Sunday, March 27, 2011


Helpful Buckeye suspects that all of us have been waiting for Spring...for one reason or another...except for those of you who love to snow ski.  Well, the first day of Spring was this past Monday and we got 6" of snow on our roof and flower pots here in Flagstaff!  Fortunately, the roads and ground had warmed enough that the accumulation didn't affect travel.  Helpful Buckeye did see some actual proof that Spring is making its move here in northern Arizona.  On Friday, I saw the first Great Blue Heron arriving and what was probably the last Bald Eagle to be leaving as the seasons change from Winter to Spring...and they were flying within about 200 ft. of each other.  Sort of like in a relay race, where they were passing the baton from the Eagle to the Heron.  I was reminded of the 1974 Roberta Flack hit song, Feel Like Makin' Love, in which she sings, "Strollin' in the park, Watching winter turn to spring...."  Take yourself back 37 years and reminisce:

There are two special days this coming week.  Opening Day for baseball, when all teams are equal in the standings, is Thursday and, of course, Friday is April Fools' Day, when jokes or tricks are traditionally played on the unsuspecting.  In this particular case, the jokes are being played on the fans of the teams that know, even on Opening Day, that they don't stand a chance of doing much this year!  More on Opening Day later....

Only 10% of our readers reported having a pet require surgery or endoscopic intervention to remove something it had swallowed.  About 25% of cat owners said they had offered human food food to their cat but nothing that was considered to cause a problem.  Lastly, many of you (75%) said that you do give your dog organized exercise but you weren't sure if it was enough.  Remember to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.

Each season of the year seems to present its own challenges for your pets, and Helpful Buckeye has addressed many of those in previous issues of Questions On Dogs and on "Spring," "Summer," or "Winter" under the Labels column to the left.  Since springtime is now upon us, this will be a good time to review some of the things you should be aware of in regards to your pets' health.

Springtime is just around the corner, but the gentle season could prove to be not so kind to curious pets and unknowing pet owners.  A host of risks present themselves to dogs, cats and other companion animals, and pet parents should be able to identify these potential harms in order to keep the spring days bright, sunny, and fun for all.

The list of toxic, common household items might surprise even the most veteran, conscientious owners.  Lilies, sago palm, azalea, rhododendron, tulips, daffodils and chrysanthemums are all toxic for pets. If a cat, in particular, ingests just bit of a lily, it could lead to kidney failure. Keeping indoor plants and flowers at hard-to-reach distances could be one solution, but just to be safe, owners may want to abstain from planting these and a few other flora all together.

“My family knows not to send me flowers, since I have cats that tend to be pretty inquisitive,” said Elisa Mazzaferro, a veterinarian based in Wheatridge, Colo., and associated with the American Veterinary Medical Association. “But it’s really the Lilies that are the main culprits in the springtime. Most people don’t know that.”

The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) received approximately 7,858 calls in 2009 reporting ingestion of one of the aforementioned plants and flowers. That number was out of the 195,000 calls the APCC received in total that year.

This information is particularly pertinent in light of National Poison Prevention Week, which runs from March 20 to 26, 2011. Perhaps it’s not coincidental that the week coincides with the seasonal shift, as well as with the lead-up preparations for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day and Easter.

“With St. Patty’s Day, we have the risk of shamrocks, which contain soluble oxalates, and those are very poisonous to animals,” explained Camille DeClementi, DVM, Senior Director of the APSCA Animal Health Services. “And with Easter, people should be wary of Easter lilies, in particular, but also things like chocolate, macadamia nuts, grapes and raisins, which could also put a pet into the hospital.”

Mazzaferro said she routinely treats pets that consume the fake grass people place at the bottom of Easter baskets.  “They can cause an obstruction [in their intestines],” the veterinarian explained.

As owners venture outside more to beautify their gardens and treat their hard, dried land, they should also remain aware of the harm that certain types of fertilizer and garden products can inflict on their outdoor pets. In 2009, the ASPCA responded to 2,329 calls related to fertilizer exposure, which can cause gastrointestinal obstruction and “severe gastric upset.”

Consuming flower bulbs, in particular, could result in a painful, unpleasant experience for both pets and their concerned owners, DeClementi noted.

Aside from the consumption of seemingly innocent, but truly dangerous, typical household and garden items, pets might also fall victim to one of spring’s more common, yet ultimately benign ailments: allergies.  Yes, pets can feel the effects of allergies but will exhibit symptoms slightly differently from how humans do.  “When animals inhale certain pollen they tend to get itchy skin, lick at their feet, chew at the base of their tail and get a rash,” Mazzaferro said. “We don’t know exactly what the culprit is, but we recommend certain types of testing and treatment for animals with severe allergies.”

Flea and tick treatments like Frontline and Revolution could help prevent skin discomfort, as well as protect pets from unwanted bug bites and infestations, Mazzaferro says.  Yet DeClementi cautioned that pet owners use only dog products for dogs, and cat products for cats – this tip might sound obvious, but as owners sometimes “throw the tubes into a drawer without the box, and then don’t read the instructions carefully,” she explained, it’s important to keep in mind.

This very timely advice comes from:

As pointed out above, when pets experience the discomfort of allergies, they are more likely to exhibit irritations somewhere on their skin than to show the watery eyes, runny nose, and sneezing that are likely to be seen in humans.  Here is a really good overview of pet allergies from CNN and several veterinary dermatologists and immunologists:

Spring is just around the corner -- a time when many of us simply load up on Benadryl in preparation for allergy season.  It's a little harder for dogs and cats with environmental allergies to avoid the elements. Fortunately, our experts offer cool tips to help keep hot spots and other problems at bay during allergy season.

Watch for allergy symptoms

Itchy pets are hard to ignore. "We'll hear owners say 'they kept me up all night because every five minutes they were chewing, chewing, chewing,'" said Dr. Andrea Dunnings, owner of East Atlanta Animal Clinic, who notes an increase in pets with skin allergies this time of the year.

Allergy symptoms in dogs can include excessive licking, redness ("hot spots") or hair loss.

Dr. Drew Weigner, a board-certified feline veterinary specialist and owner of The Cat Doctor in Atlanta, says that few cats actually suffer from seasonal allergies; they simply sneeze more due to physical irritation from pollen.

But cats with true allergies will typically show signs of hair loss and have scabs or open sores. Discharge in a cat's ears or excessive scratching also are common symptoms.

Monitor the pollen count

Allergy season for dogs and cats can mirror that of humans, so bookmark the pollen forecast in your area and monitor your pets for symptoms.

After tiptoeing through the tulips, Dr. Robert O. Schick, a dermatologist with Georgia Veterinary Specialists, suggests wiping your dogs' paws with a cool towel to remove pollen residue or scheduling a weekly cool water bath. Also, help all the animals (and humans) in your house and avoid tracking pollen into the house by removing your shoes at the door.

Don't ignore household allergens

"The most common environmental allergen is not a pollen but house dust mites and house dust," said Schick.

Do what you can to reduce the amount of dust in your home by vacuuming carpets well. Focus on your pet's favorite spots in the house such as under beds and near windows. Don't forget to clean window treatments regularly. Dunnings also suggests removing bedding and washing it on a regular basis using a gentle detergent that is free of dyes or perfumes.

