Sunday, June 27, 2010


Most of our readers might wonder what this:

has to do with this:

For many of you, it's just a piece of interesting trivia that probably will never directly affect you or your pets.  However, for those of you who might be travelling with your dog and/or cat to the southwestern part of the USA or to 17 of our western states, the answer just might save you and your pet some misery.  The full explanation appears a little later in this week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats.

Last week's poll questions revealed only about 5% of you have had a cat diagnosed with a food allergy, about 75% of you feel that your cat has used up only a few of its 9 lives, and about 50% of you with long-haired cats brush your cat frequently and trim the mats yourself...the other half hire a pro.  Remember to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.


1) Another pet food recall was ordered this past week.  The United Pet Group has recalled all unexpired lots of Pro-Pet Adult Daily Vitamin Supplement Tablets for Dogs because of possible Salmonella contamination.  For more information on the specific product and lot numbers, go to: 

2) The Humane Society of the United States released this short video of a fighting dog rescue operation...titled "Saving Elvis"...go to this HSUS web site and click on "play video" under Fighting Dogs Freed In Virginia: 


When most people hear the word "plague," they usually think about Bubonic Plague or the Black Death which swept Europe and Asia in the 14th century.  And, they wouldn't be wrong.  Plague is a disease caused by a bacterium, Yersinia pestis, that is carried by a flea, which, in turn, is usually being transported by a rodent.  In the 14th century, the main offending rodent was the rat.  Today, those fleas are still carried by rats, in addition to ground squirrels, gophers, and prairie dogs.

The disease shows 2 main forms, bubonic (in lymph nodes) and pneumonic (respiratory)...which depend largely on how the bacterium enters the body.  Believe it or not, one of the most common areas in the world to show an incidence of plague is right here in the the "Four Corners"...the intersection of the corners of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah.  Since some of our readers might live in or near this area and some of you who live elsewhere might be traveling with your pets to the American West, this is a good time to learn more about this potentially serious disease...both for your pets and for you.

The American Veterinary Medical Association has produced this podcast interview with Dr. Paul Ettestad, former New Mexico State veterinarian.  He provides a very interesting and informative explanation of "Plague":

This truly is an example of knowledge helping awareness of what is lurking in our environment and ways in which we can avoid these problems.


While most pets don't indulge in obsessive/compulsive vices such as smoking or drinking, some animals share one seemingly unhealthy behavior with humankind: nail biting. Whether your pet is a chronic nail muncher, or just takes an occasional chew, here's what you should know:

Why Pets Chew Their Nails

According to Christina Shusterich, Canine Behavior Counselor and president of NY Clever K9, Inc. cats bite their nails as part of a grooming routine. They do this "in order to clean them, as well as to get rid of the older, outer sheath of the nail." This often occurs when a cat's nails are overgrown and could use a trim.

Nail chewing in dogs, however, is not normal. They may bite their nails "from itchiness due to allergies or an infection. They could also be biting out of boredom or anxiety." Excessive nail biting by either cats or dogs can be harmful, as it can "cause bleeding, irritation, and infections," says Shusterich.

Dealing With The Problem

There are several steps you may want to try to take care of excessive nail chewing.
Diagnosing the Cause: It's always good to check with the vet when your animal exhibits obsessive behavior to see if there could be an underlying medical cause. But if you think your dog or cat is bored, anxious or has simply irritated his skin so much that he can't stop working it, then there are a few things you might want to try.

Deterring the Behavior: An anti-itch spray paired with a head cone (Elizabethan collar) can help ease skin irritation and keep the pet from further abrading it, giving the skin time to heal. "A good over-the-counter anti-itch spray with a taste deterrent is called Lido-Med," says Shusterich.

Distracting the Pet: Bored nail biters can benefit from interactive puzzles and toys to keep their minds off their chewing. According to Shusterich, "Providing catnip for cats and hiding it in several toys can help entice them to search and play." Similarly, hiding a peanut-butter-filled Kong toy keeps dogs busy and "reduces anxiety by boosting your dog's confidence in providing a regular activity in line with his nature, and a job he is performing successfully on a daily basis."

Diminishing the Anxiety: Aerobic exercise is an essential component to reducing stress and this may also help reduce nail biting. Shusterich recommends "15 minutes of playing with your cat and 15 minutes of aerobic activity in addition to your dog's walks" to keep your pet calm throughout the day, thereby reducing their anxious impulse to gnaw on their nails.

And If Your Pet Is Still Biting?

If you haven't consulted your veterinarian yet, go ahead and call. There may be easily treatable allergies or even serious medical issues that the vet can help resolve.
Cat Claw                                                                Dog Claw

Every once in awhile, Helpful Buckeye takes this opportunity to introduce our readers to an unusual breed of dog or cat, along with interesting information about that particular breed.  This time, Helpful Buckeye thought you might enjoy some of the breed statistics provided by the American Kennel Club relating to some of the most notable recent trends in the past decade (1999-2009):

• The most popular pets with the biggest increase in rankings over the last decade included the Bulldog (from 21st to 7th); French Bulldog (from 73rd to 24th); Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (from 58th to 25th) and the making the largest leap the Havanese (from 92nd to 32nd).

• Working K-9 breeds favored by law enforcement and the military have shown modest gains as pets including the Belgian Malinois (from 95th to 81st), the Border Collie (from 71st to 52nd) Bloodhound (from 51st to 43rd), and the Doberman Pinscher which served heroically with the U.S. Military during WWII (from 23rd to 15th).

• A trend toward easy-to-groom breeds is seen with the rise of the Mastiff (from 39th to 27th) and the Rhodesian Ridgeback (from 56th to 48th) as well as the decline of higher maintenance breeds such as the corded breeds the Komondor (from 132nd to 154th) and the Puli (from 123rd to 149th) and on the Irish Terrier (from 108th to 132nd) and Sealyham Terrier (from 138th to 157th) which require hand-stripping.

