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.~~

No comments:

Post a Comment