Schick offered another cool tip: When your cat isn't looking, ice the mouse every now and then. Freezing plush toys kills dust mites. Also, "Google 'mite control' and you will find several powders that you can add to the carpet to remove mites," he said.

Call the vet before raiding the medicine cabinet

"Not all over-the-counter medications are safe for use of pets," Dunnings said, noting that many dog owners use Benadryl to help relieve some of the itching and scratching. The antihistamine "typically makes the pet kind of drowsy, reducing itching because they are sleepier," she said.

But it's easy to miscalculate the appropriate dosage for Chihuahua versus a Great Dane.

"At least call the clinic prior to dispensing," Dunnings warned.

Topical solutions provide limited relief

Victoria Park, owner of Park Pet Supply, sees her share of frazzled dog owners in search of help this time of the year. She has found success with all-natural products that are free of parabens and phthalates.

Creams that contain hydrocortisone and oatmeal-based shampoos also can help relieve itching, Dunnings said.

For cat owners, it's not that simple. Dr. William Carlson of InTown Animal Hospital in Atlanta said soap-free allergy shampoo and cool water can relieve symptoms by reducing pollen and mold spore counts on the cat's skin. But that means getting a cat into a tub, which may be the hardest task of all.

There is no quick fix

Identifying and treating the source of an allergy can be tricky, said Dunnings. That's why skin allergies and infections ranked second and third, respectively, last year among dog insurance claims submitted to VPI, the largest pet insurance company in the country.

"Allergies aren't going to be cured, they will be treated long-term," she warned. "Think of friends who are always on some type of antihistamine or inhaler."

An intradermal skin test (allergy test) will help your vet determine the cause of your pet's symptoms. The test is usually conducted by a veterinary dermatologist, and involves shaving a patch on the skin and injecting various allergens such as grass, pollen or dust. Through process of elimination, the vet can isolate the allergen and plan a course of action such as allergy shots or a vaccine. Keep in mind, treatment can be costly -- the test alone may cost more than $200.

"Their immune systems can change and they can grow out of the allergy," Dunnings said. "But a lot of dogs have yearly lifetime issues."

In cats, regular steroid injections can safely and effectively relieve symptoms, said Weigner. But he noted that potentially serious side effects make this option the least desirable form of treatment. Another option is prescribing an oral medication called Atopica.

"It works by suppressing helper T-cells, thus reducing inflammation," Carlson said. "It has clinically been shown to be safe and very effective."

Maintain monthly flea and tick treatment

One flea can wreak plenty of havoc, so maintain your pet's monthly flea and tick treatment, especially if there is a chance your animal is allergic. Topical solutions such as Advantage and Frontline are popular because you simply apply a liquid solution once a month.

Reports of adverse reactions from topical flea solutions caused the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to pursue more stringent testing and evaluation requirements as well as stronger warning labels. If you are squeamish about topical solutions, consider greener options.

Park suggests Natural Chemistry's DeFlea products, which contain a surfactant ("detergent") that dissolve fleas' waxy protective coating. She also recommends essential oils or diatomaceous earth -- a mineral-based pesticide that comes from fossilized water plants.

Pick another protein

If your pet appears itchy long after the last flower has bloomed, it may be time to focus on the food. Pets can be allergic to grains, proteins or even preservatives, and the symptoms resemble symptoms for environmental allergies.

To address the problem in your dog, your vet may suggest a food trial, limiting the dog to a novel protein such as duck, venison or even fish, along with a vegetable. Treats and table food will be off limits until the vet can determine the allergy source. Over time, you can reintroduce your pet to other proteins, using the process of elimination to determine the source.  Take an active approach to food issues by investing in a quality dog food that lists its protein among the first few ingredients.

Cat owners have one more option: Omega-3 fatty acid supplements can keep the normal immune barrier of the skin healthy and reduce secondary infections, Carlson said. Of course, cats won't mind getting their omega-3 in the form of coldwater fish such as salmon, trout and sardines either.

This review was adapted from:

Another skin problem associated with spending more time outdoors now that warm, sunny weather has returned is that of sunburn.  Yes, sunburn can happen to your pets.

Although they do not sunburn as easily as people, dogs can suffer from sunburn. Most often, dogs sustain a superficial partial thickness burn. At worst, sunburns may result in deep partial thickness burns. Full thickness burns are rare. Light-colored or hairless dogs are more at risk than other types of canines.

Types of Burns

Superficial partial thickness burns are similar to first-degree burns. Only the top layer of skin is involved. The hair (if present) may still be attached to the skin. The skin appears red and no blisters are seen.

Deep partial thickness burns are similar to second-degree burns. The surface layer and some deeper layers of skin are involved. Unlike in humans, these burns usually do not have blisters. The skin is red and some layers of the skin may be exposed.

Full thickness burns are similar to third-degree burns. The burn extends through all layers of skin and may even include tissue beneath the skin.

Immediately after the burn, the skin may look like leather or the surface of the burn may appear white.

Sunburn usually occurs in the summer months when at-risk animals (such as white dogs and hairless breeds) spend too much time in the sun.

Veterinary Care


The diagnosis of sunburn is based on the time of year and possible prolonged exposure to the sun. The skin will have characteristic signs of a thermal burn.

Blood tests are not initially necessary to make a diagnosis. Depending on the severity of the burns, blood tests may be done later to determine the overall health of the animal.


Treatment of sunburn is based on the severity of the burn.

Superficial Partial Thickness

• For these burns, the hair is carefully shaved from the burned area in order to ease treatment and better monitor healing.

• The wound is gently cleaned with povidone iodine or chlorhexidine.
• Topical creams such as silver sulfadiazine are quite effective in burns.
• Most superficial partial thickness burns can be treated on an outpatient basis with the remainder of treatment and care done by the owner.

Deep Partial Thickness

• For these burns, hospitalization is necessary.

• Intravenous fluids are necessary to provide hydration and needed electrolytes.

• Daily wound cleaning with povidone iodine or chlorhexidine.

• Daily bandage changes.

• Topical cream such as silver sulfadiazine.

• If over 15 percent of the body is burned, skin grafts may eventually be required.

Home Care

If you suspect your pet has a sunburn, veterinary care is recommended. Dogs do not burn as easily as people, so more damage has occurred to the skin than you may be able to initially see. After diagnosis and initial treatment, daily treatment with wound cleaning and topical medication may be necessary.

Preventative Care

For dogs at risk, apply sunscreen before spending time outdoors. As in humans, it is suspected that repeated sunburns may result in permanent skin damage and even possible skin cancer.

This article on sunburn is from:

Allowing your pets to get outdoors on these early spring days will give them more exposure to the skin parasites (fleas and ticks) they've been able to mostly avoid during the winter.  With some of the newer flea and tick control products currently available, your chances of keeping these parasites out of the house are much improved.

Have you heard the expression, "If you lie down with dogs, you'll get up with fleas"? It might be a useful idiom when taken as advice to be careful about who you spend time with, but given the advances in veterinary medicine, it just shouldn't be true anymore when you're talking about actual dogs.

