Sunday, September 26, 2010


As one of my friends here in Flagstaff told me yesterday, he's really looking forward to welcoming the month of "Dog-Tober" later this week. October is one of the many beautiful months here in northern Arizona and most of the local dogs are thrilled with the comfortably warm days and the crisp, cool nights.

Our 2 best friends, Charlene and Ken, the Cowpokes, joined Desperado and Helpful Buckeye this week to watch the opening show of Dancing With The Stars. We've had a lot of fun watching and commenting on the show over the years and this season got off to a great start. The only problem was that the cast of stars did NOT include Carrie, the Dancing Merengue Dog. Go to this site and watch the video of her dancing the Merengue:

Desperado and Helpful Buckeye gave "Carrie" a "9" for her performance and we suspect that Charlene and Ken would have also.

A poll question from last week revealed that most of our respondents have taken their pets into consideration when planning their gardens (75%). The other question showed that not very many of our readers have seen a dog that weighed more than 200 lb. (10%). Remember to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.


When Helpful Buckeye was still practicing veterinary medicine, the states of Oklahoma and Arkansas bore the title of "Puppy Mill" capitals of the USA. Now, the center of concentration for puppy mills has moved a little further Missouri. The Humane Society of the United States and numerous other dog advocate entities have presented the state of Missouri with evidence of massive potential tax fraud by the puppy mill industry. This move is being seen as a possible means of closing down those operations with more authority than that granted by current state laws governing puppy mill operations. Remember, from a historical comparison point of view, Al Capone was eventually brought down by charges of income tax evasion. Read the whole press release at:


A few weeks ago, Helpful Buckeye included a small blurb about the current bed bug infestation that is seemingly sweeping the USA. Not only has publicity continued to increase on this topic, but a lot of our readers have sent e-mails asking about whether they should be concerned about their pets and...BED BUGS!

The American Veterinary Medical Association has put together a comprehensive package of questions and answers that should help all of you understand this potential threat to you and your pets.

Frequently Asked Questions by Pet Owners about Bed Bugs and Pets

Bed bugs are a growing concern in the U.S., and people are realizing that bed bugs aren't only found in filthy environments – they've been found in the nicest homes and hotels, too. After all, bed bugs aren't discriminating – they'll set up home anywhere there are food sources, and those food sources are people and pets. Bed bugs don't live on people or pets; they live in the environment and feed on people and pets by sucking blood.

So, how do we get rid of these unwanted house guests? Unfortunately, there's no silver bullet for getting rid of them. Effective bed bug elimination usually includes vigilant monitoring, prevention, a combination of chemical and non-chemical treatments, and teamwork.

Q: How would I know if I have bed bugs in my house?

A: The first clue might be unexplained, itchy bug bites, but these bites can also resemble other bug bites and the reactions to bed bug bites can vary. Blood spots on your sheets are an early and consistent indication of an infestation. Other signs include visual evidence in the form of actual bugs, molted skins, fecal spots (bed bug poop) or aggregations of all of these.

Bed bugs are sometimes mistaken for ticks or cockroaches. They don't fly, but they can move fast. They are usually active at night and tend to hide close to sleeping areas during the day. They're very efficient hiders, and can get into very tiny crevices (and you thought your cat was good at hiding!). Adult bed bugs are reddish-brown in color and about the size of an apple seed. Immature bed bugs are smaller, but still visible to the naked eye, and are more translucent white-yellow in color. A bed bug that has just fed on a person or pet is somewhat torpedo-shaped and more reddish in color. Bed bug poop (fecal spots) are small, round, black spots – similar to the "flea dirt" produced by fleas. For more information (including pictures) about identifying bed bugs, view How to Identify a Bed Bug Infestation at:

Look for evidence of bed bugs in many places, including along mattress seams; behind head boards and on bed frames; in ceiling/wall junctions; along baseboards; in the seams of clothing and other personal belongings such as purses; behind pictures; at electrical outlets; in curtain seams where they gather at the curtain rod; and behind loose wallpaper or chipped paint. Don't forget to check your pet's bedding and stuffed animal toys!

Q: Do bed bugs carry diseases like ticks, fleas or other pests?

A: They're annoying and their bites can cause skin irritation and itching that, if severe, might require some minor treatment, but the good news is that bed bugs aren't known to transmit disease. However, bed bugs are pests of significant public health importance and can cause a variety of negative physical health, mental health and financial consequences.

Q: Can my pet carry bed bugs?

A: Bed bugs don't live on pets or spend as much time on your pet as the more common pests (such as fleas, ticks, lice and mites), but they can bite your pets. We also know that bed bugs are very efficient hitchhikers and can be transported to your home via luggage, clothing, bedding, furniture, etc., so it's possible that bed bugs could also hitchhike in your pet's fur or its bedding or clothing.

Q: I think I've got bed bugs in my house. What do I do?

A: First, contact a professional pest management service, and let the professionals inspect your house and work with you to develop a plan to get rid of your infestation. Keep in mind that it's likely to involve more than one visit – these are tough bugs! "Bug bombs" purchased at the local store will not work against bed bugs.

Tell the pest service that you have pets and you need them to use a product that is as safe as possible for your family and your pets.

Whenever a pesticide is used, always read and follow label directions for any pesticide product. Check the label to make sure it's labeled for use on bed bugs. Any EPA-approved pesticide product should have an EPA Registration number on it. Make sure the pesticide has been approved for indoor use.

Q: I've contacted a pest service to treat my house. What should I do with my pet if I'm worried it's also affected by the bed bugs?

A: In most cases, you won't need to throw out your pet's bedding, clothing or stuffed toys. Here are a few tips for you, based on what we know at this time:

• Launder your pet's bedding in the hottest temperature settings (minimum 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the wash water, and the medium/high or high setting on the dryer). Be careful when transporting the bedding to the laundry and sorting it so you avoid further spreading the bed bugs.
• If the materials (bedding, clothing, etc.) cannot be washed, but can be put in a dryer, put them in the dryer at medium to high heat for 10-20 minutes.
• If the bedding or clothing has tears or holes, consider getting rid of it altogether. Put them in a plastic bag, seal it, and mark it with an obvious sign that it's infested with bugs.

Q: Are flea and tick preventives effective against bed bugs?

A: Only products labeled with bed bugs as a target pest should be used. If bed bugs are not listed on the label, the product may not be effective. And unlike fleas and ticks, bed bugs live in your home, not on your pet. Using the wrong pesticide or using it incorrectly to treat for bed bugs can make you, your family, and your pet sick.

Q: What can I do to prevent bed bugs?

A: There are many good resources to help you prevent bed bug infestations, and they're listed in the resources section below.

This document was produced as a joint outreach effort of the AVMA Communications and Scientific Activities Divisions.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

National Center for Healthy Housing

National Pesticide Information Center

Considering that more people are traveling now and more people are taking their pets with them when they travel, there will plenty of opportunity for pet owners and their pets to be exposed to infestations of bed bugs. To then be unfortunate enough to bring this infestation home with you could be catastrophic. Hopefully, this presentation will not only help you understand bed bugs but also provide you with enough information to solve the problem should you find your house, your pet, or yourself up close and personal with bed bugs.


1) has asked the question:

Who Would Take Care Of Your Pet If You Died?

Liz Ozaist answers:
Four months had passed since my father's sudden death when my husband and I realized we had absolutely no game plan for our boys. At the time, I was mired in estate issues because my dad hadn't anticipated dying at 54, which got me thinking about how wildly unpredictable life can be at any age. What if something equally catastrophic happened to both of us? Who'd take in the boys?  By "our boys," I mean our beloved pets, Felix and Balthazar. Ask anyone who knows me well and they'll say that my dogs are like children to me. As I began thinking about what could happen, the more I had to acknowledge that there were few people in our lives who could truly meet our expectations as their keepers.

According to Rachel Hirschfeld, an attorney who specializes in animal law and founder of the New York County Lawyers Association's Animal Law Committee, over 500,000 companion animals were euthanized this year because their pet owners died, moved into nursing homes or assisted-living situations, or otherwise were no longer able to care for them, and left them behind without enforceable plans. I knew we had to act.

