Sunday, August 8, 2010


A couple of weeks ago, Questions On Dogs and Cats got your attention right away with the picture of the skunk.  Helpful Buckeye knows at least one guy here in Flagstaff who probably will not even look at this week's blog issue due to the previously announced coverage of...Snake Bites!

Desperado and Helpful Buckeye have returned home from our trip to Pennsylvania for our family reunion.  We had a rewarding visit with family in spite of the fact that Desperado had a "hitch in her git-along," as Dandy Don Meredith used to say.  Desperado appreciates all the care, concerns, and offers of help shown by friends as she gets over this problem.

Don't forget to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.


1) The Memphis (TN) City Council Services & Neighborhood Committee will consider four ordinances amending the city’s animal control laws on Tuesday, August 10th. The proposal will require mandatory spay/neuter of all dogs over 29 pounds, define any dog that has "bitten once and been at-large twice" as a dangerous dog, increase fees for owners of intact dogs and limit tethering.

Even though these measures most likely arose from genuine concerns, Helpful Buckeye can envision a lot of discussion over whether some of them are fair to dogs and dog owners.

2) The FDA has released a warning to users of Evamist, a human medication containing a form of estrogen, that inadvertent exposure of children and pets to the product has the potential for adverse effects.  Pets exposed to Evamist may exhibit signs such as mammary gland and/or nipple enlargement and vulvar swelling. Pets should not be allowed to lick or touch the arm where Evamist is sprayed.  For the rest of the story, read: 

3) How many of our readers have ever heard of a "Canadian Dog Shoot?"  Apparently, in some very remote parts of Canada, the only way to control stray dogs is to round them and...shoot them.  A bunch (36) of these strays have been rounded up and sent to a dog shelter in suburban NYC for care and adoption.  Follow their rescue at: 


OK, now we're ready to address the long-awaited topic of...Snake Bites.  In last week's issue, Helpful Buckeye showed you a selection of photos of 9 different snakes found in the USA.  How many of them can you identify?  Which of them would you be more worried about?

First of all, it's important to remember that most of us will never be the recipient of a snake bite.  Nor will many of our pets.  However, snake bites do happen and are fairly common, certainly not rare, in many parts of the USA.  People generally know to stay away from close contact with snakes, although the common sense (or lack thereof) of some folks defies understanding.  Pets, on the other hand, do not necessarily have an inherent respect (fear) of snakes. 

Any snake can and will bite if threatened enough.  This includes poisonous and non-poisonous varieties.  Going back to the pictures in last week's issue, the first 4 photos in the left column were the 4 types of poisonous snakes in the USA...from top to bottom: Copperhead, Water Moccasin (Cottonmouth), Rattlesnake, and Coral Snake.  The photos in the right column were some of the most common non-poisonous snakes in the USA...from top to bottom: Corn Snake, Water Snake, Gopher Snake, and a King Snake (for comparison purposes, on the poster with a Coral Snake).  Lastly, the 9th photo was a Garter Snake...also non-poisonous.

All snake bites, even non-poisonous bites, can be dangerous. All bites have the risk of causing infection or allergic reactions. Any bite to a pet should be evaluated by a veterinarian.

When a pet is bitten by a snake, how do you know if the snake was poisonous or non-poisonous?

There are over 150,000 poisonous snake bites that occur to dogs and cats every year in North America. It is estimated that 99% of bites to pets are from a family of poisonous snakes known as pit vipers. Members of the pit viper family include rattlesnakes, copperheads and water moccasins.

Here are some tips to help you identify a pit viper from a non-poisonous snake:

                               Poisonous                            Non-poisonous

Eyes                        Elliptical pupils                                      Round pupils

Head                       Broad triangular                                 Rounded narrow

Teeth                       Prominent fangs                                 Many small teeth

Face             Deep pit between nostril and eye                           No pit

Size                               Size of snake does not determine if it is poisonous
Length                          Size of snake does not determine if it is poisonous

Of course, as one of my herpetology professors liked to say, if you're close enough to see the shape of the snake's pupils, it's probably a little too late! 

Bites by poisonous snakes, also referred to as snake envenomization, affect over 150,000 dogs and cats per year in North America. In the United States, there are two primary families of poisonous snakes, Crotalidae and Elapidae. The southwestern and southeastern United States have a greater incidence of snakebites due to a higher population of poisonous snakes.

Crotalidae is the most prevalent family of poisonous snakes in the United States. These include rattlesnakes, water moccasins and copperheads. These snakes have broad triangular heads with elliptical pupils, prominent curving fangs and a deep pit located between the nostril and the eye. For this reason they are commonly called "pit vipers." It is believed that pit vipers account for approximately 99% of all poisonous snake bites to pets.