The prescription flea-killing products that are available to pet owners today are so effective that there really is no longer a good excuse to have a pet with fleas.  If these "spot-on" compounds are used as directed on each dog and cat in your home for even just a few months, they have the ability to eliminate fleas from your home for good — as long as you practice a few other good house-keeping tasks regularly.

Pet beds should be washed frequently; the water kills flea eggs and flea larvae. Hard floors should be washed regularly for the same reason; all carpets in the house should receive frequent and thorough vacuuming.

If the house is currently infested with fleas, treat the pets, vacuum the whole house super well, and then change the vacuum bag. Seal the old one in a plastic garbage bag and throw it away, so the eggs and larvae can't hatch in your vacuum and escape back into your home.

If you have cats who come and go from your home, make sure you treat them with one of the spot-on flea treatments, too. They may be picking up fleas in their travels and bringing the bloodsucking creatures home. If the cats are dosed regularly, you'll close this revolving door of flea-induced misery.

Make sure you use only preparations intended for cats on cats; some of the treatments that are prescribed for dogs are lethal to cats. If your dog and cat sleep together or on the same bed, mention this to your veterinarian so she can prescribe a flea-treatment for your dog that won't hurt the cat.

Also, occasionally change the product that you buy to prevent fleas from biting your pets. Over a number of generations, a local flea population can grow resistant to a single chemical, so switch up what you use, at least once or twice a year.

Flea bites are the No. 1 cause of allergies in dogs and cats, and in these hypersensitive individuals, even just a few flea bites can cause intense itching and scratching, to the point that the pet develops wounds and secondary infections from the self-mutilation. Even pets who are not allergic to flea bites suffer a certain amount from the local irritation of a bite.

Fleas can also transmit other diseases and infections. Were you aware that dogs and cats can get tapeworms from ingesting a tapeworm-infested flea in the course of licking themselves? Then you'll need medications for treating tapeworms and fleas from your veterinarian!

What about flea collars, shampoos, dips, and powders? All of these products are old technology — not as effective as the modern once-a-month "spot on" products. While they may be far less expensive to purchase — not least in part because they don't require a visit to the veterinarian and a prescription — ultimately, they will cost you more, because they don't work nearly as well.

When your pet is keeping you up all night and driving you crazy with his incessant scratching and chewing due to a full-blown allergy to flea bites, you'll realize the highly effective prescription preparations are worth the price.

This information on fleas and ticks is available at:

and here is more information on specific tick-related problems:

Yesterday my youngest dog, Bibi, came in with the first sign of spring: a tick crawling across the top of her forehead. True, she noses in the absolutely worst places, but the ticks are out, the spring molt has started, and it's time to think about all the blood-borne, tick-carried diseases that dogs, cats and humans can catch.

Lyme is the big player. Borrelia burgdorferi is the causative organism; its symptoms include fever, joint pain and lameness. In years of a bumper crop of acorns, where mice and deer are well-fed, Lyme disease tends to have a heavier incidence. This spring will have an abundant 25-year acorn crop; you can imagine what this portends.

Tick prevention is key locally; Revolution, Frontline and PrevenTic collars are excellent products for this purpose. Remember, if your dog sleeps in your bed, she must be adequately protected for you to be adequately protected.

Lyme vaccines are recommended as well; ask your veterinarian about this effective immunization. But vaccines are not a substitute for preventive products.

Other diseases that we see commonly carried by ticks are ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and babesiosis. The first is similar in effect to Lyme, although other signs can include clotting disorders and a tendency to bleed abnormally. This disease can have fatal consequences; see your vet if your dog comes down with lameness, fever or any signs of blood in urine or stool.

Ticks tend to be very active in late winter and early spring, with numbers decreasing as the year progresses.

Prevention is your pet's best friend, and starting today.

Taken from:

OK, all this preparation for getting your pets ready for springtime concerns has reached a saturation point for this week.  Next week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats will finish the rest of this discussion on getting ready for spring.  Be there....

Well, it just wasn't meant to be for the Ohio State Buckeyes in the NCAA tournament.  The Buckeyes stayed strong all season by having an offense that kept the ball well distributed.  However, Kentucky was able to disrupt the Buckeyes' offense throughout the whole game.  Then, when it really counted, one of Kentucky's freshmen sank the 15 footer that provided the victory margin.  My compliments to Kentucky for doing what no other team was able to accomplish this year against the Buckeyes.

Even though I'll be watching the rest of the games in the tournament, it will be mostly for just seeing good college basketball rather than having a personal rooting interest in a certain team.  For that reason, it is with great pleasure to know that Opening Day is this week.  The LA Dodgers have a new manager but still pretty much the same players as last year.  All of our young stars are a year older and, hopefully, they will be playing even better this season.  Helpful Buckeye plans to see several Dodger games in Phoenix versus the AZ Diamondbacks this year as they try to get back the NL West division title from the SF Giants.


Desperado and Helpful Buckeye saw the movie, The Lincoln Lawyer, this week and really enjoyed it.  Helpful Buckeye has read all 22 of Michael Connelly's books and it's great to see one of them on the big screen.  Interesting storyline, great acting, and a cool soundtrack all made for a wonderful afternoon.

Another chapter in our "See Arizona" goal will unfold later this week....

~~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.~~

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Wow, can you believe the size of the moon the last two evenings?  Astronomers tell us the moon hasn't been this close to Earth in 20 years and it will be another 20 years before it happens again.  To be that close to Earth, especially during the "Full" phase, the amount of moonlight was just about enough to read in.  Any dogs prone to howling at the moon were most likely quite busy doing so...and keeping their owners awake!

Judging from the response from our readers to last week's poll questions, almost none of you feels that a service tax on veterinary care should be part of the solution to a state's budget woes.  Many of you e-mailed that you saw this tax as an unfair burden on pet owners and would rather see an across-the-board adjustment such as an increase in the sales tax.  Also, no one was surprised that dogs generally cost more than cats to take care of.  Be sure to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.

Helpful Buckeye's question of the week, "What Do You Feed Your Pets?", would probably be answered in as many different ways as there are pet owners.  However, Helpful Buckeye hopes that none of your answers would be the same as this description. 

Edgar and Liliane Kaufmann (wealthy Pittsburgh department store owners) had famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright design them what was later hailed as the "most architecturally significant private residence in the United States."  Known as Fallingwater, and located just east of Helpful Buckeye's hometown of Greensburg, PA, this home of the Kaufmanns' attracted attention for a lot of reasons.  Desperado and Helpful Buckeye have toured Fallingwater several times and always came away with a great sense of awe at how Mr. Wright  blended the beautiful home into the waterfall setting. 

Be all that as it may, Mrs. Kaufmann had 6 long-haired Dachshunds which she dearly loved.  Suzanne Martinson, in her book, The Fallingwater Cookbook, a recounting of the Kaufmanns' cook, Elsie Henderson's recipes and memories, tells us that, Liliane's dogs ate meat, and only the best meat.  The deliveryman bragged that he delivered meat for the Kaufmanns (in the 1950s), not realizing it was for the dachshunds.  "I was told that during the war years someone told Mrs. Kaufmann it was sinful to feed the dogs Grade A meat when most people were rationed," Elsie remembers.  Liliane replied, "I don't give a damn.  My dogs didn't start the war!"  On weekends, it fell to Elsie to prepare the dogs' bacon and eggs for breakfast.  She'd fry a pound and a half of bacon until it was dry, and then scramble a dozen eggs.  "I crumbled the bacon up in them.  The plates went up to Mrs. Kaufmann's room, so she could watch them eat."  On Friday nights, the dogs dined on whitefish poached in milk.  Elsie came to have her own affection for the animals.  And if Edgar Sr. didn't love his wife's dachshunds, he acted as if he did.