• Among rare breeds on the decline are the Curly-Coated Retriever (from 114th to 142nd), the Sussex Spaniel (from 135th to 159th) and the Irish Water Spaniel (from 130th to 150th).

• Even before the Obama family selected the Portuguese Water Dog it was on the rise in popularity ranked 80th a decade ago to 60th currently. However, it did make a jump from 64th a year ago when all the interest in this mid-sized, hypoallergenic breed began.

For a lot more interesting breed information, the AKC has compiled several other lists based on breed registrations at: 


If you've been looking for an acceptable alternative upon which your cat can scratch, check out this review, by Kristen Seymour, of products at:

In her review, Ms. Seymour references these web sites:

1) Helpful Buckeye has covered several different aspects of traveling with your pet in recent issues but...none of those discussions covered this type of luxury traveling:

Does this "turndown" service appeal to you?

2) Keeping with the theme of the superwealthy, how do you feel about the wealthy heiress who left $3 million to her chihuahuas?  Her son isn't too happy about it.  Here's the story:

3) Still in the realm of wealthy folks, Mariah Carey has been sued by her veterinarian for non-payment of a $30,000 bill for veterinary care and "extraordinary services."  More details at:

4) Here's a heart-warming story of a cat that lost its back feet and a British veterinarian who wouldn't give up:

After reading this cat's story, do you think any of its 9 lives were used up in this accident?
5) To finish up on a lighter note, enjoy this short video of a kitten challenging its reflection in a mirror:  

The LA DODGERS have not been winning very many games lately.  We got swept last weekend by the Red Sox, lost 2 of 3 to the Angels, and won only 1 of 3 against the Yankees, including giving away tonight's game with a 6-2 lead in the top of the 9th inning.  This loss could be the final straw for this year...a downward spiral looms.


Today (June 27th) was a great day for a bike ride!  The temperature was 80 degrees, humidity was 8%, only a very slight breeze, and deep blue sky...a bicyclist's dream.  The 35 miles went by almost effortlessly.  Helpful Buckeye feels that the concept of  "a perfect day" can mean different things, depending on the topic of discussion.  June 14th, including dinner on the pier and the sunset at San Clemente beach, was one of those perfect days...just as today was a perfect day for biking.

Several of our readers have e-mailed Helpful Buckeye about Ken's progress following his heart surgery.  I am pleased to report that he is doing well, following his doctor's instructions to the letter.  His birthday is tomorrow...June 28th.

~~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, June 20, 2010


Helpful Buckeye received several e-mails after last week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats from readers asking whether cats also suffered some of the same allergic problems seen in dogs related to their food.  The answer is, of course, yes...and that topic will be addressed further down the page.  As an additional benefit for our cat-owning readers, Helpful Buckeye is including several other discussions involving cats since they have been a bit under-represented in recent issues.

All three of our poll questions last week ended up being 50% yes and 50 % no for the questions of a pet being treated for cancer, a dog ever diagnosed with a food allergy, and ever owning a greyhound.  Be sure to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.


Many of our readers may recall the very unfortunate puppy in Greensboro, NC that was beaten and then set on fire last summer.  The puppy went on to make a surprising recovery but the amount of media attention to the case revealed that current state law only provided for a punishment of probation for the offender.  Since then, the North Carolina legislature has restructured the law to provide for a much more strict penalty for the same has become known as Susie's Law.  Read more about the new penalty at:


Last week, we presented an account of some food-related allergies in dogs that were addressed by a clinical nutritionist/canine allergy specialist.  Well, cats can also be affected by a similar problem.  Some of the circumstances might be a little different from dogs but readers will recognize many comparable features as well.

Paw Nation provides this interview with a veterinary cat specialist at Cornell University:

One day your cat is minding her own business, sleeping peacefully atop the laundry basket or terrorizing the dog. The next, it's scratching like mad. Fleas are an obvious suspect, but not the only one. Food allergy is "quite common in cats," Christine Bellezza, a veterinarian and the co-director of the Feline Health Center at Cornell University, tells Paw Nation.

Itching is the number-one symptom of food allergies, especially around the face, paws and ears, according to Other signs include ear infections, hair loss, and small bumps on the skin. Less commonly, food allergies can also upset a cat's stomach, causing diarrhea or vomiting, says Bellezza.

A food allergy can strike cats of any age, though they're rare in very young kittens, according to Bellezza. "Usually they develop an allergy to a food that they've been eating for a long period of time," she says.

And that food can be just about anything. "What we see most commonly are allergies to fish, beef, dairy products, wheat, corn, and soy," Bellezza tells Paw Nation. According to, beef, dairy products and wheat account for two-thirds of all cat food allergies.

Diagnosing food allergies can be tricky. Allergic reactions to fleas trigger similar symptoms. "By far, flea allergies are much more common," Bellezza says. Other infections such as ringworm and mites also cause itchiness. Even medical conditions like urinary tract problems can cause cats to lick and itch at their backsides. But if you and your vet can rule out fleas and other conditions, food allergies are a reasonable suspect.

If you and your veterinarian suspect a food allergy, the next step will probably be a food elimination trial. You'll feed your allergic cat a food containing a brand-new protein source and a brand-new carbohydrate source that it's never eaten before. A duck-and-peas combo is a common choice, says Bellezza. "You're trying to find something new." Because allergies develop over time, she adds, "They won't be allergic to something they've never had before."

Unfortunately, changing the diet isn't a quick fix. It can take 10 weeks for allergies to subside after a cat starts a new diet. During that time, you have to be vigilant to make sure the cat doesn't swallow anything else, i.e. no treats, no table scraps, no mice. Making matters worse, commercial diets may contain preservatives or food colorings to which some cats develop allergies. "So it's not always simple to do a food trial," says Bellezza.

But it's worth the effort to help your furry family member become itch-free and feel like itself again. Once the offending food has been identified, avoiding it is the best medicine. Sometimes, cats will also develop underlying infections from scratching repeatedly. If that happens to your cat, it might need antibiotics to clear up the infection, says Bellezza.