As tricky as it is to decide who should care for your human kid, it can feel equally tricky to pick an entrusted pet guardian. After crossing off the many friends and relatives who had cats or some bizarre obsessive germ phobia (we actually knew a couple of them!), we settled on two options: my grandparents and my best friend, Rebecca.

Turns out, designating two sets of potential caregivers -- and a trustworthy executor to dispense the funds over time -- is the first step in setting up a pet trust. In the event that your primary pick is unwilling or unable to take on the responsibility, you have a built-in backup plan. In our case, it would alleviate any undue stress on my aging grandparents, as well as give my friend time to potentially prepare for two more dogs to join her four-legged brood. She also conveniently personifies the phrase "Must Love Dogs!"

With the biggest decision out of the way, we needed to get our wishes down -- and the boys' needs and whims, from the brand of kibble I prefer to the bone Balty prefers -- in writing. If you think that typing up a Word doc will cut it, think again. Pet trusts aren't recognized under federal tax law -- the IRS labels pets as property -- but they are allowed under law in 28 states, where enforcement is discretionary. Translation: Consult an attorney versed in estate planning who can advise on how much you should allocate for Fido's upkeep. If you over-fund, the courts can intervene a la the Leona Helmsley controversy.

"There are so many variables to consider before you can estimate how much to put into a trust," says Patricia Kauffman, Director of Bequests at The Humane Society of the United States. "The owner needs to account for the pet's age, health, grooming needs, location and the size of the animal, because a big dog's needs will cost more than a small one. Also, the type of species is equally important in assessing the amount. Parrots, for example, are very long-lived, and the care of a horse is extremely expensive."

To get your own pet estate planning off the ground, there are several smart resources online including the Doris Day Animal League, at:  , the Humane Society of the United States, at:  , the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, at:  , and an ASPCA-recommended website,, at:  , which offers legally enforceable document-creation packages from $39.

As for our boys, it's heartening to know that even if we're not around someday to lavish them with treats and back scratches, they'll continue to lead the same well-cared-for, happy life they enjoy now.

This article was adapted from:

2) As a sort of companion piece to this article, Helpful Buckeye came across this interesting set of lists from AOLHealth. Even though this was written with humans in mind, it's not much of a stretch to insert the concept of a pet into the thought processes involved. Look over these lists and determine if you then are going to be a little more aware of someone's position of grief when you attempt to console them.

10 Best and Worst Things to Say to Someone in Grief

The WORST Things to Say to Someone in Grief:

1. At least she lived a long life; many people die young.
2. He is in a better place.
3. She brought this on herself.
4. There is a reason for everything.
5. Aren't you over him yet? He has been dead for a while now.
6. You can have another child still.
7. She was such a good person God wanted her to be with him.
8. I know how you feel.
9. She did what she came here to do, and it was her time to go.
10. Be strong.

The BEST Things to Say to Someone in Grief:

1. I am so sorry for your loss.
2. I wish I had the right words; just know I care.
3. I don't know how you feel, but I am here if I can help in anyway.
4. You and your loved one will be in my thoughts and prayers.
5. My favorite memory of your loved one is ...
6. I am always just a phone call away.
7. Give a hug instead of saying something.
8. We all need help at times like this. I am here for you
9. I am usually up early or late if you need anything.
10. Say nothing; just be with the person

Many of us have said "the best" and "the worst." We meant no harm. In fact, we were trying to comfort. A grieving person may say one of "the worst" about themselves, and it's okay.

Here are some of the traits that make certain comments "the best" and "the worst."

Traits of the WORST Ones:

1. They want to fix the loss.
2. Are about our own discomfort.
3. Are directive in nature.
4. Rationalize or try to explain loss.
5. May be judgmental.
6. Are not about the griever.
7. May minimize the loss.
8. Put a timeline on loss.

Traits of the BEST Ones:

1. Are supportive without trying to fix it.
2. Are about feelings.
3. Are inactive and don't tell anyone what to do.
4. Admit we can't make it better.
5. Don't ask for something or someone to change feelings.
6. Recognize the loss.
7. Don't put time limits on grief.

Keep in mind, context, timing and who is saying them is everything.

Adapted from:


The FURminator is back! Got to:  ,watch the video and read the description. This might be just what some of you have been searching for?


1) Holly, a recent contributor to Questions On Dogs and Cats, and publisher of her own blog, Your Mother Knows But Won't tell You, at:  , submitted this tip relating to the location of micro-chips in pets:

Hi Doc!

I've been traveling for work, so haven't made my usual rounds and am getting here late in the week! How fun to see my name in lights even if it is on an itchy topic!

One thing about the great article of improving odds to finding a lost animal? My step daughter who was a vet tech for a long time told me, after we had Fiona & Rory micro-chipped is that she wished more vets, etc, understood that the chips can migrate. So, if a lost animal is turned into a vet or shelter, the entire body should be scanned, not just the places where the chip is most likely to be. Thought that was a good bit of advice...especially since Rory's has moved! Have a great week!

                                                  Normal location of injected micro-chip

Thanks, Holly....

2) The Humane Society of the United States has put together a short sequence of videos that illustrate why it's not a pet's fault if it winds up in an animal shelter. Spend a few minutes on this one:

3) In the constant war between dogs and cats, here's another comparison of expenses involved in the normal care necessary for both types of pet:

You be the judge....

4) Huntington Beach, CA hosted the second annual Surf City Surf Dog competition last Sunday, raising money for animal charities while letting dogs strut their stuff in a costume contest, a one-mile walk, and of course, a surfing competition. For a fun look at several of the surfing "competitors," go to:  and click through the photos.

5) An Ikea store in London decided to allow 100 cats to run loose through the facility during the night and...filmed the cats as they made themselves comfortable.  Go to: and watch the video of all the cat action.

6) Even if you don't have a cat, this video will surely impress you with their amazing sense of balance and agility:

The Ohio State Buckeyes pummeled Eastern Michigan yesterday in what was the last "tune up" game before the start of Big 10 conference games.  I don't like to see these big scores being laid on lesser teams but that seems to be the trend as the top teams fight for media attention.

The Pittsburgh Steelers played in Tampa today and showed the Buccaneers that we are for real.  Even with a 4th-string QB, the Steelers scored 38 points, while our defense throttled the Bucs.  Next up will be the Ravens, our most despised rival.


Helpful Buckeye will take on the 3rd leg of his Quadathlon of Northern Arizona this week...more on that next week.

We've had a few chilly nights (35 degrees) this past week here in Flagstaff and that seems to have started the migration of the Namby-Pambies back to the warmer environs of Phoenix, etc.  That's OK with Helpful means less traffic to deal with in my bike lanes, shorter lines at local restaurants, and fewer people at the movies. 

Speaking of movies, Desperado and Helpful Buckeye saw "The Town" this week and all 4 of us thought it was one of the best movies of the year so far.

If we need another reminder that Fall is upon us, here's 1 more photo from our recent trip:

Bales of hay at Devil's Tower, Wyoming

That's it, that's all...the end!
~~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, September 19, 2010


Desperado and Helpful Buckeye got back home 2 days ago from our road trip.  This turned out to be one of the best trips we've ever taken, considering the outstanding weather, the diversity and appeal of the places we visited, the vast range of geology and geography we drove and walked through, and the new knowledge we gained about some of the history of the western states.  I'll include a few photos in the closing section.

Before beginning with this week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats, I would like to again thank Holly for her contribution to last week's issue describing her experience with an allergy to cats.  Many of you sent e-mails saying that either you have gone through the same thing or that you were sympathetic to Holly's difficulties.

Our poll questions from 2 weeks ago provided some interesting results.  None of our respondents reported ever using an online pharmacy for pet medications.  Those of you with cats responded about 50/50 that your cat does/does not give you problems taking it to the veterinarian.  All of our respondents who have dogs said that their dogs DO sleep in bed with them.  Be sure to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.

Since Helpful Buckeye just discussed poisonous snakes several weeks ago, it was interesting that all 6 states we visited are notorious for their populations of rattlesnakes.  Montana even had many obvious signs posted at Little Big Horn National Monument:

while a veterinary hospital in Rapid City, South Dakota advertised a seasonal special on rattlesnake vaccinations:

One more reminder:  You can easily send a message to Helpful Buckeye by e-mail to:   This is apparently easier for many of you to do, whether you're submitting comments or answering the poll, by all means keep doing so.


