tricks, or having her run a small agility course in a hallway. If you do this every day, most cats will begin to look forward to this time together.

While it is ideal for cats to be socialized and exposed to new sounds and experiences when they are kittens, there is much you can do to help an adult cat become more confident. Following the tips above can help your kitty become cool, calm, and collected.

If you have an animal behavior question for Dr. Burch, you can e-mail her at: 


1) One of our readers sent a note about a pet book they recently read.  Learn more about It's A Dog's World by Wendy Diamond at:  

2) Several weeks ago, Helpful Buckeye addressed the problem of barking dogs at:

A reader sent an e-mail about this product which has helped them with a neighbor's barking dog:

3) If you're looking for a special cat litterbox that you can have on display, check out these offerings from Moderncat: 


1) Read this heart-warming account of Willamina, a cat that had been at an ASPCA shelter for more than 800 days, and Dana, who finally adopted her: 

2) A dog was so excited to be rescued from a puppy mill in Tennessee that it broke out some of its best dance moves:  

3) Do you think your dog could become a TV star?  Read about the opportunity for your pooch to land a role in a TV commercial...this contest lasts through then end of 2010: 

4) We've talked about pets running for political office before, mostly tongue-in-cheek.  Now, Woodrow, a dog rescued from a probable euthanasia situation in a Texas animal shelter, has decided to run as a write-in for the office of Governor of Texas.  To see if he has a chance, go to: 

5) Most dog owners are guilty of spoiling their pooches to some degree.  Don't worry...these folks have you beat: 


The San Antonio Spurs have defeated Dallas to move on to the next round of the NBA playoffs.  Their opponent will be the Phoenix Suns.


April was a pretty good month for Helpful Buckeye on the bicycle!  My previous record for miles ridden in a month was 605.  This month of April just completed Helpful Buckeye rode 711 miles....

~~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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