Every veterinarian (at least the ones who take care of dogs and cats) talks to pet owners several times a day about what they should be feeding their pets.  In the way of a brief summary of these conversations, this news report from Detroit is a review for you:

Veterinarians, technicians and students from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University will be at the Detroit Kennel Club Dog Shows to answer questions about pets and nutrition, as well as other health issues. Sarah Abood, an assistant dean at the school, talked to the Free Press ahead of time.

QUESTION: What is the most important thing that pet owners should know about diet?

ANSWER: Dog and cat owners should look for commercial diets that are complete and balanced; this means the food meets minimal nutrient needs for healthy growing or adult animals. ... Pet owners should know that healthy adult dogs and cats have relatively low nutritional needs and they should make sure their pet doesn't gain too much weight from high-calorie foods.

Q: What are the dangers of having an obese pet?

A: There are multiple health concerns associated with obesity that can decrease a dog or cat's quality of life (or shorten their life span), including diabetes, heart and lung diseases, bone and joint problems, skin conditions, and/or cancer.

Q: What is the ideal diet?

A: There is no single ideal or optimal pet food that meets the needs of all dogs or cats. Our pets are individuals and need to be treated as such. Every pet owner should work toward regular activity and a consistent, balanced diet. Owners should be coached on how much to feed so that they don't overfeed their pet. Treats are OK, but should be offered in small quantities (no bigger than the size of your thumbnail) and sparingly. While most commercial cat treats are fewer than 10 calories per piece, most dog treats are quite high in excess calories. Portion control is critical!

Q: Is there a danger in feeding people food to a pet?

A: Yes. Some foods that people eat are toxic to dogs and cats. Foods with nutritious or healthful properties for humans, like grapes, garlic or onions can create life-threatening health issues for our pets. Many processed foods that people eat for lunch contain as many calories as a pet needs in 2 or 3 days. Whenever a pet owner is in doubt, he or she should consult with a veterinarian.

This Detroit Free Press article can be found at:

Well, all that being said, as much as veterinarians would like their clients to be careful what their pets are eating, dogs still will eat just about anything.  Read what this veterinarian in Vancouver has discovered:

A toupee, a piece of Mr. Potato Head, a light bulb, a diamond ring.

These are just some of the items Vancouver veterinarian Eugene Gorodetsky has found in the stomachs and intestines of dogs, cats, lizards and other pets in 10 years of doing animal endoscopy.

“I’ve removed hundreds of objects,” he said. “Some of the stories I’ve heard are pretty entertaining.”

Gorodetsky spoke about his work in the growing field of animal endoscopy to draw attention to the dangers of swallowing foreign objects and his method of treatment, which he claims is safer, less invasive and cheaper than surgery.

“The knee-jerk reaction for many veterinarians is to do surgery,” he said. “Through endoscopy, I can usually retrieve about 95 per cent of [foreign] objects.”

Gorodetsky, who is one of a handful of vets who uses endoscopy, travels to clinics across B.C. to perform the procedure. He does about 10 treatments a week — a number that has steadily increased since he began doing the procedure 10 years ago — including diagnostic work.

As in human medicine, animal endoscopy involves putting a long tube with a camera at the end into an orifice. To retrieve objects, various instruments are fed through the tube — some instruments are large enough to grasp a tennis ball while others are much smaller.

The veterinarian said the most common objects he removes are small toys, rocks, coins and beer-bottle caps. He’s also removed underwear, bathing suits, pins and needles, a piggy bank and garbage bags.

Often an animal will vomit or pass a swallowed object, but when it doesn’t and the object becomes stuck in the stomach or intestine, problems can occur. Vets will usually first try to induce vomiting before considering surgery or endoscopy.

Gorodetsky advises pet owners to prevent animals from swallowing objects and to contact a vet if it happens.

And, good advice that is:

Dogs aren't the only pets to get into trouble from what they've eaten.  Whether from eating something on their own or what their owner gives to them, cats are also susceptible to potentially serious problems from eating the wrong thing:

Cats are known for their independent nature. However, as with all pets, cats depend on their pet parents to make the important decisions that impact their well-being, including their diet.

While most pet lovers have good intentions when caring for their feline friends, there are still misconceptions as to what are considered healthy choices, particularly when it comes to feeding their cats.

Common mistake

Nearly 50 percent of all feline pet parents admit to feeding their cats table scraps, according to a survey conducted by the makers of 9Lives cat food. This common misstep can lead to difficulties when it comes to a cat's nutritional well-being.

Pet parents know the importance of making sure their pet is included as part of the family, but unfortunately this often leads them to feed their cats from their own plates. It could be detrimental to cats' health to not only consume human food, but also to be fed straight from the table, without measuring their portions. Foods such as avocados, raisins and onions can even be poisonous for your cat, according to the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center.

A safe alternative to scrapping is to keep cats' diets consistent and make sure cats are eating the correct cat food, specific to their individual needs.

Here are a few tips to keep cats fit:

• Avoid overfeeding. Overfeeding your cat is a common mistake and can be extremely dangerous, according to Dr. Molly Williams of Hayden Meadows Pet Clinic in Portland, Ore. "It is important to follow the feeding guidelines and nutritional information on the side of your food bag, but also monitor weight changes in your cat when evaluating these recommended feeding instructions," says Williams.

• Incorporate exercise. When thinking about pets needing exercise, you might jump to the conclusion that dogs need exercise, not felines, which is not the case. It may be beneficial to make an exercise schedule for your cat, and make sure she is getting an appropriate amount of daily exercise for her weight. "A fun tip I like to recommend is scattering your cat's food at different stations around the house. It encourages the cat to work for her food, and gives her some exercise in the process," says Williams.

• Frequent veterinary visits. "Obesity is one of most common nutritional issues seen in cats," says Williams. Many times, pet parents are unaware that their cat may be slowly gaining weight or be at risk for obesity. It is crucial for cats to have regular veterinarian checkups to keep them on the right nutritional track.

This article is from the Hudson Valley Times Herald-Record:

Of course, pets can get into trouble from something they eat even if their owner has no idea that what is being offered might contain something that is toxic:

RSPCA warning after dogs die eating camel meat

By Gail Liston

A new study has found pet dogs have died after eating human-grade camel meat.

A report in this month's Australian Veterinary Journal cites several cases of severe and sometimes fatal liver disease in dogs that had eaten camel meat containing the acid indospicine.

Murdoch University veterinary pathologist Dr Louise FitzGerald says it is a toxic amino acid found in plants in Australia's arid regions.

She says camels like eating the plants, so there is always potential for the meat to contain the toxin.

"What happens is that camels graze this plant, then the toxins from this plant accumulate in their system and then the toxin is then passed on to dogs when the dogs eat their meat," she said.

