Monday, January 31, 2011


The ASPCA offers 5 Pet Tips for Good Health in 2011:

Maybe you've made a few resolutions for yourself this year, but how about your pet? Even small changes can make a big difference in the life of your furry friend.  If you already have a pet health insurance policy or are considering getting one, there are different levels of coverage depending on what you feel your needs may be.

  1. Check-up on your pet's health.  Set up your pet's annual check-up this year. A nose to tail exam can help your veterinarian spot and treat health issues in the early stages. Opt for wellness coverage including an annual physical exam!
  2. Brush those pearly whites.  Pledge to brush your pet's teeth regularly, and keep an eye out for signs of gum disease like swelling or discoloration. Ask your veterinarian for tips on good dental care.
  3. Watch your pet's weight.  Extra weight on a pet can result in health problems and be like a person carrying an extra 30 to 50 pounds. Hold back on treats and use a well-balanced pet food.
  4. Get your pet moving.  Is your pet getting enough exercise to stay fit? Dogs need at least 30 minutes of physical activity twice a day. Cats should get at least 15 minutes of interactive playtime a day.
  5. Prepare financially for your pet's care.  Various pet health insurance plans can help you manage unexpected veterinary costs.
The American Veterinary Medical Association advises that National Pet Dental Health Month is this February, while the accompanying "Pets Need Dental Care, Too" campaign lasts all year long. 

Helpful Buckeye has presented numerous discussions on Pet Dental Health in previous issues of Questions On Dogs and Cats.  Go to:  for a good review of pet dental concerns.

A possible stem cell treatment that would help a pet was viewed favorably by 100% of respondents.  About 33% of readers reported their pet had experienced a pyoderma.  Only 5% said they had a dog that had been stranded on an icy pond.  The real puzzle from last week's poll questions was picking the winner of the Super Bowl.  Only 10% chose the Packers, 50% chose the Steelers, and 40% chose "who cares?"  I guess that bodes well for the Steelers?  Remember to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.


1) The American Kennel Club has released their Top Ten Dog Breeds of 2010, according to AKC registrations:
  1. Labrador Retrievers
  2. German Shepherds
  3. Yorkshire Terriers
  4. Beagles
  5. Golden Retrievers
  6. Bulldogs
  7. Boxers
  8. Dachshunds
  9. Poodles
  10. Shih Tzus
The list includes the same 10 breeds as for 2009, with Beagles and Golden Retrievers switching places and Bulldogs and Boxers doing the same.  The list for all breeds is available at:

2) The AKC also has announced the addition of 3 new breeds, the Entlebucher Mountain Dog, the Norwegian Lundehund and the Xoloitzcuintli --growing AKC’s family to 170 breeds.  A general overview of these new breeds is available at: 

Of these, the most intriguing is the Xoloitzcuintli.


The Humane Society of the United States has received plenty of feedback on their association with Michael Vick.  So much so that they have issued this list of questions and answers to help folks better understand how the HSUS expects this situation to benefit dogs.  Try to read these questions and answers with an open mind and draw your own conclusions at the end about whether or not dogs will benefit.

Michael Vick and End Dogfighting

Vick's participation in The HSUS' anti-dogfighting program

The following are frequently asked questions about The HSUS' decision to allow Michael Vick to participate in our anti-dogfighting campaign.

Is Vick a spokesperson for The HSUS?

No. He is not a spokesperson for The HSUS or our anti-dogfighting campaign. We have experts on animal fighting who represent The HSUS in an official capacity. Vick has no particular designation or title.

Do you think Vick got a slap on the wrist for his crimes?

If someone commits a crime against animals, here's how events ideally unfold:

The person committing the animal crime is caught and successfully prosecuted and pleads guilty to a federal felony.

As the case plays out in the public domain, there is a wave of widespread social disapproval expressed about the conduct and a new awareness of the gravity of the problem.

The HSUS drives a raft of political reforms to passage, and there is a new attitude and resolve in dealing with this crime across the nation.

Finally, after the perpetrator is released from prison, he comes knocking and wants to do the equivalent of community service and help the leading anti-dogfighting group attack the problem.

And that's how the Vick story progressed.

Is any money changing hands?

No. The HSUS has not received any contributions from Vick, the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles, or anyone else in exchange for his participation in our community-based anti-dogfighting program. Nor is The HSUS paying Vick or anyone else for his participation. Vick pays his own expenses when he speaks at anti-dogfighting forums.

Update: In October 2009, the Philadelphia Eagles launched "Treating Animals With Kindness" (TAWK), which provides grants to animal welfare organizations to protect animals. The HSUS was selected as one of the grant recipients and received $50,000 grant, which we used to launch our End Dogfighting in Philadelphia campaign.

What has The HSUS done to leverage the Michael Vick case?

Since the Vick case put the spotlight on dogfighting, we have worked with lawmakers, law enforcement officers, community organizers, and others to end dogfighting.

Since 2007, we've upgraded 30 laws (state and federal) on animal fighting. The HSUS has trained more than 1,000 law enforcement officers on investigating animal fighting and paid out 80 rewards for tips leading to arrests in animal fighting cases. We have worked with law enforcement on more than 400 raids on animal fighting operations.

We also launched programs in Atlanta, Chicago, and Philadelphia to reach at-risk youth. Hundreds of people have participated in our pit bull training classes, which teach dog owners that their pit bulls can be friends, not fighters. We hope to expand these community-based outreach programs to other major urban areas.

There is no other animal welfare organization with an entire unit focused only on combating animal fighting.

While these efforts have put a dent in the problem of dogfighting, there is disturbing growth of the activity in urban areas. We need new ways to address the problem, and we seized on the opportunity to put Michael Vick to work because his celebrity and his unique story have the potential to turn thousands of young people into anti-dogfighting advocates.

Is Vick handing over a list of the dogfighters he was involved with?

This issue certainly came up with federal prosecutors during his trial. We doubt that prosecutors would disclose any intelligence they gathered from Vick, for obvious reasons. The HSUS never discloses our intelligence-gathering efforts in bringing these violent criminals to justice, although we constantly feed intelligence to law enforcement officials toward the goal of busting animal fighters.

Since Vick is back in the NFL, doesn't your work with him signal that dogfighting is okay and that the penalty is weak?

Given the penalties available at the time he was sentenced, U.S. District Court Judge Henry Hudson meted out a strong penalty to Vick. He paid a steep price for his crimes, in addition to serving his prison sentence. The HSUS has worked to upgrade the federal animal fighting law twice in the last two years. The penalties are much more severe now than in April 2007, when Vick's home was raided. The HSUS has been pushing for felony-level penalties for animal fighting crimes for years because that's the only way to drive criminals out of this business.

Why didn't you choose a different celebrity to connect with urban communities?

Vick was a role model for many young people, and he lost everything because of what he did to dogs. His story is the strongest possible example of why dogfighting is a dead end. Just as former drug addicts are able to reach people struggling with addiction, former dogfighters are some of the most effective voices against this crime. We realized the potential that Vick has to reach at-risk youth and pull them out of the quicksand of animal fighting. That said, we constantly attempt to recruit celebrities and others to join us in our crusade to end dogfighting and other forms of animal cruelty. We want to use all pathways to stopping the problem.

Did Vick approach you or did you ask him to help you?

When Vick was close to finishing his prison sentence, his representatives approached HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle. He dismissed their first offers, but agreed to meet with Vick after considering the potential that Vick had to reach the estimated 100,000 participants in urban street dogfighting. If there was a chance that Vick could save one dog from suffering the same abuse he inflicted, the proposal was worth our consideration.

After meeting with Vick and hearing him express his remorse, Pacelle consulted with The HSUS' board of directors and staff. Despite our utter disgust with what Vick did and our leading role in making sure he was convicted and punished for his crimes, we decided that shunning Vick forever would do no good for any animal. Vick paid $1 million for the care and rehabilitation of the dogs at Bad Newz Kennels. Now, we want him to contribute his time to attack the problem by reaching inner-city youth.

