Monday, February 28, 2011


Wow, did we get a good response to last week's intro on letting your pets sleep in your bed with you!  Most respondents claimed they have been doing this for years and never experienced any problems.  Only a few e-mails indicated the pet owners were of the opinion that perhaps they should consider stopping this activity.  The most interesting response was from "Bowser"...."I'm a Labrador Retriever (yellow) and my owner, Harlan, wouldn't think of not allowing me in his bed.  Harlan's favorite singing group is Three Dog Night and we all know that meant it was a really cold night if three dogs were needed to keep you warm!"

Helpful Buckeye also got several e-mails this week saying that the poll questions were not accepting votes.  Since I was "out of town and off the grid," I wasn't able to address this concern right away.  After trying a few other ways to access the Internet this morning, such as Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer, and not having the problem occur, it appears that the problem was only being experienced by readers using America Online for Internet access.  Hopefully, this won't be a recurring problem.  For those of you who were able to vote on the questions and the rest of you who sent e-mail votes, 80% said they allowed their pets to sleep in their bed.  Constipation has only been a problem for about 20% of your pets.  And, about 40% of you feel that you have too much pet clutter around your house.  Remember to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.  If you do experience any difficulty with placing your vote, feel free to send an e-mail response to: .  Helpful Buckeye will never share your e-mail addresses with anybody.


1) With a lot of the USA still getting pounded by wintry weather, many of you are still using some form of chemical to melt the snow and ice from your driveways and sidewalks.  Most of these contain irritants that might affect your pets if they either walk through or lick any of the chemical.  The ASPCA has this advice:

In the past five years, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) has received hundreds of calls about ice melt exposure. Here’s everything you need to know to keep Fido safe from salt melts till spring:

  1. Ice melts are poisonous to dogs if ingested. Dogs who lick their paws after a wintry walk may be exposing themselves to toxic chemicals like potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, calcium carbonate and calcium magnesium acetate that are present in many ice melts. Consumption of ice melts can be lethal, but only if your dog ingests large quantities.  Still, smaller quantities of ice melts can make your dog feel pretty sick.
  2. Melts can irritate dogs’ paws. Dogs’ gastrointestinal systems are not the only part of their bodies that react badly to ice melt exposure. Though paw pads are tough, ice melts can cause them to burn, become irritated and even crack, turning a daily walk into a painful ordeal for your dog.
  3. It’s relatively easy to protect your pup from ice melts.  Ways to keep your pet safe: Wipe down your dog’s entire body if she was rolling around in the snow, don’t let your dog drink from puddles of melted snow, and keep your dog from snacking on snow near any place where ice melts may have been used.
  4. “Pet-friendly” ice melts are available, but they may not be the answer. Although these types of melts tend to be considered safer, they, too, can lead to problems if the animal has been exposed to enough of the product. If you’ve got ice melts of any kind at home, keep them in sealed, pet-proof containers.
  5. If you think your dog ate ice melts, please take action. Call your veterinarian or the ASPCA’s 24-hour poison control hotline at (888) 426-4435
2) The state of Texas is considering requiring certain dog owners to carry as much as $100,000 of liability insurance on their dogs.  The bill being considered would apply to all unleashed, un-neutered male dogs over 20 pounds.  For the rest of the details, read:

3) Well, with the Oscars being presented tonight, the American Kennel Club has released the results of their poll on the best dog movie of 2010.  Yes, the winner was...Marmaduke.  Remember, they said "dog movie"...not "dog of a movie"!  The rest of the AKC dog movie awards are available at:

Desperado and Helpful Buckeye will be having an Oscar party tonight, waiting to see how our favorite movies fared.


Helpful Buckeye is finishing up the 8 most common aging dog considerations this week with "Deafness"
The two basic categories of deafness are congenital and acquired.  Congenital refers to those present at birth.  Acquired deafness may result from blockage of the external ear canal as occurs in chronic ear infections, or it may be secondary to destruction of the middle or inner ear. Other causes include trauma to the petrous temporal bone, loud noises (eg, gunfire), damage to the myeline sheaths of the nerves to the ear, drugs that are toxic to the ear apparatus (antibiotics such as gentamicin, kanamycin, neomycin, streptomycin), cancers involving the ear or brain stem, and degeneration of the cochlea (the hearing mechanism in the inner ear) in aged dogs. Unilateral deafness or partial hearing loss, or both, is possible in some of these instances. Cochlear degeneration in aged dogs is the most common cause of acquired deafness.

Diagnosis requires careful observation of the animal’s response to sound. It is helpful to consider the owner’s description of behavior and to ask appropriate questions. The response to visual, touch, and smell responses must be differentiated from the response to sound. In young animals or in animals kept in groups, deafness may be difficult to detect, because the suspect individual will follow the response of others in the group. The primary sign of deafness is failure to respond to an auditory stimulus, eg, failure of noise to awaken a sleeping dog or failure to alert to the source of a sound. Other signs include unusual behavior such as excessive barking, unusual voice, hyperactivity, confusion when given vocal commands, and lack of reflex-alerting and attention movements of the ear flaps. An animal that has gradually become deaf, as in old age, may become unresponsive to the surroundings and refuse to answer the owner’s call. These signs should be differentiated from cognitive dysfunction which has been getting more attention lately.

Hearing naturally fades with age, but you can compensate by using vibration and hand signals instead of verbal commands. Try stomping your foot to get your dog's attention. Switch a flashlight on and off to call him inside or use the porch light to signal dinner is served. Vibrating collars also work well to communicate with deaf dogs.


Helpful Buckeye has discussed the topic of Pet Trusts in previous issues.  With the state of Massachusetts getting ready to enact its pet trust law, the only states left that don't provide for such affairs will be Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Vermont, and West Virginia.  Until recently, pet owners had no legal way to leave behind money to care for their animals.

