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.~~

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