Has Vick acknowledged that what he did to dogs was wrong?

Yes. Over the course of several face-to-face meetings and during appearances at our End Dogfighting programs, Vick has apologized and acknowledged the suffering he caused. He has expressed his remorse and his desire to help more animals than he harmed by being an advocate for the humane treatment of animals. We only agreed to give him an opportunity to speak with kids if he was committed to the goal of ending dogfighting and recognized that his past actions were cruel and unacceptable.

Are you supporting Vick's return to the NFL?

We did not take a position on Vick's reinstatement to the NFL, and we did not lobby the NFL or any team to hire him. We planned to put him to work whether he returned to the NFL or not.

Is The HSUS going to boycott the NFL or the Philadelphia Eagles?

No. We have decided to try to engage the NFL and the Eagles in an effort to attack the problem of dogfighting. To this end, the Philadelphia Eagles have financed our End Dogfighting in Philadelphia program, enabling it to launch in late 2010.

We'd like to get more athletes involved, and to urge the teams to invest in this important anti-cruelty work.

Man's best friend is not a driver's best friend....

While lawmakers have been banning drivers from texting or using cellphones, many motorists are riding around with another dangerous risk - their dogs.  Experts said an unrestrained dog - whether curled up on a lap, hanging out the window or resting its paws on the steering wheel - can be deadly.  Tens of thousands of car accidents are believed caused every year by unrestrained pets, though no one has solid numbers.

"An unrestrained pet can be hugely distracting - if he is seeking your attention, putting his face right in front of yours, starts chewing up the upholstery or is vomiting because he is carsick," said Katherine Miller, director of applied science and research for the ASPCA.

The issue is drawing attention in some statehouses. Hawaii is the only state that specifically forbids drivers from operating a vehicle with a pet on their lap. But Oregon lawmakers are considering fining drivers who hold their pets behind the wheel. And some cities are taking action, too.

In 2009, 5,474 people were killed and 448,000 injured in crashes caused by distracted drivers in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  Cellphones were the top distraction: the cause of 18 percent of the fatalities and 5 percent of the injury crashes.  The agency does not track accidents caused by pets but said they are counted among other distractions such as disruptive passengers, misbehaving children or drivers who attempt to put on makeup or read.

Author Stephen King suffered several broken bones and a collapsed lung in 1999 when he was hit by a driver who claimed he was distracted by his dog.

In a crash, an unrestrained pet can turn into a deadly projectile or get crushed by a driver or passenger who is thrown forward by the collision.  Good pet owners will use a harness or carrier and secure their pets in the middle of the backseat, Miller said.  That keeps dogs from getting hurt or bouncing around and hurting others.  "A pet that weighs 50 pounds, in a 35 mph collision, is projected forward like a cannonball with 1,500 pounds of force, and that can cause critical injuries to the folks in the front seat," Miller said.  Restraining a pet also keeps the animal from running off after a crash and possibly getting hit or causing another crash or from getting in the way of first responders, she said.

In Oregon, lawmakers will vote in the next few months on a bill that proposes a $90 fine for people who drive with an animal on their lap. A similar law made it to the governor's desk in California in 2008, but then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger refused to sign it, saying it was not a high priority.

This article appeared in the Arizona Republic:

How many of you are guilty of allowing your pets to be loose in a moving vehicle???


The Xoloitzcuintli (pronounced show-low-eats-queen-tlee), or "Xolo," is an ancient, natural breed from Mexico. It comes in three sizes – toy, miniature and standard, and two varieties – hairless and coated. In the hairless variety, the skin is tough, protective, smooth and close fitting. The coated variety is covered by a short, flat coat. In both varieties, a dark, uniform color is preferred, ranging from black, gray black, slate, to red, liver or bronze, although white spots and markings are permitted. Today, this breed serves as a guard and companion.

A Look Back

One of the world’s oldest and rarest breeds, the Xolo can justly be called the first dog of the Americas. Archaeological evidence indicates that Xolos accompanied man on his first migrations across the Bering Straits. Their name is derived from the name of the Aztec Indian god Xolotl and Itzcuintli, the Aztec word for dog. With a reputation as a healer, the breed and its warm skin is often put to use in remote Mexican and Central American villages to ward off and cure ailments like rheumatism, asthma, toothache and insomnia. Xolos were also believed to safeguard the home from evil spirits and intruders.

Right Breed for You?

Typical Xolo temperament is calm, tranquil, aloof and attentive. They make excellent companion dogs with moderate exercise and grooming needs.

• Non-Sporting Group; AKC recognized in 2011.
• Toy (at least 10 through 14 inches tall at the shoulder), Miniature (over 14 through 18 inches tall) or Standard size (over 18 through 23 inches tall).
• Guard; companion.


The folks at have come up with an interesting assortment of hand-made cat toys.  Go to:  and click through the photos of 10 selections.


1) Dr. Noel Fitzpatrick is a workaholic. He sleeps in his office, works hours on end and his social life is pretty much non-existent.  Why does he do it? For animals like Mitzi, Oscar and Yogi.

Fitzpatrick, who runs Fitzpatrick Referrals in Surrey, England, is the world’s first vet to use prosthetics that give animals a new — pain-free — lease on life.  The neuro-orthopedic surgeon has pioneered biotechnology in animals, giving dogs and cats artificial limbs thanks to a blend of science, technology and art.

Read more about Dr. Fitzpatrick's efforts in thus interesting account from the Toronto Star:

2) Continuing with the international theme, as incomes surge in economically booming India, pet lovers are driving the growth of a whole range of new trends, from organic pet toys to crystal healing and even nail painting for cats.

The pet care market in India has risen from $31 million in 2003 to $64.34 million last year, says pet care magazine Creature Companion quoting Euromonitor International, as millions of people moved into the middle class and disposable incomes grew.  Pet care services such as grooming, pet-sitting and boarding are becoming hugely popular, while the rapid spread of the Internet has also boosted virtual stores and digital networking platforms to such an extent that the market is projected to double yet again, to $144 million, by 2015.

Further details at:

3) Do dogs like to wear clothes?  According to the folks at Virbac Animal Health, the answer may very well be yes. Since pets have become accustomed to living in controlled, cozy environments (just like us) they may need a little padding when going outside. Many veterinarians suggest extra protection for dogs living in cold climates especially those with shorter coats. (Even tough breeds like Boxers and Bull Terriers!) Small and toy breeds like Chihuahuas, Dachshunds and Toy Poodles are very vulnerable to the cold. Clothing that helps the pet be more visible in the dark is also a wise choice in canine couture. Of course, the most important thing to consider is comfort and safety. The clothing shouldn’t restrict the pet’s movement in any way. It shouldn’t be too tight or too loose or it may snag on something. If a dog seems to enjoy it and there is no safety risk, playing dress up is perfectly fine.

4) Ever wonder what your mutt's made of? From designer dogs to mystery dogs, more than half of all dogs in the United States are mixed breeds.

Kate Arnell got her dog Simon from a shelter when he was 3 1/2 months old. "There were 7 puppies in the litter," said Arnell, "some looked like black labs, and two of them looked like brown labs." But Simon doesn't really look like a Lab at all. He is a large white dog with black spots, and almond shaped eyes. When people would ask Arnell what breed Simon was, she didn't have an answer. "I'd heard about DNA testing and it seemed like a fun thing to do," said Arnell. "I was just curious and interested in what the results would be for him."

Doggie DNA tests cost about $80 dollars, and there are two kinds of tests available. One, is a cheek swab test that can be done from home. Arnell used the other test, which requires a blood sample.

Keith Richter, Hospital Director of the Veterinary Specialty Hospital in Sorrento Valley, said both tests have reported to have about a 90% accuracy rate, but he said, some vets feel that the blood test is a little more accurate.

Numerous companies do DNA testing for dogs. A common one used by vets is called The Wisdom Panel. The test claims to detect 134 breeds which covers 99 percent of AKA registered dogs. According to the company, the test can detect 6 to 8 breeds in one dog, back to to the dog's grandparents.