Ultimately, she adds, consulting with your vet is the most important thing you can do for your itchy cat. "Instead of wasting time [with a food trial] and prolonging the cat's suffering, it's best to go to the veterinarian and run some tests," Bellezza adds. "Because the signs for all these skin disease are so similar, it's really important to get a diagnosis first."


1) The American Veterinary Medical Association produced this podcast for all cat owners.  The topic is: Help Your Cat Live All 9 Lives:

2) Paw Nation has interviewed a breeder of Persian cats about the nature of matted hair and some of the problems associated with matted cat hair.  Even some of our dog-owning readers with long haired dogs might find some helpful hints from this interview:

Cats are meticulous creatures but that doesn't mean your pet can't use help in keeping up its coat. Certain long haired breeds -- such as the Persian, Himalayan, Maine coon, for example -- are especially vulnerable to mats and need to be groomed daily. If you fall behind, your cat can develop knots in its fur that not only detract from the animal's natural beauty but can also be painful to the cat.

The Right Grooming Tools Make a Difference

According to B.J. Fox, a prominent breeder of Persians and Himalayans in Greenbriar, Ark., one should use a professional steel comb on long matted hair, not a brush. Fox, who worked for many years as a pet groomer, prefers using a 7.5" steel fine/medium comb. A different grade may be better suited to your cat's coat.
Combing Techniques

As a pioneering breeder of chocolate and lilac Persians, Fox has seen her share of mats in her cats' hair. She offers this tip: "The end tines of the comb will be your friend if you use them properly. Start at the end of the hair shaft at the mat and hold the base of the mat so that it does not pull the skin of the kitty. Gently use the end tine of the comb to separate the mat and dislodge it so that you can begin to work it loose, little by little, until you can get to the skin."

Fox adds, "Don't grab your kitty and comb from top to bottom, because it will hurt her." Begin by using a wide-tooth comb and then graduate down to the wide end of the fine/medium comb.
For cases in which a cat's hair is badly matted, Fox advises pet owners use a wide-tooth comb to remove as many mats as possible, paying close attention to areas behind the ears, under the front "armpits" and between the back legs. "Once you have dislodged the worst matted hair with the wide-teeth," says Fox, "then bathe the cat. While the soapsuds are on the cat, use your comb, starting at the rump area of the body and work forward. The soap acts as a lubricant." Whatever you do, don't wet the cat when there are still big knots because the water will only make them worse.

When Combing Is Not Enough

If you are dealing with severe mats, Fox recommends using peanut butter or butter on the fur as a last resort. She says, "If your cat will not allow you to finish, that's okay. The peanut butter or butter still tastes good to her and acts just like a hairball remedy. Even better, it is a natural conditioner to the coat and can later be shampooed away with a degreaser."

If after trying these methods, your cat's coat still seems hopeless, it is time to go to a professional groomer. There is a chance, that the cat will have to be shaved, but fur grows back quickly, says Fox. The full or partial shaving will give you a "fresh start at proper grooming."


Rather than present specific products this week, Helpful Buckeye has this interesting concept to offer.  Think of it not so much as a statement about particular products but rather as "Home Makeovers To Meow About"....

Go to:

There are a lot of pictures and some very descriptive text covering ideas for a home makeover that would please a lot of cats!


1) Clay Thompson writes a daily column for the Arizona Republic in which he answers questions from readers.  This past week he addressed the problem of dogs howling when they hear emergency sirens:

My dog will howl when she hears a fire or police siren. Does this hurt her ears?

No, it doesn't, even though a lot of people believe that. Your dog is just getting in touch with its ancestral roots.

Wolves and coyotes howl as a means of communication. They howl to locate other members of the pack or to announce a kill and so on.

To your dog, the siren sounds like a distant howl, even if you don't hear it like that. So it begins howling to let the other howler know it's there. And pretty soon other dogs in the neighborhood join in and they all howl away until they get bored and things quiet down.

And some dogs howl if they are left alone a long time because they're lonesome.

To enjoy more of Clay, go to: 
2) Steve Wilson has a "dirty" job and he has found some "dirty" money.  Wilson, a worker with the St. Louis firm DoodyCalls Pet Waste Removal, was cleaning up after a dog when he spotted what appeared to be a bit of half-digested U.S. currency "sticking out."  Read about what he found and what he did with it: 
3) A recent study at a hospital in Vancouver seems to indicate that households with dogs are more likely to have children develop asthma than those households with cats.  For the rest of the story, go to: 

The article closes with these questions: What do you think? Is having a dog worth the possibility of increasing your child's risk of asthma? Even slightly?

4) A dog by the name of Bentley has shown up on the Arizona primary ballot for August 24th.  Read about Bentley's candidacy at: (it's in the last part of the article)

The LA Lakers beat the Boston Celtics in 7 games to win the NBA title for 2010.  The series was a struggle for both teams and became a defensive battle in the later games.

The LA Dodgers did lose all 3 games vs. the LA Angels last weekend, then took 2 of 3 from Cincinnati, before going into Boston to lose 2 in a row to the Red Sox.  This stumble has put us back into second place in our division.


Desperado and Helpful Buckeye experienced our first earthquake in southern California this past week.  It turned out to be a 5.7 Richter scale earthquake that was not destructive but...we'll always remember the hotel room wall looking like it was made of elastic!

Then, we got back home to Flagstaff on Thursday and today, Saturday, we came very close to having to evacuate from our home due to a rapidly-moving wildfire.  Right now, it looks like the fire is not moving toward us anymore, but that could easily change if the wind picks back up.

