Sunday, October 31, 2010

PET SITTERS, ANEMIA, AND "DUE DATE"....

As we move into November, many of you who leave food and water bowls outdoors for your pets will be bringing the containers inside for the winter.  This would be a good time to follow some great advice from the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the Food & Drug Administration.  Here is their advice:

You may think of your dogs or cats as family members, but do you handle their food and feeding utensils the same way you handle your own?  You should!  You wouldn't eat off the same plate or drink out of the same glass, day after day, without washing them between meals.  So it stands to reason you shouldn't neglect to wash your pet's food bowls between meals every day and the water bowl every day or two.

Dogs and cats (just like people) have bacterial microbes in their mouths and these microbes can be transferred to dishes the pet eats and drinks from.  Food left in the dishes can provide the microbes with a good environment for multiplying (moisture, oxygen, and nutrients) and can produce illness in people who touch the dish, or the pet, that eats or drinks from the dish.

The same good hygiene practices that apply to handling and storing food for people also apply to food for pets.  Leftovers should be stored in a closed container and refrigerated if the food is moist.

To be safe, remember to wash your hands in warm, soapy water after touching pet food and feeding dishes.  And wash and dry your pet's dishes and storage containers before refilling them with new food.  Both you and your pet will be safer if you do.


Last week's poll questions showed that not only are only about 10% of you including your dog in your Halloween plans, but also only 5% of you reported that any of your pets have been poisoned by any of the Top 13 poisons listed.  Helpful Buckeye thinks that our readers are really trying to keep your pets out of trouble...continue your vigilance!  Be sure to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.

Helpful Buckeye wants to remind all new readers that a comprehensive index of previous topics discussed in Questions On Dogs and Cats appears in the column to the left, under the heading of "Labels."  Simply click on any topic and you will be directed to that issue of the blog.  Several regular readers have written to say that they make it a habit of clicking randomly on a few topics after reading each new issue.  Try it...it could serve as a good review.

CURRENT NEWS OF INTEREST

The American Kennel Club always tries to preserve the integrity of pure-bred dogs.  Thus, their effort in providing this disclaimer reminding potential dog owners not to get starstruck by French Bulldogs, featured in the new movie, Due Date.  For the rest of this story, as well as further information on this "cuddly" pet, go to:  http://www.akc.org/news/index.cfm?article_id=4230

DISEASES, AILMENTS, AND MEDICAL CONDITIONS

Anemia is something you've all heard of and most of you are aware that it has something to do with blood levels in the body.  However, did you know that anemia is not a disease in itself, but rather a sign of another disease?

Anemia is defined as an absolute decrease in the red cell mass as measured by any of several lab tests. It can develop from loss, destruction, or lack of production of red blood cells (RBCs). Anemia is classified as regenerative or nonregenerative. In a regenerative anemia, the bone marrow responds appropriately to the decreased red cell mass by increasing RBC production and releasing immature RBCs (reticulocytes). In a nonregenerative anemia, the bone marrow responds inadequately to the increased need for RBCs.


Clinical Findings:

Clinical signs in anemic animals depend on the degree of anemia, the duration (acute or chronic), and the underlying cause. Acute anemia can result in shock and even death if more than a third of the blood volume is lost rapidly and not replaced. In acute blood loss, the animal usually presents with rapid heart rate (tachycardia), pale gums, weak pulses, and lowered blood pressure. The cause of the blood loss may be obvious, such as trauma. If no evidence of external bleeding is found, a source of internal blood loss must be sought, such as a ruptured tumor of the spleen, a blood clotting malfunction, a gastro-intestinal ulceration or parasites. If destruction of RBCs is present (hemolytic anemia), the patient may appear yellowish (jaundiced or icteric). Patients with chronic anemia have had time to adjust, and their clinical presentation is usually more quiet with vague signs of lethargy, weakness, and loss of appetite. These patients will have similar physical examination findings, pale gums, tachycardia, and possibly enlargement of the spleen or a new heart murmur, or both.

Diagnosis:

A complete history is an important part of the work-up of an anemic animal. Questions might include duration of clinical signs, history of exposure to toxins (eg, rodenticides, heavy metals, toxic plants), drug treatments, vaccinations, travel history, and any prior illnesses.

A blood cell test, including a platelet and a reticulocyte count, will provide information on the severity of anemia and degree of bone marrow response, and also allow for evaluation of other cell lines. A blood smear should be evaluated for abnormalities in RBC shape and structure and for RBC parasites.

A serum chemistry panel and urinalysis are also important for evaluating organ function. If gastro-intestinal blood loss is suspected, an examination of the feces for blood and parasites can be useful. X-Rays can help identify other internal disease processes, such as a penny (zinc toxicity) in the stomach of a puppy with hemolytic anemia. Bruising or bleeding may be signs of a clotting defect and indicate the need for a clotting profile test.

Bone marrow evaluation might be necessary in any animal with an unexplained, nonregenerative anemia.

Causes:

Acute blood loss can lead to shock and even death if >30-40% of blood is lost and the lowered blood volume that develops is not treated aggressively with IV fluids or compatible blood, by way of a transfusion. Gastro-intestinal parasites, such as hookworms in dogs, can lead to severe blood loss, especially in young animals.

Many infectious agents—bacterial, viral, rickettsial, and protozoal—can cause anemia, by direct damage to RBC or by direct effects on forerunners of RBCs in the bone marrow.

The anemia of chronic disease can be characterized as mild to moderate and nonregenerative. It is the most common form of anemia seen in animals. The anemia can be secondary to chronic inflammation or infection, cancer, liver disease, adrenal or thyroid disease. Treatment of the underlying disease usually results in resolution of the anemia.

Nutritional deficiency anemias develop when micronutrients needed for RBC formation are not present in adequate amounts and usually develop gradually. Starvation causes anemia by a combination of vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Iron deficiency is the most common deficiency seen in dogs but occurs less commonly in cats. Iron deficiency is rarely nutritional in origin—it most commonly occurs secondary to blood loss.

The American Veterinary Medical Association offers this informative podcast of the causes and treatment of anemia in pets:  http://www.avmamedia.org/display.asp?sid=294&NAME=Anemia_in_Pets

NON-MEDICAL CONCERNS

More pet owners are opting to have pet sitters come into their homes and take care of their pets when needed.  The editors at Pawnation.com have put together a list of considerations to think of when contemplating the use of a pet sitter:

When it comes to hiring a professional pet sitter are you a helicopter parent that leaves detailed pooping and walking spreadsheets? Or are you more of the hands-off type who feels perfectly comfortable letting your sitter do his or her own thing?


A well-prepared sitter can keep your pet happy and anxiety-free while you're away, greatly reducing the number of chewing, scratching, and/or bathroom accidents occurring in your home. The question is: How do you ensure that you've given your pet sitter all the necessary tools to keep your animals relaxed and healthy?


To get a little expert guidance on the subject, we've enlisted the help of Paul Mann, founder of Fetch! Pet Care. Beyond the basics like emergency contact info, your vet's phone number and a medicine and food schedule (all of which are obviously quite important), Mann encourages owners to focus a little bit on your pet's psychology when preparing for a sitter.


Spell Out The Animal's Daily Schedule: "Pets are truly creatures of habit," Mann tells Paw Nation, "They get into liking their routine, so the idea is to figure out how to maintain that routine." For example, if you take your pup for a walk every morning, ask your pet sitter to do the same. If your cat likes to chase the yarn around in the evening, tell your sitter.