Richter said knowing your dog's breed can be good information to have, since certain breeds are predisposed to certain diseases. "That might help the doctor narrow down what kind of disease a dog could have," said Richter.

But some vets say the more mixed your dog is, the less reliable the results are. "When people come in with a Heinz 57 dog, that's got 30 different breeds in them, the test will come back inconclusive," said Brian Loudis, a veterinarian at All Pets Animal Hospital, in Encinitas.

Simon turned out to be half American Staffordshire Terrier, a small part Dalmatian, and a bit of a surprise. "The other major component was a small terrier breed called a Sealyham Terrier, which is about a 20 lb terrier , which I was not expecting," said Arnell.

Experts say before doing a DNA test on your dog, it's a good idea to discuss it with your vet to make sure the company you choose is a science-based one.


The hype for the Super Bowl will start to build this week.  Most of my acquaintances and sports buddies are puzzled about why Green Bay, a wild card team, is favored over the Steelers.  Hopefully, it's not because the "wise guys" know something we don't know.

 Are you ready for some football???


Ohio State's men's basketball team remains in the #1 spot in the rankings after plastering #12 Purdue and then barely edging Northwestern this week.  Pitt lost a home game to Notre Dame, which doesn't happen very often.  Their #2 ranking might not be in jeopardy since the next 3 teams behind them also lost.

The San Antonio Spurs continue to have the best record in the NBA.  Their veteran players are performing like this could be another championship year.


Helpful Buckeye saw the first bald eagle of the winter yesterday.  By the time it's nice enough for an outdoor bike ride, there should be several of the majestic birds along my bike routes.  Until then, Helpful Buckeye will be content to ride the indoor bike, day-dreaming of "What might have been" and eagerly awaiting "What will be."

"Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Hopefully, all of our readers will learn something each week beyond what you have already mastered about your pets...and that will allow you to grow as a compassionate and knowledgeable pet owner.

~~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.~~

Monday, January 24, 2011


Hannagan Meadow

Winter has come to most of the mountainous parts of Arizona but not to the extreme extent of last year.  Desperado and Helpful Buckeye spent several days this past week in the White Mountains of east central Arizona and found that they are known as the White Mountains for a reason.  We stayed in a lodge that was at 9100 ft. elevation and there was 2-3 ft. of snow on the ground, leftover from their last snowfall 3 weeks ago.  However, the temperatures were in the low 50s, with plenty of sun, the roads were cleared, and the views were striking.  We went through the towns of Snowflake, Taylor, Show Low, Pinetop-Lakeside, Greer, Eagar, Alpine, Morenci, Clifton, all in Arizona, and Luna, New Mexico.  None of these towns were high on our radar before this trip, but they all played an important part in the history of the American Southwest.  More on this at the end of this issue....

Just about 20% of respondents reported having a dog that was diagnosed with lymphoma.  Only 10% of you had even heard of the La Perm breed of cat...none of you reported having seen one.  Turning those numbers around, about 80% of readers felt their pets had exhibited a 6th sense...more on this one later in the blog.  Be sure to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.


1) The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that hospitalizations for dog bites in the United States jumped 86 percent over a 16-year period, according to a recent government analysis.

This past December the Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality announced the total number of people hospitalized because of dog bite-related injures had increased from 5,100 in 1993 to 9,500 in 2008.

Also in the report, "Emergency Department Visits and Inpatient Stays Involving Dog Bites, 2008," the AHRQ estimates that dog bites resulted in 316,000 emergency department visits in 2008. These findings translate into an average of 866 emergency department visits and 26 hospitalizations for dog bite injuries every day during 2008, according to the HHS agency.

For the rest of the details and some helpful information about dog bites, see the rest of the report at:

2) An interesting report about the benefits of using stem cells for relief of pain in dogs appeared this week:

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Macha is one of those once-in-a-lifetime pets -- a tall, lean, savvy dog who lives to hunt pheasant.  Out in the field, the Labrador retriever is so focused that she shuns pats from her Woodland Park, Colo., owner, Tom Bulloch. "She doesn't want her line of vision obstructed," he explains.  Macha, who can run like the wind, was named after a mythological Irish goddess who was faster than any man or beast.
But four years ago Macha slowed dramatically. Stairs became difficult. After outings she was sore and had trouble getting out of her bed.  "She was only 6 years old but seemed like an elderly lady," Bulloch recalls.  His veterinarian diagnosed her problem as severe arthritis and suggested Macha be examined by veterinarian James Gaynor, of Peak Performance Veterinary Group in Colorado Springs, Colo.  Gaynor specializes in pain management and is one of only about 300 veterinarians certified nationwide to use animals' own stem cells in treatment for a variety of ailments.

"At the time I thought, 'aren't stem cells illegal or a political problem?'" Bulloch says. In fact, they can be used for treatment of animals. The procedure does not use the controversial embryonic stem cells that have not gotten FDA approval for humans.

Gaynor, who taught at Colorado State University veterinary school for 14 years, notes: "The procedure is no silver bullet. But we are way ahead of use in humans."  Research has shown that stem cell treatment can help an animal's range of motion and alleviate certain pain. The animal's stem cells migrate to where they are needed to repair an injury, Gaynor says. The stem cells are, in essence, anti-inflammatory, and can help regenerate tissue, bone, cartilage, liver cells, heart muscle, and some nerve cells and blood vessels.

For the rest of this story and a lot more information on the use of stem cells in dogs, cats, and horses, go to:


Helpful Buckeye has received several questions about some of the causes of bacterial infections associated with the skin of dogs and cats.  Even though these infections seem to make their appearance more so in the warmer months, they can be seen year-round, especially in states where the winters aren't very cold.

Pyoderma literally means “pus in the skin” and can result from infections, inflammations, and various cancers. Most commonly, however, pyoderma refers to bacterial infections of the skin. Pyodermas are common in dogs and less common in cats.

Bacterial pyodermas are classified by depth of infection, the cause, and whether or not they are primary or secondary. Bacterial pyodermas limited to the epidermis and hair follicles are referred to as superficial, whereas those that involve the dermis or deep dermis, are referred to as deep. Most bacterial skin infections are superficial and secondary to a variety of other conditions, most notably allergies (flea allergy or food allergy), internal diseases (particularly endocrine diseases such as hypothyroidism or hyperadrenocorticism…Cushing’s Disease), seborrhea, parasitic diseases (eg, Demodex canis…mange ), or anatomic predispositions (eg, skin folds). Primary pyoderma occurs in otherwise healthy animals, without an identifiable predisposing cause, resolves completely with appropriate antibiotics, and is usually due to the bacterium Staphylococcus intermedius or other staphylococci.

Bacterial pyoderma is usually triggered by an overgrowth of normal bacterial residents. Staph. intermedius is the most common agent isolated from clinical infections. Other bacteria may play a role as secondary pathogens, but often S. intermedius is required for a pathologic process to ensue.

The most important factor in superficial pyoderma that allows a bacteria to colonize the skin surface is bacterial adherence or “stickiness” to the skin. Warm, moist areas on the skin, such as lip folds, facial folds, neck folds, axillary areas (armpits), top or bottom of the area between the toes, vulvar folds (female dogs and cats), and tail folds, often have higher bacterial counts than other areas of skin and are at an increased risk for infection. Pressure points, such as elbows and ankles, are prone to infections, possibly due to irritation and abrasion due to chronic repeated pressure. Any skin disease that changes the normally dry, desert-like environment to a more humid environment can predispose the host to overcolonization of the skin with resident and transient bacteria.

Clinical Findings and Lesions:

The most common clinical sign of bacterial pyoderma in both dogs and cats is excessive scaling. The amount of scratching is variable in dogs and cats. In dogs, superficial pyoderma commonly appears as areas of hair loss, pus in the hair follicles, and crusty scabs. The trunk, head, and front legs are most often affected. Shorthaired breeds often present with multiple superficial swollen areas that look similar to hives or a rash because the inflammation in and around the hair follicles causes the hairs to stand more erect. These hairs are often easily pulled out, an important feature that helps to distinguish superficial pyoderma from true allergic hives.

