Sunday, June 5, 2011


Judging from the e-mails received after last week's issue about "Pets On Vacation," many of you will be doing just that in the next several months.  This week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats will conclude the series with some reminders of what might happen once you hit the road with your pet and plenty of suggestions on how to avoid the more unpleasant occurrences.

About 50% of respondents to last week's poll questions said they would be taking a pet with them somewhere this summer.  Approximately 90% of you admitted that you don't keep your pet restrained while in a moving vehicle, although one of those said that she does not allow her dog to stick its head out the window of a moving she's at least half-way to earning her "pet-in-the-car" merit badge.  Lastly, about 50% said they have used the services of a pet sitter and about half of those reported that they had the pet sitter doing other things for them around the house.  Be sure to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.

The conclusion of Pets On Vacation will begin with what happens after you've decided that your pet will be going with you on vacation rather staying behind in a boarding facility or in the company of a pet sitter.

Hitting The Road

More and more people are hitting the roads and airways with their pets in tow, and apparently, loving it., a pet travel service provider, today announced the results of its second annual Summer Pet Travel Survey of more than 10,000 pet owners worldwide, finding that 60 percent traveled with pets during 2010.

The survey also shows that 48 percent of the pet owners spends less than $500 annually on pet travel-related products and services. However, nearly thirty percent of pet owners said they spend $1000 or more.

Last year's survey showed a lot of people felt pet flying with your pet was so expensive, it wasn't really possible for them. This year's survey found only 18 percent view airline fees as too expensive.

Although a lot of people felt the number of pet-friendly hotels was not large enough, those who chose to stay at hotels because they are pet-friendly jumped by 10 percent from 2010 to 2011, with 78 percent of respondents indicating they had stayed at a hotel because it allowed pets or was considered to be "pet-friendly."

This was adapted from:
and the complete results from this year's survey are found at:

Take a few minutes to look over the survey results...there are some interesting findings!

One thing you should have accomplished BEFORE taking your pet with you on vacation is have a micro-chip implanted into your pet.  The American Veterinary Medical Association has offered this up-to-date information about micro-chips:

Q: What is a microchip?

A: A microchip is a small, electronic chip enclosed in a glass cylinder that is about the same size as a grain of rice. The microchip itself does not have a battery—it is activated by a scanner that is passed over the area, and the radiowaves put out by the scanner activate the chip. The chip transmits the identification number to the scanner, which displays the number on the screen.

Q: How is a microchip implanted into an animal? Is it painful? Does it require surgery or anesthesia?

A: It is injected under the skin using a hypodermic needle. It is no more painful than a typical injection, although the needle is slightly larger than those used for injection. No surgery or anesthesia is required—a microchip can be implanted during a routine veterinary office visit. If your pet is already under anesthesia for a procedure, such as neutering or spaying, the microchip can often be implanted while they're still under anesthesia.

Q: What kind of information is contained in the microchip? Is there a tracking device in it? Will it store my pet's medical information?

A: The microchips presently used in pets only contain identification numbers. No, the microchip cannot track your animal if it gets lost. Although the present technology microchip itself does not contain your pet's medical information, some microchip registration databases will allow you to store that information in the database for quick reference.

Q: What do they mean by "microchip frequency?"

A: The frequency of a microchip actually refers to the frequency of the radiowave given off by the scanner that activates and reads the microchip. Examples of microchip frequencies used in the U.S. include 125 kiloHertz (kHz), 128 kHz, and 134.2 kHz.

Q: How does a microchip help reunite a lost animal with its owner?

A: When an animal is found and taken to a shelter or veterinary clinic, one of the first things they do is scan the animal for a microchip. If they find a microchip, and if the microchip registry has accurate information, they can quickly find the animal's owner.

Q: Will a microchip really make it more likely for me to get my pet back if it is lost?

A: Definitely! A study of more than 7,700 stray animals at animal shelters showed that dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 21.9% of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were returned to their owners 52.2% of the time. Cats without microchips were reunited with their owners only 1.8% of the time, whereas microchipped cats went back home 38.5% of the time. (Lord et al, JAVMA, July 15, 2009) For microchipped animals that weren't returned to their owners, most of the time it was due to incorrect owner information (or no owner information) in the microchip registry database – so don't forget to register and keep your information updated.

Q: Does a microchip replace identification tags and rabies tags?