Explain What Makes Your Pet Happy: "A good professional pet sitter should ask what your pet likes to do, then maybe over-satisfy them in that way," Mann explains. In fact, he recommends that you schedule an in-home consultation with the sitter so they can interview you and meet your dog, cat, bird, etc.


Make Sure Favorite Items Are Handy: When it comes to the actual items to leave for the pet sitter, Mann recommends things like "an old t-shirt, bedding, and their favorite toys to keep the familiarity there for the pet." Ideally, the pet sitter will be visiting your pet at your home, says Mann, but these items are even more important if you plan to board.

Keep Your Exit Low-Key: Mann recommends that a little exercise before you leave can help keep your pet's mind at ease. They'll be napping instead of worrying about where you are. Whatever you do, Mann cautions that you refrain from breaking into the tearful 'I'm going to miss you so much' routine. "Just exit like you usually do," Mann explains, "Dogs pick up on those things and it creates anxiety."


Find Out What Other Pet Parents Do: We asked some of Paw Nation's Facebook friends to share what they leave for their pet sitter:


• Donald MacMelville: "It's a three-page document. Location numbers, cell numbers, feeding instructions, Vet numbers and address and MapQuest, emergency contacts, walking instructions, etc. People think we are crazy."
• Pamela Grant Goldman: "When I had three dogs, I started a journal for pet sitters: I'd leave detailed info and instructions, and they'd leave entries daily on who ate what, etc. These days, a friend stays with my dog and we text at least once a day and he sends me photos of my little guy playing outside."
• Tara Anderson: "I leave feeding instructions, emergency cash, along with phone numbers. I get daily texts. My cat sitter is great. She plays with my cat and cooks her a special shrimp dinner! When I return, I get a note from my cat detailing all of the fun she has."
• Lisa Faynor Bartine: "I have a friend of the family stay over, and I leave four pages of emergency and routine info, and call every other day."

In next week's issue, Helpful Buckeye will discuss the pros and cons of using a boarding kennel for your pets.

BREED OF THE WEEK

Several of our regular readers have asked that Helpful Buckeye consider re-instating this topic into the weekly format.  They all said they enjoyed learning more about the less popular breeds of dogs and cats.  So, let's get back into the swing of this and begin with the Bloodhound.

As described by the AKC:

Described as a "unique looking dog in a baggy suit," the Bloodhound is one of the oldest breeds of dogs that hunt by scent. Although affectionate, they can possess shy natures, sensitive to kindness or correction by their master. Colors of the Bloodhound include black and tan, liver and tan, and red, sometimes flecked with white. The actual term "Bloodhound" refers not to what the Bloodhound trails but instead refers to its status as the "blooded hound," meaning aristocratic, since such great lengths were taken early on to keep the strain clean.

A Look Back

The Bloodhound made its appearance in Europe long before the Crusades, when the first specimens were brought from Constantinople in two strains, black and white. Established in America for over a century, it proved early on to be a tireless worker for law enforcement, being so accurate that evidence trailed by a Bloodhound has been accepted in a court of law.

Right Breed for You?

While Bloodhounds are extremely affectionate, they are take-charge dogs, so it is important to be kind, but be the undisputed boss in your household. Bloodhounds should be groomed weekly to eliminate dead hair and facilitate a routine that will help them look, feel, and smell better.

• Hound Group; AKC recognized in 1885.
• Ranging in size from 23 to 27 inches tall at the shoulder.
• Scent tracker.
and, from The New Yorker:

PRODUCTS OF THE WEEK

1) The TUX Toy is a super-durable product that will last a long time for most dogs.  Check it out at:  http://www.petproductadvisor.com/store/mc/zogoflextux.aspx?utm_source=dogcrazynews001et&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=ZogoflexFunBall&utm_content=DC-20101029&email=kfwash@aol.com

2) Another fun product is the Everlasting Fun Ball, advertised as the "strongest chew toy ever": http://www.petproductadvisor.com/store/mc/everlasting-fun-ball.aspx?utm_source=dogcrazynews001et&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=ZogoflexFunBall&utm_content=DC-20101029&email=kfwash@aol.com

SPORTS NEWS
The Pittsburgh Steelers went to New Orleans for the Sunday night game and came away with a loss.  The Saints pretty much executed a perfect game plan and earned the victory.  Both teams played hard but the Saints were the tougher team tonight.



PERSONAL STUFF


The eagle has returned!  Bald-headed eagles return to the Flagstaff area for the colder months and a couple of them always take up residence on the shores of Lake Elaine, which is part of Helpful Buckeye's regular bike routes.  Whether sitting on the upper branches of a tall ponderosa pine or soaring above the lake, they are a beauty of nature.  On my ride this past Thursday, I spotted the first of the returning eagles.


~~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, October 24, 2010

HALLOWEEN, DOGS HELP HUMANS, AND POISONINGS....

Halloween is almost here and, yes, Halloween ranks right up there at the top of the list (along with the 4th of July) as the holiday during which most cats and dogs either get lost or get into trouble. Helpful Buckeye covered these risks in detail in our Halloween issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats 2 years ago and some of those highlights bear repeating.

From the ASPCA comes this good advice:

Treat Your Pets to a Safe Halloween

That parade of kids, adults—and yes, even pets—in funny outfits is due to arrive at your door this week, bringing all the sweet and scary joys of Halloween! But pet parents, as you carve the jack-o-lanterns and fill those bowls of candy, please be aware that your furry friends may stumble upon dangers you hadn’t thought of.

Warns Dr. Steven Hansen, Senior Vice President, ASPCA Animal Health Services, which includes the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center in Urbana, IL, “Many of our favorite Halloween traditions could pose a potential threat to our companion animals. As pet parents start to make plans for trick-or-treating or costumes, they should be aware of Halloween-related products and activities that can be potentially dangerous to pets.”

The following are just a few precautions you should take:

No Chocolate: Even if your pet has a sweet tooth, ingesting chocolate—especially baker’s and dark chocolate—can be dangerous for dogs and cats, possibly causing vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity and even seizures.
No Sweets for the Sweet: Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can be poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar, which leads to depression, lack of coordination and seizures.
Dangerous D├ęcor: Keep wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations out of reach. If chewed, your pet could experience damage to his mouth from shards of glass or plastic, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.
Don’t Play with Fire: Keep your pets away from jack-o-lanterns with lit candles inside—knocking the pumpkin over can easily cause a fire. And curious kittens can get burned or singed by candle flames.
Costume Caution: Please don't put your pet in a costume unless you know that he or she loves it. Costumes can cause skin irritations, obstruct a pet’s vision or impede his breathing.