Even though a poisonous snake may have bitten your pet, not all bites contain venom.  In fact, less than half of all snakebites result in signs associated with envenomization. The risk of snakebite toxicity is based on the type of snake, the size of the animal bitten and the amount of venom injected in the bite. The type, effect and amount of venom can vary with the age and type of snake and can even vary within families of snakes.

Pit viper venom is not yet fully understood and the toxicity of the venom varies from species to species. For example, copperhead venom is much less toxic than rattlesnake venom.

Most snakebites occur in large breed, primarily outdoor dogs with the majority of bites located on the legs or head, especially the muzzle. Most bites occur during the spring and summer seasons. It is estimated that 90% of bites occur between April and mid October. Bites from these snakes are generally the result of aggressive or curious actions on the part of the dog while playing in snake-infested areas.

The other type of poisonous snake present in the United States is Elapidae. This is a family of poisonous front-fanged snakes, which includes cobras, kraits, mambas, and coral snakes. Elapid snakes have short fangs and tend to hang on and "chew" venom into their victims. Their venom is largely neurotoxic and paralyzes the respiratory center. They are comparatively more toxic than bites from the Crotalid group.

Coral snakes and cobras are the primary members of this family of venomous snakes, with coral snakes being the only one normally present in the United States, primarily in the southeastern states, Texas, southern Arizona, and extreme southwestern New Mexico. They are known for their distinctive color pattern: a red band adjacent to a yellow band. It's sometimes necessary to distinguish the corals from another common non-poisonous snake that looks similar, except that the red and yellow bands are separated by a black band (King snake). Some remember the difference by the adage, "Red on yellow kill a fellow, red on black, venom lack."

Coral Snake

Fatal snakebites are more common in dogs than in any other domestic animal. Due to the relatively small size of some dogs in proportion to the amount of venom injected, the bite of even a small snake may be fatal. Fortunately, reports of Elapidae snakebites in pets are relatively rare. This is probably due to the small size of the snake's head and its difficulty in opening the mouth wide enough to bite and envenom a dog. The type, effect, and amount of venom can vary with the age and type of snake.

That's enough for this week.  Most of our readers probably have at least a moderate phobia about snakes and can only take snake information in small portions.  Next week, Helpful Buckeye will finish Snake Bites by covering the topics of what to watch for, diagnosis, treatment, home care, and preventive measures.

Portions of this discussion were adapted from


A few weeks ago, Helpful Buckeye provided a list from the ASPCA of human foods that might cause a problem for dogs or cats.  Our readers are probably wondering if there are any human foods that would be OK for our pets.  Pawnation has conducted an interview with an animal nutritionist under the title of:

10 Human Foods Dogs Can Eat

You know you're not supposed to feed your dog chocolate, onions, grapes/raisins, macadamia nuts and avocados. And you monitor for sensitivity to common food allergens such as meat, corn, wheat and soy.

But you're only human, and sometimes it's hard to resist your dog's sweet stare as he begs you with his eyes to share some of your delicious homo sapien cuisine. When you want to give him a treat from your table, do you know which "human" foods are safe to feed your pup?

To find the answer, we called upon Liz Palika, author of "The Ultimate Pet Food Guide," and animal nutritionist, Susan Lauten, PhD, of Pet Nutrition Consulting, to explain which fresh, frozen and canned foods people typically eat that are safe for dogs to consume too.

1. Melons: Watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew are all healthy options for your pooch. "My dogs will take me down over cantaloupe," says Lauten. "I am required to share the whole thing with them." Consult animal poison control before feeding your dogs any of the more exotic melons.

2. Sunflower seeds (shelled): Skip the salt if possible, or serve in moderation, recommends Lauten. "Remember, treats should not comprise more than 10 percent of your dog's daily calorie intake. If your dog gets 500 calories a day, 50 calories could come from treats."

3. Peanut butter: Peanuts don't appear to cause allergies in dogs like they do in people, says Lauten. "I have some highly food-sensitive dogs for whom peanut butter is a large part of their diet."

4. Berries (fresh and frozen): Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, huckleberries or raspberries -- all are good for your furry friend for the same reason they're good for humans: free-radical-fighting antioxidants. "A lot of dogs like them frozen," says Lauten.

5. Cooked chicken: Ran out of your dog's regular food? Whether boiled, baked, served rotisserie-style or grilled, this food is a healthy substitute. "Dogs will eat a freshly cooked chicken any way they can get it," says Lauten.  None of the skin, please!