1) The American Kennel Club has announced the winners of their annual award that is given to 5 categories of canine heroes.  This award commemorates five loyal, hard-working dogs that have made significant contributions to their communities in each of the following five categories: Exemplary Companion Dog, Search and Rescue, Law Enforcement, Therapy, and Service.  Read more about the 5 winners and see their pictures at:

2) Sure enough, while Helpful Buckeye was on the road, another pet product was recalled.  The Hartz Mountain Corp is voluntarily recalling one specific lot of Hartz Naturals Real Beef Treats for Dogs due to possible Salmonella contamination, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports.

Hartz is recalling 74,700 8-oz bags of Hartz Naturals Real Beef Treats for Dogs, lot code BZ0969101E, UPC number 32700-11519, which were imported by Hartz from a Brazilian supplier, Bertin S.A., and which were distributed to a number of customers in the United States.



OK, at first glance, most of you are probably asking two questions: Why are we talking about gardens at the end of September?...and why is the discussion in the disease and ailment section?  The answer to the first question is that many people make evaluations of their yards and gardens during September, concerning how well or how poorly everything has done during the growing part of the that they can begin their planning for next spring.  Fall is a good time to be transplanting plants, getting rid of the poor-doers and adding some new plantings that might do better.  A little advance planning goes a long way toward making your yard and garden attractive, as well as safe and healthy for your pets. 

Sunset magazine, a publication devoted to the American western states, has presented a compilation of valuable and informative ideas for improvements to your yard and gardens that will appeal to you and your pets. 

How to landscape a dog-friendly garden

Get a dog and there goes the garden. That's what many homeowners conclude, but it doesn't have to be that way.  Dog owner Bud Stuckey and his wife, Maxine McClellan, have been breeding champion American cocker spaniels for 14 years. His home garden in Felton, California, provides a safe, comfortable environment for the dogs as well as an attractive space for plants and people.

The best way to accomplish both goals is to design your garden to meet your dog's needs, Stuckey advises. That way, Fido will be able to romp and race without injuring himself or trampling your flowers ― well, most of the time, anyway. Owning a dog also means giving up perfectionism and learning forgiveness, says Stuckey.

Step one in creating a "dogscape" is learning to think like a canine: If you were a dog, what would you want? Spaniels, terriers, retrievers ― each breed has a different personality, Stuckey says. "The better you can accommodate its particular traits, the happier your dog," he explains. "And the happier your dog, the better your chance of maintaining a garden you'll both enjoy."


Gentle hardscape: Smooth flagstones set in pebbles form a dry creek bed dogs can comfortably tread.

Comfy mulch: Small cedar chips are easy on paws yet large enough so they won't cling to silky coats.

Border control: Pieces of driftwood persuade dogs to stay away from planted areas.

Running track: A long, winding path provides dogs with plenty of exercise.

Sensible plants: Plants near paths should have soft foliage but be sturdy enough to stand canine rough-housing.

Marking post: A sculptural piece of driftwood gives Toby, a male cocker spaniel, a suitable spot to mark his territory.

Think like a canine

If you were a dog, what would you want? Spaniels, terriers, retrievers ― each breed has a different personality.  The better you can accommodate its particular traits, the happier your dog. And the happier your dog, the better your chance of maintaining a garden you'll both enjoy.

Create a shady retreat

Like humans, dogs enjoy basking in the sun. So by all means, give them a deck or a patch of lawn for sunbathing.  But remember that dogs can overheat easily, so it's even more important to provide them with cooling retreats.

Paths to run and patrol

Dogs need exercise; paths give them a designated space to do it as well as a venue to perform their perceived job ― to patrol your property line.  Readers suggested sacrificing a few feet along the fence for a perimeter path to simultaneously satisfy both needs. If your dogs have already created their own paths through the garden, don't try to redirect them. Instead, turn their well-worn routes into proper pathways.  A 3-foot-wide clearance is enough for most dogs. Plant a screen to hide this dog run if you like; pets seem to like having their own "secret garden."

Give them shelter

Dogs will happily share arbors, pergolas, and other shade structures with their owners. But most dogs seem to appreciate having a shelter of their own, such as a doghouse.

Keeping them safe

If you have a Houdini and need to keep your escape artist from tunneling under the fence, you may need to install an underground barrier made of rebar, chicken wire, or poured concrete.

Access to water

Let those lucky dogs access a cool, safe pond.

Dining area

A platform helps keep the area tidy and serves as a storage for the owner's garden clogs.

Lookout platform

If you plant landscaped areas densely, dogs will generally stay out. Still, most dog owners recommend additional precautions: Plant in raised beds or on mounds, and start with 1-gallon or larger plants. Put up temporary fencing around newly landscaped areas; when you remove it, add a rock border or low fencing as a reminder to stay out.  Plant romp-proof shrubs and perennials like ornamental grasses around the edge of the garden. Put brittle plants like salvias in the center, where they'll be protected.

Easy access

Consider letting your dog get to your backyard through a dog door.

Each of these listed items also comes with a descriptive photo...go to this web site to view the photos:

Sunset also provides a nice set of questions & answers for more help on your dog-friendly garden:
Q: Can you recommend a good book on the subject?

A: For a practical and thorough overview, check out Dog Friendly Gardens, Garden Friendly Dogs (Dogwise Publishing, 2004; $20; or 800/776-2665), by Cheryl S. Smith.

Q: What are foxtails, and why are they dangerous to dogs?

A: Foxtails are weed grasses commonly found growing wild in open spaces and in unkept gardens. The danger comes from their barbed awns or tips, which can work their way under the skin between a dog's paws and toes and cause infection. Even worse, the awns can migrate down the ear canal, causing severe pain and potential hearing loss, or can be inhaled into the nasal cavity and migrate to the lungs. At left is a close-up of a foxtail to help you identify it so you can keep it out of your garden.

Q: How can I keep my dog from digging in the garden?

A: Filling a hole with a dog's own feces will keep it from digging in that spot again, says veterinarian Darla Jochum of Jacksonville, Oregon. But it won't keep your pet from digging elsewhere.

Jochum suggests setting aside a place where this activity is allowed, such as a sandpit or sandbox. If you happen to own a Jack Russell or other terrier, this is especially advisable. They were bred to hunt burrowing animals. So trying to get them to stop digging altogether is not realistic, says Jochum.

Position the sandpit in a shaded area, away from sprinklers. Bury a few dog biscuits and toys when your pet is not around. Then bring your dog to the pit, do a little digging yourself to demonstrate, and encourage your pet to join you. Lots of praise and occasionally restocking the treats will keep your dog interested.

Q: Can you recommend a few sturdy plants that stand up to dogs?

A: Bud Stuckey, Sunset's test garden coordinator, has had good luck with the following plants in his own landscape: African boxwood, artemisia, canna, ginger, lilac, New Zealand flax, ornamental grasses, osmanthus, pines, strawberry tree, and Western sword fern.

Readers recommend: agapanthus, asters, butterfly bush, campanula, cistus, columbine, heuchera, honeysuckle, lavatera, liriope, mock orange (Philadelphus), pieris, spiraea, thrift, and violas.

Q: I've been told to avoid plants that attract bees. Does that mean I have to give up my favorite plant, lavender?

A: That depends on your dog. If you have a dog that likes to snap at and eat flying insects, planting lavender, rosemary, or other bee-magnets is not a good idea, says veterinarian Steven Randle of Pacifica Pet Hospital in Pacifica, California. Insect bites are almost inevitable, and while most dogs will develop nothing more than a swollen muzzle, others can experience anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction.

On the other hand, many readers wrote telling us how much their dogs enjoyed rubbing up against these plants. So obviously some dogs coexist with stinging insects without problems.

A possible compromise is to enjoy the aromatic foliage of lavender but shear off the bee-attracting flowers.

Q: Are there emergency first-aid items I should have on hand for my dog?

A: Randle advises dog owners to keep a list of phone numbers for several backup veterinarians as well as the number for an emergency veterinary clinic. Having some Benadryl (Diphenhydramine HCl) around in case of a bee sting is also a good precaution (buy it in pill form, and contact your veterinarian for the correct dosage for your dog's weight). You'll still want to take your pet to a veterinarian quickly if the sting is severe, advises Randle, but Benadryl can buy you time.

