Sunday, October 10, 2010


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: and Helpful Buckeye will provide the answers.


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:   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:


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:

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


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 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.


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:

2) Also from the AKC, here's an interesting array of "10 Breeds of Dogs That Are Unusual":

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:

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:

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.


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.~~


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