A: Absolutely not. Microchips are great for permanent identification that is tamper-proof, but nothing replaces a collar with up-to-date identification tags. Your pet's rabies tag should always be on its collar, so people can quickly see that your pet has been vaccinated for this deadly disease. Rabies tag numbers also allow tracing of animals and identification of a lost animal's owner, but it can be hard to have a rabies number traced after veterinary clinics or county offices are closed for the day. The microchip databases are online or telephone-accessed databases, and are available 24/7/365.

Q: I just adopted a pet from the animal shelter. Is it microchipped? How can I find out?

A: If the shelter scanned the animal, they should be able to tell you if it is microchipped. Some shelters implant microchips into every animal they adopt out, so check with the shelter and find out your new pet's microchip number so you can get it registered in your name.  Most veterinary clinics have microchip scanners, and your veterinarian can scan your new pet for a microchip when you take your new pet for its veterinary checkup. Microchips show up on radiographs (x-rays), so that's another way to look for one.

Q: Why should I have my animals microchipped?

A: The best reason to have your animals microchipped is the improved chance that you'll get your animal back if it becomes lost or stolen.

Q: I want to get my animal(s) microchipped. Where do I go?

A: To your veterinarian, of course! Most veterinary clinics keep microchips on hand; so, it is likely that your pet can be implanted with a microchip the same day as your appointment. Sometimes local shelters or businesses will host a microchipping event, too.

Q: Why can't I just buy the microchip and implant it myself?

A: It looks like a simple-enough procedure to implant a microchip – after all, it's just like giving an injection, right? Well, yes and no. Although it looks like a simple injection, it is very important that the microchip is implanted properly. Using too much force, placing the needle too deeply, or placing it in the wrong location can not only make it difficult to detect or read the microchip in the future, but it can also cause life-threatening problems. Microchips should really be implanted under supervision by a veterinarian, because veterinarians know where the microchips should be placed, know how to place them, and know how to recognize the signs of a problem and treat one if it occurs.

Q: Once the microchip has been implanted, what do I do? Is there any sort of maintenance needed?

A: There really is no maintenance required for microchips themselves, although you do need to keep your contact information up-to-date in the microchip registration database. If you notice any abnormalities at the site where the microchip was implanted, such as drainage (oozing) or swelling, contact your veterinarian. Ideally, the microchip should be scanned during your animal's yearly checkup to make sure that it is still in place and working as it should.

Q: I heard about a dog that was euthanized by a shelter because his microchip wasn't detected by the shelter's scanner. How can I know that won't happen to my pet?

A: Unfortunately, there was a case where a dog's ISO standard chip was not detected by the animal shelter's scanner (because it only read 125 kHz microchips), and the dog was euthanized after the usual holding period because they could not locate its owner. Although this was a very sad case, the good news is that this case helped bring national attention to the need for universal microchip scanners to prevent this from happening again. Much progress has been made, and the likelihood that this will happen again is very low.

Q: Why are microchips sometimes not found?

A: As with almost anything, it's not a foolproof system. Although it's very rare, microchips can fail and become unable to be detected by a scanner. Problems with the scanners are also not common, but can occur. Human error, such as improper scanning technique or incomplete scanning of an animal, can also lead to failure to detect a microchip.  Some of the animal-related factors that can make it difficult to detect a microchip include the following: animals that won't stay still or struggle too much while being scanned; the presence of long, matted hair at or near the microchip implantation site; and a metal collar (or a collar with a lot of metal on it). All of these can interfere with the scanning and detection of the microchip.

Q: Do the benefits of microchipping outweigh the risks? I know that you said I have a better chance of being reunited with my lost or stolen pet if it is microchipped, but I'm worried there is still a chance that the veterinary clinic or shelter won't be able to read the chip or my pet will have a reaction.

A: The benefits of microchipping animals definitely outweigh the risks. Although we can't guarantee that a shelter or veterinary clinic will always be able to read every microchip, the risk that this will happen is very low, and getting even lower. Animal shelters and veterinary clinics are very aware of the concerns about missing an implanted microchip, and take extra measures to determine if a microchip is present before a decision is made to euthanize or adopt out the animal. Universal scanners are becoming more available, and solve the challenge of detecting different microchip frequencies.

There are more detailed questions and answers available from the AVMA at:

Any dog or cat that can get out of your house, let alone go with you on a vacation, should have a micro-chip properly implanted.