Q: Products are available that change the pH of dog urine to prevent it from burning lawns. Do they really work, and do they have any side effects?

A: "From the reports I get, these products are not very effective," says Randle. "They are probably safe for most dogs, but I would avoid them completely if your dog has ever had a urinary-tract problem or if you have a breed that is predisposed to urinary stones, like the Dalmatian."

Instead, try watering the spot where the dog urinated to dilute the nitrogen, says Stuckey. This helps reduce the amount of yellowing. Letting your lawn grow 3 to 4 inches tall, as Stuckey does, also hides a few imperfections.

Q: Is it safe to use chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides if you have dogs?

A: "There is no scientific evidence that chemical fertilizers/pesticides induce any form of cancer in dogs," says Randle. "However, veterinary oncology is a relatively new science, and we don't know the cause of the majority of cancers in animals. So if you don't feel safe using chemicals around your family, don't use them around your pets. I do see many more animals suffering from diseases caused by insects than I do from insecticides."

It is a wise precaution, however, to keep your dog off a recently sprayed lawn until the grass has thoroughly dried, usually 24 hours.

Q: Dogs seem to enjoy looking out through "windows" in fences or gates, but some people say that solid fences keep dogs from barking. Is that true?

A: "Due to the acute sense of smell and hearing in our canine companions, it makes little difference whether a fence or gate is solid or transparent," says Randle. "Dogs will still bark at what's on the other side of the barrier."

You should ensure, however, that slats or other separations in the fence are close enough together that your dog won't get its head stuck between them if provoked by another animal or human.

The final consideration of what plants you'd like to include in your garden is that you need to be aware of any potentially toxic reactions your dog will have to them.  Remember the first principle of toxicology, which is that “the dose makes the poison.”  In other words, the dog has to eat enough to be affected—and even so, many poisonous plants don’t kill, they just sicken.

How much is too much? The ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center (888 426-4435; $65) or the Pet Poison Helpline (800 213-6680; $35) can help you figure that out.

Finally, for Animal Poison Control (or your vet) to help, they have to know what exactly your dog ate. “A tall green plant with spiky leaves” isn’t a good answer. If you have pets or kids, know your plants (both indoors and outdoors) by both common and botanical names, which usually come on a tag with the plant. Keep that info where you can find it.

Lastly, the Humane Society of the United States weighs in on the topic of yard and gardens with their position statement: 

A Humane Backyard

What is a Humane Backyard? It’s a place for harmony between people, their pets, and the wild creatures who share outdoor spaces surrounding urban and suburban homes. When you embark on making your yard (or deck, or roof, or any outdoor space) a humane backyard, you are fostering beauty, pleasure and, not incidentally, understanding.

It’s ecologically sound

Maintaining a humane backyard uses no products or practices that harm animals to preserve a natural landscape and enhance the natural diversity of green space. The idea builds on an exciting national trend aimed at fostering ecologically sound communities.

Residents with humane backyards are generally rewarded with lower water usage and less maintenance. They enjoy a more natural relationship with their surroundings and inevitably gain a deeper appreciation of nature. Wildlife populations benefit from this wiser understanding of habitat and animal behavior. Tired old conflicts between wildlife and homeowners are reduced.

You might think of it this way: Every home is a nature preserve in waiting.

Any space can be a humane backyard

Whether you have a container garden on an apartment balcony, a townhouse with a sliver of ground, an average suburban yard, a sprawling corporate property, or a community park, you have the potential to make things better for wild animals, and of course, yourself.

A hanging flower on an inner-city balcony serves as a stopover for migrating hummingbirds.

A yard free of pesticides and herbicides becomes forage for insect-eating birds.

A corporate campus becomes an amazing refuge where diverse animals survive, and thrive.

Transform your community

The Humane Backyard begins with simple and practical steps. Landscapes are reshaped incrementally to attract songbirds and butterflies, to deter wildlife species with whom conflicts occur, and, above all, to humanely resolve conflicts when they do happen. Connect one humane backyard to many, and entire communities are transformed; the relationship between humans and animals revitalized.

Where do you live? Next time you are asked, imagine this answer: Where? I live in the city; I share in the wild.

Create a Sanctuary

Enjoy the company of your wild neighbors in your humane backyard. Every day, more and more wildlife habitat is lost to the spread of development. But you can help wild animals in urban and suburban areas by offering them sanctuary in your own backyard (or front yard, roof-top garden, or deck), no matter how small. Learn how your green space can become part of an Urban Wildlife Sanctuary Program:

Granted, the HSUS approach is a little more philosophical and diverse that that of Sunset magazine; however, it's easy to see how the two philosophies can be blended and still achieve the same common goal.


Since there is a mention of the world's smallest dog a little later in this issue, Helpful Buckeye thought it would be appropriate to discuss some of the nutritional needs of the really little dog breeds.

8 Small Dog Nutrition and Feeding Tips

You adore your little dog, but are you taking care of his or her special nutrition needs?  It isn't just about feeding your dog the proper serving size (though that is critical), it is also about taking into account a variety of factors that determine a pet's metabolism requirements, including age, activity level and reproductive status. To help guide you, Paw Nation spoke with animal nutritionist Susan Lauten, Ph.D., of Pet Nutrition Consulting, and Liz Palika, author of "The Ultimate Pet Food Guide," about how to ensure that our tiny friends live long, well-fed lives.

1. Use food manufacturer's guidelines as the starting point for determining proper portion size.

Unlike humans, there is no specific recommended daily calorie allowance for dogs. So begin with what is on the package and then modify to keep your pooch at the right weight. (See more on this below.) If you want to create a special diet for your dog -- whether by mixing types of store-bought foods or preparing meals from scratch -- consult a professional to make sure you are meeting your animal's nutrition and portion needs.

2. Adjust food amounts depending on whether you have a lazy lap dog or an active dog.

As with humans, healthy eating is all about calories in versus calories out. "Calculated caloric intake can vary up to 30 percent based on a dog's activity level and breed. What they recommend for active terriers is 30 to 40 percent higher than active dogs in general. Terriers, like the Jack Russell, are zooming around. But small pets that are carried around everywhere don't require as many calories," explains Lauten. Most bigger dogs are inactive in comparison.

3. Give fixed (neutered) dogs less food than their all-natural kin.

"Spaying or neutering can cut calorie needs by up to 30 percent," says Lauten. "The loss of sex hormones causes a reduction in activity, a reduction in muscle mass and a loss of instinctual drive to reproduce."

4. Choose food designed for smaller breeds if your dog is picky.

The number-one difference in commercial pet foods made for small dogs is the size of the kibble, says Lauten. "A big dog food piece is like a boulder to smaller dogs." The second difference is the scent level of small-breed dog food. "Short-snouted dogs seem to have a reduced ability to smell. As a result, a lot of small dogs are pickier than big dogs." Dog-food companies try to accommodate for this by enhancing the aroma of their product, explains Lauten, citing a recent study that ties selective dog breeding to changes in olfactory abilities.

5. Understand the serious health risks of improper feeding.

Weight issues are frequently seen in small breed dogs "because of human portion distortion," says Lauten. While most people in a household are likely to feed treats -- in excess -- to their pets, keeping this kind of unbalanced feeding to a minimum is crucial for preventing malnutrition in small pups. "It's hard for people to appreciate the amount that itty, bitty dogs should even eat. The best advice I can give is to say, 'If I weigh 20 times what my chihuahua weighs, he should eat one-twentieth of what I eat.'"
Pet obesity and malnutrition can contribute to specific health problems, says Lauten. These include osteoporosis, respiratory issues, heat sensitivity, diabetes, arthritis, pancreatitis (which can cause vomiting and stomach pain and is related to eating too much fat) and weight-related surgery risk.

6. Offer the right size treat to your pooch.

If you want to indulge your pet once in a while, that's OK, says Lauren, but be sure to seek out smaller treats to suit your small dog.

7. Take the long view when feeding your dog.

Since dogs weighing less than 30 pounds have been shown to have the longest lifespans, owners should think about nutrition for the long haul, says Lauten. "As your dog continues to age, a diet change may become necessary. Increases or decreases in body weight may signal the need for a more digestible food; constipation may require an increase in dietary fiber. Your veterinarian should be able to guide you properly."