Robbie, a reader from Denver, sent an e-mail asking if I rode in the World Naked Bike Ride last Saturday.  Robbie, the long answer is "Why would I want to do that?" and the short answer is "I didn't know anything about it."  Read more about that event at:

Desperado and Helpful Buckeye would like to leave you with this photo of the sunset we sat through on the beach at San Clemente, CA on our 41st anniversary:

~~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, June 13, 2010


Helpful Buckeye was pleasantly surprised by all the e-mails sent by our readers this past week to express their best wishes for my Cowpoke friend, Ken, as he recovers from his heart-bypass surgery.  At last count, 16 of you have contributed a message wishing him well.  Those will be passed on to him soon.  Thanks a bunch for caring about my friend!

I still get an e-mail once in awhile asking whether or not there is an index of any type that covers all the topics we've addressed here at Questions On Dogs and Cats.  Yes, there is an index available and it is located in the left-hand column of each weekly issue of the blog...under the heading of "Labels."  Our regular readers know that there are numerous topics on this list and, in fact, many of the topic headings include more than one reference to that topic.  All you have to do is click on the topic of your interest and follow the screen choices to the issue that contains that information.

The last reminder Helpful Buckeye has for you this week is the "Pet Health & Safety" widget that is also displayed  in the column to the left.  This widget is sponsored by the Food & Drug Administration and provides many current tips and news updates about health and safety issues for your pets.  You should check out this widget each week for any new's free.  Just click on the "tips" and "updates" icons.

We ran 3 poll questions last week and it appears that many of our readers will be traveling with a pet this summer (75%)...almost all of you perform at least an occasional "tick check" on your pets (90%)...and not very many of you have ever visited a restaurant that allows a dog in the serving area (10%).  Perhaps that number will change this summer if our readers got any help from the web site on finding places to dine out with your dog:  Be sure to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.

Any comments or questions can be e-mailed to: or submitted by clicking on the "Comments" icon at the end of each issue of the blog.


1) Another pet food recall has made the news.  This one is from Procter & Gamble and concerns an Iams canned cat food: The affected Iams canned cat food is:

• Iams ProActive Health canned Cat and Kitten Food, all varieties of 3 ounce and 5.5 ounce cans, with "09/2011" and "06/2012" date stamps on the bottom of the can.

The date stamps are found on the first line of the two lines stamped on the bottom of the can. All cans of this food marked with these two date stamps should be discarded.

Further information from the American Veterinary Medical Association about this recall is at:

2) The AVMA has also released this news item about a new research program on cancer in dogs:

Two private institutes have created the Canine Hereditary Cancer Consortium to study cancer in dogs.

The Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix and Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids, Mich., are partnering on the project with the National Cancer Institute, University of Pennsylvania, and Michigan State University.

Most of the funding comes from a $4.3 million grant for cancer research through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Hill's Pet Nutrition and PetSmart each contributed $500,000.

The consortium will collect saliva, blood, and tumor samples from dogs with the consent of owners. The goal is to identify genes that influence cancers in dogs and humans.

The Van Andel Research Institute already had been studying hemangiosarcoma in Clumber Spaniels with support from the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation and Clumber Spaniel Health Foundation. Now the program will expand to the study of osteosarcoma, oral melanoma, malignant histiocytosis, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and as many as 20 breeds of dogs.

A relevant but separate consortium was formed several years ago to study cancer in dogs. The Canine Comparative Oncology and Genomics Consortium is collecting tumor samples from dogs for a central repository at the National Cancer Institute. A number of veterinary colleges are participating in the project.


Is pet food making your dog sick?  That's a question that comes up fairly often from dog owners.  The answer to that question, as with many other health-related concerns, is not a simple yes or no.  As the following discussion points out, there are many considerations to think about before arriving at the proper answer:

Your dog is scratching like crazy, or sick to his stomach. Could his food be the culprit?

Food allergies aren't extremely common in dogs, but they aren't uncommon either. Food allergies affect dogs in two primary ways, says Korinn Saker, a clinical nutritionist at the North Carolina State School of Veterinary Medicine who specializes in canine allergies. "We either see skin issues, or GI [gastrointestinal] issues," she says. If your dog is experiencing vomiting or diarrhea on a regular basis, or is itching constantly and licking or biting at his skin or fur, allergies may be to blame. (Your vet can help you rule out other ailments, like parasites or infections, that could cause similar symptoms.)

Unfortunately, it can be hard to tell whether an allergic dog is having a reaction to his food or to an environmental allergen such as pollen. (Dogs can also become allergic to food they've happily eaten their entire lives making detection even more difficult.) Still, there are ways to tell if food is the foe, Sakar says. "The most definitive way to do that is to do a feeding elimination trial," she says. In other words, try removing the suspected ingredient or ingredients from the dog's diet, and see what happens.

Choose a dog food with novel ingredients the dog hasn't had before. The new food should have a single source of protein, such as fish, duck or lamb, and a single source of carbohydrates, like rice or potatoes. (And don't give him any treats or table scraps during the feeding trial!) If the allergy symptoms go away on the new diet, you can then try adding back the suspected allergens, one by one. If the symptoms come back, she explains, you'll know what ingredient (or ingredients) to avoid from now on.

Testing your dog's diet is something you can do easily at home, but it's a good idea to consult with your vet if you suspect food allergies. Sakar also points out that when experimenting with new foods, make sure to choose a diet that also contains the many vitamins and minerals dogs need to stay healthy. "Make sure it's a balanced and complete diet based on the labeling," she says.

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, the most common dog allergens are beef, chicken, eggs, corn, wheat, soy and milk.

"Beef is the number one allergen," Sakar says. She adds that protein sources in general, including beef, chicken and fish, are much more likely to cause allergies than are carbohydrate sources like corn or wheat. (Irish setters, however, are known to have a wheat sensitivity.)

Sakar says that corn has become a favorite villain, and many pet owners are sure their dog suffers from a corn allergy. However, "a real, true allergy to corn is very, very, very rare in a pet," she says.

