Sunday, April 24, 2011


Where were you on 22 April 1970?  OK, I know some of you would have trouble telling us where you were just a week ago...but, here's a big hint:

Unless you've been living in a cave or away from any kind of news coverage, you'll recall that 22 April 1970 was the first observance of Earth Day.  Helpful Buckeye recalls being stationed at Ft. Sam Houston, San Antonio, going through my training to be a medic and lab technician in the US Army when the first Earth Day became news.  At that time of the height of the Vietnam war, a celebration of the health of the Earth was just about the farthest thing from my mind.  However, scientists have learned a lot about our Earth since then and still, even so, have barely scratched the surface (figuratively and literally) of our planet.  My purpose is not to get into the politics of those issues but rather to remind everyone that our awareness of Earth's condition is much more important now than it was 41 years ago.  Do your part!

Our old pal, Socrates, had an early start on this observation of Earth Day...his comment was : “Man must rise above the Earth—to the top of the atmosphere and beyond—for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives.”

The poll questions from last week's issue on Cats Behaving Badly produced some fairly predictable results.  80% of respondents said they either owned or had been around a cat that was aggressive.  Only 33% felt they could read a cat's "body language."  In households of more than one cat, it was reported that 50% of the time they got along with each other OK.  And, 90% of respondents said they had been bitten by a cat.  Perhaps they were the ones who either couldn't read a cat's "body language" or ignored what they were seeing?  Many times Helpful Buckeye could read a cat's "body language" but still had to perform a physical exam and handle some pretty tough cats.  That inevitably led to a few cat bites of my own.  Remember to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.

How many times have you heard someone utter these words, "Getting older is a -----"?  And, the older you get, the more you'll probably be echoing those very sentiments.  Well, our pets also get to experience the very same progression of aging...especially if they've been lucky enough to be with an owner who has been conscientious enough to take good care of them.  There are many things to keep in mind as your pet ages and Helpful Buckeye will help you prepare for that over the next few weeks, here at Questions On Dogs and Cats.

                   Getting Older Is Tough For Pets Too

The first question every pet owner has about their pet aging is, "How will I know when my pet is becoming a senior pet?"  The ASPCA offers this guideline: 

Most dogs enter their golden years between seven and 10 years of age, with large/giant breeds becoming seniors earlier than small breeds. Many breeds experience a graying of their coat as they age, particularly around the muzzle—but there are other, more subtle signs that your dog is aging.

Its hearing may not be as sharp as it once was, the fur may be thinner, and it may take a little longer to get up and out of bed in the mornings. It is also perfectly normal for an older dog to sleep more than it used to and to tire more quickly when playing. In healthy dogs, these changes occur slowly, over time, at a gradual pace that you probably won’t even notice.

The American Animal Hospital Association adds these comments:

Thanks to advances in veterinary medicine, pets are living longer than ever before. However with this increased lifespan comes an increase in the types of ailments that can afflict senior pets. As pets reach the golden years, there are a variety of conditions and diseases that they can face, including weight and mobility changes; osteoarthritis; kidney, heart, and liver disease; tumors and cancers; hormone disorders such as diabetes and thyroid imbalance; and many others. Just as the health care needs of humans change as we age, the same applies to pets. It’s critical for pet owners to work closely with their veterinarian to devise a health plan that is best for their senior pet.

So when is a pet considered a senior? Generally, smaller breeds of dogs live longer than larger breeds, and indoor cats live longer than dogs. Beyond that, the life span will vary with each individual, and your veterinarian will be able to help you determine what stage of life your furry friend is in. Keep in mind that some small dog breeds may be considered senior at 10-13 years, while giant breeds can be classified as seniors at ages as young as five. Your veterinarian is your best source for more information to determine when your pet reaches the golden years.

With the senior years comes a general “slowing down” in pets. As their major senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell) dull, you may find that your pet has a slower response to general external stimuli. This loss of sensory perception often is a slow, progressive process, and it may even escape your notice. The best remedy for gradual sensory reduction is to keep your pet active—playing and training are excellent ways to keep their senses sharp. Pets may also be affected mentally as they age. Just as aging humans begin to forget things and are more susceptible to mental conditions, your aging animals may also begin to confront age-related cognitive and behavior changes. Most of these changes are rather subtle and can be addressed in a proactive manner. Regular senior health exams can help catch and treat these problems before they control your pet’s life.

The physical changes your pets experience are generally easier to spot than the sensory changes. As the body wears out, its ability to respond to infection is reduced, and the healing process takes longer. Therefore, it is crucial to consult a veterinarian if you notice a significant change in behavior or the physical condition of your pet. Many of the signs indicating that animals are approaching senior citizenship are the same for both cats and dogs, but they can indicate a variety of different problems.

From the American Veterinary Medical Association:

Experts estimate that aging pets make up more than a quarter of the nation’s pet population. According to a study conducted by the AVMA, at least 28% of the nation’s dogs and more than 25% of its cats are at least 8 years old, a benchmark commonly used to determine whether an animal can be classified as a senior. Applying those percentages to current pet-population statistics, this means more than 45 million pets in the United States likely would be classified as seniors.

As you can see from this chart, the ages at which cats are classified as seniors are a little different than dogs.

So, the answer to the question, "How will I know when my pet is becoming a senior pet?", has some variability depending on whether it's a dog or a cat and, if it's a dog, what size it is.  When you think of people you know that don't really reflect their actual age, in other words, someone who is 80 years old but acts and looks like they are 65 or the 65-year old who acts and looks like they are 80, it is easy to understand why there is such a range of aging difference in animals.

Once you've established that your pet is probably a senior pet, it would be advisable to talk with your veterinarian about setting up a schedule for regular exams.

Scheduling regular veterinary examinations is one of the most important steps pet owners can take to keep their pets in tip-top shape. When dogs and cats enter the senior years, these health examinations are more important than ever. Senior care, which starts with the regular veterinary exam, is needed to catch and delay the onset or progress of disease and for the early detection of problems such as organ failure and osteoarthritis. AAHA recommends that healthy senior dogs and cats visit the veterinarian every six months for a complete exam and laboratory testing. Keep in mind that every year for a dog or cat is equivalent to 5–7 human years. In order to stay current with your senior pet’s health care, twice-a-year exams are a must. During the senior health exam, your veterinarian will ask you a lot of questions regarding any changes in your pet’s activity and behavior.

And, this advice from the ASPCA:

For you to be able to properly answer the questions your veterinarian is likely to ask you about your senior pet, you really need to be aware of how your pet has acted in the other words, how it has acted when normally healthy.  If you haven't been properly observant when your pet was younger, you might not pick up on some of the subtle changes that are seen with the onset of the senior years.

Indeed, one of the best ways to know if your pet is sick is to know how he acts when he feels well.