8. Monitor changes in your pet's weight weekly.

Both Lauten and Palika recommend doing weekly body checks, feeling around the rib cage and waist line to make sure your dog isn't gaining or losing weight. "If my dogs are getting too much padding over the ribs and are losing waist [definition], I cut down on their serving sizes and bump up the exercise," says Palika. "If the dog is getting too thin, I move up the serving size. Looking at the dog from above, the dog should have an hourglass shape with an indentation before the hips. The ribs should be able to be felt with a slight padding of meat over them."

This information from:


1) As part of their article on dog-friendly gardens, Sunset has also included a section offering: Creative Doghouse Design, Eco-Friendly Pet Accessories, and Fido Chic.  To read more about each of these offerings, go to:

2) Even though this item is technically not a product for your pets, it is definitely a product of interest to ALL dog owners.  Remember Michael Vick and his fighting dogs?

The wait is officially over: The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption by Jim Gorant, an in-depth look behind the scenes of the Michael Vick case and “where are they now” account of the dogs rescued from his property, hit bookshelves nationwide on September 16. The Lost Dogs can be purchased at your local bookstore and through online retailers including (Tip: If you purchase the book on using this link, the ASPCA will receive a small donation at no extra cost to you!)

Find it at:

Naturally, the ASPCA is excited about this book because of its firsthand involvement in the investigation—and from one of their press releases, "...but having gotten our hands on an early copy, we’re very happy to report that it is a terrific, compelling read for anyone interested in animal welfare, canine behavior, the evolution of animal protection laws or our country’s criminal justice system."

For the rest of this review, go to:


1) As advertised, the "World's Smallest Dog Met The World's Tallest Dog" recently in NYC as guests of the Guinness World Records folks.  If you haven't yet read the details about the differences between these two dogs, do so right now at:

Each one would be a challenge, don't you think?

2) Think your pet has what it takes to be a star? Find out for sure with PetSmart's newest contest.  Read about the details at:

Remember, you have until October 27th to enter.

3) Since we've already talked about Pit Bulls, there is a 97-year old woman in Michigan who feels she owes her life to her cat, Tiger, for its heroic attempt to distract some attacking Pit Bulls.  Read this news account of the incident and be sure to watch the short video, featuring Tiger:

4) Several weeks ago, Helpful Buckeye informed you of a new pet boarding facility beside Disney World that is described as pretty "snazzy."  Well, this facility in Fort Worth, TX will be claiming the title of the most exclusive and expensive pet resort in the USA.  Yep, for just $65-200 per night, you can have your dog or cat be pampered in ways you hadn't thought possible.  Read more at:

5) From:  
comes this story:  "Ah, the unfortunate sphynx cat. Left with nothing to cover its pink, muscular body, this hairless feline doesn't know the tactile joy of a full coat of fur. That's okay for some cats, but this kitty, on the other hand, isn't satisfied.  He just wants to know what it feels like to have hair, y'know? Ain't nobody gonna keep him from getting the whole taste of it -- the texture, the touch, the smell... Even if it belongs on the head of a middle-aged dude standing nearby."

Go to the web site for a funny video of this Sphynx cat checking out the man's hair.

6) OK, we've saved the most unusual story for last.  It's common knowledge that any city is going to have a problem with dog feces being dropped everywhere and not being properly picked up and disposed of.  If this device in Cambridge, Massachusetts proves to be feasible, you might see one near you in the future.  Yes, dog "poop" is deposited into this device at a dog park in Cambridge and it proceeds to fuel the device to actually light a street lamp!  See for yourself at:

The Ohio State Buckeyes easily handled the #12 Hurricanes of Miami last week to further solidify their #2 standing in the national rankings.  A much easier opponent, Ohio University, was defeated this week as the Buckeyes go through their final preparation for what looks like a pretty tough Big 10 schedule.

The Pittsburgh Steelers surprised a lot of fans last week by defeating the Falcons.  The Steelers had been underdogs due to the uncertain QB situation.  This Sunday, the Steelers went to Nashville and upset the Titans, again on the strength of the defense.  They've only allowed 20 points over 2 games.  We lost our #3 QB during the game today and had to have our #4 QB finish the game.  It's hard enough to win games in the NFL, let alone with a fourth-string QB.


It was sure nice to get back on my bike and start working on the miles again.  I didn't take my bike on our road trip because I knew we'd get plenty of exercise walking and hiking at our various destinations.  Earlier, I promised a few photos of our road, here we go...1 photo from each state:

Monument Valley, Arizona 

Church Rock, Utah

Mt. Rushmore, South Dakota

Devil's Tower, Wyoming

Little Big Horn National Monument, Montana

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado

~~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, September 12, 2010


Desperado and Helpful Buckeye are on the road this week...more on that in next week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats.

Back in June, Helpful Buckeye received a comment from "Holly" relating to a couple of topics we had discussed on allergies that cats have to their food.  These were Holly's words:  "I love cats; I'm allergic to them. Really allergic. And, as I've gotten older, it's the only allergy that has gotten worse with age. I always wanted to own a calico cat....sigh" 

Holly is the creator of the well-read blog, Your Mother Knows But Won't Tell You, which can be found at: .  Her blog covers many diverse topics, including her 2 Scotties, and is ALWAYS interesting.  She also happens to live in my small hometown in southwestern Pennsylvania, although we've never met except for the exchange of e-mails and blog comments.

Anyway, I asked Holly if she would be willing to put into words what it's like to go through the onset of an allergy to a cat.  Fortunately, most of us don't have to worry about this agony, but it surely helps us to better understand someone who does suffer from this type of allergy.  So, here is Holly's recounting of her experience with The Agony of an Allergy:

When I was a kid, I suffered from severe breathing issues, to the point that the medical doctors were concerned that I might have cystic fibrosis. It turns out that I didn’t have it, or I wouldn’t be writing this!

I suffered from many bouts of pneumonia and bronchitis. In the search to diagnosis the issue, I was put through scratch tests for allergies. Can we say, torture? Yeah, I don’t know what those tests are like now, but back in the day, they were pretty brutal.

What those tests revealed was an allergy to leaf mold, feathers, grass, and fur. They would have put breathing down as something I was allergic to as well, but that seemed excessive. I always wonder who isn’t allergic to those sorts of things?! But, I digress… So, growing up, I wasn’t allowed to have pets. I didn’t have my first dog until I was 17 when my father brought home a Cairn Terrier as his gift. The BEST present EVER.

So, here’s the thing: as I grew, my reaction to most of these things subsided. I even owned a cockatiel and a macaw for a time; no reaction to them at all. And, as long as I was around my various Cairn Terriers, and now my two Scotties, I had no issue. Turns out those dogs that have hair instead of fur are pretty good dogs for sensitive individuals.

Over time, even my sensitivity to all dogs pretty much dissolved. However, cats are a very different story. I am even worse now than I was when I was growing up; it’s the only allergy that has grown worse.

I love cats so it’s hard for me not to touch them. And, it’s true what they say about cats knowing when someone is trying to avoid them; they do seem to make a pest of themselves rubbing against you and sitting close to you in order to ‘win’!
What I learned is that, if I don’t touch a cat, I can be around them for a couple of hours. If I make a mistake and pet one? All bets are off and I can survive it about an hour.

The first symptom is my eyes beginning to itch and water. Then they feel puffy like when you’ve cried for a long time. The itch, if I am stupid enough to scratch, turns into a burning. They turn red.

My throat becomes, for lack of a better way to describe it, itchy; and I want to reach inside and scratch it. My lungs begin to tighten as they will with a chest cold. Then the wheezing starts….

Eventually, I become so uncomfortable that I have to leave.

If I take a Benadryl, it alleviates the symptoms even though it makes me sleepy. However, even taken in advance of going around cats, it only buys me a little more time. For a couple of days after an attack, I feel as though my lungs are raw, like when you’ve been swimming and playing in the ocean for hours.

I would love to own a cat. But, sadly my body seems to feel otherwise.

Wow, I'm thankful I never had to go through anything like that!  Many thanks to Holly for sharing her experience with us.