Hypoallergenic prescription diets are available for allergic dogs. These foods often contain an unusual protein source, such as duck, venison or rabbit. Other special diets are made from hydrolyzed beef or chicken. In these foods, Sakar says, "the protein has been mechanically altered so it's very small in size and not recognized by the immune system." In other words, the dog's body doesn't recognize the altered protein, so it doesn't respond with an allergic reaction.

Of course, with so many dog food varieties available on store shelves, you might not need a prescription to find a food your dog can tolerate. If you have trouble figuring out what ingredients might be causing your dog difficulty, talk to your vet. With a little detective work, you should be able to find a diet that keeps your dog's tail wagging.

This discussion was adapted from: 

Helpful Buckeye urges all dog and cat owners who have a question about their pets' nutrition to talk it over with your veterinarian before coming to any conclusions on your own.  Misguided efforts where your pets' food is concerned can lead to difficulties your pets don't need.


How many of you have ever had a Greyhound...or knew someone who had one?  Greyhounds are a special breed of dog, having been bred for racing. 

Unfortunately, many of these racing Greyhounds will break down from the rigors of training and racing and that sad fact led to the founding of the National Greyhound Adoption Program by David Wolf.  The NGAP has put together a list of essential considerations if you are thinking about adopting a greyhound:

Rescuing Greyhounds - 10 Things to Know Before Adopting

Greyhounds are the fastest breed of dog. "They can run up to 45 miles per hour for short distances," says David Wolf, founder and director of the National Greyhound Adoption Program (NGAP). This genetic gift ultimately puts these dogs in harm's way as it drives the racing circuit which puts greyhounds at great risk.

"I found there was a terrific need to reverse the trend of what was happening to greyhounds when they didn't win anymore [at the racetrack]," says Wolf, explaining why he started the NGAP some 20 years ago. "They would be destroyed in such enormous numbers, and it disturbed me so much I wanted to get involved trying to reverse that." To date, NGAP has rescued and found homes for some 7,000 former racing greyhounds.

Have you ever considered adopting a greyhound? Here are 10 essential things to know about adopting one (or more) of these magnificent dogs:

1. They are couch potatoes. Although greyhounds are very fast when they're in action, they are not hyper or high-strung dogs. "When they're not racing, they are in a cage at least 22 hours a day, so they're used to being sedentary," says Wolf. "They're actually quite calm and low-strung."
2. They have to learn to walk steps. Racing greyhounds have to be taught how to go up and down stairs because they've never had to do this before, says Wolf. Glass doors are another potential hazard because they've never been exposed to them. Wolf recommends frosting the lower portion of glass doors so that greyhounds are less likely to run into them.
3. Grooming is easy. Greyhounds have a short coat and shed very little. "They rarely have to be bathed," says Wolf, who bathes his greyhounds only a couple of times a year. They're very clean dogs and have no inherent body odor, he says. Greyhounds do need to be brushed occasionally, and are considered a good breed for people that are allergic to dogs.
4. Their racing years are few and their lives can be long. Most former racing greyhounds are between 3-and-a-half to 5 years old when they are adopted, sometimes a little younger. The life span of a greyhound is anywhere from 8 to 14 years. "It's the gift of life," says Wolf. "If you or someone else doesn't adopt that greyhound, there's a good chance it will be put to sleep."
5. Greyhounds make great family pets. The transition from racing dog to family pet is an easy one, says Wolf. "It's just part of the breed," he explains. "The greyhound is a 5,000-year-old breed. It was the favored dog of pharaohs of Egypt and went into the tents of kings. These dogs were held in very high esteem, and they've changed very little over the centuries." Still, greyhounds are used to being in packs, and separation anxiety can be an issue. Wolf's organization does not adopt to families who will need to leave their greyhound alone for more than eight hours at a time.
6. Oral hygiene is critical. The biggest health issue for greyhounds is their mouth, says Wolf. "It's a good idea to set up an oral hygiene program for any dog, but it's especially important for a greyhound," he says, due to the high-bacteria found in the meat they are fed when racing.
7. Exercise needs can vary. Every greyhound will have a different energy level. "Some will like to run a little bit every day," says Wolf. "Some will run for a minute or two minutes a couple of times a week, while some will cherish retirement and you won't typically see them run. Most of the dogs like to lounge around."
8. Fences and leashes are a must. Greyhounds are sight hounds, so you should not let them run freely because if something catches their attention, there's a good chance instinct will kick in and they'll take off after it. "They need to be in a fenced yard or on a leash at all times," Wolf says. "We don't adopt greyhounds to people who let their dogs run freely."
9. They are sensitive to temperature extremes. The sleek greyhound is sensitive to heat and cold. "In the winter, you should put winter coats on them for going outside in the cold, and on hot days, they should be in an air-conditioned home," says Wolf.
10. Greyhounds need special collars. A greyhound's head is so narrow that a standard collar can slip right over their heads if they stop and pull back on the leash. Use a safety or Martingale collar, recommends Wolf. "It's not a choke collar, but it has a mechanism that tightens up so greyhounds can't back out of the collar."

Finally, when it comes to adding a greyhound to your life, beware of the "potato-chip effect," says Wolf. "It's hard to stop at one," he says. "I know people that have 10 greyhounds in their home, and it's not uncommon to have two or three living with you. Greyhounds have an inherent ability to make you feel so good about having them. That's why people have so many."

More information about the National Greyhound Adoption Program can be found at: 

Learn more about the Martingale collar at:


1) Walking your dog doesn't have to be a complicated process. You grab a leash, some water, something to scoop poop, and you're out the door. But if you're trying to turn a simple dog walk into a serious workout, the right equipment will help you and your dog make the most of your time.  For the more serious hiker, read this short account of "hiking with your dog" products: 

and then take a look at some of these products:    The "Collapsing Bowl"....   The "Wander Pack"....