“You know your pet better than I, so I always encourage my clients to keep a journal, particularly if their pet is older and has other conditions,” said Dr. Ryan McKenzie, associate veterinarian at Banfield The Pet Hospital near Wilmington, Del. No matter what the animal, two of the most common signs of illness are lethargy and changes in appetite, McKenzie said.

When a typically enthusiastic eater doesn’t want dinner, then something is definitely up. Conversely, a suddenly ravenous animal also could mean something is wrong.

In older cats, this can be a symptom of hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid gland.


To finish up this portion of our "Getting Older..." series, read this story of one cat owner's efforts to keep her senior cat comfortable for as long as possible:

                                      Grow Old with Me

Increasingly, owners are willing to take on home-nursing tasks to keep their aging pets with them as long as possible. How can practices help their clients be good caretakers?

When Coyote, a 14-year-old mixed, short-hair tabby cat, was diagnosed with progressive kidney disease, his owner, Carolyn Linville, instantly wanted to know two things: How long did he have to live? And what could be done to prolong his life while keeping him as pain free as possible?

“I felt that I owed at least that much to him,” says Linville, who found Coyote when he was about two years old. “He was really a grand ole tough sort of male cat, and I thought he deserved to live as long as he could, provided he wasn’t in pain.”

In short order, Gretchen Bassett, DVM, co-owner of Arvada Flats Veterinary Hospital in Arvada, Colo., gave Linville her answer: without medical attention, Coyote probably would die within a month. With intensive care, though, which would require a good deal of home nursing by Linville, Coyote’s life might be extended by up to half a year or more.

Increasingly, because veterinary practices are delivering higher-quality medical care to family pets, animals are living well past what used to be considered a normal life span. Likewise, veterinary practices are diagnosing and outlining treatments for greater numbers of chronic and age-related diseases, including the kind of longer-term, regular care that Linville gave Coyote. For the practice team, the upshot is that staff members may need to cultivate new training skills to help clients become extensions of the veterinary health care team.

When Linville opted to help Coyote live comfortably as long as possible, she had to learn how to give him twice-daily shots of subcutaneous fluids, always using a new needle and inserting it in the region between Coyote’s shoulder blades. “I had to make certain that I broke the skin, but never went into his muscles,” she says. “It was all about learning how to find the exact right place.”

Bassett also showed Linville how to set up the IV line connected to the fluid bag and how to put the needle at the end, making certain that all the air was extracted from the line before she inserted the needle. Because Coyote had a microchip between his shoulders, Bassett showed Linville how to work around it and avoid muscle tissue. “I had to demonstrate that I knew what I was doing by going through a mock insertion,” Linville recalls.

In the early weeks, Linville also had to bring Coyote regularly to Bassett’s office for a series of tests to monitor his condition. Some six weeks later, Bassett thought Linville could reduce Coyote’s fluid-by-needle intake from twice daily to once a day.

Linville continued this regimen for another nine months or so until it became apparent that Coyote needed to be euthanized, a step Linville agreed to in order to cut short the cat’s last days of discomfort. Ultimately, though, Coyote’s life had been extended by at least 11 months beyond the day Bassett originally gave the diagnosis. Linville’s efforts had made all the difference.

Even though treating Coyote required daily attention, Linville says she would gladly do it again. “You brush and floss your teeth a couple of times a day,” Linville says by way of comparison. “To help keep alive an animal I dearly loved, this was not asking too much.”

For veterinary teams, the story of Coyote is instructive, showing not only that intensive home care can extend the life of even old and seriously ill pets, but also that owners increasingly are willing to take part in giving treatments.

“Pets are living longer than ever before, primarily due to the advancement of superior preventive care earlier in their lives as well as our own increasing ability to care for the needs of a pet in their older years,” says Mark Epstein, DVM, medical director of the AAHA-accredited Total Bond Veterinary Hospitals in Gastonia, N.C., and chair of an AAHA task force that is drafting veterinary care guidelines for senior companion animals.

“The role that pet owners play [with their senior-aged animals] cannot be understated,” Epstein says. “To a surprising degree, many of them want to get involved in a hands-on way with the treatment of their pets, and when that happens, it’s not only an asset for the veterinarian, it’s something that can greatly enhance the quality of life for a pet.”

“Clients in general are better informed and educated on pet issues today,” agrees Kim Morrow, DVM, co-owner of AAHA-accredited Magrane Pet Medical Center in Elkhart, Ind. “They are researching pet issues on their own, looking up things on the Internet and presenting us with the results of their research. They ask about things like medication and therapies and are generally interested in actually getting involved in the process, if they can.”

This account is from:

In next week's issue, Helpful Buckeye will get into more detail of what actually happens in pets' lives as they enter their senior years and what you can do to help them move through those years more comfortably.


Well, Major League Baseball announced this week that they would be taking over the day-to-day operations of the LA Dodgers due to the financial mess the current owner and his soon-to-be ex-wife created.  The team immediately started to play like the games actually meant something, winning 3 of 4 from the Braves and 2 of 3 from the Cubs.  We are now within shouting distance of the Rockies in our division.

The San Antonio Spurs are behind in their playoff series against Memphis, 2 games to 1.

Outdoor bike riding has been pretty tough this week.  Springtime is usually fairly windy in northern Arizona and this year, so far, has been no exception.  I was able to "steal" 2 days this week for rides outside, with Saturday's being by far the toughest.  The wind was blowing 25-35 MPH, with gusts up to 45 MPH.  Desperado offered her farewell blessing as I pulled out of the driveway yesterday morning..."You're crazy!", she yelled.  And, I guess I was...but, the way I looked at it, biking in those conditions would help me prepare for the 3 upcoming biking events I've got planned for this year...and none of them are going to be easy.  Preparation and having already wrestled with a difficult situation always seem to make a task more doable.

How does a good friend become a very good friend?  That's easy...she brought a plateful of coconut macaroons to Helpful Buckeye this week.  I'll do just about anything for some coconut....

Desperado and Helpful Buckeye will be taking a trip later this week to the central coast of California.  We'll be spending some time with relatives for several days, then heading further up the coast to Cambria.  Don't worry about missing an issue of Questions On Dogs and week's is already lined up for release.

Still thinking about Desperado's best wishes for my bike ride yesterday, enjoy this video from Paul Simon:
~~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, April 17, 2011


Last week's discussion on vegan diets for your pets aroused some interest from some of you, but only to the extent that you were curious about the concept.  Most of you (90%) responded that you have never attempted to feed a vegan diet to your pet.  And, only 5% of you replied that you weren't sure about whether you might consider a vegan diet for your pet after reading the information.  The other 95% said they would not consider doing so.  That's a pretty conclusive response.  Be sure to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.