The hallmarks of deep pyoderma in dogs are pain, scabbing, odor, and seeping of blood and pus. Redness, swelling, ulcerations, scabs, hair loss, and draining tracts may also be seen. The bridge of the muzzle, chin, elbows, ankles, between the toes, and the outsides of the knees are more prone to deep infections, but any area may be involved.

Superficial pyoderma in cats is often overlooked and underdiagnosed. The most common clinical finding is scaling, particularly over the lumbosacral area; scales pierced by hairs are a common finding. Intact pustules are almost never found. Superficial pyoderma in cats is usually due to Staphylococcus intermedius. Cats with deep pyodermas often present with hair loss, ulcerations, scabs, and draining tracts. Recurrent nonhealing deep pyoderma in cats can be associated with systemic disease, such as feline immunodeficiency virus or feline leukemia virus, and other diseases of the cat’s immune system.


The diagnosis of superficial pyoderma is usually based on clinical signs—hair loss, scaling, redness, and pustules. Differential diagnoses for superficial pyoderma include demodectic mange, skin yeast infections, and fungal infections. Diagnosis of pyoderma should also include steps to identify any predisposing causes.

Your veterinarian may need to do a culture and sensitivity for bacterial involvement, a skin scraping for a mange diagnosis, or a fungal culture before being in the position to make a final diagnosis. Bacterial culture and sensitivity testing is mandatory in cases of deep pyoderma and recurrent superficial pyoderma. Remember that a culture and sensitivity involves growing out the bacteria on an agar plate and then testing the growth of that bacteria against numerous antibiotic discs. Accurate test results are most likely obtained from intact pustules or induced rupture of deep lesions.

The most common underlying triggers of superficial pyoderma include fleas, flea allergy dermatitis, food allergy, hypothyroidism, hyperadrenocorticism, and poor grooming. Appropriate diagnostic testing and treatment for these underlying triggers is mandatory. The most common causes of recurrent bacterial pyoderma include failure to identify an underlying trigger, antibiotic undertreatment (dose too low or duration of therapy too short), concurrent use of cortisone-type drugs, wrong antibiotic, or wrong dose.


The primary treatment of superficial pyoderma is with appropriate antibiotics for ≥21 and preferably 30 days. Empiric (that derived from experience and prior observation) antibiotic therapy is appropriate in mild, first-time superficial pyodermas with no complicating factors. All clinical lesions (except for complete regrowth of hair loss areas and resolution of hyperpigmented areas) should be resolved for at least 7 days before antibiotics are discontinued. Chronic, recurrent, or deep pyodermas typically require 8-12 weeks or longer to resolve completely.  Your veterinarian will have to make the proper selection of antibiotic depending on their experience or based on the results of a culture and sensitivity.

Topical antibiotics (those applied directly to the skin lesions) may or may not be helpful in focal superficial pyoderma.

Attention to grooming is often overlooked in the treatment of both superficial and deep pyoderma. The hair coat should be clipped in patients with deep pyoderma and a professional grooming is recommended in medium- to longhaired dogs with generalized superficial pyoderma. This will remove excessive hair that can trap debris and bacteria and will facilitate further grooming. Longhaired cats usually benefit most from having the hair coat clipped.

Dogs with superficial pyoderma should be bathed 2-3 times/week during the first 2 weeks of therapy and then 1-2 times until the infection has resolved. Your veterinarian will advise what type of shampoo to use. Dogs with deep pyoderma may require daily hydrotherapy and antibacterial shampoos. Shampooing will remove bacteria, scabs, and scales, as well as reduce the itching, odor, and oiliness associated with the pyoderma. Clinical improvement in superficial pyodermas may not be evident for a least 14-21 days, and recovery may not be as rapid as expected. Deep pyodermas will require even more time for a good response. A dog or cat owner will need to exercise patience and willingness to follow the veterinarian’s advice in approaching the disease of skin pyoderma.

Portions adapted from the Merck Veterinary Manual....


The Shetland Sheepdog, or "Sheltie" as it is commonly called, is essentially a working Collie in miniature. A rough-coated, longhaired working dog, he is alert, intensely loyal and highly trainable and is known as a devoted, docile dog with a keen sense of intelligence and understanding. Agile and sturdy, the Sheltie is one of the most successful obedience breeds, but also excels in agility, herding and conformation. The coat can be black, blue merle or sable, marked with varying amounts of white and/or tan.

A Look Back

Like the Collie, the Sheltie’s history traces back to the Border Collie of Scotland, which, after being transported to the Shetland Islands and crossed with small, intelligent, longhaired breeds, was eventually reduced to miniature proportions. Over time, subsequent crosses were made with Collies. The breed worked as farm helpers and home protectors, watching over crofters’ cottages, flocks and herds from invaders of all kinds.

Right Breed for You?

Shelties love their families, but may be reserved at first with strangers. As a herding dog, they can be inclined to bark at and herd people. Shelties thrive on the farm, but adapt to many living situations if given proper exercise. The breed’s dense double coat requires regular maintenance.

• Herding Group; AKC recognized in 1911.
• Ranging in size from 13 to 16 inches tall at the shoulder.
• Sheep herder, farm dog.

1) For dog lovers, few sights compare to the sweet faces of four-legged friends as they come in for a cuddle. But sometimes snuggling closer can reveal a smell that's, well, not so sweet.  Freshening up your dog's odor doesn't always require a messy bath or pricey grooming session. The folks at Zootoo. com rounded up their favorite no-mess products to keep your pooch smelling as delightful as he looks.  Check out these 5 ways to improve Fido's smell:
2) Another review provides a selection of automatic pet feeders:
Some for dogs and some for cats....
1) Generations of people have used their animals as their own personal Doppler radar systems because dogs (and cats too) seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to predicting storms and other natural phenomenon – although it’s never been proven. However, minute changes in barometric pressure, sound levels, ozone levels, and smells may be picked up by animals with their extra-keen sensory and hearing abilities. So when a pet hides under the bed when a storm is coming, he may just be on to something. (Although the local weatherman’s job is probably secure.)  This information tidbit provided by Virbac Animal Health.
2) Gibson, a 4-year-old Sheltie mix, is back home safe and sound after spending the better part of a week freezing her tail off on a giant icy pond with steep, narrow sides, topped with a chain link fence.  Authorities were first made aware of Gibson's predicament on Sunday, when concerned dog lovers called to report that a dog appeared to be trapped on Cambridge's Fresh Pond, according to the Boston Globe. When a rescue team arrived on Sunday, they found a weary, elusive pup that workers were unable to corral.

Read about the rescue at:

As reported in the Denver Post, firefighters are advising dog owners to be very careful if their dog happens to get stuck on an icy pond or, even worse, happens to fall through the ice:

3) If you opt to itemize your deductions on your federal income tax return, you'll see a lot of emphasis on saving taxes by not overlooking common deductions. This makes sense because, as a taxpayer, you absolutely have the right to reduce your taxable income by using your available deductions. However, be smart. Make sure you claim those deductions for which you're entitled and steer clear of bogus deductions.  For those of you who might be considering deducting your pet’s expenses, think about this: If you're like a lot of pet owners, you may consider your pet a member of your family. However, as much as you may adore your furry (or scaly) addition to the family, he or she does not count as a dependent. You may not deduct the cost of taking care of your pet even if your pet incurs significant medical expenses. An exception applies with respect to guide dogs and service animals -- you can include the costs of buying, training and maintaining those animals as part of your deductible medical expenses.
This advice was a part of:

The Pittsburgh Steelers played the NY Jets today for the right to got to the Super Bowl.  And, wow, what a game!  We needed every one of those 24 points we scored in the first half.  The Jets made a game of it but had to come back from too big a deficit.  We now play the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl in 2 weeks.  That will be a great match-up between 2 franchises with a lot of history.  One of our readers, Holly, from my hometown, Greensburg, PA, sent this comment about being a Steelers fan:  "Hey Doc: Good to hear you say, 'WE also owe the Jets...' because it confirms what everyone here says, 'Once you're from Steeler Nation, you're still always part of Steeler nation!'"  Holly writes the blog, Your Mother Knows But Won't Tell You..., at

Helpful Buckeye ended up being a little hoarse and sore at the shoulder from waving the "Terrible Towel"....