The folks at have put together a composite of helpful suggestions for those who do suffer from allergies to dogs and cats:

Allergic to Pets? Here's What You Can Do

You love animals but sadly, your eyes, nose, and lungs don't. (Or maybe it is your roommate who has trouble with your beloved animals.) An estimated one in 10 Americans may be allergic to pets, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI). So what can you or your allergic roommates do to live with furry, slobbery animals while keeping symptoms such as sneezing, a dripping nose, itchy eyes, coughing, and difficulty breathing at bay? We have 10 tips to help you deal with your allergies without having to give up the joy of having a dog or cat.

1. Avoid the main pet allergy triggers. Humans are most sensitive to proteins found in the animal's saliva, dander and urine, so petting and snuggling with your pet can really set off your allergies. Depending on the severity of your condition, that may mean cuddle time to a minimum and making sure you wash your hands thoroughly when you're done.

2. Keep Fido or Fluffy away from the bedroom. Because pet dander can float in the air, collect in clothing and furniture fabric and stick to the walls long after a pet has vacated the room, Ricardo Tan, M.D. of California Allery & Asthma Medical Group recommends keeping them out of the rooms allergy sufferers spend the most amount of time in, especially the bedroom. According to the AAFA's website, humans spend from one-third to one-half of our time in this part of the house, so keep the door closed at all times. To further protect your place of rest, the American Academy of Family Physicians website suggests using allergen-resistant bedding.

3. Clear the air. Installing an air cleaner with HEPA filters (high efficiency particulate air) can help your breathing by removing allergens from the air, says Dr. Tan. Other options include using an air cleaner that has an "electrostatic filter which will remove particles the size of animal allergens from the air," according to the AAFA's website. Remember that even if you have been careful to keep pets in certain parts of the house, central air conditioning and heating vents can spread pet allergens from the rooms your pet can access to the ones it shouldn't. Consider covering the vents in pet-restricted rooms with a "dense filtering material like cheesecloth" to keep the new allergens from being blowing into the room and make sure to keep litter boxes out of the reach of vents that circulate air to the rest of the home.

4. Clean your house often. Because air filters can't remove pet allergens from the surface of walls, carpets and furniture, you'll have to do your household chores regularly. Dr. Tan recommends vacuuming twice a week. If the sufferer is doing the cleaning, he or she may want to wear a dust mask to vacuum since cleaning stirs up allergens, according to the AAFA's website.

5. Clean your pet occasionally. "Wash your pets every three to four weeks" to help reduce their allergy proteins, says Dr. Tan. More often than that, however, and you'll dry out the protective oil in their skin and cause dry skin, he warns.

6. Go carpet-free. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology and the AAFA both recommend this as one of the best strategies for allergy sufferers. If you can't stand entirely bare floors, consider getting rugs that can be washed in hot water to stop the spread of offending pet dander, offers the AAFA.

7. Leave the real dirty work to someone else. The ACAAI advises sensitive cat owners to have someone else change the litter and allergy organizations across the board recommend that you get someone else to groom your pet.

8. Give medications a try. If you've kept a clean house and pet, and still you're experiencing reactions, you have a variety of medications to chose from, says Dr. Tan, including antihistamines, nasal sprays and decongestants, and appropriate asthma medications. Sometimes over-the-counter remedies are all it takes to keep the more annoying symptoms in check. It is important to consider that allergy sufferers with pets will probably have to take medications for life. "You can weigh the benefits of having the pet, which of course are enormous, against having to take medication for it," says Dr. Tan. The good news, according to Tan, is that, "Most allergy medications are relatively safe."

9. Get serious about treatment and find an allergist. "If your symptoms are increasing in terms of worsening nasal or eye irritation, or if you experience any shortness of breath around the animals," it's time to call a doctor, says Dr. Tan. The allergist can asses the severity of your symptoms and give more detailed advice about your situation.

10. Consider trying immunotherapy. This is a series of allergy shots that expose the patient to the dog or cat allergen to help them build a lifelong resistance to pet dander, saliva and urine and is the only reliable way to desensitize yourself to the allergens, says Dr. Tan. "As the dose increases, the patient becomes desensitized to whatever animal protein is in the shot," Dr. Tan explains. "These shots will be administered once a week in the beginning and once a month as time goes on. At the very least this procedure should be done for two years."

OK, now it's time to change gears and put on your thinking caps.  What do you think accounts for more than 1/3 of all homeowner liability claims?  Falls on your sidewalk or driveway?  Damage from falling limbs or trees?  Tripping on your stairs?  The answer to all 3 of these scenario questions is NO....

That's bites are the culprit.  In 2009, the average cost per dog bite was $24,840...with the number of claims rising 5% from the previous year.  Dog bites cost $412 million in homeowner-insurance liability claims paid in 2009, which was up 9% from 2008.  Do you have an umbrella type of homeowners insurance policy?  If not, perhaps you should consider one.  Read the rest of this very interesting article at: also offers these helpful tips for finding your lost dog or cat:

Finding a Lost Dog or Cat - 10 Ways To Improve Your Odds

One out of three pets will get lost at some point in their lives. This statistic strikes fear in all pet owners, but there are services and strategies to boost your odds of finding your dog or cat. From simple to high tech, here are 10 things you can do to help bring a missing pet home safely.

1. Collar and ID Tags. Only 2 percent of cats and 15 percent of dogs without tags or microchips will be reunited with their owners, states the American Humane Association. So make sure your cat or dog is wearing a collar and identification tag that bears your current contact information, including phone number.

2. Microchips. Many different companies manufacture pet microchips, which are read with scanners provided to veterinarians, animal control agencies and shelters, etc. According to the American Microchip Advisory Council for Animals, it is best to pick a microchip that operates at the American standard of 125 kilohertz. Be sure to register your contact information and keep the information up to date. Many microchip companies will now accept registration information for another manufacturer's microchip, so consider cross-registering you and your pet with several different microchip databases.

3. Use GPS to locate your pet. Satellite technology can be used to track your pet's movements inside and outside your house -- provided your cat or dog is wearing a special GPS-enabled collar. If your pet should go missing, products such as the SpotLight GPS Locater can locate your pet with "pinpoint accuracy" anywhere in the U.S. The RoamEO Pet Location System is another device that uses GPS to track pets.

4. Distribute "Lost Pet" fliers and posters. Nothing beats good old-fashioned footwork when it comes to finding a lost pet. Get outside and scour the neighborhood; knock on neighbors' doors and call your pet's name. Time is of the essence, so don't wait to see if your pet will return on its own. Make fliers and posters bearing a color photograph of your pet and include a description of your pet, when and where it was last seen, and your phone number and email address. Don't include your name or home address for safety reasons. Post them at local businesses and veterinary offices and give them to your local letter carriers who travel extensively through the neighborhood. According to pet detective Kat Albrecht, dogs are more likely to roam farther from home and be picked up by a Good Samaritan, while cats usually stay within the immediate area. Consider offering a reward, but beware of getting scammed.

5. Visit local animal control agencies and shelters. File a lost pet report with all animal shelters and animal control agencies within a 60-mile radius of where your pet was lost, recommends the Humane Society of the United States. If your town has no animal control agency, contact the local police department. It's also important to personally visit all shelters and animal control agencies within a 20-mile radius at least every other day, states Albrecht on her Missing Pet Partnership website."

6. Send out an animal Amber Alert. Thanks to clever technology, companies such as Pet Amber Alert and FindToto can instantly broadcast a personalized telephone message to homes and businesses in the area where your pet went missing. You can choose to broadcast the message to hundreds or thousands of your neighbors, depending on the plan you purchase. (Plans range from $79.95 for 300 neighbors to $875 for 10,000 neighbors.)

7. Broadcast it on the internet. Sounding the alarm via Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites can work. Just ask Shane and Nicole Meide of Minnesota, who found their lost cat through Facebook.

8. Check "Found Pets" sites. Microchip maker, HomeAgain, has launched a free new iPhone/iPod/iPad application called "PetRescuers" that keeps a running database of lost pets that are reported by owners. Those who download the application are provided with alerts about lost pets that are geomapped to their local area within a 5, 10 or 25 mile-range. There are also numerous websites, such as, and LostPetUSA, where people can post and search for lost pets by zip code. (Also check the "Found Pets" section of your local newspaper.)