OK, I'm ready for all the e-mails I'll get this week from our dog-loving readers asking why I need to devote a whole issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats to...well, cats.  Over the last 3 years, there haven't really been that many issues in which cats were the sole topic.  But, following those issues, Helpful Buckeye invariably receives a lot of appreciative e-mails from our loyal cat-loving readers.  So, I guess you might say this is a "no win" situation for Helpful Buckeye.  However, my view is that it's a "win-win" scenario because this is some good information not only for cat owners, but also for those of you who might have friends that have a cat or for those of you who might acquire a cat in the future.  Additionally, it's helpful to know that people with other types of pets can experience problems.  So, take a deep breath, sit back, and enjoy this voyage into the land of...FELINES.
When a snuggle-puss turns into a snarling ball of claws, owners are at a loss to understand or deal with kitty aggression. Besides hurt feelings, cat aggression can cause injuries or cause the cat to lose a loving home.

Aggression can be the result of health issues, including pain or hyperthyroidism, so any sudden personality change demands a veterinary exam. But cats don't aggress because they're mean -- they always have a good reason, whether it makes sense to humans or not. Recognizing the four common types of aggression will help you learn to keep the peace.

Petting Aggression: Your cat begs for attention, but then he bites you! Some cats simply can't tolerate more than two or three strokes and use the leave-me-alone bite to stop the petting. The bite does stop the owner's touch, which trains the cat that biting works, so he repeats the behavior. Instead, confine petting to the back of kitty's neck instead of the whole-body strokes that some cats find offensive. Also, stop petting before he asks -- his ears will probably turn sideways or flatten, and the tail gets active right before he nails you. If this happens, don't touch him, just stand up and dump the cat off your lap.

Play Aggression: Kittens don't know how to inhibit teeth and claws during play and will target humans in painful play-attacks. Luckily, kittens are so cute we usually forgive them -- and most outgrow the behavior by 6 to 9 months. But if it is a concern for you, play aggression is one of the few behavior problems that can be fixed by adding another kitten to the household. That way, the babies play-attack each other and learn to pull their punches on their own kind.

Fear Aggression: Most cat aggression arises from fear. The fight-or-flight instinct means if a frightened cat feels she can't escape, she'll attack. Cats also naturally fear strangers and consider anything unknown a potential threat. That's why it takes many cats a long time to accept new people or new cats.
  • Fearful cat clues: He hides, slinks close to the ground, turns his ears sideways like little airplane wings, and hisses to signal "stay away."
  • More serious warning signs: Growls are a step up and are a serious warning to stay away or risk an attack.
  • Triggers: Direct stares intimidate cats and increase fear, so avoid eye contact.
  • Soothers: Give fearful cats space, extra hiding spots like cardboard boxes or cat tunnels, and elevated perches to help them feel safe. In multicat homes, provide a house of plenty with multiple toys, litter boxes, cat trees and resources, so cats don't have to compete for them.
  • Strategies: Sit on the floor with an interactive toy like a fishing pole or feather lure and tempt the scaredy-cat to approach. You're less frightening on the cat's level.
Redirected Aggression: This happens when the cat can't reach the intended victim, like a critter outside the window. Instead, kitty takes out his frustration on the nearest pet or his owner. It's like being mad at your boss -- you can't chew him out, so instead you lose your temper with a spouse. Redirected aggression is tough to solve because each cat fight practices aggressive behavior until it can become a habit. Use these steps to mend fences.
  • Immediately separate the cats for two or three days.
  • Allow one cat out while the other stays confined, so they can meet with paw pats and smells under the door.
  • Feed cats on opposite sides of the door, so they associate good things with each other's presence.
  • After a few days of no growls, hisses or airplane ears, allow supervised interaction.
  • Separate immediately and start reintroductions again if the cats aggress.
  • Be sure to cover windows and block sight of the evil squirrel that created the angst. If you see your cat window-watching, avoid petting until his tail talk calms down.
Understanding what makes your cat tick -- and what his triggers are -- can help keep you scratch free and your cat happy.

This beginning discussion on aggressive cats is from:

OK, if a cat is going to show some type of aggression, how might you know that something is about to happen?  By paying attention to how the cat is communicating with you, that's how.  Here are the best things to look for that signal what might be about to happen:

We love our cats but don't always understand cat communication. Our feline friends use a combination of vocalizations, body language and smells to talk with each other and their special people. Here are 12 ways cats communicate.
  • Meows: These are rarely aimed at other cats. Instead meows are requests pointed at humans. For example, cats meow to be petted, for you to open the door or for you to wake up and fill their bowls. The more demanding Kitty becomes, the lower the pitch of the meow.
  • Purrs: These vocalizations signal nonthreat. A cat's purr has been described as a feline smile, and cats purr in the presence of other pets and humans. Purrs often express happiness.
  • Hisses: Keep your distance if you hear a hiss. Cats hiss at other pets and people. Hisses can be defensive or offensive, and arise from frightened or hostile felines.
  • Growls: This is a serious warning from a cat that an attack may be coming. Hisses that don't succeed turn to growls when the cat can't escape.
  • Chattering: This odd sound indicates frustration. Cats that watch critters through the window may chatter when unable to reach the evil squirrels.
  • Spit: This not-so-pleasant communication is the equivalent of a feline gasp of surprise.
  • Body Position: These movements indicate attitude. Confident cats face forward, while fearful cats stand sideways with arched backs to look larger than they really are. Defensive or submissive cats want to look small and nonthreatening, so they crouch low, with feet tucked, and ears and tail held close to the body. Cats show trust by placing themselves in vulnerable postures such as rolling.
  • Fur Position: The hair on a cat can telegraph emotional state. Fur is smooth in relaxed cats. Any kind of arousal -- fear, aggression, happiness, stress -- may prompt fluffed fur that stands straight off the body. For instance, you'll see a bottle brush tail when kitty becomes excited.
  • Ear Position: The ears of relaxed and interested cats face forward. Ears turn sideways in uneasy cats. Fearful kitties hold ears sideways like airplane wings. Ears that flicker back and forth very quickly indicate great agitation. The cat slicks his ears tight to the head in preparation for attack. Cats with one ear forward and one sideways aren't clear how they feel.
  • Eye Reactions: They dilate suddenly (pupils go from slits to round) any time the cat feels sudden excitement. That arousal might be anything from the sight of a dog to a bowl of favorite food or a feather toy. Cat stares indicate a challenge. Squinting shows strong emotion and possibly impending attack. But a slow eye-blink to other cats or people signals nonthreat and is known as a "kitty kiss" when aimed at people.
  • Tail Position: While these vary somewhat between cats, a tail held straight up, with just the end tipped over, is a feline "howdy" that signals to other cats and people a friendly greeting -- it means kitty wants to interact with you. Relaxed cat tails are held in a gentle U, and the greater his interest, the higher the cat holds his tail. Tails tucked between the legs or wrapped around the crouched body show fear. The end of the tail flicking back and forth indicates frustration that may progress to tail-thumping wags that warn of imminent attack. A bottle-brush tail held straight up or behind the cat shows aggression, but if it's held in an inverted U it is a defensive posture.
  • Rubbing/Scratching Behavior: When cats rub against you or scratch objects they are leaving the equivalent of scented Post-It notes. Scent glands in the forehead, cheeks, paw pads and tail leave behind the kitty's signature scent. Cats rub or scratch to mark territory as owned -- including scent-marking a beloved human with cheek rubs.
Understanding cat vocabulary can help you become more attuned to what your cat has to say. But every cat is different, so pay attention to what your favorite feline does. Some cats develop their own way of communicating -- a particular meow, for example -- the same way people who speak the same language may have different regional accents. Watch your own kitty to learn the way he or she talks.