The Ohio State men's basketball team went on the road to Illinois to defend their new #1 ranking and came away victorious from a really tough place to win.  The Pitt men's basketball team kept winning and will now move higher into the top 5 since Kansas and Syracuse lost yesterday.


Desperado and Helpful Buckeye really enjoyed our time in the White Mountains of Arizona.  From mountain meadows covered with deep snow, to the extreme hairpin turns of US Rt. 191 (the Coronado Trail), to the dazzling expanse of the largest open-pit copper mine in the USA, to the diverse changes of geology and vegetation, this whole area made for a wonderful exploratory foray into the regions of Arizona.  Following are some photos from our trip:

Hannagan Meadow Lodge

Open-pit Copper Mine, Morenci, AZ

Cottonwoods, Luna, NM

Bull Elks, Eagar, AZ

Helpful Buckeye is now in the process of planning our next trip to another unusual part of Arizona for the 2nd half of February.  We've even been asked by a couple of friends if we might consider letting them tag along.  By the time we're done with this, we might need a small bus for the ride!

For those of you who have wondered about the difference between knowledge and wisdom, here is the distinction: Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
Having knowledge and wisdom in the right proportions should give our pet-owning readers a good start on being successful with their pets.  Benjamin Disraeli, British statesman (1804-1881), said as much:  "As a general rule, the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information." 

 ~~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.~~

Monday, January 17, 2011


The Pacific Northwest, the Great Plains, the Midwest, and the East Coast have been experiencing the type of winter that Desperado and Helpful Buckeye shoveled through last year.  If this is the result of La Nina, instead of El Nino, it's OK with us.  Granted, our temperatures have been lower than normal but...I haven't had to shovel nearly as much snow.  Our sympathies to all of you in the other parts of the USA, but it's much better to share this stuff, don't you think?

Mark Twain had a few really good things to say about cold, wintry weather:

"Winter is begun here, now, I suppose. It blew part of the hair off the dog yesterday & got the rest this morning."  In a letter to Chatto and Windus, October 21, 1892.

"The captain had been telling how, in one of his Arctic voyages, it was so cold that the mate's shadow froze fast to the deck and had to be ripped loose by main strength. And even then he got only about two-thirds of it back."  From Following the Equator

"Cold! If the thermometer had been an inch longer we'd all have frozen to death." Quoted in Mark Twain and I

And, lastly, our good friend, "Anonymous", had this to say about snow:

"A snowflake is one of Mother Nature’s most fragile creations, but look what they can do when they stick together."

Anonymous must have been watching me last winter when I was shoveling 76" of snow in 4 days!

Anyway, the point here is that, while beautiful to behold in certain circumstances, winter and snow can add up to a bunch of trouble for your pets.  The Humane Society of the United States has offered these words of cautionary advice to pet owners: 

Keep Pets Inside in Winter

Leaving pets outside in extreme temperatures is a crime

As the temperature plummets in many parts of the country, The Humane Society of the United States is seeing a marked increase in the number of complaints of dogs and cats left outside with no food or shelter. Callers to The HSUS are encouraged to contact local law enforcement agencies because pets left outside in extreme temperatures without food and shelter are at risk of hypothermia, frostbite, and even death, placing their owners at risk of facing criminal charges.

“The act of leaving a pet outside without food or adequate shelter often receives less attention than a violent attack against an animal, but neglect is a crime. Especially in these cold months, it is important for people to bring their pets inside and for others to report neglected animals to law enforcement,” said Ashley Mauceri, The Humane Society of the United States’ manager of animal cruelty issues, who fields these calls.

Animal neglect is one of the most common forms of animal cruelty, and is investigated more by police and animal control agencies than any other form of animal abuse. Our most constant companions—dogs and cats—feel the effects of winter weather as much as we do, only they are too often cast outside to weather the storm due to a misconception that the fur on their backs will insulate them from suffering. Without proper food and water, to boot, these domesticated animals’ chances of survival in frigid temperatures is greatly decreased.

While views on animal welfare vary from region to region, laws are in place in every state to prevent needless suffering. Callers to The HSUS report numerous cases across the country of animals left out in the cold, but the organization is also working with an increasing number of law enforcement agencies that recognize the importance of intervention in these cases.

The facts:
  • Animal neglect is considered a misdemeanor crime in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
  • All but 10 states (Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico and North Carolina) specifically require pet owners to provide adequate shelter for a pet outside, the definition of which generally includes some variation of “protection from the elements or extreme weather.”
  • Felony penalties can be levied in Massachusetts and Oklahoma for any animal neglect case.
  • Felony charges can be applied in animal neglect resulting in death in California, Connecticut, Florida and Washington, D.C.
Most of our readers (80%) weren't quite sure how to feel about having a fever.  That's understandable when most of us have been taught that a fever is something to get rid of.  All of our respondents believed that the cat in reference was really 39 years old.  Nobody wanted anything to do with the "Tripe Sticks".  Lastly, about 25% reported having some form of pet insurance.  Remember to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.

Just as a reminder, you can e-mail Helpful Buckeye at: and you can leave a comment at the end of each blog issue...simply click on "Comment" and follow the instructions.


Canine malignant lymphoma is a progressive, fatal disease caused by the malignant expansion of lymphoid cells. Lymphoma most commonly arises from organized lymphoid tissues including the bone marrow, thymus, lymph nodes, and spleen. In addition to these primary and secondary lymphoid organs, other fairly common sites include the skin, eye, central nervous system (CNS), testicles, and bone. Lymphoma is reported to be the most common blood cell-origin cancer in dogs, mainly in older dogs. Despite the prevalence of malignant lymphoma, its origin remains poorly characterized. Possible causes include retrovirus infection, environmental contamination with phenoxyacetic acid herbicides, magnetic field exposure, chromosomal abnormalities, and immune dysfunction.

Clinical Findings:

Canine lymphoma is a cancer with variable clinical signs depending in part on the anatomic region involved and extent of disease. In dogs, 4 well recognized anatomic forms of lymphoma have been described:

  • multicentric,
  • alimentary (digestive system),
  • mediastinal (space between the lungs—location of thymus gland), and
  • locations other than lymphoid tissue (renal, CNS, and cutaneous).
Multicentric lymphoma is by far the most common form, accounting for ~80% of all diagnosed cases. An early clinical sign of multicentric lymphoma is the rapid and nonpainful development of generalized swelling of lymph glands. In addition to dramatic peripheral lymph node swelling, malignant lymphocytes may infiltrate internal organs including the spleen, liver, bone marrow, and other non-lymphoid sites. Late in the course of disease, when a significant tumor burden exists, patients may show constitutional signs of illness, including lethargy, weakness, fever, loss of appetite, and depression.

Alimentary lymphoma accounts for <10% of all canine lymphomas. Dogs with focal intestinal lesions may exhibit clinical signs consistent with partial or complete intestinal obstruction (eg, vomiting, abdominal pain). With diffuse involvement of the intestinal tract, dogs with alimentary lymphoma may show significant GI signs, including loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and profound weight loss secondary to severe malabsorption and maldigestion.

Mediastinal lymphoma, similar to the alimentary form, comprises only a small fraction of diagnosed cases. It is typically characterized by enlargement of the forward mediastinal lymph nodes, thymus, or both. Mediastinal lymphoma arising from the thymus may exhibit clinical signs that include respiratory distress.