"We know that dogs are particularly sensitive to this toxin."

The RSPCA is warning pet owners to avoid feeding their dogs camel meat.

The association's Dr Jade Norris says the pet food industry needs to be better regulated.

"Until the pet food industry and the pet meat manufacturers can guarantee that they are aware of this toxin and that they're taking adequate steps to safeguard their products, then we'd be saying that as an absolute guarantee avoid feeding camel meat until industry can reassure everyone that these safeguards are in place."

A spokeswoman for Food Standards Australia, Lorraine Bellinger, says the authority is investigating the implications for human consumption of camel meat.

"Although there have been no reported cases of illness in people, we are reviewing studies to see if humans can also be affected by this toxin," she said.

"It's important to point out that dogs, as with other animals, can react really differently to foods than humans will.

"For example, the case that most people would recognise is chocolate, which can be extremely toxic for dogs."

This report came from: and Helpful Buckeye's attention was drawn to the phrase, "...after eating human-grade camel meat..."  Even though camel isn't a meat source here in the USA, it apparently is considered as such in other countries.  Some friends of ours just returned from a trip to Australia and indeed did confirm that they dined in several nice restaurants that offered "camel burgers"....

Lastly, there's always the possibility of a recall of an animal food product or treat for various reasons.  Helpful Buckeye has discussed recalls in numerous previous issues under the headings "Pet Food Recall" and "Pet Treat Recall", both of which you can access in the column to the left below "Labels".  This week, there have been a couple of recalls of note:

The following recalls have been announced:


DETAILS: Pig ear dog chews manufactured by Jones Natural Chews Co. of Rockford, Ill., and shipped to distributors and retailers in Connecticut, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

WHY: The chews may be contaminated with salmonella, which can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever in people, and cause pets to feel lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever and vomiting.

INCIDENTS: None reported.

HOW MANY: 2,705 boxes.

FOR MORE: Call 877-481-2663

This notice from:  and a second recall on a cat food:

Certain lots of Wellness canned cat food distributed by WellPet LLC of Tewksbury, Mass., because some cans might contain less than adequate levels of thiamine, or vitamin B1, an essential vitamin for cats. Recalled were Wellness Canned Cat Food (all flavors and sizes) with best-by dates from 14APR 13 through 30SEP13; and Wellness Canned Cat Food Chicken & Herring (all sizes) with 10NOV13 or 17NOV13 best-buy dates. Details: Call the company at 877-227-9587 or visit the website at

Now, if for some reason you have allowed your pet to eat too much of any kind of food and it has become obese, think about this advice:

If you have pets at home and have been very happy about their pot bellies then hold on. A research conducted by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association reveal that pet obesity will put them under a risk of developing serious health problems like arthritis and diabetes. According to reports, about 44 per cent of dogs that is 33 million, were overweight in the year 2008. Just like humans, pet obesity develop many problems like high blood pressure, respiratory problems, gastrointestinal problems and many serious health disorders. It is important for the pet owners to help their pets on weight loss so that they stay healthy. For your pet health take a look at these simple pet weight loss tips that can help pets to lose their excess weight.

Pet Weight Loss Tips -

1. For your pet snack, go for low calorie snacks like broccoli, carrots, celery, tuna flakes etc. You can also opt for fiber rich foods for your pets.

2. At least 15 minutes of play is important to make your pet lose weight and stay active. Go for pet toys to help them shed those extra kilos.

3. For dogs, at least 30-35 minutes of walk is necessary each day. Even swimming pool pooches can help them lose calories.

4. Calorie information on your pet food packages may be incorrect so consult your pet doctor on the amount of food to be give to your pets. According to a study, the maximum intake of calories for dogs and cats can range between 200-350 calories so refer the diet chart and feed your pet accordingly.

5. It is important to seek advice on pet weight loss from your Veterinarian as every pet's metabolism can vary with the other.

Your pet health is in your hands so follow these simple pet weight loss tips and keep your pet healthy and fit.

These seemingly simple suggestions are from:  and if you're still having trouble beyond this advice controlling your pet's obesity, you might benefit from this approach:

For Gracie, the battle of the bulge started 12 weeks ago, after she had knee surgery. Recovery downtime added a set of love handles not even her fur could cover.  Fortunately, the 6-year-old yellow Labrador’s veterinarian recommended the portly pup to the Furry Friends Fitness Program at the VCA South Shore Animal Hospital in South Weymouth.  Think of it as Jenny Craig meets Weight Watchers for pets.

It’s all there — the pre-packaged food, the biweekly weigh-ins and progress tracking — a job given to the indulgent owners, of course.  “Pets left to themselves will eat and eat. Usually the begging is where everybody fails,” said Dr. Angela Girello, a staff veterinarian.  Owners have to track their pet’s caloric intake and exercise, and pre-portioned food kits run from $44.99-$54.99, depending on the size of the animal. Prescription diet kits for severely obese pets run $54.99 to $79.99, both for a five-week supply. The program is free to clients after their pet gets a full exam from one of the hospital’s vets, but the cost of food is separate.

While a knee injury spurred Gracie’s problems, her flabby tabby housemate Harper can’t use that excuse.  The 2-year-old cat is simply lazy, said owner Sarah Towne, a co-manager and certified vet tech at the hospital. “I measure (the food), but my husband gives an enormous amount of treats,” Towne said.

Furry Fitness is not alone in the pet flab-busting biz.  “I’ve seen an explosion in the pet fitness industry. (Pet fitness programs) are springing up like wild fire, and they are springing up in response to a real problem,” said Dr. Ernie Ward, veterinarian and founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.  Half of pet cats and dogs in America are overweight, according to a 2010 study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.

You can even fight fat online: Purina’s ProjectPet offers weight-loss tips (“Dogs have abs too. Work them by having your dog sit several times on a walk.”), videos and a place to track pets’ progress.

Dogs of all sizes require 30-40 minutes of aerobic exercise a day. For plump pets who get bored with the usual walk or chase-the-laser-pointer routine, the South Shore Animal Hospital is kicking the workout up a notch. In its new facility, scheduled to open in May, Furry Fitness Program participants can hit the treadmill.

This information available at:

That pretty well takes care of Helpful Buckeye's question, "What do you feed your pet?"

An unrelated but very timely topic is the very real possibility of radiation toxicity as a result of the massive tsunami that hit Japan recently.  With the possibility of this radiation showing up on the west coast of the USA, pet owners are concerned about what they might need to do for their pets.  This report from the University of California at Davis Veterinary School should help answer those questions:

The UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Teaching hospital has been fielding dozens of calls about a radiation cloud that may drift across the Pacific Ocean from Japan. People are concerned about possible radiation health risks to their pets, but one veterinarian says there's nothing to worry about.

"At this point there is no risk to pets in California stemming from radiation released from the tragedy that continues to unfold in Japan," said Michael Kent, a faculty veterinarian who specializes in radiation cancer therapy.  He says it's not a good idea to give your pet potassium iodide tablets.  "While potassium iodide might help protect dogs, cats and other pets, as it would people, from the risks of radiation exposure in the unlikely event that radioactive iodine reaches here in appreciable levels, giving it ahead of time carries risks and would be ill advised," Kent said.
He says if an animal eats too much of the stuff, it could get a severe allergic reaction, vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, decreased thyroid function and damage to the heart. Too much potassium iodide can even cause death.