Some of you have most likely tried using a travel crate for keeping your pets confined during a longer trip.  Helpful Buckeye has received several inquiries about such a crate for a larger dog.  Apparently those are a little more difficult to find in pet stores.  The folks at have put together a list of 5 different types of crates that would work well for a larger dog and are available from ABO Gear, Orvis, Pet Gear, Remington, and Noztonoz.

The descriptions of these and clickable websites for them are available at:

Don't fret, all you cat also describes 5 selections of cat carriers for your consideration: also offers this selection of travel items that might come in handy for your dogs during the course of your vacation trip...Sun Relief Spray, Doggy Life Jacket, Seat Belt Harness, Natural Dog Treats, and Playtime Ball Launcher.  Descriptions available at:

For those of you who haven't looked into pet-friendly lodging while on the road, check out this website that claims to have more than 25,000 facilities listed:

OK, now for some of the unusual problems you might encounter on your travels with your pet.  Most pet owners are by now fairly familiar with the kinds of trouble their pets can find while at home in their own environments (at least the regular readers of Questions On Dogs and Cats are well informed).  However, once you're out on the road, there are a lot of regional difficulties that you might not even be aware of.  Helpful Buckeye will point some of those out right now.

Cane Toads

These huge toads are not native to the USA but have become well-established in south Florida.  They have a couple of external glands that produce a secretion that will kill a good-sized dog pretty quickly if the dog gets the secretion into its mouth.  Read this account of one dog owner's experience in Tampa:

Christopher Martineau knew something was wrong early Saturday morning when several of the family dogs began making a lot of racket.  The dogs were outside with Marinteau's wife and Christopher saw one of the dogs acting strange, but wanting no part of whatever the others had cornered. But Spot went for it, and as of about noon Saturday, he was on life support after biting a poisonous cane toad.  "The dog was foaming at the mouth and shaking, then went into a seizure," said Martineau. "All I could think of is that he bit it."

White, sticky foam was oozing out of the toad's back, Martineau said.  In no longer than 10 to 15 minutes, Spot's eyes began rolling back in his head and he had a seizure. The dog lost control of his bowels on the way to the veterinarian's office.  "The doctor said dogs usually die in 10 to 15 minutes after being poisoned by one of these toads," Martineau said.  But three hours later Spot was still alive, with at least three IVs flushing out the toxin. He was blinking his eyes and breathing, said Martineau.  "I've lived in Florida all my life and never seen a toad like this one," Martineau said.  He killed the toad.

Adapted from:

As if you need another reason to be sure about your pets' vaccinations being up-to-date....
Not only do those vaccinations have to be up-to-date to satisfy most state requirements in the USA, but also you never know when your pet will encounter a rabid animal.  Rabid animals can be found in just about every state of the USA, even in normal times.  Then, you have to consider the occurrence of rabies outbreaks that exceed those normal times.  Two states, Arkansas and Texas, are currently experiencing such outbreaks and are warning pet owners of being extremely careful about their pets' vaccinations and possible exposure to rabid skunks and raccoons.
For more information on this, go to:
Also, remember that when traveling with your pets (especially when crossing state lines), you are supposed to carry with you a valid Health Certificate, signed by your veterinarian.
Another disease that your dog should be regularly vaccinated for is Leptospirosis.  This is mostly spread by wildlife and is mostly prevalent in areas that have standing water.  With all the states in the Midwest and the East Coast getting so much rain the last few months, the chances of an un-vaccinated dog being exposed to Leptospirosis have been increased.  This account of the present danger comes from Michigan:
Lyme Disease
Lyme Disease is spread by a species of tick that is found in great numbers in certain parts of the USA.  It can cause problems for both humans and dogs.  Certain areas of the country are expecting big increases this year in the number of reported cases, partly due to the rainy spring followed by warmer weather.  You need to practice good tick control when in those areas with your dog.  Also, you should consult your veterinarian BEFORE going to those areas about the advisability of vaccinating your dog against Lyme Disease.  Parts of the USA that are already warning of an increased incidence this summer are:

Plague, also known as Bubonic Fever and the Black Death (in medieval times), is still around in certain areas of the USA, most notably the "Four Corners" region around the juncture of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico.  It is caused by the bite of a flea that is carrying the bacteria, Yersinia pestis.  These fleas are mostly found on certain rodents, mostly prairies dogs in this region.  A bit from one of these fleas can cause this disease in a human, as well as a dog or cat.