So, by observing what your cat is showing you, you will hopefully be able to stay out of the way if some nasty behavior is about to be on display.  These pointers are from:

In addition to a cat being aggressive toward its owner, there may also be aggressive behavior BETWEEN cats, either in the house or outdoors.  This is a description of that situation from the Humane Society of the United States:

Your cat's best friend may not be another cat. Cats are very territorial creatures and often vehemently defend their turf.

Two's company

Many people adopt a second cat thinking that the resident cat will be happy. This is a risky move. Just because your cat is sweet and loving with you doesn't mean he's going to be sweet to another cat.

Although you can increase the chances that they will get along or at least tolerate one another by making proper introductions, there's no way to predict whether cats will get along with each other. Unfortunately, there's no training method that can guarantee that they ever will. But we're here to help negotiate a truce.

Types of aggressive behaviors

First, let's understand the different types of aggression and what causes them.

Territorial aggression: This occurs when a cat feels that an intruder has invaded her territory.  A cat may be aggressive toward one cat (usually the most passive), yet friendly and tolerant with another.

Problems often occur when a new cat is brought home, a young kitten reaches maturity, or a cat sees or encounters neighborhood cats outside.  Typical behavior includes stalking, chasing, ambushing, hissing, loud meowing, swatting, and preventing access to places (such as the litter box, bedroom, etc.)  Female cats can be just as territorial as males.

Inter-male aggression: Adult male cats may threaten, and sometimes fight with, other males. This is more common among unneutered cats. They may fight over a female, for a higher place on the totem pole, or to defend territory.  Cats stalk, stare, yowl, howl, and puff up their fur (picture the arched back of the Halloween cat) to back each other down. If one does back down and walk away, the aggressor, having made his point, will usually walk away as well.  If no one backs down, cats may actually fight. They may roll around biting, kicking, swatting, and screaming, suddenly stop, resume posturing, fight again, or walk away. If you see signs that a fight may occur, distract the cats by clapping loudly, tossing a pillow nearby, or squirting them with water. These actions can also be used to break up a fight.  Keep your distance.

Defensive aggression: Defensive aggression occurs when a cat tries to protect himself from an animal or human attacker he believes he can't escape.

This can occur in response to:
  • Punishment or the threat of punishment from a person
  • An attack or attempted attack from another cat
  • Any incident that makes the animal feel threatened or afraid
Defensive postures include:
  • Crouching with the legs and tail pulled in under the body
  • Flattening the ears against the head
  • Rolling slightly to the side
  • Continuing to approach a cat in this posture is likely to cause an attack.
Redirected aggression: Cats direct this type of aggression toward another animal, or even a person, who didn't initially provoke the behavior.  For example, your cat is sitting in the window and sees an outdoor cat walk across the front yard. He gets very agitated because that cat is in his territory. You pet him; he turns and bites you. He doesn’t even know who you are at that point—he's so worked up about the cat outside that he attacks the first thing that crosses his path.

Smoothing ruffled feathers

Your first step should always be to contact your veterinarian for a thorough health examination. Cats often hide symptoms of illness until they're seriously ill; your aggressive cat may be feeling sick and taking out his misery on others.

If your cat gets a clean bill of health, consult your vet or an animal behavior specialist for help. A behaviorist will advise you on what can be done. You may need to start the introduction process all over again, keep the cats in separate areas of your home, or even find one of the cats a new home if the aggression is extreme and can’t be resolved.

Consult with your veterinarian about a short course of anti-anxiety medication for your cats while you're working on changing their behavior/s. Never medicate your cat on your own.

Prevent future fights

This could mean keeping the cats separated from each other while you work on the problem, or at least preventing contact between them during situations likely to trigger a fight.

What to avoid

Don't count on the cats to "work things out." The more they fight, the worse the problem is likely to become. To stop a fight in progress, make a loud noise (like blowing a whistle), squirt the cats with water or throw something soft at them.

Don't touch them, or you might get seriously scratched or bitten. Seek medical attention if you're injured.

Don't punish the cats involved. Punishment could cause further aggression and fearful responses, which will only make the problem worse. You could even become a target for redirected aggression.

Don't add more cats. Some cats are willing to share their house and territory with multiple cats, but the more cats who share the same territory, the more likely it is that some of your cats will not get along with each other.

It's a mystery

Many factors determine how well cats will get along with one another, but even animal behavior experts don't fully understand them.

We do know that cats who are well-socialized (those who had pleasant experiences with other cats during kittenhood) will likely be more sociable than those who haven't been around many other cats.

On the other hand, "street cats," who are in the habit of fighting with other cats to defend their territory and food, might not do well in a multi-cat household.

Either way you look at it, an aggressive cat, whether toward its owner or another cat, can be a handful to work with.  This HSUS reference is from:

If you or someone you know happens to unfortunately be on the receiving end of a cat bite and/or scratch, here is some good advice to follow:


The small, neighborhood, stray cat seemed hungry. The Good Samaritan thought he'd give it some nourishment. Instead of being thankful, the puss nearly bit the hand that was feeding it.

We are often moved when we see a furry feline who appears neglected. It may remind us so much of our own pet, who we may consider a part of our family.  But cats are still animals and when they are spooked or frightened, they can react with scratches and bites, which if untreated, can often lead to serious health care concerns.

Our Good Samaritan, who preferred not to be identified, had seen the stray in his neighborhood a lot. He merely thought it looked hungry, so he approached it with some food.  "I was wearing a robe," he explained. "I wonder if the movement frightened it in some way."

Rather than being appreciative, the cat attacked the Good Samaritan, biting and scratching his leg. Then, it ran off, leaving the Good Samaritan, bloody, sore, gouged and flabbergasted.  What happened when the Good Samaritan went to the emergency room was even more astounding.  After cleaning the bites, wounds and scratches, the Good Samaritan expected some prescription antibiotics. Instead, he was told to return at eight-hour intervals to receive an IV drip of antibiotics.

"We are aggressive in our treatment of cat bites," explained Dr. Joseph Liewer, medical director of the emergency department and trauma center at Mercy Medical Center. "With any bite there is a threat of infection, but cat bites have more potential for problems."

The reason is the cat's teeth are sharper, Liewer clarified.  "A cat bite is more like a puncture wound," he said. "It's almost like injecting bacteria right into you."