2)  Ben Westhoff, of The Doggie Diaries, has evaluated 5 dog toys that claim some amount of "indestructibility" and you can read his review at: 

His choice of the 5 products was the Orbee-Tuff Woof Ball, which you can find at:


1) Ellie, a young King Charles Cavalier Spaniel in England, is almost completely blind. While her owner and a local animal organization are working to raise money for a vision-restoring operation, a German shepherd named Leo has taken matters into his own paws, and is protecting and guiding her.

Read the rest of Ellie's story at:

2) Candace, one of our regular readers from Sacramento, sent in this video preview of a movie she has recently seen.  She gives it a lot of praise. The movie is Hachiko--A Dog's Tale, stars Richard Gere, and it's a true story.  It is now available on DVD...Helpful Buckeye is on the waiting list for it from the Flagstaff Public Library.  Watch the short video preview and see if it interests you:  If you've already seen the movie or see it as a result of this suggestion, send Helpful Buckeye an e-mail or comment with your thoughts about it.

3) This story has to be ranked along with some of the other bizarre creations we've featured in the "General Interest" section of the blog.  Take a long look at this "Chihuahua" and then ask yourself if you would like it to be your birthday day cake decoration:

Yes or No....

4) Helpful Buckeye received an e-mail from Barbara, who has created a web site that deals with the problem of life-threatening infections human patients contract while in a medical facility/hospital being treated for something else.  Even though this isn't directly related to dogs and cats, all of you might personally benefit from being more knowledgeable about this problem.  Take a look at the web site, spend a few minutes browsing the information:

If any of our readers want to pursue this topic further, send an e-mail to that effect and we will do so.

The LA Dodgers have been hot this week...swept the Cardinals for the first time in LA since 1988 and now have the best record in the National League.  Unfortunately, they are playing the LA Angels this weekend and the Angels have always had a "second best" team in LA stigma, which motivates them to beat the Dodgers.  We'll see how the series goes.

The LA Lakers and the Boston Celtics have tied their series, 2-2, with the very important 5th game Sunday evening in Boston.  The 5th game is important because the loser would have to win the last 2 games in order to be the NBA champion...which would be tough to do.


Desperado and Helpful Buckeye will be on the road for part of this upcoming week, celebrating Flag Day (and our anniversary)....

Happy trails to all of our readers!

~~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, June 6, 2010


Even though many of our readers travel with their pets year-round, there is still a great majority of people who travel with their pets during the summer months.  In this issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats, Helpful Buckeye will offer some new information that should help your summer travels with the family pet be a lot easier and, as a result, more fun.  More on that later....

Helpful Buckeye received a lot of e-mail responses about the "mystery" birds last week.  Tom, from Albuquerque, was the first respondent to correctly identify the first one as a Yellow-Headed Blackbird and Carla, from San Diego, sent the first correct ID on the Hooded Oriole.  The Hooded Oriole was probably the more difficult to ID because it doesn't have a very large range in the USA...only small parts of the very extreme southwestern states of AZ, CA, NM, NV, and UT. 

Last week's poll questions showed that about 90% of respondents would NOT consider a specific breed dog just because they saw one in a movie...and, virtually 100% of respondents answered that their dogs do EVERYTHING but ignore them when they return home.  Be sure to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.


It's amazing how much interest last week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats generated about the upcoming release of the movie, Marmaduke, and by extension, Great Danes in general.  Due to the much anticipated interest in Great Danes, some words of caution are appropriate:

"Everything is bigger when you own a Great Dane," says Dave Miller, President of the Great Dane Club of America. "They eat a lot of food and take up a lot of space in your home and car," he adds. Families interested in adopting one of the dogs should spend time with several grown adult Great Danes "to make sure they understand how large the breed is," Miller says.

Arlene Scarbrough, a longtime Great Dane breeder in Atlanta, recommends you consider that:

1) Great Danes generally weigh 150 to 200 pounds at adulthood.
2) At 6 months old, a Great Dane can knock you down the stairs if it jumps on you.
3) The dogs can be destructive. They'll chew on furniture, clothing and even sheet-rock. "We call them termites," Scarbrough says. If they aren't properly trained, she notes, "They can eat your house."
4) They consume two 40-pound bags of dog food per month.
5) The breed is prone to health problems that often require expensive surgeries.
6) Great Danes need constant companionship. Scarbrough recommends a second dog of the opposite sex if an adult is not at home with them.
7) Even when they're young, you can't leave a Great Dane puppy loose in the house and go to work, says Scarbrough. They will get into too much trouble. But puppies are also unhappy if you crate them. This puts new owners in a tough bind.
8) If the dog is accustomed to being in air-conditioning, he or she can be very susceptible to heat stroke. Scarborough notes that you can't leave the dog outside on a hot day for longer than it takes to go to the bathroom without risk.
9) Although the dogs are big, they aren't athletic. "They can't jog; it will tear up their hips," Scarbrough explains.
10) Finally, before you welcome a Great Dane into your family, contact a breeder or another Great Dane owner and get to know the breed to make sure it's right for you. "We don't mind people coming here and not buying," Scarbrough says. "If I get too many after the movie, I'll just set up an hourly tour."

Overall, it sounds like nobody is telling you not to get a Great Dane...but the obvious conclusion is that you should go see the movie, enjoy it, and, if you fall in love with the breed, do some homework before making the purchase.


1) Different parts of the country have different tick seasons but summertime is pretty much consistent all over the USA for tick problems.  This is, at least in part, due to pet owners and their pets spending more time outdoors and being exposed more to the environments that are likely to be tick-infested.  The Humane Society of the United States has put together a good review of how to get a tick off of your pet:

If your dog spends time outside in areas where ticks like to hang out, a tick check should be part of your daily routine.  Even the best repellents may not prevent these parasites from latching onto your pooch. And since it can take 24 to 48 hours for an attached tick to transmit an infection to its host, it's important to promptly and properly remove these parasites.

First, run your fingers slowly over your dog's entire body. If you feel a bump or swollen area, check to see if a tick has burrowed there. Don't limit your search to your dog's torso: check between his toes, under his armpits, the insides of his ears, and around his face and chin.