And, from Matthew Margolis, animal behavior trainer:

This being the week leading up to Halloween, it's time to revisit reasons to leave even those dogs with the very best manners at home, inside, safe, sound and secure. First off, the fringe criminal minds for whom Halloween is both a reason and an excuse to steal, torture, poison or even kill dogs and cats left vulnerable in yards make it mandatory that pets be kept inside on fright night. Personally, I believe pets should always be kept inside at night. They are safer that way, and you are safer for having them there. Even inside, though, pets should not have the freedom to roam the house that they normally might. Dinging doorbells, flickering lights, opening and closing doors, and strange sounds and sights are enough to agitate the calmest of animals. A dog that normally wouldn't dream of darting out the front door might get the urge on a night when his routine is so dramatically altered. Here are a few more cautionary measures that will help keep your pets safe this Halloween:

Keep pets indoors. --
Walk dogs early in the evening, before trick-or-treaters hit the streets. Wings, masks, capes, sabers, costumes of any kind can be frightening to your pooch. And if you walk your dog after the festivities, watch out for candy and wrappers he may swallow. --
When inside, keep him comfortable and in a room away from the front door. --
If you want him to play sidekick as you greet trick-or-treaters, keep him on a leash. Strangers, noise and costumes are stressors that can set off even a normally placid family pet. A child could get bit, or your dog could bolt outside and get hit by a car. --
Keep candy, chocolate, candy wrappers, candles and jack-o-lanterns up high and out of reach. They are all dangerous -- potentially fatal -- for dogs. --
Make sure your pet's ID tag is current and includes your phone number, in case they do escape.
Resist the urge to costume him. If you absolutely must, use nothing with a mask. He should be able to breathe, hear, see and drink water with ease at all times. --
And one more time for emphasis: Keep 'em inside. All night long. All of 'em -- dogs, cats, whatever.

For a final review of these warnings, take a few minutes and listen to this podcast from the American Veterinary Medical Association: http://www.avmamedia.org/manage/mediaimg/s333-halloween2010final.mp3

It sounds simple, doesn't it? But, Helpful Buckeye urges all of you to remember that a frightened or excited pet will be very unpredictable and you're going to be better off preventing something bad from happening than trying to take care of it after the fact.

The large pumpkin in the center of this picture from the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas weighs in at 779 lb!!!
The picture at the beginning is also from the same display at Bellagio.

Last week's poll question on digging dogs revealed that just about half of the respondents had experienced a problem with either their own dog or a neighbor's dog digging in their yard to excess. The other question about service dogs showed that only about 20% of respondents know someone who makes use of a service dog. Remember to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.

CURRENT NEWS OF INTEREST

1) The company that produces Metacam, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory prescription medicine for dogs and cats, has released a warning about its oral (by mouth) usage in cats. Repeated use of Metacam in cats has shown some instances of acute kidney failure and death, as reported by the FDA. If your cat has been taking Metacam, you should contact your veterinarian for further information and advice. Read the report at: http://www.avma.org/onlnews/javma/nov10/101101e.asp

2) The Humane Society of the United States has reported that a Minnesota man has been convicted of felony animal cruelty for shooting a cat. Find out the details at: http://www.humanesociety.org/news/news/2010/10/kevin_olaughlin_101810.html

3) The FDA has announced that it is looking closer at an already FDA-approved drug that is aimed at obesity in dogs. This investigation will look at any possible relationship between the side effects of the drug, Slentrol, and certain breeds of dogs. For more information, go to: http://blogs.wsj.com/health/2010/10/14/fda-sniffing-around-pfizers-doggy-weight-loss-drug-slentrol/

DISEASES, AILMENTS, AND MEDICAL CONDITIONS

Considering some of the toxicities associated with Halloween candies and treats, a short review of the most common toxic substances will help to put things into perspective.

Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. recently analyzed its database of more than 485,000 insured pets to find the sources behind the hundreds of poisoning claims it receives every month.

Following is a ranking of the nearly 20,000 pet poisoning claims VPI received between 2005 and 2009:

Accidental Ingestion of Medications (pet or human drugs) 5,131
Rodenticide (mouse & rat poison) 4,028
Methylxanthine Toxicity (chocolate, caffeine) 3,661
Plant Poisoning 2,808
Household Chemicals 1,669
Metaldehyde (snail, slug poison) 396
Insecticide 323
Heavy Metal Toxicity (lead, zinc) 288
Toad Poisoning 270
Antifreeze Poisoning 213
Walnut Poisoning 100
Alcohol Toxicity 75
Strychnine 28

Even though most of these poisonings were accidental, they still required a visit to the veterinarian and...many of them could have resulted in death. As you can see, chocolates rank 3rd on this list. Be careful this Halloween!

NON-MEDICAL CONCERNS

There are countless studies that have shown the benefit to humans of having a pet to cuddle with, enjoy around the house, or to accompany you on a walk. Highly respected human medical facilities, such as the Mayo Clinic, are recognizing the positive effects to be gained from regular contact with a pet: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/living-with-cancer-blog/MY01463/?utm_source=Other&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=HouseCall&pubDate=October%2015,%202010

A recent article in the USA Today claims, "Having a Dog DOES Improve Your Health." It goes on to list the benefits of the owner/pet relationship:

• Offers companionship
• Helps us heal
• Bolsters our community
• Improves our fitness
• Helps us relax
• Amuses us

As the article explains, research shows that they're also good for us — for our health, for our children and for our communities in general. Read the rest of this interesting article at: http://www.usatoday.com/life/lifestyle/pets/2010-09-07-fivereasons07_ST_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip&POE=click-refer

PRODUCT OF THE WEEK

1) For your cat's enjoyment, take a look at these "5 Great Cat Toys": http://www.pawnation.com/2010/10/20/the-daily-treat-selects-5-great-cat-toys/

2) A dog product that might be of interest to dog owners who simply don't want to go outside with their pups early on a cold, wintry morning: http://www2.pulsetv.com/prodinfo.asp?number=5388

Even though this is considered a "potty trainer," it still might be applicable for smaller dogs...in case you don't want to take them outside.

GENERAL INTEREST

1) If you are driving around the streets of Reno, NV, and you see an animal that looks like a mountain lion with longer, darker hair...it just might be Stewie.  Stewie, a Maine Coon cat, has just been certified by Guinness Book of Records as the world's LONGEST cat, at 48.5 inches.  That's just over 4 ft. long!  To see Stewie, go to: http://www.thenews.com.pk/latest-news/3406.htm

2) How much would you be willing to spend for "room service" for your dog if you stayed at a hotel that advertised itself as "pet friendly?"  Read this account of one person's experience and then think about your answer: http://www.pawnation.com/2010/10/21/pet-room-service-how-much-would-you-spend/

SPORTS NEWS
The Pittsburgh Steelers began a 3-game road trip today in Miami.  It's tough enough to win on the road in the NFL, let alone having to try to do it 3 weeks in a row.  The really good news is that, with next 3 games after this one being night games, I'll get to see the Steelers 4 weeks in a row on TV.  The Steelers won the game by 1 point after a fairly controversial ruling on a late fumble into the end zone.

The NBA begins its season this week and college basketball won't be far behind.  College football would still matter if the Buckeyes hadn't choked last week.

The World Series begins this week, with the SF Giants playing the Texas Rangers.  Since I'm a National League fan, I'll have to cheer for the Giants...even though a Dodger fan would NEVER think about cheering for them!  That brings to mind a humorous line from baseball:  "I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me."


PERSONAL STUFF

"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing."
Albert Einstein

If Albert Einstein felt it was important to keep asking questions, then we should not be afraid to keep asking questions.  For any of your dog and cat questions, contact Helpful Buckeye at:  dogcatvethelp@gmail.com 

~~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, October 17, 2010

DOGS THAT DIG, VITAMIN D TOXICITY, AND ONLINE DRUGS....