The source for this report is:,0,4078023.story

Staying with the UC Davis Veterinary School for another item of interest:

UC Davis veterinarians are seeking the public's input for a study about interactions between cats and children.  Past research has shown that domestic cats can have a calming influence on people, particularly the sick and elderly and children with special needs, but little is known about how and why those benefits occur, according to the veterinarians.

Ben and Lynette Hart, animal behavior specialists in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, are asking cat owners to take part in an online survey about interactions between felines and children.  The Harts want adult cat owners in families with children to answer questions about their families and the behavior of their cats around children, including its temperament, and whether the felines engage in any aggression or fearfulness toward youngsters.

The researchers hope to gather more than 1,000 responses.

To take part in the survey, go to

The survey takes about 15 minutes to complete. Respondents can provide personal details about the family cat in the "special comments" section of the questionnaire.

In addition to the bright light provided by the moon this weekend, another bright light was the Ohio State basketball team.  We handled both of our opponents pretty easily in the first 2 rounds of the NCAA tournament and are looking forward to our next game against Kentucky on Friday.  That is the good news.  The bad news is that Pitt blew their chance to beat Butler at the very end of their game.  One of the Pitt players committed one of the stupidest fouls you'll ever see in a basketball game with less than a second to go in the game and the rest is history.  Go Buckeyes!


Where would we be without our good old buddy, Mark Twain?  This week, as Desperado and Helpful Buckeye get things ready for our next exploration of another part of Arizona, he tells us:

"Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did.  So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover."

We hear you, Mr. Clemens, loud and clear....

~~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.~~

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Two different forms of "Madness"
show up this week...
St. Patrick's Day and
March Madness.

It seems that a lot of our readers were in the mood for a change of pace last week.  Many of you sent e-mails saying that you enjoyed the the words of Rose, from Roanoke, VA: "I liked the looser structure, while still retaining the informative content.  It made for a very comfortable read."

OK, I hear you.  We'll go with this idea for a few more issues and then decide what follows. 

Let's take care of our poll questions first.  Just about half of you feel your dog recognizes itself in a mirror, this despite scientific evidence to the contrary.  Either the science is faulty or perhaps some of you are giving your favorite canine way too much credit.  Half of you also dress your dog in sweaters, raincoats, etc.  Of those who do dress their dogs in clothes, 75% say the dog seems to enjoy it.  Remember to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.   

One of the concerns of just about all pet owners is the expense involved in owning and taking care of a pet.  Many pet owners will make adjustments in their family budgets so that their pets will be able to eat the right foods, receive the necessary vaccinations, or have a certain surgical procedure.  In that light, a recent proposal in the Georgia state legislature has veterinarians and pet owners in Georgia concerned about the effect of the proposed new state law that provides for the taxation of veterinary medical expenses:

Veterinarians across Georgia say a proposed tax would be bad for pets and could force some owners to make a life or death decision. Legislation now being considered at the state Capitol is a proposal to tax veterinary services.  Many veterinarians are sounding an alert to pet owners.  The Georgia Veterinary Medical Association says a bad economy has caused a 25 percent increase in the number of pets put to sleep in the metro Atlanta area in the last two years and they say raising the cost of vet bills would force more owners to make some very hard choices about their pet's health care.

Bob Ross has raised Duke since he was a puppy, but now Duke is in his golden years and Ross faces the prospect of more vet visits and possibly surgery some day. Ross said he worries that taxing the services he gets at his vet's office would force him to make some tough choices about Duke's health care.  "As most pet owners are attached to their pets, it would be almost like if they were to tax you on some aspect of your children's care," said Ross.

Trouble, a 13-year-old cat had oral surgery Wednesday. Right now, that service is tax free but under this proposal the vet's office would be required to collect state and local taxes on everything from the x-rays and anesthesia to antibiotics and boarding.

A state commission has proposed taxing all kinds of services in Georgia to help raise state revenues, including everything from hair cuts to oil changes and veterinary services. The plan promises the money back by lowering the income tax over three years.

Many veterinarians worry that some pet owners who cannot afford the proposed tax increase on costly procedures will either allow their pets to suffer or worse.  "People might have to make tough decisions, might not be able to provide good care. Their pets might be in pain. Or worse yet, they might have to opt for euthanasia," said Dr. Vince Obsitnik of the Animal Medical Clinic.

Vets across Georgia are starting an email campaign urging pet owners to write their representatives. The bills are House Bills 385 to 388.
Pet owners could see an almost eight percent increase in their medical bills if these house bills pass.

“I think they should find another way to get their money. I shouldn't be charged extra if I have a pet,” says pet owner Virginia Swift.

“I know everybody has to pay their fair share, the money has to come from somewhere, the state can't run without a budget, but I have a hard time agreeing with taxation on medical procedures whether it be an animal or human. I'm a veterinarian so I’m the animals' advocate,” says Veterinarian Dr. Sonny Odom.  Odom says he does not want to be the tax collector for the state when he is already charging some patrons extra for particular drugs their pets take because of taxes.

Senator Freddie Sims says economic times are tough and the state needs money for their budget.  “We’re trying to make it fair, equitable and balanced,” says Sims. “Rather than target property owners only or people’s personal income only, you’re using consumers and every one of us in one way or another is a consumer at some point in time.”  She says the economy is going through a rough patch and the state budget is in need of money. She says it is not lawmakers’ intentions to make any group or service feel like a target.  “In order for us to improve our revenue in the state, these are proposals. None of this has been passed yet but these are proposed fees and taxes on services that have not been taxed before,” Sims says.

Veterinarians say while pets may seem like a luxury to tax and people should only own them if they can afford them, they say that to many people their pets are like family.  “They're friends, they're little kids best friend, they're your grandmothers, and they’re there when no one else is so they mean a lot,” says Odom. “It is something that you have to look after and there's a certain standard of care that's expected.”

Vets are worried if pet medical expenses are taxed and they have to charge pet owners more, the owners won’t keep up with the care of four legged family members.

Two news stories contributed to this report: and

As more states get deeper into their economic slump, their legislators will be looking for additional sources of revenue from previously untapped areas.  Even though legislators claim this type of "service" tax helps them to balance their budget without raising taxes, Helpful Buckeye has to ask, "How is this tax any different from raising already-existing taxes?"  If these politicians would just finally admit that, after cutting all that they can from their budget expenses, they still need to "raise taxes" in order to provide enough revenue to run their states properly, perhaps none of us would be scratching our heads over these supposedly non-tax this service tax on veterinary care.

So, while you're sitting there reading about what these proposed service taxes might mean to your wallet, perhaps you should also start thinking about whether it's more expensive to have and take care of a dog or a cat.  Which do you think costs more?  Jason Cochran has put some effort into this topic:


Although the companionship of an animal is priceless, their upkeep costs money, and too many people get involved with pets before realizing they can't actually afford to take proper care of one. Our pounds are overflowing with creatures who were evicted by owners who found themselves in over their financial heads.
But the cold financial facts shouldn't keep you from sharing your love with a four-legged, furry friend. You just have to know how much you should expect to spend. The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that, 37.2% of our households kept at least one dog, and 32.4% of us kept at least one cat, making the two animals the most popular domestic pets by far.