Dog bites have long been feared as problematic, Liewer acknowledged.

"It's not a question of a cat's mouth is dirtier or a dog's mouth has more bacteria," he said. "A dog bite is more of a tearing wound that may not lead to a serious infection because it would likely be cleaned more appropriately either at a medical facility or at home, thus decreasing the bacterial contamination in the wound."

Other factors can go into how serous the nature of a cat's scratches and/or bites are, Liewer pointed out.  "The hands and extremities are at higher risk for infection partially because their blood supply is not as good as other parts of the body," he said. "Also, we look at one's personal health. There may be health issues that would make them more prone to infection."

Liewer has seen more dog bites than cat bites in the emergency room.

"I think it's because dog bites typically need laceration repair," he said. "But we do see more infections when someone comes in with a cat bite."

The IV approach to treating the wounds has to do with getting a higher concentration in one's system, Liewer said.  "Certainly oral antibiotics or a one-time shot of antibiotics may be appropriate," he admitted, "but it really depends on the severity of the bite and subsequent infection and the personal health of the patient."

The situation is not something to take lightly, Liewer stressed.  "Usually people don't come in until infection has developed," he said "The infection could go into a tendon or joint or travel into the deeper structures of your hand, which is a valuable part of your body. It certainly has the potential for a serious situation."

Rabies is certainly a concern if the cat isn't known, Liewer said, and shots may be needed.

"Most likely you would also need a tetanus shot," he added.

Clearly one should exercise caution when helping any animal in distress, Liewer recommended.  "Animals may not understand that you are trying to help and may possibly take it out on you," Liewer said. "As much as people interact with cats, their bites should always be responded to with concern."

It was probably best the Good Samaritan didn't pussy-foot around with his injuries.

"The cat was caught in a trap and did not have rabies," he said. "There have been no other side effects from the bites and scratches, so all is good."

This valuable advice is from:

Makes you appreciate what your veterinarian has to deal with on a daily basis any time a distressed cat requires attention, doesn't it?

In a future issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats, Helpful Buckeye will address other types of unusual (but not aggressive) behavior shown by cats.

The LA Dodgers have gone into a downward tailspin, losing 5 in a row.  We are now tied for last place in our division.  So much for the high hopes of a new season and a new manager.  It's still more of the same old, same old.

The San Antonio Spurs opened the first round of NBA playoffs today with an upset loss to Memphis.


Desperado and Helpful Buckeye took a day-trip to the tiny mountain town of Crown King, AZ this past week.  We had to drive 27 miles on a dirt, sand, and rock road that zig-zagged back and forth up to the top of the Bradshaw mountain range.  Our speed was never more than 30 MPH and most of the time, it was in the 5-10 MPH range.  Crown King was a bustling gold-mining town back around 1900 but today only has about 150 full-time residents.

These are some great place names, aren't they?  Right out of the Old West.  Even though I-17 is just to the left of this sign, you can see how remote this area is.

The road winds across this valley before going up the side of the Bradshaw Mountains in the distance.

The Crown King Saloon, which was moved to the village in 1906 (there aren't any 1-dollar bills stapled to these walls!)...also, you can see what the major form of transportation is in this mountain hamlet.

First class outhouses...nothing but the best!

The Crown King General Store also holds the post office.  We sampled some really good-tasting homemade fudge here as well.

The Crown King Fire and Rescue you can see, it's all outside.

Philosophical sign in the General Store...pretty much sums up the location.

That concludes this most recent foray into a new part of Arizona.  Many more parts of Arizona await us as we observe the command of William Wordsworth (British poet):

“Come forth into the light of things, Let Nature be your teacher."

~~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, April 10, 2011


Well, so much for spring arriving!  Helpful Buckeye shoveled 12" of "springtime" from the driveway yesterday morning and right now (5 AM Sunday morning), the temperature is 7 degrees!  I'm OK with the winter season, but I'm ready to cry "Uncle" right about now....

Several of you asked about the lead photo in last week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats.  It was taken on the outdoor patio of Dos Gringos restaurant in Scottsdale, AZ.  Ah, the memory of sitting there, in the 90 degree weather, enjoying a tall, chilly one....

Helpful Buckeye received a lot of e-mails about the discussion of heartworms last week.  The really good news is that 90 % of respondents said they keep their dogs on heartworm preventive medicine year round.  Also, only 10% replied that they have had a dog become infected with heartworms.  Looks like a perfect correlation, doesn't it?  Remember to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.

Helpful Buckeye would like to send a special "thank you" to Holly for her kind words following last week's issue:
I swear, just when I think your blog can't get better, you go and out-do yourself. This week's blog is FULL of great information...Once again, thanks for all the love and hard work you put into this site. I love it here!

Perhaps I should consider having Holly as my agent?

Three weeks ago, we spent the whole issue discussing "What Do Your Pets Eat?"  Helpful Buckeye was a little surprised to receive several e-mails after that asking about whether or not it would be feasible to offer a vegan diet to your pet.  Even though the concept of vegan diets for humans is currently pretty much in the mainstream of awareness, the same cannot be said for pets.  So, this week, Helpful Buckeye will present some of the viewpoints on this topic and how it relates to the health and well-being of your pets.

However, let's first get some terminology taken care of.  There are numerous forms of diets that restrict meats and/or by-products of animals.  Vegetarians, vegans, fruitarians, and pescetarians are some of the more familiar examples of individuals who choose for various reasons to follow a particular diet.  For our purposes in this discussion, we will be treating all these categories as offense intended; it's just that the animals aren't really aware of what they are being fed.  Their diet is being prepared by a human who most likely has strong, well-defined feelings about what is being fed to their pet.

This very interesting interview from CNN will start us off with the principal viewpoints of vegetarian/vegan diets as related to pets:

Vegan diet for dogs: A question of thriving vs. surviving

It began when Shelley Boyle's veterinarian recommended she stop feeding meat and dairy to her beloved mutt, Cleo, to determine whether a food allergy was to blame for the dog's chronic ear infection.

Boyle's interest was immediately piqued. She had been a vegan for nearly two years, after deciding to cut meat, eggs and dairy from her diet for health and ethical reasons. But she never considered the possibility that she could align her dog's diet with hers.

"I've had animals all my life and when I did look into a vegan diet for my cat, I read that cats can't be vegan ... so I went to the conclusion that we can't do this for Cleo," says Boyle, an environmental consultant and part-time vegan baker from Studio City, California.

With her doctor's guidance, she began whipping up batches of pinto beans, brown rice and sweet potatoes each week. She fed them to 4-year-old Cleo, a German shepherd/pit bull mix, twice daily with a dose of probiotics at lunch to help her digest.

Five months later, Cleo's ear infection is gone, Boyle says. Her coat has taken on a healthy shine and she no longer has bad breath, dandruff or excessive shedding, she says. Her vet at the Animal Dermatology Clinic in Pasadena, California, suggested incorporating calcium and iron supplements through a diet of leafy greens or a vegan nutritional capsule.

