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.~~


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