Of course, depending on your pets' temperament, it's easy to have both a cat and a dog. But if you broke down the costs of each, assuming both animals are healthy, how do the expenses differ? In each category, which costs more, dogs or cats?


To save the most money and to save a life, don't use pet stores. Get your pet from the pound or ASPCA. You're more likely to get a mutt or mixed breed there (which, if you ask me, makes a more healthy and emotionally stable animal), but if you insist on a purebred, there are many rescue associations that you can find online by breed: Pugs, Dalmatians, Pit Bulls, and other popular breeds are often discarded when their owners tire of trends.  Even the ASPCA charges a fee for adoption, although the cost of starter health care (spaying or neutering, shots, micro-chipping) are folded into that. Expect about $75 for an adult cat or $125 for a kitten, which requires more care. Dogs cost $75 to $200, depending on how much health care they require.

Most expensive: Dogs

Spaying and Neutering

Shots and routine health care are more or less the same, although when it comes to surgery, you'll generally pay more for a larger animal. At the vet's near my house, a cat costs $160 to neuter, and a dog costs $290.

Most expensive: Dogs

Routine Health Care

Some pure breeds are afflicted by particular health issues -- for example, Cocker Spaniels are more prone to ear infections. But assuming that your pet is generally healthy, your basic health care costs for standard preventative procedures don't differ much.

Most expensive: Tie

Setting Up Your Home

Dogs, unlike cats, need more equipment: a leash (start at $12, with optional harness for $15 to $30). Your dog's energy levels and your schedule may require you to put it in a crate at bedtime and when you're not around. Those cost between $100 and $225.  Some expenses will be the same. You'll pay the same price for a pet carrier (for cats and small dogs) and food and water dishes no mater which animal you adopt. Flea powders, collars, and other routine care items also come with negligible price differences. Cats can claw furniture, but puppies can be just as destructive. In time, proper training can even the score.

The next time you're in a pet store, though, notice how many of the products, including toys, are for dogs. That's because dogs seem to go through toys at a faster rate than cats, and owners tend to indulge their emotive personalities more. Dog toys also cost a tiny bit more, or $5 to $9 per toy as opposed to $3 to $5.50 for cats.

Cats aren't big on treats, either. A $2.50 jar of catnip and a few cheap felt mouse decoy toys will satisfy them for weeks, while dogs go through Milk Bones ($7 a pound), generic biscuits ($6.50 for 2 pounds of the Petco brand), and pig ears ($17 for a dozen). Dry snacks are the cheapest route here, and they're good for dogs' teeth, but soft treats are popular, even if they're much more costly ($6 for six ounces of Snausages is a typical price).

Most expensive: Dogs


Dry food is always cheaper than wet food, but animals are picky, so you never know what you'll have to buy until you see snouts turning up at what you've served. Here, the price is pretty close: about $1.50 to $1.75 per pound for dry for both cats and dogs.

Cats eat less food than dogs, though, which can make expenses lower. Cans of wet food contain less food for felines than for canines, making them cheaper than single-serving meals for dogs. Figure on 60 to 90 cents for a can of wet cat food versus $1.50 to $2 for a can of wet dog food.

Then again, dogs are more likely than cats to settle on dry food. That means cats tend to eat less food, but it's more expensive per weight. Assuming your dog eats a half-pound of dry food a day (75 cents to 87 cents) and your cat eats one can of wet food a day (60 cents to 90 cents), the cost is pretty much even.

There are other variables, such as if your animal requires a special diet, but that can happen to either a cat or a dog. Your dog may be enormous, with an enormous appetite to match, but assuming you've got a small- to mid-sized dog that doesn't mind dry food, the cost is close to a cat's appetite for wet food. (If your cat likes dry food, good for you! That's the cheapest route of all.)

If your pet eats dry food, buy it in bulk bags for even more savings. That way, you'll pay $35 for 20 pounds ($1.75/pound) of cat food, versus $11 for 4 pounds ($2.75/pound). Buying in bulk for dogs creates similar savings, and since dogs usually gladly dig into dry food, buying in bulk is more feasible with man's best friend.

Most expensive: Tie

The Poop Question

You have to pay for your pet's meals both coming and going. For cats, a pan filled with litter will do the trick. You'll use about 2 pounds of litter a week. Petco's cheap house brand costs $18 for 30 pounds, or 60¢ a pound, and the fancier (if that's the word) Yesterday's News brand goes for about 73¢ a pound. So for a cat, you'll spend about $1.20 to $1.50 a week to help it take care of business.

This is where the expenses really mount for dogs. If you have a yard, pooping is free as long as there's someone around to let it out. If you don't, or if need someone to walk it, you'll pay. Poop collection bags cost $9 for 60 or $15 for 120, so you'll spend about 12¢ to 15¢ each time your dog goes to the potty. Assuming that happens twice a day, you'll spend $1.68 to $2.10 a week for bags. That's not much more than cats.

So if you walk your dog yourself, it's a tie.

But if you work a lot, or travel a lot, you'll pay more for a dog. If you have to leave home for a couple of days, a cat can make do with plenty of water, food, and a clean litter box. But a dog will eat your house. They require daily attention and exercise, while cats generally don't.

Hiring someone to walk your dog will hit you for $15 to $25 per walk. Hiring someone to walk your cat is just an exercise in madness.

And when you go away, boarding a cat costs about $15 a day, while dogs start at $18 for animals under 30 pounds and scales up for heavier dogs, typically capping out in the mid-$20s. That's the price in both a typical town (Penrod Kennels in Milton-Freewater, OR), and in the big city (Barks 5th Avenue in Houston), although there's no shortage of luxury kennels and indulgent doggy day care facilities to milk you out of far more cash.

Most expensive for apartment or city people: Dogs.


The results are clear, and it's not even by a whisker. For most lifestyles, dogs are higher-maintenance so they're more expensive. Although cats and dogs tie in some arenas, there's not a single category in which cats are pricier.

Some dog owners might say there are some benefits to the extra spending. Dogs can be taken with you on vacation, they can play with you at the park or accompany you on long walks, and they're vastly more social and playful than cats. A cynical pet owner could argue that they get more return for their dollar on that count, though of course, the self-reliance, low maintenance, and soothing presence of a cat are selling characteristics on their own.

There are lots of variables, including where you live, the size of your pet and the amount of free time you can spend at home taking care of it, and the health of your animal. But with all things being equal, cats have the edge.

Dog owners can rationalize all they want about the intangible benefits of having a dog but, as Jason has adequately shown, from the perspective of expenses alone, cats take this battle...hands (paws) down.

You can find Jason Cochran's report at wallet pop:

Just when dog owners are tired of being reminded that their choice of pet is costing them more money in the long run, comes this report from American Public Media that Border Collies and other herding-type dogs run into trouble because of their boundless energy. Their unspent energy apparently has contributed to some destructive behaviors at home.  But some sheep farmers in the Pacific Northwest are getting paid to let those dogs herd a real flock of sheep.  This is a fascinating story from "Marketplace":

The popularity of herding dogs has come a long way in recent years.  We're mainly talking canines such as Australian Shepherds. So some sheep farms now let dog owners rent time with their flocks so their herding dogs can do what they do best. 