The clinical findings associated with extranodal lymphoma (which may involve the skin, lungs, kidneys, eyes, and CNS) can be quite variable and are dictated by the organ infiltrated. Cutaneous lymphoma may appear as solitary, raised, ulcerative nodules or generalized, diffuse, scaly lesions. Clinical signs of lymphoma at other extranodal sites include respiratory distress (lungs), renal failure (kidneys), blindness (eyes), and seizures (CNS).


Commonly, all superficial and various internal lymph nodes are 3-10 times normal size (in the multicentric form). Affected nodes are freely movable and firm. Frequently, there is liver and/or spleen enlargement. In the alimentary form, any part of the GI tract or abdominal lymph nodes may be affected. Involvement of the bone marrow, CNS, kidney, heart, tonsils, pancreas, and eyes can be seen but is less common.


The definitive diagnosis of lymphoma is often uncomplicated and can be obtained by either cytologic (fine-needle aspiration) or histopathologic (surgical biopsy) evaluation of the affected organ system. In dogs with multicentric lymphoma, fine-needle aspiration of enlarged peripheral lymph nodes usually provides specimens of adequate cellular content and detail to make a definitive diagnosis. Despite the ease of diagnosis, cytology  is unable to categorize the wide spectrum of lymphomas with regard to the stage of advancement of the disease. Due to these constraints, histopathologic tissue evaluation remains the gold standard for the diagnosis of lymphoma, providing additional information required for definitive classification of the severity of the cancer.


Treatment of multicentric canine lymphoma with aggressive, multi-agent chemotherapy protocols is often rewarding, with >90% of all dogs achieving some clinical response. The most common chemotherapeutic agents used in combination protocols are vincristine, adriamycin, cyclophosphamide, L-asparaginase, and prednisone. Individual treatment protocols vary with respect to dosage, frequency, and duration of treatment. Advantages and disadvantages of each treatment protocol can be discussed with your veterinarian. With combination chemotherapy, the expected survival time for dogs with lymphoma will vary depending on the location and duration of the condition.

Despite the favorable outcomes expected in treating multicentric lymphoma, the successful management of other anatomic forms of lymphoma is often more difficult and less rewarding. Alimentary lymphoma, if localized, can be treated effectively with surgical removal and combination chemotherapy. However, with diffuse involvement of the intestinal tract, low constitutional reserve and severe malabsorption of nutrients and loss of proteins often results in poor clinical responses and short survival times (ie, <3 mo). The use of combination chemotherapy can afford dogs with mediastinal lymphoma considerable improvement in survival times and quality-of-life scores, but the expected median duration of remission is ~6 mo for them. Lymphoma involving other extranodal sites such as the skin, can be managed with combination therapies including surgery, radiation, and systemic chemotherapy; however, the development of progressive worsening of the disease is common.

Adapted from the Merck Veterinary Manual....


Cat Breed: LaPerm

Appearance: This increasingly popular cat breed is best known for the unusual curly coat for which it's named. "LaPerm" means wavy or rippled and, according to the LaPerm Society of America, even the LaPerm's whiskers are curly. The LaPerm's distinctive coat comes in a range of lengths, from short and wavy to long with corkscrew curls, notes the Cat Fanciers' Association. Likewise, the LaPerm's coat comes in all recognized colors and patterns.

History: The LaPerm breed was developed from humble, barn cat stock. In 1982, a bald kitten was born on an Oregon farm. Within eight weeks, according to the CFA, the kitten began to grow a very soft, curly coat. At the time, the farmer decided the cat was simply an anomaly. However, when an increasing number of bald, then curly-haired kittens appeared in future litters, the farmer decided to start controlling the breeding of the unusual cats.

Personality: Aside from its curly coat, another hallmark of the breed is the LaPerm's extremely social personality. According to the LPSA, LaPerms seek out human contact and love to rub their faces against their owner's face and neck. The CFA describes the LaPerm as an active breed, but one that is also quite content to be a lap kitty. On the whole, the LaPerm is reported to be a fairly quiet breed -- if you don't count its constant purring. LaPerms are also noted to be highly intelligent, often learning to play fetch and perform tricks.

What Fans Say: LaPerm Society of America webmaster Cathy Hurley says about her LaPerm: "I have a shorthaired LaPerm named Brisco; he is the sweetest, most loving cat I have ever had. He loves to follow me wherever I go, and he is a very good traveler. Brisco is always there to greet me at the door and cuddle with me at night. His fur is wavy and feels very airy and springy, but the best thing about the LaPerm is its wonderful people-oriented personality."

Breed information from


1)  As all feline lovers know, odors from the litter box or the occasional accident can overwhelm the house with that dreaded cat urine smell.  Although cat owners may feel like the fearful odor is an unsolvable problem, a number of products can help restore a clean, fresh scent to households.  The folks at have put together a list of 5 products they feel will help you deal with the problem of cat urine odors: 

After each product, click on the blue type and you will be taken to that information page.

2) Many pet owners use the trick of wrapping or crushing medicines and vitamins in food to help maintain pet health. Fortunately, certain pet treats now offer extra ingredients to promote wellness and help your four-legged friends thrive. Our pals at rounded up their favorite pet treats with a little "something extra" to boost your pet's health. They present beneficial elements -- from antioxidants to arthritic pain relief -- in tasty packages:


1) For any of you dog owners who have some spare cash remaining after the holidays, you might be interested in one of these "high dollar" dog houses.  To see these (8 Beautiful Modern Dog Houses From $145 - $1500), go to:

Even if you cannot justify buying one of these, they may give you some ideas for the future.

2) Have you ever wondered about signs that say, BEWARE OF DOG, and the legal ramifications of displaying such a sign?  According to this consumer advisor at the Arizona Republic, the sign might be a good idea:

3) Do you think your pet shows signs of having a 6th sense?  You know, they might be able to let you know that something is about to happen? According to a new poll conducted by the Associated Press and, two-thirds of American pet owners believe their animal companions have a sixth sense that alerts them to future events or gives them insight into their owners.  For more information on this phenomenon, go to:

4) Perhaps it's time to put aside the time-worn phrase, "A dog is a man's best friend," in favor of ..."a woman's best friend"?  Also, the phrase "working like a dog" has never been more literal than in the English town of Coventry where a 4-year-old dog named Sandie is a regular "growl Friday" for her disabled owner, Sue Line.  Sandie, a crossbreed between a Sheltie-collie mom and a Staffordshire bull terrier dad, has been doing practically everything for Line since the pooch was a tender 3 months old, including the shopping, the washing and even paying for groceries.  This is a great story:

5) In the war on roadside bombs, the Pentagon has spent billions on everything from radio-signal jammers to robots, but there's one tool that's beaten them all -- dogs.  Now, instead of trying to come up with a technology that's better than dogs, Navy scientists are focusing on how to make the bomb-sniffing dogs work better.  To learn more about this ongoing research, go to:

The Pittsburgh Steelers came from behind to beat the Ravens in a tough game.  The outcome was in doubt until the very end of the game.  Then, in a most improbable game, the NY Jets upset the Patriots.  That allows the Steelers to host the Jets next Sunday for the AFC Championship.  Granted, the Jets won't be easy to beat...but, the Patriots would have been even tougher to beat.  We also owe the Jets for when they beat us 4 weeks ago...with the winner going to the Super Bowl.

Ohio State's mens' basketball team should move into the #1 spot in the rankings since Duke lost this past week.  Pitt's mens' basketball team is still in the top 5.


Desperado and Helpful Buckeye are beginning their quest this week to see new parts of Arizona.  Arizona is such a diverse state in many is NOT just a big desert.  Our goal is to see something new each month.  More on this as it develops....

"Animals are such agreeable friends, they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms."--George Eliot, British writer (Silas Marner)

Whether sniffing out bombs or doing the chores for an incapacitated woman, dogs still want to be around a human that cares for them.