Don't limit tick checks to your canine family members. Dogs can't directly transmit tick-borne illnesses to people, but ticks can move from host to host. A tick may enter your home on your dog's back and move on to another pet or human, or a tick could hitch a ride on you and then move on to one of your pets. A good tick prevention strategy includes checking all family members for these parasites, especially after outdoor activities in wooded, leafy, or grassy areas.

Ticks can be black, brown, or tan, and they have eight legs. Ticks are arachnids and related to spiders, not insects. They can also be tiny—some tick species are only as large as the head of a pin—so look carefully.

In some areas of the United States where there is no real winter, ticks are active all year, not just in the summer months. Even in areas where there has been a killing frost with the approach of winter, ticks can become active again if the weather turns warm for more than a day or two.

If you find a tick on your dog, don't panic! Follow these quick and easy steps to safely remove the pest:

Step 1: Get your gear
Pair of gloves
Clean pair of tweezers or a commercial tick remover
Isopropyl alcohol

Step 2: Remove the tick
Wear gloves while removing the tick to avoid contact with your skin (ticks can transmit diseases to people, too).
If you're using tweezers:
Grasp the tick as close to your dog’s skin as possible, but be gentle! Try not to pinch your dog's skin.
Pull outward in a straight, steady motion, making sure that you’ve removed the entire tick, since anything left behind could lead to an infection.
If you're using a tick remover:
Gently press the remover against your dog's skin near the tick.
Slide the notch of the remover under the tick.
Continue sliding the remover until the tick is caught in the small end of the notch and is pulled free. (The tick will remain in the bowl of the remover.)

Step 3: Store the evidence
Drop the tick into a small container that contains isopropyl alcohol (the alcohol will quickly kill the tick), and mark the date on the container. If your dog begins displaying symptoms of a tick-borne illness, your veterinarian may want to identify or test the tick.

Step 4: Praise your patient
Clean your dog's skin with antiseptic and make sure to clean your tweezers or tick remover with isopropyl alcohol. Wash your hands, too! Then give your pup a treat for being a trooper in the fight against ticks.

Step 5: Keep an eye on the area where the tick was to see if an infection surfaces
If the skin remains irritated or infected, make an appointment with your veterinarian.  Watch your dog for symptoms of tick-borne diseases. Some symptoms include arthritis or lameness that lasts for three to four days, reluctance to move, swollen joints, fever, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, loss of appetite, and neurological problems.

2) Helpful Buckeye knows that you can never emphasize too much the problems of heat exhaustion and other summertime concerns.  Take a few minutes and listen to this very informative podcast about summer pet safety tips from the American Veterinary Medical Association


The AVMA has produced a very comprehensive set of "Frequently Asked Questions" about traveling with your pets.  Many of our readers have made the necessary adjustments to their travel plans in order to properly accommodate their pets but there is always a little more information available that will come in handy for your preparations. 

What should I think about when deciding to travel with my pet?

• Make sure your pet is comfortable with travel.  Some pets cannot handle travel because of illness, injury, age or temperament.  If your pet is not good with travel, you should consider a reliable pet-sitter or talk to your veterinarian about boarding facilities in your area.
• Make sure your pet has identification tags with up-to-date information.

• Having your pet implanted with a microchip can improve your chances of getting your pet back if it becomes lost. The microchip must be registered with your current contact information, including a cell phone number. A tag is included when you have a microchip that has the microchip number and a mobile contact of the owner, so if the pet is found, they can use the tag to determine ownership without having to contact a veterinarian. Contact the microchip company for a replacement tag if you've lost yours, and for information on how to update your personal information when traveling.

• If you are taking your pet across state or international borders, a health certificate is required. The health certificate must be signed by a veterinarian after your pet has been examined and found to be free of disease. Your pet's vaccinations must be up to date in order for the health certificate to be completed.

• Make sure that your pet is allowed where you are staying. Some accommodations will allow pets and some will not, so check in advance. Also, when traveling, you should bring a portable kennel with you if you have to leave your pet unattended.
 Staying with Friends or Family: Inform your host that your pet will be coming along and make sure that your pet is a welcomed guest as well.
 Staying in a Hotel or Motel: Stay at a pet friendly place. Some hotels and motels only accept small pets or pets under a certain weight; when making a reservation, make sure you inquire about the terms of their pet policy. Try to minimize the amount of time your pet will be alone in the room. When leaving your pet alone in the room, inform the front desk that your pet is being left alone in the room and place a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door. Make sure the hotel/motel knows how they can contact you if there are any problems.
 Staying at a Park, Campground or Marina: Make sure these places are pet friendly, clean up after your pet and always keep your pet on a leash.

Whom should I contact as I am considering travel arrangements?

• Your veterinarian
• The airline or travel company
• The accommodations: hotel, motel, park, camping ground or marina
• The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal & Plant Inspection Service, Veterinary Services: or 800-545-USDA (8732) and press #2 for State Regulations
• Foreign Consulate or Regulatory Agency (if traveling to another country)
 If you are traveling to another country (or even Hawaii), there may be quarantine or other health requirements
 If traveling out of the continental United States, you should contact these agencies at least 4 weeks in advance

What should I bring with me on my trip?

• Your veterinarian's contact information
• List of Veterinarians and 24 hour Emergency Hospitals along the way and close to your destination.
To find a listing of Veterinarians & Pet Emergency Hospitals in the United States, contact:
 State VMA
 American College of Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care
 Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care Society

• National Animal Poison Control (ASPCA 888-426-4435)

• Identification

• Current color photo of your pet

• ID tag should include:
o Owner's name, current home address and home phone number

• Travel ID tag should include:
o Owner's local contact phone number and address
o Contact information for your accommodations (hotel, campground etc)

• The microchip registration should be updated with your current contact information including a cell phone number.