"Her health and well-being is the main thing for us, but that fact we have a vegan option is a double-benefit because it means our dog can live with the same ideology," she says.

With the vegan diet enjoying a period of (mostly) positive widespread exposure, it should come as little surprise that vegetarian or vegan pet owners might want to project those ideals onto their canine companions.

The notion of a holistic approach that gives pet owners more control over their pets' diet has been gaining ground since 2007, when a melamine contamination of commercial pet food caused people to take a closer look at what they were feeding their pets, says Donna Spector, a veterinary internal medicine specialist who runs SpectorDVM, an animal nutrition consultancy.

"That was a turning point that led to more home-cooked meals and raw food diets. Vegetarianism is another subset of that backlash," she says.

Spector and six other pet experts who spoke with CNN conceded -- some more reluctantly than others -- that most dogs could biologically live on a vegan diet. But doing so requires substantial attention to creating a balanced diet that makes up for the loss of animal protein with substitutions of beans, soy and, to a lesser extent, vegetables and grains.

Dogs are classified in the order Carnivora, but, unlike cats (a topic for another day) they have evolved biologically as omnivores, meaning their systems can derive nutrients from a wide variety of sources, including fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and animal products.

"The important thing is that you use a diet that has been shown to be nutritionally adequate for whatever stage of life you're feeding, and it is absolutely possible to find a good quality commercial pet food that doesn't have animal products in it," says veterinarian Kathryn E. Michel, an associate professor of nutrition at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine.

She recommended using only commercial pet food that has gone through Association of American Feed Control Officials feeding trials. Or, if you prefer to cook meals from scratch, consult a credentialed expert in dog nutrition to ensure a proper balance of essential nutrients.

Whether dogs can thrive on a vegan diet elicits different shades of responses.

"If you go to India you can see dogs living on the scraps. They can survive on almost nothing once they've evolved to living on the streets, but is that what's best?" says pet expert and author Tracie Hotchner, host of the radio show "Dog Talk."

"If a dog has a choice he's not picking a pile of beans over chicken or meat, and he's not going to be lapping up soy," she says. "If you're going to be harmonious in your choices, be harmonious. I say respect each species for what it was meant to be, and if you feel that strongly about being vegan, get a vegetarian animal. Bunnies make wonderful pets."

Dogs have a significantly higher daily protein requirement than humans. Finding protein sources that provide adequate amounts of nutrients such as amino acids in the sufficient ratio can be difficult under the vegan approach, which relies on plant protein sources that have less biologic value than meat protein, Spector says.

"Vegetarian pet foods require the addition of synthetic amino acids to fill nutritional gaps or a much higher overall protein level to supply all of the essential amino acids. Overall, it is much easier and more reliable to supply a dog's essential nutrients in a food containing both plants and meat," she says.

The vegan diet also lacks some essential fatty acids that are only available in animal products like butter and fish oils, says veterinarian Michael Fox, former president of the U.S. Humane Society and author of "Dog Mind, Dog Body."

Fox, a lacto-ovo vegetarian who feeds his dogs an omnivorous diet prepared at home, says the best approach for dogs -- and humans -- is a varied diet from organic ingredients. He says some adult dogs do adapt and even thrive on well-balanced vegan diets, but contends that dogs do best with a variety of foods that include some animals fats and protein.

"Dogs have evolved to a degree, but they've been with us 45,000 years as camp followers, scavengers, village dogs in the third-world countries and they'll eat just about anything," he says, adding that dogs could benefit from a vegan meal at least once a week to detox.

"But then again, we don't have the real science to back up whether it's safe enough, so, for dogs' sake, we need to adopt the cautionary principle."

The first thing doctors tend to ask is why someone is considering a vegan diet, Fox says. In most cases, personal ethics are the primary motivator, followed by food allergies.

In the latter category, a vegan diet can bring relief, veterinarian Armaiti May says.

"I've seen many dogs with food allergies, and often switching to a vegan diet can help them," says May, who is vegan. "They also avoid taking in animal by-products from commercially produced dog food, including slaughterhouse waste products and rejects that wouldn't be fit for human consumption. We've seen a lot of cancer and other degenerative diseases in dogs in recent years so it's easy to suspect that pet food could be a contributor."

For those who have embraced a vegan diet for their dogs, they say they have living and breathing proof that it works.

Heather Kennedy, an editor for a scientific nonprofit society in Atlanta, has raised her two dogs vegan since she they came to live with her, two and a half years ago. She feeds them a prepared blend of dried vegetables, fruits and herbs that she mixes with water and either tofu, beans or textured vegetable protein.

"I get the occasional weird look, but any doubters seem to feel much better once they meet Moliere and Tillie and see that they're normal, healthy, energetic and rambunctious little dogs," she says.

This interview from a dog owner's point of view is available at:

From a veterinary nutritionist's point of view, there are several different considerations:

Vegetarian Diet For Dogs

by David A. Dzanis, D.V.M., Ph.D., DACVN

Many Americans enjoy the vegetarian lifestyle today, either for health or ethical reasons. Some people choose to extend this dietary philosophy to their pets as well, which has prompted the marketing of commercial vegetarian dog and cat foods. There is a spectrum of foods and ingredients that may be included or excluded from a "vegetarian" diet, depending on one’s definition. At minimum, it usually means that most meat sources are excluded from the diet (such as beef, pork, lamb, poultry, and sometimes fish). More restricted diets exclude other foods of animal origin, such as egg and dairy products. Perhaps the most extreme example would be a "vegan" diet, where all foods and ingredients of foods, including vitamin and mineral sources, are excluded if they are derived from animals. Provided foods are carefully combined in appropriate proportions, vegetarian or vegan diets for people can be very nutritious and tasty. However, is the same true for dogs and cats?

To help answer that question, one must consider the normal anatomy and physiology of the dog and cat. Both species are in the scientific order Carnivora ("meat- eaters"), although today the domestic dog is considered more as an "omnivore" (animals that eat both animals and plants). Still, just by comparing the dentition of dogs and cats with that of humans and herbivores (plant-eaters, such as cattle and horses), it is readily apparent that their teeth are designed by nature for eating a diet largely comprised of animal tissue. Their short intestinal tracts compared to humans and especially to animals like sheep or horses also indicate that they are not designed to accommodate diets containing large amounts of plant materials. Their nutritional requirements, such as the need for relatively high amounts of protein and calcium, reflect these dietary limitations.

Cats are even more specific in their nutritional needs, emphasizing their status as "true carnivores." For example, cats cannot convert the beta-carotene in plants such as carrots and dark green vegetables into vitamin A. Rather, they require "pre-formed" vitamin A, such as found in liver and fish oils. Cats also need dietary sources of taurine (an amino acid-like nutrient) and arachidonic acid (an essential fatty acid), both of which are found in appreciable levels only in animal tissues. Thus, while both species can eat and utilize some plant-source ingredients (dogs more than cats), they simply are not intended to eat only plants as are other animals such as cattle and sheep.

