Sunday, October 31, 2010


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 could serve as a good review.


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:


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.


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.


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:


More pet owners are opting to have pet sitters come into their homes and take care of their pets when needed.  The editors at 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.


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:


1) The TUX Toy is a super-durable product that will last a long time for most dogs.  Check it out at:

2) Another fun product is the Everlasting Fun Ball, advertised as the "strongest chew toy ever":

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.


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.~~

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