Well, apparently, having a dog roll in something "yucky" doesn't upset a pet owner as much as having the dog eat feces...coprophagia, as discussed a few weeks ago.  Helpful Buckeye did, however,  receive several e-mails about different "yucky" things dogs had rolled in...a decaying turkey carcass, mildewed/decomposing leaves, and a pile of old rags that had been used to clean up after a septic tank clean out.  Most of you still felt that coprophagia takes the cake..."figuratively" speaking.  We'll deal with one more habit this week that most dog owners don't like very much...although, we'll let you determine if it's really a "nasty" habit.

Helpful Buckeye finished the 4th leg of his Quadathlon of Northern Arizona this past week, with a long hike in the Grand Canyon.  More on that later in this issue....



Not as many respondents said that their dogs ever rolled in something "yucky"...only about 66% have enjoyed that fun.  On the question of how many cats is too many, 75% of you said that 6-10 was too many and the rest were divided between "even one" and 2-5.  Helpful Buckeye suspects that confirmed dog lovers were responsible for the "even one" responses.  Be sure to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.

CURRENT NEWS OF INTEREST

1) The ASPCA has posted this warning about purchasing drugs for your pets online:

Although it may be tempting and convenient to order your pet’s medications online, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning to pet parents about unregulated online pharmacies that sell expired or counterfeit drugs without a prescription. According to the FDA, foreign and domestic web pharmacies may ask pet parents to fill out an online form and then falsely claim that a veterinarian will evaluate the pet’s condition to prescribe the appropriate treatment.

To read the rest of the details in this warning, go to: http://www.aspca.org/news/national/10-08-10.html#2

2) The American Animal Hospital Association has released this information from the CDC about human death from rabies: http://www.aahanet.org/trendstoday/VetNewsArticle.aspx?key=8d867d62-71c4-4166-ae04-fba3fb789ae8

Even though not very many people in the USA die from rabies, it's important to understand the ramifications of this horrible disease and why it is so imperative to have your pets vaccinated against rabies.

DISEASES, AILMENTS, AND MEDICAL CONDITIONS

The notice in last week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats that warned of Vitamin D toxicity from a brand of pet food warrants more information about this serious disease process.

What Is Hypercalcemia?

Hypercalcemia (higher than normal amount of calcium in the blood) is a serious electrolyte abnormality caused by excessive exposure to or ingestion of vitamin D. Symptoms of vitamin D toxicosis, which can affect multiple organ functions, usually occur within 24 to 72 hours of ingestion and include loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst and urination, depression and weakness. Initially, clinical signs may be vague and nonspecific.

Excessive amounts of vitamin D in an animal’s bloodstream can increase calcium and phosphorus levels within 12 to 24 hours after initial exposure and persist for days and weeks. As calcium and phosphorus levels rise, they can affect the kidneys as well as the heart, gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system. Acute kidney failure, coma and death can occur in severe or untreated cases.

What Is the Treatment for Hypercalcemia?

Treatment goals include lowering serum calcium and phosphorous levels and managing accompanying kidney failure, and may require aggressive supportive care for days or weeks. The ASPCA recommends the following treatment guidelines for treating hypercalcemia in animals:

• Stabilize the animal first—control seizures if present—before implementing specific treatment.
• Monitor serum calcium, phosphorus, and kidney values. A complete blood analysis is recommended especially in very young or elderly animals or animals with preexisting health problems.
• Run fluids to the affected animal at twice the maintenance rate, until calcium drops to baseline levels. High doses of diuretics (medicines to increase the volume of urine produced) may be needed for several days.
• Feed animals a low calcium diet during the course of treatment.
• Continue to monitor the animal for long-term health problems associated with organ calcification.

Diagnosis will be based on history of exposure to high levels of vitamin D, presence of higher than normal levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood, kidney failure and high levels of vitamin D in the food. Incriminated food samples for vitamin D analysis should be properly labeled and kept refrigerated until they are sent to a laboratory for analysis. A complete necropsy (animal autopsy) should be requested if an animal dies of suspected vitamin D toxicosis.

NON-MEDICAL CONCERNS 

Anyone who has had a dog that liked to dig holes in the yard will tell you it is no fun trying to not only fill all the holes but also to attempt to break the dog of the habit. 

From PawNation.com comes this advice:

Meet Mary Burch, American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Director and Paw Nation's expert columnist addressing your questions on animal behavior. Dr. Burch is one of fewer than 50 Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists based in the United States. She is the author of 10 books, including the new official book on the AKC Canine Good Citizen Program, "Citizen Canine: 10 Essential Skills Every Well-Mannered Dog Should Know."


Dear Mary,

Could you tell me why dogs dig and how I can keep my pooch from ripping my flower bed apart? Thanks!

Dogs can make a minefield out of your yard for a number of reasons:

They're Bored: Left alone in a backyard, some dogs dig as an outlet for frustration. Digging provides something to do when an active, intelligent dog is bored out of his mind. Confined dogs will also often dig to get under a fence. There's a big wide world out there and the dog wants to see it.

It's In Their Genes: Some breeds -- terriers in particular -- are go-to-ground dogs who dig to find moles, lizards, mice, bugs, and any other critters in the hunt of the day. So they are doing what they feel genetically compelled to do.

To Cool Off: Dogs who are outside in the heat will dig to expose cool earth that they can lay on to lower their body temperatures.

For Storing Treasure: Dogs who like bones often bury them for safekeeping and to dig up later.

If you better understand why your dog has this habit, you will have more ideas about how to handle it. For example, the best thing you can do for a bored dog is provide mental stimulation through daily play and training sessions. The AKC Canine Good Citizen Program is a great place to start training all dogs and owners.  This program is described at: http://www.akc.org/events/cgc/program.cfm

You can also manage your own frustration -- and focus your dog's desire to dig -- by designing a digging pit in your yard so there is a designated place for your dog to tear into. If you bury bones there for him to sniff out, it will help your dog learn that this place is an approved digging area.

Finally, in warm weather, bring your dog inside so that he doesn't have to handle the heat on his own. If you don't want to give your dog access to your whole house while you're gone, a designated climate controlled area with water and toys will be much appreciated by the canine member of your family.

GENERAL INTEREST

1) In last week's issue, Helpful Buckeye offered a quiz about unusual breeds of dogs.  This week, you can find out how much you really know about cat breeds, their markings, etc,...courtesy of the Cat Fanciers Association.  To take the quiz, go to:  http://www.pawnation.com/2010/09/16/cat-breed-quiz-test-your-knowledge/

2) Several weeks ago, we ran the first part of a developing story about Billy Ma and his journey to find the proper service dog.  Billy's quest took him from Ohio to Georgia and he now has a "new friend".  Read Part 2 of Billy's story and watch the short video of Billy and Polar: http://www.pawnation.com/2010/10/11/canine-assistants-billy-ma-gets-to-know-dog/

3) Shelter pets with special needs are frequently available for adoption.  "Special needs" designation would include a medical problem, a physical disability, or possibly a behavioral consideration.  Here is an interesting account of a special needs cat that was adopted from an ASPCA shelter: http://www.aspca.org/news/national/10-15-10.html#3

4) Another type of service dog that is becoming more useful is the dog that is trained to sniff out low blood sugar in a diabetic human.  This is pretty fascinating when you consider these dogs can tell that a person's blood sugar is getting lower BEFORE a blood test can detect it.  From the USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/yourlife/pets/dogs/2010-10-14-diabetesdogs14_ST_N.htm