~~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.~~

Monday, January 10, 2011


The first full week of 2011 has come and gone.  How many "resolutions" have you broken already?  Did you actually make any resolutions that had real meaning?  How about resolutions you made for your pet?  According to a recent survey by, these are the most popular resolutions made by pet owners:

-- Take better care of my pet's teeth.

-- Pay more attention to my pets -- turn off the computer, ignore the BlackBerry and give my pet some love.
-- Get active with my pet, either by committing to more walks or just working toward a doggie or kitty weight-loss goal.
-- Be better about grooming pets regularly.
-- Do more obedience training, either at home or through a class.

Following through on all of these resolutions would be tough enough with just one dog.  Think about how you'd handle all of these: 
Granted, these are all noble goals but, like any other promise, they will require fairly constant attention in order to fulfill their intent.  Perhaps all dog owners should consult their dog about what the dog feels are important and relevant resolutions?  From the American Kennel Club comes this list of "Fido's Top 10 resolutions for 2011":

10. Wag more, bark less

9. Hide the toenail clippers so mom can’t find them
8. Try not to sneeze on the glass
7. Stop snoring
6. More cuddling
5. Do more volunteer work
4. To be even more loveable than the year before
3. Figure out how to open the treat cabinet
2. Stop jumping on the dining room table
1. Be nice to the cat

Helpful Buckeye thinks at least half of those would be difficult for any dog to ultimately agree to!  Most dogs would draw the line at #1, especially if they saw this cat posing:

About 1/4 of our readers said that their dog probably has access to one of the Top 10 poisons (hopefully they'll take care of that right away!).  Only about 1/5 of our respondents have ever made a resolution to help their pet lose weight (hopefully that's because their pets aren't overweight).  And...none of 26 respondents ever had a dog named "Fido".  Be sure to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.


The American Veterinary Medical Association has this press release:

The Association of Shelter Veterinarians in December unveiled standards designed to enhance the health and welfare of millions of animals housed at the nation's shelters.

The ASV Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters is based on the Five Freedoms: freedom from thirst, hunger, and malnutrition; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury, and disease; freedom to express normal behavior; and freedom from fear and distress.

The genesis of this set of standards promoting animal welfare across the patchwork of shelters throughout the country occurred in 2001 with the formation of the ASV, which today has more than 750 members. But the real work didn't get under way until 2009 when the 14-member task force started writing guidelines that take into account the broad diversity within the shelter community. The standards the task force came up with allow for flexibility, with the goal being positive outcomes. Topics addressed by the standards include sanitation, population management, behavioral health and mental well-being, medical health and physical well-being, animal handling, spay and neuter, animal transport, public health, and euthanasia.

The guidelines are relevant for all settings that care for companion animals but are focused primarily on the specific needs of cats and dogs. Originally developed for farm animals, the freedoms are equally applicable to companion animals, but, until now, had not been applied to shelter situations.

Within the shelter community is a wide range of operations striving to alleviate the homeless dog and cat problem, from large municipal facilities and private not-for-profit organizations to grass-roots rescue and even hospice organizations. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that U.S. animal shelters care annually for 6 million to 8 million dogs and cats, of which 3 million to 4 million are euthanized.

As progress is being made nationwide to reduce dog and cat overpopulation, more and more animals are spending longer periods of time in shelters. "This is a big change in mindset from a time when shelters were intended to be primarily short-term housing facilities and may not have had a strong focus on meeting the full range of animals' needs or ensuring welfare," said task force member Dr. Lila Miller.


Since Helpful Buckeye is a big music fan, we'll let Peggy Lee introduce this week's main topic.  Sit back, turn up your speakers, and enjoy one of the all-time great jazz vocal arrangements:

A fever (also termed pyrexia) is a higher-than-normal body temperature. It is a symptom caused by a variety of illnesses.  Pyrexia is from the Greek pyretos meaning fire. Febrile, or feverish, is from the Latin word febris, meaning fever, and archaically known as ague.

The ancient Greeks, who regarded disease as an imbalance of ''humors,'' believed fever cured the sick by cooking the bad humors and helping the body get rid of them. The notion of fever as being beneficial persisted for more than 2,000 years, and countless patients were actually treated with ''fever therapy'' to aid their recovery from such ailments as syphilis, tuberculosis and even mania.

Then, in the mid-1800's, aspirin compounds that rapidly reduced fevers became commercially available and the medical view of fever changed abruptly. For the next hundred years, physicians and patients focused on bringing down fevers, sometimes with such drastic measures as cold baths and alcohol rubs.

Now, the view of fever is undergoing yet another about-face, thanks to recent research that has in essence documented the benefits suspected by the Greeks. Fever, the studies indicate, evolved at least 300 million years ago in cold-blooded vertebrates as a means of helping the body fight off invading organisms.  Increasingly, medical researchers are discovering that fever has endured in mammals and other creatures for good reasons, though the reasons why are not clear. Often, a fever in response to an infection is actually a reflection of the body's defenses going into high gear. Some parts of the immune system work better at a higher temperature, which strengthens resistance to infection and increases the odds of survival. The new thinking is that mild fever can be a positive adaptation and shouldn't necessarily be treated.

''Fever has a high energy cost to the individual,'' said Dr. Matthew J. Kluger, a physiologist at the University of Michigan Medical School and one of the leading researchers in the revisionist view of fever. ''For each 1-degree rise in Centigrade temperature, the body's metabolic rate increases about 10 percent - heart rate, respiration, all the metabolic functions are speeded up.'' He added that for this costly response to infection to have been retained throughout the evolution of vertebrates, ''it must have a net survival value.'' In other words, infected animals that developed fever would, on average, have a better chance of living and passing their genes on to the next generation.

Here's how body temperature works:

 Your body temperature is set by your hypothalamus, an area at the base of your brain that acts as a thermostat for your whole system.

 Your temperature is the balance of the heat produced by your body tissues, particularly your liver and muscles, and the heat your body loses.
 When you're ill, your normal temperature may be set a few points higher as your body directs blood away from your skin to decrease heat loss.
 When a fever starts and your body tries to elevate its temperature, you feel chilly and may shiver to generate heat until the blood around your hypothalamus reaches the new set point.
 When your temperature begins to return to normal, you may sweat profusely to get rid of the excess heat.
 If you're very old or very young, your body's ability to produce a fever may be lessened.

A fever usually means your body is responding to a viral or bacterial infection.  Fever occurs when the body's immune response is triggered by pyrogens (fever-producing substances). Pyrogens usually come from a source outside the body and, in turn, stimulate the production of additional pyrogens inside the body (endogenous). Pyrogens tell the hypothalamus to increase the temperature set point. In response, our body begins to shiver; our blood vessels constrict (close); we get under the covers in an attempt to reach the new temperature that is higher than our baseline.

Pyrogens (fever-producing substances) that occur outside the body:
  • Viruses
  • Bacteria
  • Fungi
  • Drugs
  • Toxins
In summary, the body has several ways to maintain normal body temperature. The organs involved in helping with temperature regulation include the brain, skin, muscle, and blood vessels. The body responds to changes in temperature by:

 increasing or decreasing sweat production.

 moving blood away from, or closer to, the surface of the skin.
 getting rid of, or holding on to, water in the body.
 naturally wanting to seek a cooler or warmer environment.

The temperature increases for a number of reasons:

 Chemicals, called cytokines and mediators, are produced in the body in response to an invasion from a microorganism, malignancy, or other intruder.
 The body is making more macrophages, which are cells that go to combat when intruders are present in the body. These cells actually "eat-up" the invading organism.
 The body is busily trying to produce natural antibodies, which fight infection. These antibodies will recognize the infection next time it tries to invade.
 Many bacteria are enclosed in an overcoat-like membrane. When this membrane is disrupted or broken, the contents that escape can be toxic to the body and stimulate the brain to raise the temperature.

What are the benefits of a fever?

There are arguments for and against the usefulness of fever, and the issue is controversial. There are studies using warm-blooded vertebrates and humans, with some suggesting that they recover more rapidly from infections or critical illness due to fever. A Finnish study suggested reduced mortality in bacterial infections when fever was present.

