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.~~


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