5) The University of Georgia unveiled their new mascot, UGA VIII, another English Bulldog, this week for their homecoming.  The new UGA must have been a big help to the team because they crushed Vanderbilt.  Check out UGA VIII at: http://ncaafootball.fanhouse.com/2010/10/14/five-step-drop-show-us-the-hairy-dog/?icid=main%7Chtmlws-main-w%7Cdl4%7Csec3_lnk2%7C178045

6) Since Halloween is just around the corner, you might enjoy learning about some of the myths that have developed involving black dogs and cats.  Here are 2 informative sites:  http://www.blogger.com/post-edit.g?blogID=16663019142577616&postID=2303407551149763482  and
http://www.petside.com/the-sidewalk/black-cat-myths.php

SPORTS NEWS
Geez, what a disappointment for Buckeye fans yesterday!  Ohio State got taken to the woodshed by Wisconsin in an impressive win for the Badgers.  I still don't know if Wisconsin is that good or if Ohio State just wasn't properly prepared for being #1...I suspect it might be a little of both.  Anyway, what had been a season of high hopes has suddenly been diminished a lot.  The National Championship and the Heisman Trophy will both end up on some campus other than the one in Columbus.  The only proper way to end this discussion is to let Willie have the last word: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsTAUs_h_uY&feature=fvw

The Pittsburgh Steelers got their #1 QB back today, after his suspension by the NFL.  In addition to finding out how the team responds to his return, it will be interesting to see how the fans in Pittsburgh react.  The Steelers easily defeated the Browns, as expected.

PERSONAL STUFF 

Helpful Buckeye completed the 4th leg of his Quadathlon of Northern Arizona this week by making the hike down Bright Angel Trail to Plateau Point in the Grand Canyon and back up to the South Rim.  This hike is 13 miles, round-trip, and includes a descent of 5000 ft. as well as a climb back up those same 5000 ft.  It was a perfect day for the hike and Helpful Buckeye cut 2 hours off his best time for this hike.  Desperado had a couple of celebrations for me, one that afternoon on the rim of the Canyon and a surprise breakfast party the next morning, which included 6 of our favorite friends.  Quadathlon season is over for this year.  What awaits for next year is still...in the future.  Helpful Buckeye has a few things in mind that would qualify.

Helpful Buckeye did have a conversation with a guy on the trail who was limping a bit.  I asked him if he was OK and he said that he was doing great.  I asked him about the limp and he said it would have been a lot worse without the big dose of Vitamin I he took regularly.  He responded to my quizzical look with, "Ibuprofen"....

~~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, October 10, 2010

ANOTHER NASTY HABIT, VITAMIN D, AND DOG COLLARS....

Wow, Helpful Buckeye received a lot of e-mails after last week's discussion about coprophagia. Every response indicated that this is a very common problem for dog owners. Hopefully, most of you will now better understand the situation and be able to deal with it in the proper manner.

The other poll question dealing with how often dog owners clean up dog droppings from their yards showed that all respondents take care of that daily. That is very commendable...not only does the clean-up reduce the opportunity for coprophagia, but it also decreases the chances for intestinal worms to be spread.

Remember to answer the poll questions this week in the column to the left.

Also, take heed of this ancient Chinese proverb: "He who asks is perhaps a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever."  If you have any questions at all, send them to: dogcatvethelp@gmail.com and Helpful Buckeye will provide the answers.


CURRENT NEWS OF INTEREST

1) The American Veterinary Medical Association has released this report that originated in Michigan:

On October 8, 2010, the Michigan State University (MSU) Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health (DCPAH) issued a press release describing 16 cases of confirmed hypervitaminosis D (vitamin D toxicity) in dogs from 8 states (Michigan, Texas, Colorado, Wisconsin, California, Illinois, North Dakota and Utah). The DCPAH reported that further investigation of the cases revealed that all of the affected dogs were receiving the same brand of pet food – Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe.


Also on October 8, Blue Buffalo issued a recall of the following products:


• BLUE Wilderness Chicken (Dog) in 4.5lb, 11lb and 24lb bags with "Best Used By" dates of JUL1211B, JUL1311B, JUL2611Z, JUL2711Z, JUL2811Z
• BLUE Basics Salmon (Dog) in 11lb and 24lb bags with "Best Used By" dates of AUG2111B, AUG2211B
• BLUE Large Breed Adult Chicken in 30lb bags with "Best Used By" dates of SEP 22 11 P, SEP 23 11 P, OCT 26 11 P

2) The Humane Society of the United States has released what they refer to as, The Dirty Dozen of Missouri...a listing of the worst offenders of pet health regulations as determined by HSUS investigations. Go To:
http://www.humanesociety.org/assets/pdfs/pets/puppy_mills/summary_report_on_mos_dirty.pdf   for the complete list of The Dirty Dozen of Missouri.

3) The ASPCA has also contributed a lot of coverage to the puppy mill situation in Missouri. They are actively campaigning in favor of Proposition B in Missouri's upcoming election:
http://www.aspca.org/news/national/10-08-10.html#1

DISEASES, AILMENTS, AND MEDICAL CONDITIONS

Helpful Buckeye received an e-mail last week from "Ed" in Oregon asking why coprophagia was included under this heading of Diseases, Etc. Well, Ed, it's a good question, considering that most people think of coprophagia as a behavioral problem. However, in this case, Helpful Buckeye decided to include it in the discussion of diseases and medical conditions. As you found out last week, coprophagia can sometimes happen as a result of a medical problem and some behavioral problems require treatment in much the same manner as a medical problem.
Along those lines, there is another really nasty habit that some dogs seem to enjoy...much to the consternation of their owners. Consider the following scenarios:

You work like a dog to get your own canine clean and smelling pretty, and how does he repay you? By running to the first pile of poop he can find and rolling in it.

Or, you're both walking along a pretty nature trail, enjoying the sweet breeze, when your dog spots a dead animal. He immediately dives his body into the unpleasant mass of decaying odors.

Then, as many of my former clients described, they'd be walking with their dog on a beach and the dog would find a pile of fish that had been dead for 3 days and, you guessed it...roll in the pile.

Why on earth do dogs enjoy this? The answer is simple: it's an instinct. If your dog could talk, he probably wouldn't be able to tell you exactly why he does it, either. No one is sure what the attraction is, but there are three working hypotheses.

One is that dogs are attempting to mask their own scent. This would be a holdover from their origins as wolves. Masking their scent may help wolves sneak up on prey without alerting them by way of smell.

A second theory is that rolling in feces or a dead animal's remains is a way for a dog to communicate that he's found something interesting.

The dog (or wolf) then transports that smell back to his family (his pack) in order to advertise his discovery.

A third theory is set forth in the book The Truth About Dogs, by Stephen Budiansky. It is possible, Budiansky writes, that we've gotten it backwards. The dog may not be trying to absorb the scent; instead he may be trying to impart his own scent onto the object of his interest, for the same reason that a dog may urinate on a tree. The purpose may be no more than to leave a calling card – to overmark a another scent.

This book is available at:
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=the+truth+about+dogs&x=14&y=15

Whichever way you cut it, this usually leaves you with a dog that really stinks! And, to Helpful Buckeye, it qualifies as a...nasty habit.

