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.~~


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