Sunday, October 24, 2010


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:

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.


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:

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:

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:


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!


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:,%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:


1) For your cat's enjoyment, take a look at these "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:

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


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 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:

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:

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."


"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: 

~~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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