Concerned animal rights groups have asked lawmakers to enact pet trusts because too many animals are landing in shelters after the owners have died.  Unlike a will, which has to go though Probate Court, the trust takes effect immediately. That’s important, so the pet does not have to linger in a shelter while the courts cut through paperwork.  For the easy-to-follow suggestions of the SPCA on how to set up a pet trust, go to:


1) The folks at ZooToo have come up with 5 new tasty cat treats:

2) It only makes sense to have some terrific treat dispensers if you're talking about tasty treats.  Again, from the folks at Zootoo, here are 7 great ideas:


1) A really good review of the principles involved in Cognitive Dysfunction in pets appeared in today's USA Weekend supplement of the Sunday paper.  Helpful Buckeye has discussed this recently and it wouldn't hurt to read this nice review of the Alzheimer's-like syndrome found in our pets:

2) Also, a topic that has been discussed frequently here on the pages of Questions On Dogs and Cats has been pet obesity.  Now, there are a lot of pet obesity control clinics showing up in the USA.  Here is one account of just such a clinic, along with an interesting video, located in the Boston area:

Is your pet headed for one of these clinics???

3) The city of Shanghai, China, has instituted a law allowing only 1 dog per household as a means of trying to control their pet population.  Dog ownership has grown alongside China's fast-expanding middle class with official estimates putting Shanghai's pet dog population at 800,000.  The government had said tighter regulation was needed due to rampant barking, unscooped waste, and the growing risk of dog attacks, which affect the city's environment and sanitation.  Seems like the same problems are affecting the whole world.

4) OK, these folks in England claim they have the world's loudest cat.  They claim that its purr is pretty attention-getting.  To see if you agree with them, listen to Smokey purr on this video:

5) Since we're weighing in on unusual cat traits, here's one involving a "Thumb's Up" cat.  Watch this short video and see if you get the idea:

There will still be some turmoil in the top 5 of this week's college basketball rankings with losses by Duke, Texas, and PittOhio State was able to keep winning and might move back into the top spot.  The big tournament edges ever closer....

Desperado and Helpful Buckeye took a tour of the Arizona Diamondbacks' new training facility this past week down in Phoenix, on the Pima Indian Reservation.  The smell of freshly-cut grass, combined with the crack of the ball against the bat during batting practice was more than enough to get this old baseball player's heart thumping.  We even got to try a free "Indian" taco they were giving away at one of the concession stands!  Is baseball great or what!!!

On a sad note for baseball, Helpful Buckeye lost one of his childhood heroes today.  Duke Snider, the Duke of Flatbush, and Helpful Buckeye's first favorite Dodger, died today at the age of 84.


Desperado and Helpful Buckeye shoveled the driveway of one of our neighbors today and were rewarded with her special "Magic Bars"!  These are really tasty and, fortunately for Helpful Buckeye, Desperado will allow me to eat most of them!

We had a wonderful experience this past week along the western border of Arizona, an area that is not visited by very many travelers.  Visiting the towns of Lake Havasu City, Parker, Quartzsite, Salome, and Wenden provided some special memorable moments...we saw a lot that we expected to see but also, the unexpected was always right around the bend.  As I was writing this part of my blog, I came across this quote from Joseph Priestley, discoverer of oxygen, “I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning.” Our favorite experience was probably a lunch at a restaurant named, "Ingredients Cafe," along the road in Wenden.  The owners are very artistic, both in their decor and their menu creations.  We chatted with them and really enjoyed their story.  Also, we learned that Dole Fruit Company grows 90% of their canteloupes and honeydew melons in the fields around Wenden.

The Bill Williams River joins the Colorado River just above Parker Dam 

The "largest flea market" in the world...Quartzsite, AZ

Wall art...Wickenburg, AZ

More wall art...Wickenburg, AZ

Famous Sundial...Carefree, AZ

The dog hats mentioned in the title line refers to a booth we visited at the Fountain Hills (a suburb of Phoenix) Arts and Crafts show on our trip.  The vendor made fancy hats solely for dogs, which was pretty interesting...but, the real hook at his booth were his personal dogs (which modeled the hats).

Wally, Tobi, and Amos...but I really like the sign!

While at the show, we watched the fountain go to its ultimate height of 562 feet...pretty impressive!

~~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, February 21, 2011


By now, Helpful Buckeye suspects that all of our pet-owning readers are aware of the numerous news reports about the "dangers" of allowing your pets to sleep in your bed with you.  The only reason we haven't included this discussion in Questions On Dogs and Cats is because Helpful Buckeye figured you all could draw your own conclusions about the reports.  Well, a few e-mails did show up asking, "Should I be concerned about my pet sleeping in my bed?" 

First of all, this is something that has probably been going on since early humans shared their animal fur sleeping robes with their camp dogs.  Common sense probably didn't play a big part in those early decisions but it surely must in today's world.  Perhaps Helpful Buckeye is giving pet owners too much credit...perhaps not.  No matter how much publicity this topic receives, Helpful Buckeye supposes that most of you will simply keep on doing what you've been doing...either allowing your pets to sleep in your bed or not.

The American Animal Hospital Association has weighed in on the matter and this is their offering:

AAHA advises wellness care for pets that share the bed

AAHA Executive Director Michael Cavanaugh, DVM, tells pet owners that regular wellness care is the key to sleeping safely with pets.

A video on the HealthyPet YouTube channel supports the University of California-Davis report that discusses the risk of zoonoses from sleeping with pets and puts it into context.  Go to:

Cavanaugh says despite pet owners learning about the information in this study, AAHA knows they won’t kick the pets out of bed.

He admits that at least two of his pets (including two cats and a dog Zoe, who co-stars in the video)sleep on the bed every night (and will continue to do so!).