In theory, fever can aid in host defense. There are certainly some important immunological reactions that are sped up by temperature, and some pathogens with strict temperature preferences could be hindered. Fevers may be useful to some extent since they allow the body to reach high temperatures, causing an unbearable environment for some pathogens. White blood cells also rapidly proliferate due to the suitable environment and can also help fight off the harmful pathogens and microbes that invaded the body.

A fever actually helps the body destroy its microbial invader. It also stimulates an inflammatory response, which sends all kinds of substances to the area of infection to protect the area, prevent the spread of the invader, and start the healing process.  Ordinarily when infectious viruses or bacteria enter the body, blood cells known as T-cells identify them as foreign invaders and alerts the hypothalamus. On being alerted by T-cells the brain boosts metabolic processes to increase the temperature of the body so as to generate a lot of heat. If still greater heat is required then it makes the body shiver so that more heat is generated through friction.

In short, the hypothalamus does not rest content till it has raised body temperature up to the required level. This results in body fever.  Keep in mind that this process is entirely natural. Further, it is also beneficial to the body because (1) the guard-like T-cells perform their tasks more effectively in the “fever” range, (2) as the viruses can not bear heat beyond certain limit they get exterminated, and (3) bacteria require iron mineral content of the blood for reproduction and as the circulation of iron constituent is reduced during fever their proliferation is automatically reduced.

Viewed in the light of above factors fever is not illness but it is the body’s response to the illness. It is a counter attack on the viruses and bacteria. After the extermination of infection, the hypothalamus brings the body temperature back to normal level.

New findings raise serious questions about the wisdom for most people of taking aspirin or acetaminophen for fevers below 104 degrees. Indeed, a number of physicians, including pediatricians, are now suggesting that moderate fevers be allowed to run their course, for they may shorten the illness, potentiate the action of antibiotics and reduce the chances of spreading the infection to others. These doctors say that fever-reducing drugs should be used with discretion, and some experts even foresee the return of induced fevers to treat selected illnesses. A form of fever therapy is being used experimentally as part of the treatment for some cancers.

Fever, the new studies show, mobilizes the body's immunological defenses against infectious organisms and, in some cases, directly inhibits their growth. Experiments with infected animals, such as fish, lizards, rabbits, and dogs, show that those that are allowed to raise their body temperatures are more likely to survive.  In one of the latest studies, people who exercised vigorously were shown to experience some of fever's effects, which may account for claims of physical fitness buffs that they are less susceptible to ordinary viral and bacterial infections.

The new understanding of fever grows out of basic studies, sponsored primarily by the National Institutes of Health, that have revealed how fevers develop and what changes they induce in the body. Various substances can prompt the development of a fever, among them viruses, bacteria, fungi, toxins, allergens and certain drugs. When the immune system detects such a foreign invader, a type of white blood cell, called a monocyte or macrophage, is activated and engulfs the intruder. Fever also combats viral infections by triggering production of the virus-fighting substance interferon by infected cells.

Though further research is needed to define these limits, science is on the verge of verifying the belief of Thomas Sydenham, the 17th-century English physician, who said, ''Fever is Nature's engine which she brings into the field to remove her enemy.''

Even though this discussion revolves around human medicine, the same principles apply to dogs and cats.

Since we started this section with a musical introduction, let's finish with one.  In memory of Elvis Presley, who would have been 76 yesterday, listen to his "feverish" description of "Burning Love"


Since one of the top 5 resolutions for pet owners is to do a better job of grooming them regularly, here's an interesting offer:

Whether your canine is a pampered lap dog or a rough-and-tumble outdoor lover, its fur can quickly pick up dirt, tangles and knots. (And your furniture and carpet can quickly pick up loose hairs!)


With the wide variety of tools on the market, you can easily maintain your dog's coat and control everyday shedding without hitting the grooming parlor. Our friends at rounded up five of their favorite dog brushes to keep your pooch's coat salon-style pristine.  Here they are, with pictures and descriptions:


1) OK, let's get this started off with a dog dancing, quite well actually, to the merengue:

Pretty good, huh?

2) One more video for this week should be enough, don't you think?  Check out this puppy making a valiant attempt to protect its food bowl from...a flock of marauding ducks:

3) Here's a report from Great Britain about a cat that is supposedly 39 years old:

Since there doesn't seem to be a way of verifying this as fact, the one thing we are sure of (from last week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats) is that the cat enjoys the most popular name for cats in 2010...Lucy.

4) Talk about appetizing snacks and treats, for pets of course!  This dog treat must be a real winner!  Yes, I'm referring to "Tripe Sticks"....

Read the description of this "Cute Pet Of The Day" and focus on its favorite treat:

Yes, this dog lives in Great Britain and that may be enough to explain this product.  It's made of the dried lining of a cow's stomach and this is the manufacturer's description:
"Green Beef Tripe contains all the essential fatty acids and juices within a cow's stomach and is one of the healthiest, most nutritious treats available to dogs. These treats are an amazing cleaner for teeth and great for overall skin and coat condition. They do have a slight odor and so we recommend that you give them to your dog outside."

5) Pet insurance is increasing in popularity, but slowly. Today, about one out of 20 pets are covered.  But its popularity isn't growing as fast as skyrocketing health-care costs. As more technologies and treatments have become available, costs have soared.  And just like human health insurance, options vary widely. Basic plans offer coverage for unexpected medical expenses such as if a kitty ate a needle and thread and needed surgery or a dog breaks a leg. But some plans will even cover routine care with vaccines; yearly exams; bloodwork; and flea, tick and heartworm prevention.

Read this short article on examples of pet health problems and their accompanying expenses, as you answer the question, "How will you pay for your pet's care?":

For a review of all our columns on Pet Health Insurance, go to:

6) And, just when you thought you could save on some of your pet care expenses, what if your dog needs braces for its teeth?  Check out this new approach to animal dentistry:

I don't think this would be covered by pet insurance....

7) Helpful Buckeye has saved this story for last because it's worthy of your undivided attention.  Linda Valdez, columnist for the Arizona Republic, has written a beautiful account, titled...Dogs: They Make Us More Human

Ms. Valdez finishes with this: "Like her canine brothers and sisters, she gives at least as much as she gets. Maybe more. For many thousands of years, that's been enough to keep dogs and people together."
The Pittsburgh Steelers, with a week off, found out that they will be hosting the Ravens on Saturday in the next round of the NFL playoffs.  Somehow, this is no will be the 3rd meeting this year with the Ravens, both teams having won on the opponent's home field.  The winner will get the chance to take on the Patriots...unless the Jets can somehow beat the Patriots first.  That would help the Steelers' chances, but we first need to focus on the Ravens.

The Ohio State football team won an exciting Sugar Bowl game, beating Arkansas.  Even though 5 OSU players will be serving a 5-game suspension next season, it still is a mystery to me how a QB from the #1 team, the Heisman Trophy winner, can get away unscathed from any punishment when his father "sold his rights" for $200,000...all because the QB says he "didn't know about it."  Gag me with a spoon!!!

The OSU men's basketball team and the Pitt men's basketball team remain firmly in place in the Top 5.  They've both had a good start on their conference season.


Helpful Buckeye came across 2 quotes this week that are worth your time.  First, from humorist Dave Barry: “The Internet is the most important single development in the history of human communication...since the invention of call waiting.”

The second comes from Theodore Roosevelt:  “Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you’ve got to start young.”

I think Dave Barry is telling us that perhaps the Internet isn't quite as important as we all seem to think it has become.  All you have to do is look around you and see how much people's lives are consumed with Internet features.  It's not out of the realm of possibility that, in the near future, humans will have trouble communicating with each other, face-to-face and by word-of-mouth.  However, all that being said, the Internet does make it possible for Helpful Buckeye to hold these weekly chats with all of you!

As for Teddy Roosevelt's wisdom, I hope we have all gotten a good early start in order to have our old age be successful.

~~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.~~