Much of this was adapted from PetPlace.com.

NON-MEDICAL CONCERNS

Helpful Buckeye regularly receives e-mails asking for advice on what type of collar to use for a dog. The HSUS has put together a comprehensive description of all the types of dog collar that are available:

Dog Collars

Which Type is Best For Your Dog?

Every dog needs a collar, chiefly because he needs something to hang his ID, license, and rabies vaccination tag on (and leash, of course). There are so many styles of collar out there that it's easy to get one that reflects your dog's (or your) personality.

Collars serve purposes beyond identification and decoration, most of which have to do with training. Not all of them are appropriate for all (or even any) dogs. Read on to find which collar would best suit your pup.

Regular collars

• Flat

This is the standard collar for dogs. It has a buckle or plastic snap ("quick-release") closure and a ring for attaching identification tags and/or leash and is available in many colors and designs. A flat collar should fit comfortably tight on your dog's neck. It should not be so tight as to choke your dog nor so loose that he can slip out of it. The rule of thumb says you should be able to get two fingers underneath the collar.

• Martingale

The martingale collar is also known as a limited-slip collar. This collar is designed for dogs with narrow heads such as Greyhounds and other sighthounds (such as the Afghan hound, Saluki, and whippet). It is also useful for a dog of any breed who is adept at slipping out of his collar.

The martingale consists of a length of material with a metal ring at each end. A separate loop of material passes through the two rings. The leash attaches to a ring on this loop. When your dog tries to back out of the martingale, the collar tightens around his neck. If the collar is properly adjusted, it will tighten just to the size of your dog's neck and won't choke him.

Head collar

The head collar is similar in principle to a horse's halter. One strap of the collar fits around your dog's neck and sits high on the head, just behind the ears. The other strap of the collar forms a loop around your dog's muzzle. The leash attaches to ring at bottom of muzzle loop.

The head collar is good for strong, energetic dogs that both jump and pull. Because the halter is around your dog's muzzle, instead of neck, your dog loses a great deal of leverage and he will be unable to pull on the leash with the full weight of his body.

To be effective, the head collar must be properly fitted. And to be safe, make sure not to yank your dog's leash while he's wearing a head halter. Some manufacturers include instructions and a DVD with the collar. Otherwise, ask your dog trainer or a knowledgeable sales clerk for assistance with fitting. Proper fit and use should minimize the risk of injury to your dog.

It may take some time, patience, and lots of treats to get your dog accustomed to wearing a head collar. Put it on him for short periods until your dog is comfortable in the collar. Then he should only wear it when you are taking him out on a leash. Don’t leave the head collar on your dog all the time; eventually he will manage to pull off the muzzle loop and use it as his chew toy!

Aversive collars

Some trainers use aversive collars to train "difficult" dogs with correction or punishment. These collars rely on physical discomfort or even pain to teach the dog what not to do. They suppress the unwanted behavior but don't teach him what the proper one is. At best, they are unpleasant for your dog, and at worst, they may cause your dog to act aggressively and even bite you. Positive training methods should always be your first choice.

Choke chain

As the name implies, this collar is made of metal links and is designed to control your dog by tightening around your dog's neck. It is supposed to sit high up on the dog's neck just behind his ears.

Unlike the martingale collar, there is no way to control how much the choke chain tightens so it's possible to choke or strangle your dog. It can also cause other problems, too, such as injuries to the trachea and esophagus, blood vessels in the eyes, neck sprains, nerve damage, fainting, transient paralysis, and even death.

It is best for your dog to avoid using a choke chain. More humane collars and good obedience training should make it unnecessary to resort to this aversive collar.

If you insist on using one, consult an experienced trainer to learn how to properly size, fit, and use it. And never leave a choke chain on your dog as his regular collar; the chain could catch on something and choke your dog!

Prong or pinch

The prong or pinch collar is similar in style to the martingale. The control loop that the leash is attached to is made of chain. The loop that fits around your dog's neck is made of a series of fang-shaped metal links, or prongs, with blunted points. When the control loop is pulled, the prongs pinch the loose skin of your dog's neck.

Like the choke chain, the prong collar must be properly fitted. The size of the prong links should be appropriate for the size of your dog. The collar should sit high up on your dog's neck just behind his ears. The fit should be snug so the prong links can't shift to the front of your dog's neck where they might pinch your dog's trachea.

More humane collars and good obedience training should make it unnecessary to resort to this aversive collar. If you insist on using one, consult an experienced trainer to learn how to properly size, fit, and use it.

Shock

Shock collars use electric current passing through metal contact points on the collar to give your dog a signal. This electric signal can range from a mild tickling sensation to a painful shock.

Shock collars are sold as training devices and to stop barking. They are also used with pet containment (electronic fencing) systems.

The least humane and most controversial use of the shock collar is as a training device. The trainer can administer a shock to a dog at a distance through a remote control. There is a greater chance for abuse (delivery of shocks as punishment) or misuse (poor timing of shocks). Your dog also may associate the painful shock with people or other experiences, leading to fearful or aggressive behavior.

Electronic fencing uses shock collars to delivers a shock when the dog approaches the boundaries of the "fenced" area. Typically, the shock is preceded by a tone to warn the dog he is about to get shocked.

Caution! Shock collars can cause irritation and inflammation of your dog's neck skin. To avoid problems:

Don't leave the electronic collar on for an extended length of time.
Clean your dog's neck and the contact points that touch your dog’s neck regularly.

Special-use collars

• Bark control

Though several types of collars are available to control excessive or unwanted barking, none of them address the root cause of the barking. Dogs can bark for several reasons, such as fear or territorial behavior. Though some bark collars may reduce barking, they will not reduce the stress that causes a dog to bark.

Spray: Barking causes these collars to emit a burst of citronella or air which interrupts and deters your dog from barking. Spray collars sometimes don't react to high-pitched barks, making them ineffective.

Tip: Don't use a spray collar when your dog is with other dogs. Another dog's bark may trigger your dog's collar.

Shock: The least humane is the shock collar which delivers an electrical shock to your dog when he barks.

Ultrasonic: When your dog barks, the ultrasonic collar interrupts him by emitting a sound only your dog can hear.

GENERAL INTEREST

1) From PetPartners, Inc. and the American Kennel Club comes this offer of winning 1 full year of pet health insurance. All you have to do is send an entry comment by October 15th on this web site:
http://www.pawnation.com/2010/10/04/countdown-to-meet-the-breeds-win-a-full-year-of-pet-insurance/

2) Also from the AKC, here's an interesting array of "10 Breeds of Dogs That Are Unusual":
http://www.pawnation.com/2010/10/04/10-dog-breeds-youve-never-heard-of/

Did you recognize any of them???

3) A Pekingese from Texas, named Puggy, is claiming to be sporting the longest dog tongue in the world. What would you expect, being from Texas? Check out this video and you make the determination:
http://www.pawnation.com/2010/10/04/puggy-the-pekingese-has-the-longest-dog-tongue-in-the-world/

Add a little make-up and you have Gene Simmons, from KISS....

4) How Many Cats Is Too Many? When Does Helping Become Hoarding?

Each year, some 250,000 animals are reported as victims of hoarding, and that's not counting the many cases that go unreported. At some point, we've all joked about those nutty cat people who collect kitties the way some of us amass shoes. But what's the delicate dividing line between cat lover and cat hoarder? Is it five felines? 10? Can you pull off keeping a dozen without being labeled as pathological?