9. Set out a humane trap. You can also try luring your lost pet home using a humane trap that is filled with your pet's favorite food, treats or an item of clothing that smells like you and can capture the animal without harm. That's how Rue the Chihuahua was finally caught after 19 nerve-wracking days of being missing in a Florida swamp.

10. Hire a professional pet detective. You can always enlist professional help by hiring a licensed and certified pet detective. Albrecht's Missing Pet Partnership organization provides a national directory of reputable pet detectives who have undergone Missing Animal Response (MAR) training.

Finally, do not give up! That's the message Florida resident Tracie Steger posted on Craigslist after her cat Giggle-Blizzard crawled home on two broken legs after nearly two weeks of being missing. Be persistent -- and visible. "Posters and fliers are the number-one way animals get recovered," animal tracker, Laura Totis, told Paw Nation.

We'll be back with our regular format in 2 weeks....

 ~~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, September 5, 2010


Most of us will enjoy at least a part of the Labor Day weekend kicking back and relaxing.  Labor Day was established as a holiday to recognize all American workers and their contribution to our nation's accomplishments.  Of course, there are workers who are classified as "essential" and they may be working over the weekend so that "essential" services are not interrupted. 

Another type of "worker" that almost never catches a break is the Service Dog.  Service Dogs will most likely be working all three days of this holiday weekend, taking care of their human friends in many ways.  Follow this heart-warming story of Billy Ma as he meets his Service Dog:

On a sweltering morning in July, the service dogs are pacing in their cages while the lucky dozen children who have made it off the assistance dog waiting list were making their way to the first day of training camp. Some with wheelchairs or walkers, others leaning on their parents, the kids have traveled from as far as California to the Canine Assistants headquarters north of Atlanta.  One of the younger recipients is 11-year-old Billy Ma, a smiling boy with glasses from Columbus, Ohio. He was born with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a devastating genetic disease that causes progressive muscle deterioration. Doctors say he will stop walking in a couple of years, and the disease will eventually attack his heart and lungs so a service dog will become increasingly helpful -- and necessary -- in his life.

Read the rest of this first installment during which Billy is making progress toward when he will meet his own personal Service Dog: 
Helpful Buckeye will keep readers updated as Billy meets his dog and the training begins.  In the meantime, you can read more about Canine Assistants at:

Half of our readers report that they have at least 1 cat in their household.  Of those cat owners, about 2/3 say their cat stays indoors.  The other half of households not having a cat say that 1/3 might consider getting one.  Remember to answer all of this week's poll questions in the column to the left.


1) A couple of weeks ago, Helpful Buckeye presented a long list of Questions & Answers about Salmonella and the national concerns over contamination resulting from these bacteria.  The American Veterinary Medical Association (which originated that list) has also released this podcast with some further information on staying safe from Salmonella:

2) The ASPCA is concerned about your pet's "Back To School Blues".  This can easily happen after the family pet has spent most of every day over the summer with the children and then is left alone when school starts.  See what the ASPCA has to say about this problem:

Conquering Your Pet’s Back-to-School Blues

As the summer light fades into fall, pets across the country are adjusting to new routines as their family members go back to work or school. What were once carefree days cruising around the park or swimming in the creek are now spent sitting by the front door waiting for busy pet parents to come home.

But what if your pet doesn’t adjust peacefully to this new reality? It’s not an uncommon problem—after all, cats and dogs are particularly vulnerable to any change in their schedules, and they thrive on stimulation. With nothing to do, pets are forced to find ways to entertain themselves, which may include excessive barking or meowing, gnawing on shoes, raiding the garbage, eating houseplants and scratching furniture.
Here are some common signs that your pet may be having a hard time saying goodbye to summer:

- Urinating and defecating in the house
- Incessant barking and howling
- Chewing and digging
- Attempting to escape the house or yard
- Pacing without pause

But all is not lost! Our behaviorists have some great advice for keeping your pet’s "back-to-school blues" at bay:
- Start small by desensitizing your pooch to the cause of his anxiety. Introduce several short periods of separation, and then gradually increase time spent apart.
- Help your dog associate being alone with something good such as a tasty treat. Every time you leave the house, give your dog a food-dispensing toy—the Kong is one of our favorites, but there are plenty of others.
- Please don’t scold your dog if he doesn’t adjust quickly. If you punish him, he may become more upset and the problem could get worse.
- Be patient, and work with your pet until he feels comfortable and enjoys spending time alone.

3) The Humane Society of the United States is maintaining an up-to-date web site that keeps track of pet food and treats recalls.  You might want to earmark this site as one of your "favorites": 


Pet Medicine - Is It Safe To Order Online?

In an age where all of your pet's necessities can be purchased online, it only seems natural that its medication should be available through the click of a mouse. While a multitude of online pharmacies provide a convenient and often inexpensive way to obtain prescriptions you'd normally purchase at the vet's office, many veterinarians warn against using them.

Risk #1: Pharmacy Could be Selling Counterfeit or Inferior Medicine

A major concern for most veterinarians is the source of the medications sold by online pharmacies. "Many online pharmacies are not well regulated," said Dr. Michael Farber, Practice Owner and Chief of Staff at West Chelsea Veterinary. "Not all of these sites are licensed to sell drugs. Some sites are not based within the United States, so many of the medications they're selling are foreign-made or bootleg, and may not be exactly what has been prescribed by the vet."

Counterfeit products, expired products, and "products replaced with lesser products under the same name or category" may put your pet's health at risk, warned Farber.

Risk #2: Even High Quality Products Can Degrade During Shipping

Quality control also worries many veterinarians when their clients purchase medication from online sources. "There is no real quality control that I'm aware of with most online pharmacies," said Dr. Alan Stewart, Internal Medicine Specialist at San Francisco Veterinary Specialists. "When medications are shipped under the correct conditions, they're safe to use, but medicines shipped improperly in extreme hot or extreme cold may become damaged."

Smarter Bargain Hunting

If you still want to buy online -- either for convenience or price -- there are ways to help protect yourself. "Make sure [the online pharmacy] is U.S.-based," said Farber. "You should also be sure that the pharmacy is willing to honor the manufacturer's guarantee. If the pharmacy is only willing to guarantee the product themselves, and not through the manufacturer, they may not be selling the drug legally."
Though professionals advise against using most online pharmacies for prescription medication, flea and tick medications, as well as heartworm medications may be safer to purchase online than other prescriptions, according to Stewart.
You can also consider seeking out alternative local providers. For example, rare medications, or those not regularly stocked by veterinarians can be obtained by specialized pet pharmacies, like Best Pet Rx in New York City, suggests Farber.

Pet owners looking for better prices may opt to purchase their pet's medications from places like Costco or Walgreen's. "I'm usually comfortable [with sending patients] to these places for medication," said Stewart. "They usually have some sort of deal." Another important factor to consider, says Stewart, is that the majority of medication prescribed to pets is made for humans. These medications may be obtained from any trusted pharmacy and may also offer more competitive pricing.


1) Cats are the most popular pet in the United States, outnumbering dogs 82 million to 72 million. Yet cats are only half as likely as their canine counterparts to visit the veterinarian. There are a number of reasons for this, including the fact that cats are better at hiding illness or injury than dogs. Another reason is that cats can make visits to the veterinarian downright unpleasant. But it doesn’t have to be that way.  Listen to this podcast, provided by the AVMA, for some helpful suggestions on how to make your cat's visit to your veterinarian a little more tolerable: 

Cats aren't the only pets to be reluctant to see the veterinarian.  Check out this dog:

2) OK, be honest, how many of you allow your dogs to sleep with you in your bed?  Read some of the pros and cons for allowing this to happen:

In the darkest hours of Bruce Sallan's divorce when he didn't want to get out of bed, his two dogs were there jumping on the mattress and licking his face. And when his worries kept him awake at night, the big black German Shepherd mix and the Pointer mix with brown and white spots were there then too, lying beside him on top of the covers.  "Petting one of my dogs was almost like a way I'd calm myself down and fall asleep," says Sallan, a writer and radio host in California. But then he met and married Debbie, who had a dog of her own but suffered from allergies and liked her furniture free of dirt and hair. She was adamant: "No dogs in bed."  "He would have his dog on the bed and there would be dog hair on my pillow and I'd be sneezing," Debbie says. The solution? She spent several hundred dollars on plush beds for all three dogs and ultimately, everyone was happy.

