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.~~

No comments:

Post a Comment