He encourages pet owners to take their pets for regular wellness checks, which will reduce the risk of problems described in the study.

Only 10% of responders said they get at least some of their pet medicine on line.  Hopefully, they haven't had any problems with those prescriptions.  75% said they have had a dog diagnosed with cataracts.  And, 25% of you have tried to grow catnip.  Just so you talked about it with your cat!  Be sure to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.


1) It has been confirmed that a cat in Wisconsin has tested positive for the H1N1 influenza virus, more commonly known as "Swine Flu."  It and another sick cat in the same household were euthanized since they weren't responding to treatment.  Here's a short review of this concern:
2) A Scottish Deerhound won the title of Best in Show this past week at the Westminster Dog Show.  Everyone who watched the proceedings seemed to fall in love with Hickory.  More at:


Constipation is one of the 8 most common aging dog considerations.  In most cases, constipation associated with aging is due to the changes in digestive patterns of the older dog as well as changes in the amount of physical activity the dog gets.  Of course, constipation in general can be a problem for dogs of any age and the resolution of it will involve controlling the things you have control over...regardless of the age of your dog.

A brief discussion at this point of the causes, treatment, and control of constipation will benefit all dog owners.  Constipation is a common clinical problem in dogs and cats. In most instances, the problem is easily rectified; however, in more debilitated animals, accompanying clinical signs can be severe. As feces remain in the colon longer, they become drier, harder, and more difficult to pass.


Chronic constipation is most common and is due to the inability to pass poorly digestible, often firm matter (eg., hair, bones, litter) mixed with fecal material. The lack of water intake or the reluctance to defecate on a regular basis due to environmental (stress) or behavioral (dirty litter box) situations predisposes to the formation of hard, dry feces. Some medications promote constipation via differing mechanisms.

Peristaltic waves are responsible for the normal movement of fecal material in the colon. Giant migrating waves that occur intermittently throughout the day move this matter farther and more rapidly. These waves are common after ingestion of a meal. A reduction or loss of this wave activity may contribute to constipation. Diet is the most important local factor affecting colonic function.


The classic clinical signs are straining to defecate and frequently the passage of firm, very dry feces. If the passage of feces is hindered by an enlarged prostate (usually in older, un-neutered male dogs), the feces may appear thin or “ribbon-like” in appearance. Passed feces are often quite putrid. Some constipated dogs will show signs of lethargy, depression, loss of appetite, vomiting, and abdominal discomfort.


A history of dietary indiscretion and physical evidence of retained feces confirms the diagnosis. Abdominal palpation and rectal examination, including evaluation of the prostate, should be performed. Plain abdominal X-Rays may help establish the inciting factor(s) of fecal retention and give some indication of what the feces contain (eg., bones).

Treatment and Control

Affected animals should be adequately hydrated. Mild constipation can often be treated by dietary adjustment consisting of avoidance of dietary indiscretion, ready access to water and high-fiber diets, and the use of suppository laxatives. Continued or longterm use of laxatives should be discouraged unless absolutely necessary to deter constipation.

In more severe cases, retained feces must be evacuated using enemas or manual extraction while under general anesthesia. Complete removal of all feces may require 2-3 attempts over as many days. Concurrent fluid and electrolyte abnormalities should also be corrected.  To prevent recurrence, animals are encouraged to eat high-fiber diets, ready access to water should be maintained, and frequent opportunities to defecate allowed.

As your senior dog ages, you should initiate a consultation with your veterinarian if the dog starts to show
signs of straining to defecate.  With your veterinarian's help, you should be able to come up with a plan that will fit your dog's life style and resolve and/or prevent any constipation problems.


Of course, the breed in the spotlight this week is the Scottish Deerhound...courtesy of the Westminster Dog Show.  Resembling a larger, coated Greyhound, the Scottish Deerhound is a keen and alert sight hound, seen often in lure coursing events and the show ring. One of the oldest breeds, the Deerhound possesses a preeminent hunting ability. The hair on the body and neck is harsh and wiry, while the coat on the head, breast and belly is much softer. Coat colors include blue gray, gray, brindle and black, among others.

A Look Back

Known centuries ago as the Scotch Greyhound, Rough Greyhound and Highland Deerhound, the Scottish Deerhound became a clearly identified breed in the 16th and 17th centuries. He was the best breed to use for the pursuit and killing of deer, and at the time, could be owned by no one of rank lower than an earl. These exclusive ownership rules nearly led to the breed’s extinction until breeders revived the Deerhound in the early 1800s.

Right Breed for You?

While he possesses a quiet and dignified personality in the home, the Scottish Deerhound may try to chase any furry animals that run past him. For that reason, the breed should be exercised on leash or in a fenced area. Although he enjoys his family, his size may be intimidating to smaller children. The breed’s crisp, somewhat wiry coat, however, is exceptionally easy to care for, requiring only brushing and occasional bathing.
  • Hound Group; AKC recognized in 1886.
  • Ranging in size from 75 to 110 pounds. 
  • Deer hunter.

Pet owners often feel that the house's four-legged residents really run the place, and the humans are just guests. If you find yourself continually stepping on squeaky toys or wondering where the leash went, you're not alone. Unless your pet is that rare breed who understands more than 1,000 words and obeys commands to put away all her toys, you may feel that your pet's clutter is out of control. Our friends at Zootoo rounded up some of their favorite products to organize your pet gear and reclaim your home.  Check these out at:


1) A dog was bitten by a rabid javelina near Prescott last week, about 100 miles SW of Flagstaff.  Just a reminder that rabies is still around and can be transmitted by an otherwise seemingly innocuous animal.  For the whole story, go to:

2) Dog owners end up walking more than 23,000 miles -- almost as far as walking around the world -- with their pet during its lifetime, a new study has found.  This study was done by an insurance company in England and they came up with some really interesting facts.  Enjoy reading:  ...then, go out and walk your dog!