The Stats

Some pet owners may be sheepish to admit it, but Sallan is far from alone. A 2007 survey of more than 2,500 pet owners by the American Pet Products Association found 43 percent of dogs slept in a person's bed at night, a steady increase from 34 percent a decade ago.  So is there anything wrong with pets in the bed? Like Bruce and Debbie, vets and animal trainers have strong opinions on the subject.

The Pros

Sleeping in the same bed has strong emotional benefits for you and your pooch.

1. It's comforting to both the owners and the animals. The company of pets have been proven to lower blood pressure, stress and reduce feelings of loneliness. According to veterinarian Ira Roth, director of the Community Practice Clinic at University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, having them close to you at night only magnifies those benefits, whether the animal is at the foot of the bed or under the covers.

Illinois dog owner Jamie Hand agrees with that assessment. "Rocky likes to cuddle, and he always has to be right next to me," referring to her Jack Russell Terrier mix who is very content sleeping in his owner's bed. "If I roll away from him, he scoots over so he's right next to my torso again. This doesn't disrupt my sleep at all. In fact, it's quite comforting to feel him snuggling up against me."

2. It can deepen the bond between dog and owner. New York City dog trainer Sarah Westcott, owner of Doggie Academy, always gave her dogs their own beds. But then she adopted Hank, a lab who kept to himself.   "Out of the blue one day, I put him in bed and he curled up next to me," Westcott says. Everything changed after that. "Whatever he's doing, even when he's a hyper maniac, if I invite him in bed he settles right down."

3. It can give nervous dogs more confidence. Sherry Bedard, an animal trainer and behaviorist in Montreal and author of "Sherry's Secret Dictionary, A Guide to your Dog" believes that the assurance boost of sharing the bed with their owners can "help the dog cope with everyday functions such as going out for a walk in public or meeting strangers."

The Cons

From health reasons to relationships concerns, there are strong arguments against sharing the bed.

1. It can intensify allergies. Your airways are more susceptible to irritants at night, partly because when you're lying down, you're closer to the ground, where particles settle. Multiply that by plus or minus 8 hours and that's a lot of exposure, says Frank S. Virant, MD, an allergy and asthma specialist in Seattle. Plus, pet dander and fur stays on the pillow long after the animal has left the room. If you find yourself sniffling or wheezing, the pet should leave the bedroom, Virant says.

2. It can amp up human/canine power struggles. Orlando dog trainer Todd Langston, owner of Pack Life K-9 Behavior Solutions believes that giving the dog the highest, most comfortable spot in the house sends the message that he is the leader of the pack. "Many of these dogs will even growl at their owners if they wake them in the middle of the night or snap at them if they try to get them off the bed," says Langston.

Westcott realized that she had this problem on her hands when her dog Hank began growling at her boyfriend Vinny, when he tried to get in bed. "Immediately I said OK, we can't have that. First and foremost this is mine and Vinny's bed. Hank was no longer allowed in bed until I had some time to work with him," Westcott tells Paw Nation. "I would invite him on the bed and say 'Up' and I'd give him chicken, and I'd say 'Off' and give him chicken. After working with him and really teaching him that it's not a terrible thing to be told to get off the bed, he willingly got off."

3. Noisy or pushy dogs can keep you from getting a good night's rest. In a 2001 study by the Mayo Clinic, more than half of pet owners seeking treatment for sleep disorders said their pets disturbed their sleep every night because of snoring, needing to go outside or hogging the bed.   "Having a pet that constantly moves around in bed or prevents you from sleeping in your preferred position can diminish the quality of your sleep affecting your daytime mood, focus, memory and concentration," says New York dog trainer Sheryl Matthys, author of "Leashes and Lovers: What Your Dog Can Teach You About Love, Life, and Happiness."

Matthys speaks from experience. She and her husband used to fight for bed space with two greyhounds, leading to many nights of "trying to shift around the long furry bodies in the middle of our bed." Ultimately she opted for comfy dog beds. "Although I do miss cuddling with our dogs, I have to admit I'm more refreshed in the morning," Matthys says.

4. It can cause arguments between couples. "I can tell you stories about fighting with a German Shepherd for room on my ex-boyfriend's full-size bed," says Christie Hyde, a public relations professional from Daytona Beach. "Apparently I was expected to sleep curled in a ball at the top of the bed."

Hyde's concerns weren't only about her discomfort but also about what bringing the dog into the bed meant to her relationship. When the long-distance boyfriend came to stay at her house, Hyde kept her pit-bull mix, Amber, out of the bedroom. "When he started inviting Amber to join us in bed -- and she would crawl right in between us -- I knew our relationship was heading in the wrong direction. We got to spend so little time together, I didn't care to share that much of it with our dogs," Hyde says.

So the dog stayed, and the boyfriend went.

This report was adapted from: 

Then, you read a review of a particular dog breed, such as this one about Italian Greyhounds:

Personality: "Italian Greyhounds are homebodies and bed warmers first," says Lynette Coyner, corresponding secretary of the Italian Greyhound Club of America, "but do enjoy car rides, outings and even hiking.

...and it's easy to see that even informative breed facts can be an influence.  This Italian Greyhound information comes from: 


1) Not only do professional dog trainers recommend giving your dog his own crate, but many of us find that crating our dogs gives us peace of mind and keeps our dogs calm and secure when we're gone. There's just one big downfall: They can be so unattractive!  Fortunately, there are plenty of options on the market that merge function and fashion in a way that perfectly suits our sensibilities. Which one would look best in your home?  The folks at Paw Nation offer some interesting choices at:   Click on the arrow to view all 9 crate models.

Some of these crates are pretty fancy and...quite expensive.

2) Another pet product for the pet owner with a few extra dollars to spend would be an elevated pet feeder.  Some dogs and cats have difficulty bending downward to a dish as they get older and arthritic joints start acting up.  These elevated pet feeders would help eliminate that problem in addition to being a stylistic modification to the standard couple of bowls:  Click on the arrow to view all 10 of the options.

Again, most of these are in the expensive range.


1) A new pet resort is now open beside Disney World in Florida.  From its description, it must be among the largest pet boarding facilities in the USA.  As with the accessories listed above, the prices listed aren't cheap but the convenience for pet owners just might make it a success.  Read all about it at: 

2) A 10-year old Pomeranian whose owner became incapacitated enjoyed the experience of an "extreme" makeover.  Check out the before and after photos: 

3) For those of you with a little time on your hands, skim through the "Top 100 Dog photos of 2009" advertised by this web site: 

Some of them are pretty cool...while others are sort of ho-hum....

4) Since we're dealing with numbers, what would you add to a list of "Top 10 Smartest Dog Breeds?"  A popular dog trainer was asked that question and here is his answer: 

From The New Yorker:
5) For those of you who have sent e-mails asking about guidelines for how to cut your dog's nails, here is a nice series of photos illustrating the proper technique: 

The Ohio State Buckeyes got off to a good start for the season with an impressive performance by our QB, a Heisman Trophy contender.  The action shifts into high gear this week as the Miami Hurricanes visit the "Horseshoe" in Columbus.  Miami also won big this past week and is looking to improve their national ranking with an upset of the Buckeyes.  Helpful Buckeye tried to negotiate a repeat of a friendly bet before the season started...but the other side "chickened-out" even though the terms were the same as last year's when his team was actually ranked higher than the Buckeyes in the pre-season.  Something about big belt buckles and a cowboy shirt that was too tight around the throat....

Say it isn't so, Cowpoke....

The Pittsburgh Steelers are down to QBs #3 and #4 for the start of their season.  We've had to rely on our defense in the past...and this will have to be more of the same.


Our good friends Barbara and Don, back in Richmond, VA, lost their 14-year old dog, Angus, a week ago.  Our sentiments go out cross-country to the Old Dominion. 

Helpful Buckeye usually sees a lot of tarantula spiders (males) crossing the paths of my bike routes during the first 2 weeks of October.  Well, the news is that I saw 2 of them this past Thursday, the 2nd of September!  Whether this has any meaning for our weather patterns this fall and winter remains to be seen.

With the Labor Day weekend being the "unofficial" end of summer, relax to the sounds of the Beach Boys and one of their all-time summer classics: 

~~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.~~