For the rest of this story, go to:

5) For those of you who need a centerfielder for your baseball team that will not drop a fly-ball, you might be interested in Mochi, the cat.  Watch this video and you be the judge:

SPORTS NEWS
The Ohio State Buckeyes won again this past week and, combined with Alabama's loss, have moved into the #1 spot in both polls.  This will only last as long as we keep on winning.  This week, we visit Wisconsin, which we always have trouble with on the road.

The Pittsburgh Steelers had the week off.

PERSONAL STUFF

The 4th leg of Helpful Buckeye's Quadathlon of Northern Arizona will take place this coming Thursday, with Desperado attending as the "supporting groupie."  What she has planned for celebrating remains a surprise.  This leg will take longer than the previous 3 events.  More on that next week.

Helpful Buckeye saw another tarantula yesterday while biking, the first one I've seen since Labor Day weekend.  This is the more normal time of year to see them.

This hasn't been a good week for some of Helpful Buckeye's favorite creative people.  A week ago, Stephen Cannell passed away.  He was a prolific novel writer (I've read all of his books) and he was the creator/writer of The Rockford Files, my favorite TV show of all-time.  Then, yesterday, Solomon Burke died.  He was a singer for more than 50 years, covering country, R&B, and popular music.  One of his first big hit songs, Just Out Of Reach, with lyrics by Willie Nelson, appeared back in 1961.  You need to be in Helpful Buckeye'e age group to remember this one:

Helpful Buckeye is leaving you with this thought:

If a dog gave birth to puppies in a public place, could it be cited for littering?






~~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, October 3, 2010

NASTY PET HABITS, POOP PATROL, AND THE BEST DOG FOR YOU....

Ah, "Dog-Tober" has arrived and my friend in Flagstaff is thrilled...and so is his dog, Raven.  We'll still have a bunch of days in the upper 60s and low 70s, with over-night temperatures in the 30s and 40s...in other words, just about perfect weather.  Of course, there's always the possibility of snow...we've had some accumulation BEFORE Halloween 3 times since 2000.

A few of our readers have had some experience with bed bugs, as shown by your responses to the poll question last week.  One-third of respondents said they had experienced bed bugs "on the road" and 1 guy e-mailed that he works for a pest extermination firm and has had a lot of calls about bed bugs.  He works in suburban Kansas City and said that only about 20% of his calls resulted in identifying actual bed bugs.  The other question about making advance plans for your pet in case you die first showed that about 50% of our readers have made some type of arrangements for that possibility.  That's a pretty decent number and most of the other 50% said they would be looking into it.  Be sure to answer the poll questions this week in the column to the left.

Since this has been a slow week for any "CURRENT NEWS OF INTEREST," Helpful Buckeye decided to let you browse through some interesting photos of dogs and cats, as well as some seasonal memories, before returning to our regular "programming"...just after these:









DISEASES, AILMENTS, AND MEDICAL CONDITIONS

Anyone who has had a pet dog and/or cat for any length of time will tell you that their pet has from time-to-time shown a nasty habit or two.  Probably the most offensive of these would be COPROPHAGIA...the act of eating feces (either their own or from another animal).  This repulsive habit is actually fairly common and is most often done by dogs.  The most obvious question to arise when a dog owner sees their dog doing this is, "Why?"  Veterinarians are presented with this question frequently and the answer is not always a simple one.

COPROPHAGIA IN DOGS

Over the last few thousand years, we've narrowed the gulf of understanding between humans and dogs more than we have with any other species – until we witness dogs eating feces, that is. An owner is often left scratching his head while the dog, inexplicably proud of eating a stool, runs up to give him a kiss.

What could possibly be the attraction?

It may be hard to believe, but stool-eating is not unusual nor abnormal for dogs. In fact, coprophagia – the medical term for stool-eating – might even be beneficial. Mothers routinely consume the feces of their puppies, a practice that keeps the nest clean.

The puppies may consume feces because of their natural curiosity. Like children, puppies go through a phase in which they explore their world by mouthing it. Most puppies lose the habit in a few months to a year. By then, they've figured out that the world offers a lot tastier choices than poop.

If the behavior persists into adulthood, it could indicate a problem. The dog may not be getting the right amount of nutrients in his food or he may be fed on an irregular schedule (which means he doesn't know when his next meal is coming). Or he may not be getting enough food as a whole. Or, he may be bored, and coprophagia is one way to pass the time.

Naturally, if the behavior is caused by some nutritional deficiency, it's important to correct the imbalance. The dog may need to be fed on a different schedule, and perhaps more often. Dry food may be more effective in curtailing the habit than canned food, especially high fiber food.

Some people suggest adding Tabasco® sauce, meat tenderizer, or some other dietary supplement to make the stool unpalatable. The tactic is rarely successful; if stool itself isn't unappetizing, it's hard to imagine what is.
One of the best ways to discourage the habit is not to give your dog the opportunity to consume feces in the first place. The yard should be regularly cleaned up and the dog's access to feces-rich areas should be curtailed.

Barring nursing mothers, the majority of "normal" adult dogs have absolutely no interest in eating feces.

When Coprophagia is a Problem

Slow learners, "oral retentives," and pups in which habits are easily ingrained may continue to engage in coprophagia well beyond the accepted "norm" and may engage in it to excess. Such hard-core coprophagics continue the behavior long after their peers have developed new interests. Dogs like this, that seem addicted to the habit, may best be described as "compulsive."

Whether by nature, nurture, or a combination of factors, coprophagy rears its ugly head as a persistent and irritating habit that some long-suffering dog owners seem fated to endure. There are several different forms of coprophagy but, whatever form it takes, there are probably similar drives and predilections operating. Variations on the theme include:

• Dogs that are partial only to their own stool
• Dogs that eat only other dogs' stool
• Dogs that eat stool only in the winter if it is frozen solid (Helpful Buckeye had a client who called these "poopsicles")
• Dogs that eat only the stool of various other species, often cats

Therapy

The following strategies have met with more success, though it is important to note that results vary:

• Picking up all available stools (i.e. denying access)
• Escorting the dog into a "picked up" area and walking him back inside the house immediately after he has successfully passed a bowel movement and before he even has a chance to investigate the fruits of his labor
• Some dogs try to circumvent their owner's control by eating the stool as it emerges and for these incorrigible few a muzzle may be necessary
• Changing the dog's diet and feeding schedule so that high fiber rations are fed frequently and perhaps by free choice. Hill's r/d Prescription Diet®, a diet that contains 10 percent fiber is a good option. It may work by allowing the dog to eat to satiation without gaining weight, or it may alter the texture of the dog's stool, making it less palatable. Dry food seems more effective than wet food in curtailing coprophagia
• Lifestyle enrichment is also helpful. Make sure your dog has plenty of exercise and spends plenty of quality time with you each day. Some dogs respond when a "Get a job program" is implemented. Such a program is designed to encourage the dog to exercise his natural tendencies by means of activities like chasing, fetching, walking, pseudo-hunting, fly ball, agility training, etc.
• Teach the “LEAVE IT” command

Although some of the above measures have occasionally been found effective on their own, it's best to apply a whole program of prevention for at least six months to nip the behavior in the bud. If during this time, if the dog gets access to stool and ingests it, some ground will be lost. Hopefully, though, progress will eventually be made, even if it's one step back for every two forward.