3) Myth: Cats seek out people who hate cats.

Truth:  It can seem that way. A cat lover's admiring stares and "kitty, kitty, kitty" calls can be off-putting. So in a crowded room, a cat often seeks the only person ignoring her. Besides, cat lovers may already smell like strange cats, so she'll be more attracted to the cat-free-zone human.

4) Just a bit of humor for the week (contributed by my former partner):


College basketball has reached that stage at which even the top teams are finding ways to lose a game here and there.  Pitt lost yesterday on a buzzer-beater to St. Johns, a team that has beaten 5 teams that were in the top 13.  Texas, Kansas, and Ohio State, the teams ahead of Pitt, also lost this week.  This should make for a very interesting NCAA basketball tournament.


After not getting any snowfall for 8 weeks, we got a decent snowstorm yesterday and today.  To this point, Helpful Buckeye has shoveled 22" of the white stuff from this storm.  It keeps things interesting this time of the year.  Perhaps conveniently so, Desperado and Helpful Buckeye are heading south into the desert portions of Arizona tomorrow morning to check out a part of the state we have not seen before...the middle portion of the Colorado River valley.  Then, we'll head over to Scottsdale to stay a couple of nights with good friends Judy and Dave.  With them, we'll be hiking some of the trails in the McDowell Sonoran Desert Preserve.

Desperado and Helpful Buckeye will be living the words of Margaret Lee Runbeck as we make our way this week: "Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of traveling.  Being happy while moving toward a goal is just as important as reaching the goal." 

Helpful Buckeye saw several more bald eagles this week...such majestic birds!

~~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, February 14, 2011


Every once in awhile someone drops into your life unexpectedly, makes you feel really comfortable, and enriches your perspective on life.  This happened last night at a little get-together which included Desperado and Helpful Buckeye.  We met Syl, a biology professor at the local university, and really enjoyed getting to know him.  Syl, among other attributes, is somewhat of a specialist on Abert's Squirrels and has actually written a regionally-popular children's book, Rascal, The Tassel-Eared Squirrel.  Unlike a lot of other professors, Syl is not only easy to talk to, but he also can talk about things other than his specialty.  The whole evening for the 6 of us was the embodiment of these words from Rachel Carson, noted American author of the book, Silent Spring“Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the Earth are never alone or weary of life.” 

If you're interested in Syl's book, more information is available at:

80% of responses (16 0f 20) to the poll question about coyotes said they had seen a coyote around their location...not surprising!  Only 1 respondent knew that the Norwegian Lundehund is adapted to climb steep cliffs...they must have actually read the breed description.  Only 10% of responses said that their pet had gotten sick from involvement with any of the Top 10 pet toxins...that's pretty good...let's keep that number as low as possible.  Remember to answer this week's poll question in the column to the left.


There is still a lot of concern about problems that have occurred following a purchase of pet medications from online pharmacies.  This excerpt from a TV special report provides the gist of the problem: "We spend tens of millions of dollars on our pets every year in this country, especially on the everyday things they need to stay healthy. Items such as prescriptions, flea medicine, and heart worm pills can be so pricey at the vet's office. It's tempting to buy them online where those same drugs are so much cheaper. However, animal experts from local vets to the federal government say these medications could be putting your pet in danger.

Dr. Kim Hombs is a veterinarian in South Charlotte, NC. Many pet owners ask her about filling pet prescriptions online. "It used to be we did okay it but then there were more and more reports of issues," Hombs said. She's referring to health problems caused by medicines that just weren't effective. They were improperly labeled, contained the wrong ingredients, or weren't shipped properly so they were ineffective because they were stored in temperatures too warm or too cold. That made some animals sick, or worse, and Dr. Hombs stopped readily authorizing online pet pill shopping at her practice.

Even the FDA thinks it's issue enough to post a video warning on its website."

The rest of this informative report is available at: and the FDA's website for pet warnings is accessible by clicking on the blue FDA icon along the column to the left.


In last week's issue, Helpful Buckeye introduced the 8 common aging dog considerations that probably will be faced by dog owners who are fortunate to have their dogs live beyond the age of 7.
  1. Arthritis
  2. Cataracts
  3. Constipation
  4. Deafness
  5. Dental Issues
  6. Incontinence
  7. Obesity
  8. Senility
In previous issues of Questions On Dogs and Cats, Helpful Buckeye has discussed 5 of these considerations and those discussions can be easily found by clicking on that topic in the section under "Labels" in the column to the left.  This week, the topic for discussion will be cataracts.

Cataracts are an opacity of the lens or its capsule and should be differentiated from the minor lens imperfections in young dogs and the normal increase in nuclear density (nuclear sclerosis) that occurs in older animals.  Cataracts usually are classified by their age of onset (congenital, juvenile, senile). Cataracts are more common in dogs than in other species.

Cataracts are one of the most common problems affecting the eyes of the dog. There are many different forms and causes of cataract formation. They affect all breeds and ages of dogs, but certain types show up more commonly in certain breeds. The only current treatment option is surgery, but with correct patient selection the outcome can be very good.

What are cataracts?

A disruption in the integrity of the lens of the eye and its capsule results in the loss of transparency and the resultant reduction in vision. Cataracts often appear to have a white or crushed ice appearance and are found in the lens of the eye. A cataract is any opacity in the lens of the eye. The normal lens is translucent (clear), and it transmits and focuses light onto the retina in the back of the eye. A cataract within the lens may block the transmission of light to the retina.