From Olympia, Washington, Ann Dornfeld reports....

Ann Dornfeld: On this chilly Saturday, half a dozen city-dwellers are lined up with their dogs along a muddy field. The dogs are waiting for their turn to chase a flock of sheep into a tiny pen.
Sylvia Griggs is the facilities manager at Fido's Farm, an 80-acre spread with hundreds of sheep. It's been in operation for seven years. Griggs says business is booming thanks to the growing popularity of herding dogs as pets.

Sylvia Griggs: A large base is mainly Australian Shepherds. People have no clue how active those dogs really are. They're not designed as a pet. The dogs are bred to work, to have a job, and they don't do well if they don't have some type of outlet.  When herding dogs don't have an opportunity to round up livestock, they devote that extra energy to nipping at your kids' heels as they ride their bikes or chewing up the house.

Greta Zuercher knows firsthand. She's here with her young Border Collie, Tess.

Greta Zuercher: She destroyed some Oriental carpets -- every single one she chewed the edges. I ended up duct-taping them to the floor to keep her from chewing them.

Dornfeld: How much were those worth?

Zuercher: About $5,000 each.

Today, Zuercher is spending $15 so Tess can spend a day with the sheep. Zuercher lives in a Portland suburb. But she says the two-and-a-half hour drive is worth it. Zuercher says as soon as she got Tess around sheep, it was clear that this dog was born to herd.

Zuercher: It was actually really interesting. I carried her into a packed pen and she had them all in the corner just by looking at them. It was just impressive to me.

Zuercher says Tess' behavior has improved a lot since she started herding. Sylvia Griggs says Fido's Farm now gets more than a dozen customers like Zuercher a day.

Griggs: Basically, it's all word-of mouth! We do very little advertising about the herding.

Other breeds can herd, too. Standard Poodles, Rottweilers and Rhodesian Ridgebacks all have a knack for it, apparently. But if your dog doesn't have a natural herding instinct, Fido's Farm gives lessons for $35 a pop.

Helpful Buckeye supposes this is the canine version of the movie, City Slickers, in which Billy Crystal and friends from New York City visit a dude ranch in order to become toughened cowboys.  This opportunity to allow the herding dogs to dissipate some of their pent up energy obviously lets their owners keep down the "costs" of canine destruction at home, while helping the sheep farmers make a few bucks in the process.  In the American way, it's a win/win situation!

This report is available at:

This concludes the discussion of some of the types of expenses pet owners can expect to confront as they work to give their pets the care they deserve.

Before getting to the end of the trail this week, Helpful Buckeye would like to share this very topical report with our readers.  Topical, because it has to do with Daylight Saving Time, which goes into effect this weekend (2 AM, March 13th) in all states except Arizona and Hawaii.  Do you think pets are at all affected by Daylight Saving Time?  Michelle Bryner of offers this answer:

You might think it unlikely that the switch to daylight saving time (DST) could throw your cat or dog's busy schedule — eat, sleep, eat, sleep — off-kilter. But, as it turns out, some animals are so in tune with their owners' schedules that the one-hour spring forward can cause some confusion.

Just like humans, animals have internal clocks that tell them when to eat, sleep and wake up. This biological timekeeper, also known as circadian rhythm, is set in motion by natural sunlight. However, for pets this effect is minimized by the artificial environment they live in, where light comes on not with the rising sun but with the flip of a switch.

Humans set their pets' routines, said Alison Holdhus-Small, a research assistant at CSIRO Livestock Industries, an Australia-based research and development organization.

"Animals that live with humans develop routines related to human activity — for example, cows become accustomed to being milked at particular times of day, or pet dogs become accustomed to going for walks or being fed at a particular time of day," Holdhus-Small told Life's Little Mysteries. "When humans apply daylight saving time to their own lives, if they carry out their routine according to the clock, the animals can become confused." Holdhus-Small gives some examples of how animals might respond to a time change: If a farm owner arrives an hour later (when the clocks are turned back) to milk the cows, they will be waiting, bellowing because their internal routine tells them that they're late. Conversely, if the farmer arrives an hour earlier (when the clocks are turned ahead) the cows will not be inclined to come in to milk until closer to the "proper" time.

"When humans change the clocks for daylight saving, to suit our preferred working environment, from an animal's point of view, we are suddenly behaving oddly," Holdhus-Small said. "To the animals, it is inexplicable that suddenly dinner is an hour later or earlier than expected."

This behavior shift could cause animals psychological and physiological stress, Holdhus-Small said. A cow's udder, for example, will continue to produce milk regardless of DST and pressure will build up until the cow is milked. Household pets might get grumpy when they show up to an empty food dish at their perceived dinner time.

So when you set your clock forward an hour this weekend, remember that your pets need a little paw-holding during the time change. Holdhus-Small suggests gradually changing the animal's activities by a few minutes a day rather than the whole hour at once.

Some of you had to be wondering about this very question, Helpful Buckeye suspects.  So, there you go.  This report can be found at:


One of Helpful Buckeye's favorite times of the sports year begins this week...yes, that's right, March Madness!  On Thursday, both of Helpful Buckeye's alma maters will begin the quest for the NCAA Basketball Championship.  Both Ohio State and Pitt were selected as #1 seeds, with the Buckeyes being the overall #1.  Of course, there are usually 5-10 teams that are capable of winning 6 games in a row during this tournament and winning the Championship.  However, being a #1 seed is a good place to start.  Helpful Buckeye is hoping that at least one of my schools will remain when we reach the Final Four.

With all of the good things happening to the Ohio State basketball team, it's hard to believe the bad atmosphere around our football program.  With our head coach now guilty of trying to cover up information about a problem with some of the football players, he has already been given a punishment from the school.  What the NCAA will do remains to be seen, but Helpful Buckeye says that he should have been fired as soon as this charge was verified.  As long as he walks the sidelines in Ohio Stadium, no one will have any respect for him or our football program.


Helpful Buckeye rode his bike outdoors on Friday (the 11th) for the first time this year...6 days earlier than last year.  Since we haven't had as much snow as last winter, the bike lanes don't have as many piles of hardened snow or deposits of cinders.  This is always an exciting day for me...sort of like "Opening Day" in baseball.  After riding the upright stationary bike in the gym all winter, while waiting for the warm and sunny days to return, I felt like a caged animal that has been let loose.  I saw our resident Bald Eagle 3 times during my felt great! 

While cruising, thoughts of my 2011 Quadathlon were formulating in my mind.  I've got it narrowed down to 4 probable events that will no doubt present a harder challenge than those of 2010.  One thing I'll need to change is the name of the Quadathlon.  It will no longer be "...of Northern Arizona" since one of the events will take place in southern Arizona and another will be in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.  So, let's just go with Helpful Buckeye's Annual Quadathlon for now.  Helpful Buckeye has already had inquiries from several friends about coming along as "athletic supporters", groupies, and mainly fun-seekers. 

Here's an anonymous toast, found by Desperado:

May you always have
Love to share,
Health to spare,
And friends that care.

~~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.~~