Healthy dogs can handle cooking oils and seasonings. Just be sure to avoid adding onion or too much garlic. If you're concerned, non-salt seasonings can be used, but that matters more for the human eater than the dog, explains Lauten. Scrambled eggs, hamburger, rice, pasta and/or oatmeal can serve as meal replacements in a pinch, adds Lauten.

6. Cheese: This is a safe snack for dogs, but just like humans, they can experience lactose intolerance, so monitor your dog's reaction. "Many families use a dollop of cottage cheese with every meal," says Lauten. To avoid overfeeding, consider giving your dog low- or reduced-fat dairy products.

7. Bananas: "My dogs love bananas and I share mine with them regularly," says Lauten. "All fruits have phytonutrients and required nutrients. They are good for all of us. If the foods are healthy for me, they are more apt to be healthy for the dog," says Palika.

8. Apple slices: Lauten recommends serving your pup seedless, organic apple slices, because apple seeds naturally contain cyanide. Citrus fruits such as oranges are good too, but leave off the rinds; they contain many oils and could be too strong for a dog's digestive system.

9. Baby carrots: Fresh, crunchy vegetables are good for your dog's teeth, says Lauten. Plus, it's a bit easier not to overfeed with veggies. "If you're giving your dog vegetables, you can give a lot more in volume," because these are low-calorie foods.
10. Green beans: Because this veggie fills dogs up, weight-management programs often include green beans, usually canned with no salt added, says Lauten. "An entire can of green beans contains 70 calories. What a bargain, and filling too!"

Of course every dog is different and you and your vet know best if he or she has any food sensitivities, weight issues or other health concerns that should guide your dog's diet. It is always a good idea to check with your veterinarian if you are planning on changing what your dog eats. Also keep in mind that it is best to introduce new foods to your dog slowly. You don't want your pooch to get gas, bloating, soft stools or other digestive problems

This reference from:|htmlws-main-w|dl3|link3|

All pet owners have at one time or another tried many of the pet stain and odor removers available on the market.  Most of these fall short of their claims.  Here's a product that might be worth a few minutes of your attention:


1) Not only are we telling you that certain human foods might be OK for your dog, but also there are an increasing number of restaurants that are welcoming patrons with dogs.  As Sharon Peters, writing in the USA Today, tells it: "Alfresco dining is going to the dogs.  From coast to coast, an ever-growing number of eating establishments, many of them high-end, are opening their patios to diners who want to share their eating-out experience with their pets."

Read the rest of her story at:

2) Several months ago, Helpful Buckeye reported a story of very unusual grooming patterns for dogs.  Several of our readers responded that they were not enthralled with the results.  Now, the cycle has come around to cats.  Check out some these cats from a Creative Cat Grooming Competition:

3) Researchers at a German university have found some remains from what might be the earliest, indisputable evidence of the domestic dog.  The remains, found in a cave in Switzerland, have been dated to 14,000 years ago.  The rest of this interesting article is at: 

4) The Tennessee Department of Corrections has introduced specially-trained sniffer dogs to help locate  cell phones being smuggled into prisons.  This has apparently become a big problem for prisons.  Read about their efforts at:

5) Most of us are now very aware of the syndrome know as post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.  Most of the time, it is used in reference to someone returning from a stressful military situation.  Now, some veterinarians and other researchers are describing a similar disorder in military dogs returning from combat zones.  For the rest of the story, go to: 

6)  Not that this French Bulldog will make anyone think of Snoop Dogg, but....

Check out this dog's DJ routine:

Can you dig it???

Helpful Buckeye went to a couple of the AZ Cardinals' training camp sessions this past week.  The number of fans going to these practices has increased a lot due to the Cardinals' success the last few seasons.  It's a lot of fun seeing the players up close and personal.  It's been great to see Beanie Wells (former Ohio State star running back) fitting in so well to the Cardinals' offense.

The Ohio State Buckeyes football team is ranked #2 in the pre-season poll, behind Alabama.  That's OK with Helpful Buckeye since Alabama is the defending national champion.  If we take care of business, Alabama has a couple of chances to stub their collective toes and...anything can happen then.


Desperado and Helpful Buckeye took advantage this weekend of a couple of the many wonderful offerings of things to do in Flagstaff.  First, there was a very interesting presentation Saturday evening at Riordan Mansion State Park about a writer, Hayden Talbot, from New York City who came to live in Flagstaff in 1907-08.  His recollections of the early years in Flagstaff were priceless.  Secondly, we went to a free concert by part of the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra in one of our town squares on Sunday afternoon.  We've enjoyed many of these concerts in the past and this one did not disappoint.

Helpful Buckeye has an interesting bike ride coming up this week, weather permitting.  More on this in next week's issue.

~~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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