What to Watch For

• Bluish, gray or white color change inside of the eye
• Tendency to bump into things
• Reluctance to use stairs or jump up onto objects
• Hesitancy in unfamiliar environments

Nuclear sclerosis

When a dog owner suspects that their older dog might have cataracts, the vast majority of the time the dog does not have cataracts, but has the much more common condition known as nuclear sclerosis. Nuclear sclerosis is a normal change that occurs in the lenses of older dogs. Nuclear sclerosis appears as a slight graying of the lens. It usually occurs in both eyes at the same time and occurs in most dogs over six years of age. The loss of transparency occurs because of compression of the linear fibers in the lens. The condition does not significantly affect the vision of the dog and treatment is usually not necessary.

How do cataracts form?

When the biomechanical system that maintains the normal lens is damaged, this pump system begins to fail and extra water moves into the lens. In addition, the percentage of insoluble protein increases. These changes result in the loss of transparency and cataract formation.

Congenital Cataracts: These are cataracts that are present at birth. These cataracts usually occur in both eyes.

Developmental (Early Onset) Cataracts: Developmental cataracts are those that develop early on in life. As with congenital cataracts, they may be inherited or caused by outside sources such as trauma, diabetes mellitus, infection, or toxicity.

Senile (Late Onset) Cataracts: The cataracts that occur in dogs over six years of age are called senile cataracts. They occur much less frequently in dogs than in humans. Nuclear sclerosis, which is not considered to be a medical problem, is often confused with cataracts at this age.

Inherited cataracts: Inherited cataracts in the dog may occur independently or in association with other ocular disease. More than 40 breeds of dog can be predisposed to inherited cataracts. If a dog is diagnosed with inherited cataracts, the dog should obviously not be used for breeding because of the likelihood of perpetuating the disease in the offspring.

Metabolic-related cataracts: The most common metabolic disorder resulting in cataract formation in the dog is diabetes mellitus. In diabetic dogs, the glucose concentrations in the lens increases. In addition, the increase in water causes a breakdown of the lens fibers and a resulting cataract. Cataracts in diabetic dogs can develop extremely rapidly, if the dog is not regulated. They generally affect both eyes.

Trauma-induced cataracts: Trauma from an automobile accident, or penetration of a thorn, shotgun pellet, or other object may damage the lens and a cataract may develop. These types of cataracts usually only occur in one eye and can be treated successfully with surgical removal.

 Most veterinarians have the tools with which to confirm the presence of a cataract in the lens, but it is often necessary to visit a veterinary ophthalmologist to have a more thorough examination performed. The first thing to do is set an appointment with your veterinarian to have your pet's eyes examined. Your veterinarian will know if the cataracts you see in your pet are typical of those seen in normal aging. If your veterinarian has any doubt, the vet may run some additional tests to eliminate the possibility of an underlying disease. If the data comes back suspicious, other diagnostic tests and treatment may be needed. If the tests are normal, most will give you the option of a referral to a veterinary ophthalmologist.


Treatment for canine cataracts consists of surgical removal of the lens. Currently, there is not a good non-surgical treatment for this condition. Diabetic animals that are not regulated, aggressive animals that are difficult to treat daily, or animals in poor or failing health, are not good surgical candidates. If you suspect your dog is developing cataracts, then you should work closely with your veterinarian (usually along with a veterinary ophthalmologist) to take the best and most effective course of treatment for your dog.

It is possible to remove cataracts that affect your pet’s vision. Whether or not this should be done is often debatable. Dogs and cats with little or no vision appear to lead very happy lives. Both dogs and cats "see" the world through their sense of smell as much, or more so, than their sense of vision. The rich delights of tasty food, your companionship and the scents and sounds of their familiar home remain intact in these pets and they remain quite content. If your dog has inoperable cataracts, he may require help in adjusting to his blindness. Be sure to keep objects around the house in a consistent place. Confine the dog to a fenced yard or leash walking. Most blind pets function extremely well in familiar environments.

Blind Dogs and Cats

Pets that are blind may bump into objects. But many pets soon learn to use their remaining senses to get around this problem. Those pets only appear disoriented and hesitant in unfamiliar settings. This is because your pet's sense of smell is so much better than yours. It lives in a different world - one of aromas and scents. So its world does not change because it has lost its sight as our world would.

More on the rest of the 8 considerations for Senior Pets next week....


The folks at Zootoo Review have compiled a list of 5 items that should be of benefit to senior pets.  These are:
  1. Magic Coat Pet Love Glove
  2. Ultralite Pet Stairs
  3. Extra-Giant Enclosed Cat Pan
  4. Perfect Coat Studio Freshening Spray
  5. Pet-ZZZ-Pad Heating Pad
Go to: for a further description of these products as well as links to their availability.


1) A furry, four-pawed best friend could be the key to getting your kid off the couch and away from the TV screen, a new study suggests.  Teens from dog-owning families get about 15 more minutes a week of moderate to vigorous physical activity than teens who don't have any pets, the study said.  "You can think of your dog not only as your best friend, but also a social support tool for being active," study researcher John Sirard, an assistant professor at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, said in a statement.

The rest of this study can be found at:

2) Most people may be reluctant to adopt a deaf dog, but what if they were deaf themselves?  The idea made sense to inmates at a Missouri prison who trained a deaf dachshund in sign language and then asked the Missouri School for the Deaf in Fulton to take him in.  Today, the dog named Sparky is right at home with the school's youngsters, who have taught him additional sign language. And a second deaf dog, a Boston Terrier named Petie, may be on his way to the school soon.

Read about how these 2 dogs may be the start of an interesting and very beneficial trend:

3) A while back, Helpful Buckeye presented a discussion on on "Catnip" under "Labels" in the column to the left.  Here is a nice review and some updates about catnip:

Everyone has a weakness. For me, it's salted caramel ice cream. For my dog, Lulu, it's expensive shoes. For most cats, it's catnip. Here are five things every cat lover should know about this mysterious product that drives cats batty.