An account from New Mexico about dogs and a cat:
Valley Fever
Valley Fever is a potentially serious disease caused by a fungus found in the desert soils of the American Southwest.  It sometimes takes a while to show up as an illness following the initial exposure and if you've been traveling with your dog in the southwestern states, you might be back home before noticing its effects on your dog.  In that case, you'd be wise to advise your veterinarian of the dog's possible exposure to the fungus.
A dog owner's account of the infection:
As a final reminder about keeping your pet happy and healthy while on the road, review these warnings from the Dallas-Ft. Worth area:
Keep your pets happy, healthy on the road

Sixty-one percent of pet owners travel with their four-footed family members -- and no wonder, because road trips are an affordable, convenient way to keep your canine (or kitty) with the pack and out of pricey kennels. Follow this advice to help your pet stay healthy and happy the whole time.

Car seating

One in five dog owners surveyed by AAA admitted to driving with pets in their laps, which is incredibly dangerous. Dogs should never ride freely -- not in the back seat, not in the bed of a pickup, and especially not in the front seat, where the air-bag risk is the greatest. You have two main options: a crate or a seat-belt harness. "A crate that's secured to the vehicle with tether anchors and engaged child locks is the safest way for your dog to travel," says Gregg Takashima, a veterinarian and president of the American Animal Hospital Association. "Harnesses are also good, but keep your pet away from air bags, which can easily break her neck if deployed." If your pooch isn't acclimated to the method you choose, take him for short trips before your vacation to get him used to his new gear.

Window warning!

Your dog should never be allowed to stick his head out the window of a moving car. "Debris can be driven into a pet's eyes, nose and ears -- especially at high speeds -- causing injuries and pain," Takashima says. "I've also seen dogs that have jumped out of a slightly opened window".

Adapted from:

Hopefully, you'll now feel better prepared to have a great vacation...along with your pets!  Travel safely and get back home healthy!

Well, I'm not getting too giddy about this just yet...but the LA Dodgers have actually won their last 3 consecutive series...something they haven't done all season.  Things don't usually happen in a hurry in baseball and it is a long season, so...there just might be a smidgen of hope for my guys in BLUE.

The Dallas Mavericks pulled a major upset in the 2nd game of the NBA Finals and took the home court advantage away from Miami...only to go back home and lose.  Now, Miami is ahead 2-1 in games.

Under the "it's about time!" category, Ohio State finally gathered up the courage to get rid of Jim Tressel, our lying football coach.  Now, to make the complete sweep of people who were asleep at the wheel while all this was going on, the university needs to get rid of the athletic director and the president.  This needs to happen for us to regain any hope of being respected for doing things the right way.  You heard it here!


A couple of things happened this week related to my bike.  First of all, Desperado knew I was looking for a new helmet and she found the perfect one.  The color will go great with all of my riding color combinations.  Secondly, I blew out a couple of spokes on the rear wheel and had to take my bike in to the shop for repairs.  As is frequently the case, a couple more problems surfaced upon closer inspection and had to be taken care of.  A couple of hundred $$ later, I now have a much sturdier and tougher bike and it should be in peak condition for my big event in the Colorado Rockies in July.  I also bought a new bike rack for the back of our road vehicle.

Desperado and I are going to dinner Monday at a restaurant in Sedona that we had been to a few times when we first moved to Flagstaff and really liked.  A couple of years ago, it burned and had to be rebuilt and now they are open again for business.  We're getting ready to take a short trip back to the "homestead" in Pennsylvania at the end of this week, so this dinner will give us a chance to relax and enjoy the surroundings in a location we really treasure.

I've got a great picture to finish with this week, so I'll give you a quote from Mark Twain as a lead-in:
"The holy passion of Friendship is of so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring a nature that it will last through a whole lifetime...if not asked to lend money."  from Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar

We all tend to have our own somewhat arbitrary definition of what being a good friend means but Helpful Buckeye thinks we'll all agree that this is a view of best friends:

~~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.~~


  1. I'm the executive director of Arizona Victims of Valley Fever, and I want to warn all those who vacation or even pass through Arizona to keep out of dust storms and avoid windy areas; also, try not to allow your dog to dig in the dirt. Valley Fever is a fungal infection carried in the air, and all you need to do is breathe and you can get it. Tell Arizona to get a moral compass and appropriate monies to the cure. See

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