• Medical Records
 Current copies of your pet's medical records including pre-existing conditions and medications (especially when re-locating or traveling out of the country). For travel within the United States, a brief summary of medical conditions would be sufficient.

• Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (health certificate)
 Proof of vaccinations (Proof of rabies vaccination required) and other illnesses
 Requires an examination by a licensed and accredited veterinarian to make sure the animal is not showing signs of disease.

• Acclimation certificate for air travel
 This is only required by some airlines, so check to see if your airline requires this.

• Items for your pet
 Prescribed medications (adequate supply for entire duration of trip and several days' surplus supply, just in case)
 Collar, leash, harness
 Crate
 Bed/blankets
 Toys
 Food and cool, fresh water
 Food and water dishes

• First Aid Kit for your pet

Where do I get a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (health certificate) and acclimation certificate, if needed?

Many states require an up-to-date Certificate of Veterinary Inspection from a licensed, accredited veterinarian when traveling. Your pet must be examined by a veterinarian in order for a health certificate to be issued. This certificate basically indicates your pet is healthy to travel and is not showing signs of a disease that could be passed to other animals or to people. Certain vaccinations must be up to date for a health certificate to be issued. As part of the exam, your veterinarian may check for heartworm disease and prescribe heartworm preventative medication. When you return home, your veterinarian may recommend a follow-up examination to make sure that your pet did not pick up any diseases or parasites while traveling.

You will need a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection to travel and some airlines require an acclimation certificate. Both of these certificates can only be completed and signed by a federally accredited veterinarian. If your veterinarian is not federally accredited, you will need to find an accredited veterinarian in your area, by contacting your USDA Area Office.

Can I bring my pet camping?

Yes. The same rules apply when taking your pet camping, assuming the camping area allows pets. Talk to your veterinarian about flea, tick and heartworm prevention as well as specific risks associated with camping outdoors. (such as leptospirosis and other diseases).

Keep your pet on a leash and in your sight; and be considerate of other campers. Clean up after your pet.

Being outside, your pet can be exposed to many different wild animals like skunks, raccoons, snakes and other animals that can injure your pet or expose them to disease. Do not let your pet chase or come into contact with wildlife—it can be dangerous for both your pet and the wild animal.

What can I do to prepare my pet for traveling in a car?

• If your pet does not ride well in a car, consider leaving your pet at home, with friends or family, or in a boarding facility.
• If you don't often take your pet in the car, start with short trips to "fun" destinations (such as a dog-friendly park or play area) to help your pet get used to riding in a car.
• If your pet gets car sick, talk to your veterinarian about alternate traveling suggestions or medications to keep them comfortable.

What should I do to keep my pet safe and healthy?

• Make frequent stops (about every 2-3 hours) to allow your pet to go to the bathroom and get some exercise.
• Properly restrain your pet in the car to prevent injury to your pets, you and to other drivers.
• Do not let your pet ride in the back of a truck. If your pet must ride in the truck bed, they should be confined in a protective kennel that is secured to the truck to prevent injury.  Regular readers already know that Helpful Buckeye has stressed this one! 
• Pets should not be allowed to ride with their heads outside the window. Dirt and other debris can enter their eyes, ears and nose and cause injury or infection.  Ditto for this one!
• Pets should not be allowed to ride on the driver's lap or near the driver's feet. Small pets should be confined in crates or in travel-safe dog beds, and larger pets should be appropriately restrained with harnesses attached to the car's seat belts.
• Cats should be transported in carriers.
• Providing a familiar blanket and/or safe toy can help make your pet more comfortable during the trip.

Helpful Buckeye suggests that all our readers who might be traveling with their pets should print this section for a handy reference.  This advice will always be good!
The AVMA also has made their information pamphlet available at:  

In addition, Helpful Buckeye has 2 previous blog posts about traveling with your pet for your review at:


1) If the family cat is going on one of your summer road trips, you might want to consider one of these carriers: 

2) As the list of necessary items for traveling with your dog includes a good, strong leash, here's an item that should take care of that need (it's also lighted for your own safety): 

3) Taking along some dog treats on your trip is a good way to keep your dog's attention when in unfamiliar locations.  Check out the Walmart Three Dog Bakery All-Natural Treats at:  and click on the purple bone for a free sample!


1) Keeping with the pet travel theme, use this web site to help you "sniff out" dog-friendly lodging: 

2) If your dog is going to be staying with you on the road, you will also need some places to go for eating: 

3) Perhaps modern day science will provide a tool for identifying which dogs are the offenders at "soiling" the landscape:

4) Among the many new utilizations of service dogs is the detection of prostate cancer in men, as evidenced by this study from France:

5) Now, for the ultimate test of how far you would go in order to protect your pet: 

Do you have it in you to do this???

6) In a reversal of roles, enjoy this story of a cat in Houston that helped its owner get away from 2 attacking pit bull dogs: 

Spend a few seconds taking in the stare of this will get your attention!


The LA Dodgers finished the week only 1/2 game out of first place, behind the splitting a 4-game series with the Braves, the hottest team in baseball right now.  We open a series with the Cardinals tomorrow...and they are always a tough team for the Dodgers.

The LA Lakers and The Boston Celtics played a great game tonight, with the Celtics winning the game.  They now head back to Boston with the series tied, 1-1.  Helpful Buckeye likes both teams, so all I want to see is a well-played series.


My best friend in Flagstaff, Ken, the Oklahoma State University Cowboy, is having heart-bypass surgery tomorrow morning and I am dedicating this issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats to him.  Hang in there, Kenny boy...luck be with you and may the spirit of Hippocrates guide your surgeon's hands.

We don't very often use quotes made by dogs...simply because it's difficult to find dogs who can talk.  Well, Helpful Buckeye has found a few that can: "If a dog barks his head off in the forest and no human hears him, is he still a bad dog?" and "Why do humans smell the flowers, but seldom, if ever, smell one another?"

"Woof, woof" says this human....

~~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.~~