1. Catnip is an actual plant.

A member of the mint family, Nepeta cataria  (aka catnip) grows throughout the United States. The plant features small, lavender flowers and jagged, heart-shaped leaves that smell faintly of mint.

2. It's easy to grow.

Cat lovers who possess a green thumb can grow catnip from seed after the last hard frost of the season. As a perennial, this herbaceous flowering plant will return each year with proper care. Keep in mind that catnip requires plenty of room to grow and flourish, much like most felines. Once it grows, you will have the most popular house in the neighborhood - at least among the feline population.

3. Most cats love it.

Catnip leaves and flowers can trigger chemicals in a cat's brain that lead to bouts of energetic euphoria or laid-back laziness. For that reason, dried catnip and catnip-laced toys make regular appearances on pet store shelves. Mary Ellen Burgoon of Park Pet Supply in Atlanta advises cat owners to sprinkle dried catnip leaves on scratching posts as a training tool. Pinch the leaves first to release essential oils, and a little goes a long way. You also can refresh old toys by placing them in a sealed jar along with a sachet of catnip. It's a great way to jump-start a fat cat's exercise regimen.

4. Use with care.

Once cats get a whiff of catnip, it's best to leave them alone until they've lost that loving feeling. Catnip also can cause excessive drooling, so you may want to retrieve those cat toys after use. No one wants to step on a soaking wet cat toy. Burgoon also suggests storing catnip and catnip-laced toys in an airtight container or a cat-proof area.

5. People like catnip, too.

Catnip also can be used for tea. The presence of a chemical called nepetalactone produces sedative-like affects in humans, making catnip a popular home remedy for headaches as well as insomnia. To make catnip tea, add one teaspoon of dried catnip leaves or three to four teaspoons of fresh catnip leaves to a mug of boiling water and let it steep.

The above information is referenced at:

4) Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote that "every sweet has its sour." Nowhere in the world of dog medicine is this quip more apropos than with respect to xylitol, an increasingly ubiquitous sugar substitute found in everything from cupcakes to toothpaste. After all, it's currently considered the most canine-toxic "human food" on the planet.  Yet few dog owners seem to have gotten the message.  By now, everyone knows chocolate is toxic to dogs. It seems that every veterinarian's office is adorned with posters telling cautionary tales of pumped puppy stomachs, with the sad eyes and foil wrappers to prove the stories. Meanwhile, xylitol's power languishes in pet owner obscurity, even as its reach expands.

Helpful Buckeye has covered this topic in the past, but this reminder of Xylitol's expanding usage in human products warrants a review:

5) A Phoenix area man has come up with a novel idea.  Dirk Van Vorris is manufacturing digital pet identification tags that can be scanned by any smartphone. Once scanned, any information the pet’s owner put on the tag appears on the screen of the smartphone.  The tag is limited to 3,500 characters but should leave plenty of room for contact information so a good Samaritan can return the pet to its owner.

Perhaps those Smartphones can actually turn out to,-lost-pets-by-going-digital

The Ohio State men's basketball team finally lost their first game of the season yesterday at...of all places, Wisconsin!  It was also at Wisconsin that the OSU football lost their first game this past season, when undefeated and ranked #1!  Maybe there's something in the water up there in Madison, huh?  Or is it the energy obtained from all that cheese?  Anyway, the Buckeyes should use this loss as a learning tool and move on toward the NCAA tournament.

Pitt's men's basketball team went on the road to Villanova, a team that always gives Pitt fits.  We were missing our best player...and still won the game!

The San Antonio Spurs still have the best record in the NBA.

Pitchers and catchers reported today...if I need to explain that to you, you're not a baseball fan.


From Epictetus, Greek philosopher, comes this thought that, in reality, forms the basis for this blog: "It is impossible for a man to begin to learn what he thinks he knows."  Our readers are always looking for more useful knowledge about their pets, right?

~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help 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, February 7, 2011


For those of you who might be wondering whether Helpful Buckeye would be able to "answer the bell" and finish this week's issue of the blog after watching the Pittsburgh Steelers essentially give away the Super Bowl, I'm here to tell you that the sun will still come up tomorrow morning (a Flagstaff sunrise shot from our deck)!  More on this later.... 

Most of the USA suffered a major dose of rough winter weather this past week.  Here in northern Arizona, we felt the grip of -25 degrees of wind chill for most of 2 days, while we watched the TV coverage of the winter storm that crossed the country.  Even though the groundhog (Punxsutawney Phil, in Pennsylvania) didn't see its shadow, we still felt the intense grip of winter.  Andrew Wyeth, the famed American artist, apparently loved winter:  “I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape—the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter.  Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show.” 

Considering the extremes of winter seen in the USA this year, Andy can have all the winter he wants...but, as for me, give me spring, summer, or fall!

Only about 40% of our pet-owning readers have their pet's teeth checked at least once a year by their veterinarian.  That number should be at least twice that high!  Let's work on that in 2011....

Most of you (75%) feel that the Humane Society of the US is not getting their message across by using Michael Vick as part of their awareness programs.  80% of respondents said they allow their pets to be loose in a moving vehicle...a true recipe for disaster!  Only 10% of you said you would pay for a DNA analysis of your dog's heritage.  Be sure to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.

Remember that you can submit any questions or comments to Helpful Buckeye by e-mail to:  and by clicking on the "Comments" icon at the end of this issue.


Certain pet treats distributed nationwide under the name Jr. Texas Taffy have been recalled because they have the potential to be contaminated with salmonella.  No illnesses have been reported, according to the manufacturer, Merrick Pet Care Inc. of Amarillo, Texas.

Salmonella can affect animals, and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products. Healthy people infected with salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Pets with salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain.

If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, you are advised to contact a veterinarian immediately.  Consumers with questions can contact the company at 800-664-7387 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST.