Despite all these modifications in environment and training, some dogs persist in the habit of coprophagia. For these dogs, the obsessive-compulsive disorder diagnosis may be worth considering. Some obstinate cases might respond to the judicious use of human anti-depressants, but this should only be done on the advice of your veterinarian.

Portions of this were adapted from PetPlace.com

Some further advice and suggestions from PetPlace.com about ways to clean up your dog's feces might be helpful for those of you that simply cannot accomplish this task on your own.

Of all the chores done by pet owners, the least enjoyable is undoubtedly cleaning up their pet's waste products. An undesirable but necessary task, it is important to dispose of waste promptly and properly. Viruses, bacteria and parasites can be spread in the yard or other areas used for eliminations. Feces attract flies and other insects, damage lawns, make walking hazardous and just plain smell bad. Many communities have laws prohibiting the disposal of animal waste in the garbage. Here are some options for keeping your home and environment clean and free of waste and complying with local ordinances.

Waste Management Companies

You may be surprised to know that there are companies who deal with animal waste removal as their sole business. These services are arranged on a contract basis and you decide how often you want them to clean the area and from there you simply pay a service fee.  The fees may vary on how often they visit your home, how many pets are involved or the size of your yard. The feces are taken to locations that comply with your local waste disposal laws. If you don't want anything to do with picking up your yard, this is the best option for you.

Inground Septic Systems

Even if you have a small yard, consider installing an inground septic system. This is a plastic cylinder that is buried in the ground and functions to break down the waste by the use of enzymes and other natural processes. It requires minimal effort to install. The collected feces are deposited into the receptacle and a special packet of enzymes begins the process. Water is absorbed leaving behind odorless byproducts. You still have to clean the yard but these systems are a simple, easy and effective way of dealing with the never-ending supply of waste your pet leaves behind.

Flushable Bags

A product made of biodegradable paper is designed for use in your home plumbing. The feces are collected and deposited in the flushable bag and from there it simply goes down the toilet. The bag breaks down without causing any backups in your plumbing. These bags are a good option if you live in a home with limited or no yard space or if your pet eliminates during walks in public areas.

Do-It-Yourself

Don't be discouraged if clean-up chores are left up to you. Unpleasant as it may be, there is some advantage in picking up after your pet as it serves as a valuable health monitor. If your pet eliminates out of your line of sight on a regular basis, cleaning up the waste may be the only time you become aware of a health problem. Stool that is off-color, contains blood or mucus or has turned to diarrhea is a reason to contact your veterinarian. You may also see parasites or foreign material in the feces, another cause for medical attention.

Many innovative people are sympathetic to your plight and a variety of products have been developed to make the collection process easier. Specially made scoopers eliminate the need for bending and have spring loaded traps so they can be easily operated. There are specialized scoops with bag attachments so the feces fall right into a disposable bag. There are even scoop and broom combinations. A visit to your local pet supply store will surprise you with a variety of options.


As a final reminder, your local community may have restrictions regarding the disposal of animal waste. Check with your waste disposal company to see if special conditions apply.

NON-MEDICAL CONCERNS

The American Kennel Club has put together a quiz of several questions that might help you determine which type of dog is best for you.  Go to: http://www.pawnation.com/2010/09/08/quiz-find-the-best-dog-breed-for-your-personality-and-lifestyle/  and click on "Launch Quiz"....

Also, the AKC is interested in helping you separate fact from fiction in certain dog breed myths:  http://www.pawnation.com/2010/09/14/dog-breed-myths-can-you-separate-fact-from-fiction/

PRODUCTS OF THE WEEK

1) The FroliCat DART is an automatic rotating laser light that provides hours of fun for your feline and canine friends.  Read about the DART at: http://www.frolicat.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=F&Product_Code=RT1-001

2) The Kitty Scratcher, from PulseTV.com, provides many features of interest to your feline(s).  Check it out at: http://www2.pulsetv.com/prodinfo.asp?number=5321&msid=20758600

GENERAL INTEREST

1) PawNation.com and the AKC are giving away a year's supply of Iams dog food to a lucky winner.  Go to: http://www.pawnation.com/2010/10/01/countdown-to-meet-the-breeds-win-a-years-supply-of-iams-dog-f/ and go the whole way to the bottom of the page, enter a comment about your pet's routine.  You will most likely have to register as a "New User" but it'a simple task.  Be sure to get your comment accepted before October 15th....

2) Apparently, there is an increasing trend developing in which a family pet (usually a dog) participates in a wedding ceremony.  Read about this experience: http://www.pawnation.com/2010/09/28/dogs-in-weddings-a-new-definition-family/?icid=main%7Chtmlws-main-w%7Cdl10%7Csec3_lnk2%7C173931

3) OK, this dancing poodle isn't as impressive as the meringue-performing dog from last week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats, but it does definitely have the one move down pat: http://www.funnieststuff.net/viewmovie.php?id=1949

SPORTS NEWS
The Ohio State Buckeyes got a little scare against Illinois on Saturday.  Not only did Illinois keep the game close (as they have for most of the last 10 years) but the Buckeye QB (our Heisman candidate) sustained a mystery injury to his leg.  Top-ranked teams invariably get a scare from one of their lesser opponents...Alabama got theirs last week against Arkansas...hopefully, this gets it out of the Buckeyes' system for the year.

The Pittsburgh Steelers played their hated rival, the Baltimore Ravens, today and weren't able to continue our unbeaten streak.  It was a tough game from start to finish and the Ravens played just well enough to win by 3 points in the last minute.  Our worst enemy was our kicker, who missed 2 makeable FG attempts.

Finally, the baseball regular season mercifully came to an end today, which will allow the LA Dodgers to crawl back in their collective hibernation den to await the final disposition of our owners' divorce.  Then, maybe they can get back to thinking about playing baseball next year.

PERSONAL STUFF

Helpful Buckeye successfully completed the 3rd leg of his Quadathlon of Northern Arizona this past Thursday by climbing Mt. Humphreys, the highest point in Arizona, at 12,633 ft.  This was the 5th time I've made the climb and the trail was in worse condition than for any of the previous climbs...probably resulting from a combination of our large snowfall this past winter and the federal budget cut-backs.  Two years ago, I had 3 friends who said they'd like to accompany me on the climb and, for various reasons, they all bailed out at the last moment.  This time, I had another friend who commited to joining me and he had an attack of gout in his foot a few days before the climb...so, I did it solo...again!  The last time I had the company of a friend on top of Mt. Humphreys was several years ago when my cousin, Jeff, was visiting and gladly joined me for the climb.  Jeff's a true stud, in all the good ways!  Anyway, Desperado was right there at the trail head, waiting for me to finish the trek.  Again, she had a wonderful evening planned in celebration of my day.  If she keeps this up, I'll have to schedule many more events and the downtown Flagstaff restaurateurs will be forever grateful!  Only 1 more leg remains in this rendition of Helpful Buckeye's Quadathlon...and that will be accomplished the week after next.  Stay tuned....

Desperado and Helpful Buckeye relaxed the day BEFORE the big climb by going to see Wall Street: The Money Never Sleeps.  For those of you who saw the original 23 years ago, this will please you just as much.  Michael Douglas still impresses on the screen and the message of the movie eerily reflects recent developments.

~~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.~~