Why feed a vegetarian diet to pets?

Many people consider their vegetarian diets to be more healthful than the traditional American diet that includes animal-source foods, and some assume the same to be true for dogs and cats. However, the health reasons that people cite as the basis for their own eating habits may not apply where pets are concerned. For example, dogs and cats do not suffer from problems such as high cholesterol or coronary artery disease at anywhere near the incidence as do humans. Thus, reducing intake of saturated fats and cholesterol by cutting meats out of the diet would not be of any real health benefit in pets. Another concern may be about bacterial contamination of the meat ingredients, which could cause disease when consumed by pets. This may be a legitimate concern when eating raw or undercooked meat or poultry, but properly processed dry or canned pet foods pose a far lesser risk of disease transmission than raw fruits and vegetables. Some vegetarian diets for pets are also offered on the premise that they will prevent food allergies. The true incidence of food allergies in pets is relatively low. Regardless, allergies can also be developed against proteins in plants just as easily, so cutting out the meat sources does little to prevent this problem.

Another reason that a pet owner would wish to feed a vegetarian or vegan pet food is because some people may be philosophically opposed to the consumption of products derived from animals, even by their pets. While this is a personal matter that each pet owner must decide for himself or herself, consideration also should be given to the ethical issue of feeding an animal a diet that is against its nature. To be honest, all commercial pet foods are to varying degrees "unnatural" (no company sells raw, whole rodents or small birds as "cat food"). However, eliminating all animal products from the diets of dogs and cats to meet one’s personal philosophy, regardless how well intentioned, may not be the correct choice if it potentially compromises the health of the pet itself. Fortunately, there are many pets besides dogs and cats that would thrive on a completely vegetarian diet (birds, iguanas, rabbits, horses and goats, to name a few).

Potential problems

The nutritional requirements for dogs and cats are very different from those for humans. Thus, a vegetarian diet perfectly suitable in meeting a person’s nutrient needs may be grossly deficient where dogs or cats are concerned. It is possible, but very difficult, to develop such diets for dogs and cats. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), in cooperation with CVM, has developed the AAFCO Dog and Cat Food Nutrient Profiles, which details the known nutritional requirements for these species. Formulating a pet food to meet all these requirements is not a simple task in any case, but becomes extremely difficult when using only ingredients that would meet the definition of a vegetarian diet (especially a vegan diet).

For example, the protein and calcium needs of the dog and cat are much higher than those for humans. These nutrients are most easily provided through animal-derived ingredients. Some plants, such as soy, are high in protein, but the amino acids within the protein are not as balanced as they are for most animal-source ingredients. Dogs and cats also need a dietary source of vitamin B12, a substance not found in most plants. All animals "need" this vitamin, but plant-eating animals such as cattle and sheep can make their own through the action of bacteria in their gastrointestinal tracts, provided there are adequate amounts of the mineral cobalt in the diet (which is found in plants). As mentioned above, the cat has even more unique nutritional requirements that make it harder to get adequate amounts of all required nutrients in the diet without using some animal-source ingredients.

Can’t these nutrients be replaced using synthetic substitutes? Yes, it is theoretically possible to formulate a diet that meets all these specific needs using synthetic additives. However, it becomes more expensive and far less reliable to do it this way. Even when a product is formulated to meet the nutritional needs "on paper," it may not work in the "real" world. For example, plants also contain phytates, substances that bind calcium and trace minerals, lowering their "bioavailability." So, even when minerals are provided at levels that appear adequate, they cannot be properly absorbed and used by the animal. There are adjustments in the AAFCO Dog and Cat Food Nutrient Profiles to account for decreases in bioavailability of nutrients, but these are made on the assumption that both animal and plant-source ingredients are used. It is impossible to tell whether these levels would still be adequate for a completely plant-based diet.

Finally, even the most carefully formulated diet with respect to providing adequate amounts of all essential nutrients is worthless if the dog or cat does not eat it. While dogs certainly enjoy the occasional snack such as a cookie or piece of fruit and cats will chew on grass and other plants, foods without some animal-source ingredients may not be very palatable, so asking dogs and cats to eat only plant-based foods may not be possible in some cases. Even if the cat or dog does eat the vegetarian diet, it still may not be eating enough to meet its nutritional needs.

Vegetarian diet "check list"

Before and after one decides to offer his or her pet a vegetarian diet, several factors should be considered:

1. Why am I choosing to feed this diet? One needs to balance any perceived health benefit against the real potential health risks. The ethical dilemma of the feeding of animal products to animals should be weighed against the moral concerns of feeding a diet that is opposed to that which would be consumed in nature.

2. Does it meet the nutritional needs of the pet? Many homemade diet recipes, including those found in books and magazines, may be seriously incomplete or unbalanced. Testimonials and "success stories" notwithstanding, they have not been shown by scientific testing to meet the nutritional needs of dogs and cats, and should be avoided. For commercial products, reject anything that does not bear an AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement as required for all "complete and balanced" pet foods in the United States. The label may say that the product "is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog (Cat) Food Nutrient Profiles." However, since palatability and bioavailability of nutrients are big concerns with vegetarian diets, even greater assurance would be had if the product label bears the statement that "Animal feeding tests following AAFCO procedures substantiate that (the product) is complete and balanced."

3. How is it working? After a month or two on the diet, and occasionally thereafter, try to objectively assess the performance of the diet compared to your pet’s previous food. Has it lost or gained weight? How’s the skin and coat? Energy level? Stool volume and consistency? Ask your veterinarian for an examination and professional opinion on your dog’s or cat’s health status.


The decision to feed a dog or cat a vegetarian diet is not one to be taken lightly. A vegetarian diet with some animal-source ingredients is more likely to meet the needs of the pet, especially for the cat, than a completely vegan diet. In either case, feeding such a diet carries an element of risk to the health of the animal, so the pet owner must consider the possible consequences of choosing these types of diets. If it is later found that a commercial product does not meet the animal’s nutritional needs, it would also be helpful for the pet owner to report that fact to the company and the appropriate regulatory agencies. That way, corrective measures can be taken to ensure that products on the market are nutritionally adequate for the intended species.

This presentation by Dr. Dzanis is found at:

Taking the other, more opposed position, comes this report from:

Warnings on vegan diets for dogs

People putting their dogs on vegan diets thinking it's healthy for them are not doing the animals any favors, U.S. veterinarians say.

While a vegan diet may provide a number of health benefits for humans looking to lose weight and lower their cholesterol and blood pressure, veterinarians say that going meatless may not be the best thing for dogs, the New York Daily News reported Friday.