Do you have a senior citizen canine?  Join the crowd! Fifty percent of dog owners share their hearts with pets age 7 or older. Modern veterinary care helps many dogs stay healthy much longer.  A longer life increases the odds dogs develop "senior" problems, though. Medical help is important, but you can keep your old-timer happy and healthy with simple and/or inexpensive tips for dealing with these eight common aging dog issues.
  1. Arthritis
  2. Cataracts
  3. Constipation
  4. Deafness
  5. Dental Issues
  6. Incontinence
  7. Obesity
  8. Senility
If you are fortunate enough to have a dog live into its senior years, you will face dealing with most, if not all, of these issues.  Helpful Buckeye will go into these topics in greater depth beginning with next week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats


Not too long ago, coyotes were only found in the states west of the Mississippi River.  Now, they are present in all states east of the Mississippi as well.  Since coyotes feel comfortable living around humans and their pets, it is becoming more important to be aware of some of the concerns about this "cousin" of the domestic dog.

Valerie Blaine, a naturalist with Kane County, Illinois, presents a very informative overview of coyote behavior and ecology and what it might mean for your pets:

Coyote sightings and even periodic attacks on dogs have become part of the suburban culture. Separating facts from fiction, and learning how to protect your pets during coyote mating season, can help prevent public panic.

It's time for the proverbial Paul Revere to race through town crying, “The coyotes are coming! The coyotes are coming!”

The citizenry of suburbia will soon be up in arms, public officials will be a-tizzy, and the media will have a heyday with news about vicious maulings by these purportedly ruthless varmints.

But I'm going to head off Revere at the pass. Coyote's not just coming, he's here. And he has been here since the last public panic a year ago. The much-maligned coyotes are a reality in suburbia and knowing a bit about their behavior and ecology will help dispel unnecessary alarm.

First, let's look at when and why most concerns about coyotes are raised.

Mating season

The coyotes that have been living at the perimeter of your subdivision, at the edge of the cornfield and behind the strip mall are more visible come February because it's courtship and mating season. These wild dogs are searching the canine equivalent of Coyotes take the dating game very seriously and will cover a lot of territory to find a match. That territory may well include your neighborhood.

As with human dating, coyote courtship is an expensive endeavor. Instead of cash, however, it's calories that coyotes need.

As they pair up, they need calories in order to find and fashion suitable dens. An abandoned badger borrow may be a fixer-upper for a den, or Mr. and Mrs. Coyote may redesign a brush pile out back, or they may remodel the woodchuck hole under your garage.

Newly pregnant females also require extra caloric input. Both males and females hunt, but the males take over most of the grocery shopping when mom is great with pups. She will take whatever form of prenatal vitamins, snacks and sustenance she can get.

It doesn't matter whether the calories come in the form of Pekingese or possum, Maltese or mouse, Bichon or bunny. Coyote is not a respecter of food. Is this malicious maleficence or the ecological reality of the complex food web?

The gestation period for coyotes is roughly 60 days. The female will give birth to four to nine blind and helpless pups in late April or May. As the pups are weaned, hunting is intensified for all the new mouths to feed. It will take five to six weeks for the pups to grow and develop enough to venture outside the den. Here they enter coyote kindergarten, the beginning of a lifetime of survival education.

Adapting to suburbia

Coyotes are quick learners. From Suburban Survival 101 they work their way to earning doctorates in the field. These savvy canids have survived all attempts to wipe them out — from bounty hunting to poisoning, shooting and trapping. Now they have proved an uncanny ability to adjust to the drastic changes in habitat brought about by humans.

From prairie to farm fields to housing developments, coyotes have altered their lifestyles accordingly. They've shifted their housing needs from tree hollows to porch decks and their menu from deer to Dachshunds.

Perhaps you've recently seen a coyote in your neighborhood and are wondering if this one has friends around the corner. Probably. Dr. Stan Gehrt of Ohio State University has directed extensive research on coyotes over the past decade, focusing on the greater Chicago area.

In The Ohio State Research journal Gehrt stated, “We couldn't find an area in Chicago where there weren't coyotes. They've learned to exploit all parts of their landscape.”

Coyotes may hunt individually, so you may just see one, but they also form packs for territorial defense. Gehrt's research found that “roughly half of all urban coyotes live in territorial packs that consist of five to six adults and their pups that were born that year. These urban packs establish territories of about five to 10 square miles.”

The coyotes that don't belong to a pack roam as loners throughout the 'burbs. A coyote on its own has to cover more territory than a pack, and Gehrt's study found these individuals can range over as much as 50 square miles in one night.

“The first solitary coyote we tracked covered five adjacent cities in a single night,” reported Gehrt.

Fears and facts

These wild canines bring out people's fears and fire their imaginations. In the Wheaton, Illinois, coyote panic that occurred a year ago when several pet dogs were killed by coyotes, a Wheatonite was quoted as saying these coyotes were “enormous … possibly 80 pounds.” In fact, an exceptionally large male coyote weighs at most 50 pounds. Average coyotes range from 22 to 42 pounds, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources' Furbearer Guide.

Are they dangerous? To small dogs, rabbits and rodents, most definitely. To humans? When habituated to humans, coyotes are emboldened and may be aggressive. There are scattered reports of aggression toward humans. These habituated animals are dangerous, as many wild animals are, when in proximity to people.

There are two key points to bear in mind in the suburban coyote conundrum. Coyotes, at their meager forty pounds, are the largest predator in an ecosystem sorely lacking native predators. (Really large predators, the wolves and cougars, were extirpated from Illinois in the early 1800s.) The die-hard coyotes are a critical strand in the food web, consuming untold numbers of rodents, rabbits and other natural prey each year.

