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.~~

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