"People feel it's good for their pet because it's good for them," Dr. Benjamin Davis, a vet at NYC Veterinary Specialists, said. But, he said, "dogs and cats, they're carnivores and they do eat meat as part of their natural diet."

Some pet stores have begun stocking vegetarian-based product for pet owners wanting to take the meatless route for their animal companions.

But there can be disadvantages, some store owners say.  "There are a number of health benefits, but there are health detriments as well," Phil Klein, a co-owner of Whiskers Holistic Pet Store in the East Village, said. "It depends on the individual animal and the reason the dog is being put on a vegan diet.

"If it's well thought out, it could be OK. We do an awful lot of work with allergenic animals and sometimes will recommend a vegetarian or vegan diet because the majority of allergies are due to particular proteins."

However, Davis said, for most dogs there is little advantage to going vegan, as even animals suffering from food allergies risk missing out on essential proteins, vitamins and minerals that come from meat products.

If you have been considering a vegetarian diet for your pet and, after considering all this input, would like to take that step, here are some suggestions:

How to Put Your Dog on a Vegetarian Diet

Unlike a cat, dogs are actually omnivores, not true carnivores. This means that they can be healthy without eating meat, but you must make sure your dog is getting enough protein and all the other nutrients he needs.

  • Buy a natural health book for dogs or, better yet, one that specializes in vegetarian diets. Follow the diet given.
  • Make sure your dog is getting enough of all the amino acids he needs and vitamin B-12. For this reason it's important to follow a prescribed diet.
  • Speak to your vet about testing your dog's urine periodically. You can do it at home very simply, and there are products on the market for this purpose. A vegetarian diet can make a dog's urine more alkaline; this may predispose them to urinary tract infections.
  • Give your dog cranberry capsules if the urine is too alkaline. This will make it more acidic and help prevent urinary tract infections.
  • Buy a prepared, high-quality vegetarian dog food. This is a good alternative if you're unsure what to feed your dog or don't have time to properly prepare a homemade meal.
  • Supplement with veggie dog treats and biscuits. These are available at most health food or pet stores.
  • Find a veterinarian who supports your decision and who is knowledgeable about vegetarian diets.
These suggestions are from:

From a historical perspective, here is an account of a dog skeleton found amongst human remains from 7000 years ago:

Burial remains of a dog that lived over 7,000 years ago in Siberia suggest the male Husky-like animal probably lived and died similar to how humans did at that time and place, eating the same food, sustaining work injuries, and getting a human-like burial.

"Based on how northern indigenous people understand animals in historic times, I think the people burying this particular dog saw it as a thinking, social being, perhaps on par with humans in many ways," said Robert Losey, lead author of a study about the dog burial, which has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology.

"I think the act of treating it as a human upon its death indicates that people knew it had a soul, and that the mortuary rites it received were meant to ensure that this soul was properly cared for," added Losey, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Alberta.

"Just like the humans in the cemetery, the dog was buried with other items, (such as) a long spoon made of antler," Losey said.

The dog was carefully laid to rest lying on his right side in a grave pit that, at other levels, also contained five partial human skeletons.

DNA and stable isotope analysis determined the animal was indeed a dog and that he ate exactly what humans at the site consumed: fish, freshwater seal meat, deer, small mammals, and some plant foods.

The canine's life, as well as that of the people, wasn't easy, though.

"The dog's skeleton, particularly its vertebrate spines, suggests that it was repeatedly used to transport loads," Losey explained. "This could have included carrying gear on its back that was used in daily activities like hunting, fishing, and gathering plant foods and firewood. The dog also could have been used to transport gear for the purposes of relocating settlements on a seasonal basis."

Additional fractures suggest the dog suffered numerous blows during its lifetime, possibly from the feet of red deer during hunting outings. The researchers cannot rule out that humans hit the dog, but its older age at burial, food provisions, and more suggest otherwise.

As indicated, this particular dog most likely was on the diet of an omnivore, eating both plant and animal tissue.  This report is from:

The bottom line on this topic is still properly educating yourself as to the nutritional needs of your pet and then acting on your findings.  Read material from credible sources and talk it over with your veterinarian as part of your preparation.

To put the finishing touch on this debate, watch this dog go to the refrigerator, open the door, and score itself a piece of pizza:
We'll probably never know whether this was a veggie pizza or had a big helping of sausage or pepperoni....
One last tongue-in-cheek mention is necessary, in that certain parts of the USA will be more likely to accept the vegetarian/vegan approach.  Desperado and Helpful Buckeye spotted this bumper sticker in the parking lot of the Phoenix Zoo last week:

On an unrelated but previously covered topic, the Georgia State Legislature has decided to not enact legislation that would allow the collection of a tax on veterinary services:

Thanks to the determination of Georgia’s pet owners and veterinarians, the proposed tax on veterinary services has been deleted from pending legislation.

The 2010 Special Council on Tax Reform and Fairness for Georgians (otherwise known as that bipartisan committee determined to tax every service in the state) has deleted the “vet tax” from a revised bill. The tax would have driven up veterinary costs between seven and eight percent. Veterinarians would be the only health professionals targeted for taxation in Georgia; doctors and other health professionals’ services are exempt.

Since animal health and human health are intertwined, a vet tax could cause owners to neglect routine care for their companion animals. That, in turn, increases the number of zoonotic diseases passed between pets and human.

While the professional services rendered by veterinarians won’t be taxed, it’s not clear if other animal services will be exempted from the tax reform measures. Often, pet illnesses are caught first by observant groomers and trainers. From lumps and bumps to slight behavioral changes, others in the pet industry are important guardians of our pets.

This report is from:

The LA Dodgers have finished the first full week of the season by taking 2 of their first 3 series against division opponents, the Giants and Padres.  Another series with the Giants awaits us this week.


Many of you sent in guesses about the number of 1-dollar bills that line the walls of the Superstition Saloon in Tortilla Flat, AZ.  The guesses ranged from $1000-$125,000.  According to the manager on duty when Desperado and Helpful Buckeye ate a great lunch there, the total is right at $103,000...with the bills stacked 3-deep in a lot of areas!  That's a bunch of 1-dollar bills, huh?  Jenny, from Mesa, AZ, guessed $100,000...which was the closest guess.  I'm wondering if she has eaten there....

And, speaking of "bills," I also asked our readers what that curious projection was on the bill of the White Pelican.  All adults, male and female, have this outgrowth of bill tissue as part of their breeding plumage.

Desperado and Helpful Buckeye have an interesting day trip planned for this week to a very remote part of Arizona that is characterized by these 3 quotes:

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”--John Muir

“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.”—Iris Murdoch

“To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.”—Helen Keller

This location is not very easy to reach and we'll give you a report on it next week.

In closing, you'll recall Holly's comments about this blog.  I have just learned that her son, Evan, has been recently deployed to the Middle East.  Helpful Buckeye hopes that all of our readers will join in keeping Evan in your thoughts for a safe return.

~~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.~~