Secondly, it's up to us to prevent coyotes from becoming “nuisance animals.” The cardinal rule is to not welcome them into your yard. This translates into keeping all possible food items inside and/or out of reach — pet food, leftovers on the grill — and your Shih Tzu.

Protecting your pet

But you have to take Fido out, you say. Yes. If you have a small breed, however, you must take extra precaution when, where and how you let the dog out. A small dog in a yard bordered by an invisible electric fence is a meal waiting to be eaten. An old-fashioned fence is a better choice — not foolproof, as a coyote can easily climb over a fence, but it is at least a deterrent. There are roll bars that can be added to a fence to prevent unwanted guests from coming in.

“Hazing” has been touted as another preventive measure to make coyotes feel unwelcome. This involves making a big racket when you see a coyote, jumping up and down, waving arms and generally acting weird enough to scare the 'yotes away.

You should also be mindful that clever coyotes learn the daily schedules of people and their pets. If you let your dog out every evening at 9 p.m., chances are that a coyote is well aware of your routine and is waiting in the shadows at 9 p.m. sharp. There's an old Navajo saying, “Coyote is always out there waiting, and Coyote is always hungry.” So change your schedule a bit, walk your dog on leash close to you, and keep a close eye on her at all times.

Thus as coyote courtship and mating season is here, you will likely see a coyote or two or three. Remember that they didn't just get here and they're not invading en masse, so there's no need to panic. With knowledge of coyote behavior and ecology, we can take prudent measures to prevent conflicts in the wild kingdom of suburbia.


One of our readers, Suzanne, from Houston, saw this film clip on CBS TV and was reminded of our news item in last week's issue about the AKC accepting 3 new breeds of dog.  This video shows a veterinarian talking about the 3 new breeds:;photovideo

Take a few minutes and enjoy this selection....


1) With powers of smell far superior to those of humans, dogs can sniff out buried earthquake victims. They can unearth hidden bombs or drugs. They can also apparently detect colorectal cancer, Japanese researchers suggest.  Researchers from Kyushu University and colleagues report that a specially trained 8-year-old female Labrador retriever named Marine is able to detect colorectal cancer among patients with up to 98 percent accuracy.  A graduate of the St. Sugar Cancer-Sniffing Dog Training Center in Chiba, Japan, the dog was initially trained for water rescue and could already detect 12 types of cancer in patients' breath samples before she joined the colorectal cancer study, the researchers said.

For the rest of this unusual story, read:

2) It's that time of year again.  This is when the ASPCA compiles its annual list of the Top 10 Pet Toxins.  The list for 2010, in order from #1 to #10, is:
  1. Human Medications--The most common culprits include over-the-counter medications (ibuprofen, acetaminophen), antidepressants and ADHD medications.
  2. Insecticides--The most serious poisonings occurred when products not labeled for use in cats were applied to them. Always follow label directions.
  3. Rodenticides--Always make sure these items are placed in areas that pets cannot access.
  4. People Food--Xylitol, grapes, raisins, onions and garlic are commonly ingested by our pets and all can be toxic.
  5. Veterinary Medications--Many medications made for our pets are flavored for ease of giving. Unfortunately, that means that animals may ingest the entire bottle of medication if they find it tasty.
  6. Chocolate--Chocolate can cause agitation, vomiting, diarrhea, high heart rate, muscle tremors, seizures and death.
  7. Household Toxins--Cleaning supplies, such as bleach, acids, alkalis and other detergents, can cause corrosive injury to the mouth and stomach. Other household items such as batteries and liquid potpourri can cause similar problems.
  8. Plants--Both house plants and outdoor plants can be ingested by our pets. Keep house plants and bouquets away from your pets.
  9. Herbicides--Many herbicides have a salty taste, and our pets will commonly ingest them. Always follow label directions and keep pets off treated areas until they are dry.
  10. Outdoor Toxins--Antifreeze, fertilizers and ice melts are all substances that animals can find outdoors. Keep these items in securely locked sheds or on high shelves where pets cannot get to them.
3) Pet owners know it can be very difficult to prevent a dog or cat on a diet from eating another pet's food. Now a Houston-area veterinarian claims to have devised a simple solution to the problem.  The U.S. government acknowledged her invention with a patent last week.

Read about this ingenious concept at:

4) Spend a few seconds watching this will amuse you:

5) Most of our regular readers already know that the Labrador Retriever has been at the top of the AKC list of registrations for a lot of years.  How many consecutive years do you think they have topped this list?  Think it over...the answer will appear at the end of this issue.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers played Super Bowl XLV (45) on Sunday in Dallas.  The Steelers played giveaway in the game, turning the ball over 3 times, each resulting in a Green Bay touchdown.  Even though the Steelers out-played Green Bay otherwise, the game is all about what you do with your opportunities...and the Packers made the most of theirs.  Still, it was a pretty good year for the Steelers.  After all, with nobody expecting us to do much at the beginning of the season, we played through a lot of off-the-field problems and on-field injuries to reach the title game.  Only 2 teams made it this far and 1 had to go home a loser.  Second best is still pretty good...and congrats to the Packers and their fans!

The Ohio State men's basketball team continued as the #1 ranked team in the USA this week.  We have 3 tough road games coming up in the next 10 days, any one of which could provide our 1st loss of the year.  Pitt's men's basketball team held the #4 spot in the rankings.

The San Antonio Spurs continue to enjoy the NBA's best record.


"When life hands you lemons, make some lemonade" says the famous philosopher, Anonymous.  Helpful Buckeye got handed some lemons this week...from Charlene and Ken...and lemonade will be soon as I can find my juicer!

The lovable and very popular Labrador Retriever has been at the top of AKC yearly registrations for...20 consecutive years!  That's an amazing run of popularity, when you consider how frequently people change their minds about most things.
~~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.~~