Monday, February 27, 2012


Helpful Buckeye doesn't expect to see any of our readers riding in a vehicle with their pet jumping loosely through the car, riding with its head out the window, or riding unprotected in the back of a pick up truck.  After last week's warnings about the imminent dangers of those activities, even your pets will be crying out for some kind of restraint!

Now that you've all been made aware of those dangers, how can you travel with your pets in a vehicle and feel that ALL of you will be more safe?  Helpful Buckeye offers several really comprehensive overviews for your benefit:

Auto safety for pets

When you hit the road with your beloved furry companion, make sure they are as safe as possible.
Friends often joke that you treat your dog or cat as though it were your child. Well, when traveling with your pet in a car, that’s just the thing to do.  You don’t let your kid climb all around a moving vehicle, so why would you let that adorable pooch or kitty do so? By limiting the movement of your animal and following other tips on auto safety for pets, you will greatly increase the chances that you and your furry companion will arrive at your destination unharmed.

Never leave them alone

Perhaps the most important animal-travel tip is to NEVER leave your pet alone in a parked car. When the outside temperature is 85 degrees Fahrenheit, the interior of a parked car can reach a sizzling 102 degrees in just 10 minutes and 120 degrees within half an hour, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). And that’s even if you leave the windows cracked an inch or two. Such temperatures put your dog or cat at serious risk of death from hyperthermia.

Even if it’s a perfectly comfortable 70 degrees outside, the inside of a parked car can quickly reach 90 degrees — too hot for your furry friend. The ASPCA warns that the dangers are not limited to the warmer months: “In cold weather, a car can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold and causing an animal to freeze to death,” the organization says on its pet insurance web site.

No roaming in the car

You see it all the time: a dog sticking his head through a moving car’s rolled-down window. The pooch is obviously having the time of his life, but Fido’s fun can be dangerous to his health. Letting your dog ride this way could damage his inner ear and even expose him to lung infections, ASPCA says. Furthermore, he could be struck by flying debris which can seriously damage the eyes or face.

Bottom line: don’t give your dog the freedom to stick his head out of the window or otherwise roam in your car, as a moving dog (or cat) can be thrown violently if you have a wreck or suddenly stop your car. Also, a roaming pet can be a dangerous distraction to a driver. A sudden sniff of your ear or lick of your nose can be all it takes to divert your attention from the road for too long. Approximately 30,000 accidents are caused each year by an UNRESTRAINED DOG SITTING IN THE FRONT SEAT, according to the American Automobile Association.

 The ASPCA recommends that you place your dog (or cat) in a “well-ventilated crate or carrier” that gives your pet just enough room to stand up and turn around. Besides limiting a pet’s movements, crates and carriers also provide protection in the event of a crash. For large dogs, a crate may not be an option; in these instances, restrain your dog with a harness that attaches to the car’s seat belts. Although they don’t provide the degree of crash protection as crates, harnesses can at least limit your pet’s movements and prevent him from suddenly bolting from the vehicle when you open the car door or the door is thrown open in a crash.

Hitting the road

When taking a road trip with your pet, make sure you have a gallon of cold water with you to keep your dog or cat sufficiently hydrated, the ASCPA urges. And be prepared to make regular stops: the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says you should stop every two to three hours to allow your dog to use the bathroom and get some exercise. The AVMA also recommends keeping a familiar blanket or toy by your pet to help it feel more comfortable during the drive.

Before embarking on a long trip, you should take some shorter drives around town with your pet to see how he responds, says Dr. Meg Wright, a veterinarian with the Powers Ferry Animal Hospital in Atlanta. “Is he anxious? Does he get car sick?” she says. “These are things you want to find out. In these cases, your vet may be able to prescribe a light sedative.”

By taking the above steps, you can ensure that car travel with your pet is as safe and enjoyable as possible.

Adapted from:
Some more suggestions:
Car Travel Tips

Top 10 Tips for Safe Car Travel With Your Pet

For some pet parents, a trip's no fun if the four-legged members of the family can't come. But traveling can be highly stressful, both for you and your animal companions. With thoughtful preparation, you can ensure a safe and comfortable trip for everyone.

Planning a road trip? Traveling with a pet involves more than just loading the animal in the back seat and motoring off—especially if you will be driving long distances or plan to be away for a long time. The ASPCA offers the following tips to help you prepare for a safe and smooth car trip:

1. Keep your pets safe and secure in a well-ventilated crate or carrier. There are a variety of wire mesh, hard plastic and soft-sided carriers available. Whatever you choose, make sure it's large enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down and turn around in. And P.S., it's smart to get your pet used to the carrier in the comfort of your home before your trip.  Also, feel around the inside of the carrier to be sure there aren't any sharp edges that might injure your pet. 

2. Get your pet geared up for a long trip by taking him on a series of short drives first, gradually lengthening time spent in the car. And remember to always secure the crate so it won't slide or shift in the event of a quick stop.

3. Your pet's travel-feeding schedule should start with a light meal three to four hours prior to departure. Don't feed your furry friend in a moving vehicle—even if it is a long drive.

4. Never leave your animal alone in a parked vehicle. On a hot day, even with the windows open, a parked automobile can become a furnace in no time, and heatstroke can develop. In cold weather, a car can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.

5. What in your pet's traveling kit? In addition to travel papers (health records), food, bowl, leash, a waste scoop, plastic bags, grooming supplies, medication and a pet first-aid kit, pack a favorite toy or pillow to give your pet a sense of familiarity.

6. Make sure your pet has a microchip for identification and wears a collar with a tag imprinted with your home address, as well as a temporary travel tag with your cell phone, destination phone number and any other relevant contact information. Canines should wear flat (never choke!) collars, please.

7. Don't allow your pet to ride with his head outside the window. He could be injured by flying objects. And please keep him in the back seat in his crate or with a harness attached to a seat buckle.

8. Traveling across state lines? Bring along your pet's rabies vaccination record, as some states requires this proof at certain interstate crossings. While this generally isn't a problem, it's always smart to be on the safe side.

9. When it comes to H2O, we say BYO. Opt for bottled water or tap water stored in plastic jugs. Drinking water from an area he's not used to could result in tummy upset for your pet.

10. If you travel frequently with your pet, you may want to invest in rubberized floor liners and waterproof seat covers, available at auto product retailers.

And, finally, these last tips:
10 tips for road-tripping with your dog

by Elizabeth Seward

There are rules for the road and there are rules for the road if you're on the road with your canine friend and so, I present to you, 10 tips for road-tripping with your dog. My husband and I returned to Austin a few days ago after spending 38 days straight on the road. It was just us, our new loft-bed-outfitted minivan, and our 6 month old puppy when we took off from our house on November 21st. This was our first time taking our dog, Fiona, out of town. She had never spent more than 30 consecutive minutes in the car prior to this trip and we weren't sure how she'd take to the road. Fortunately for us, she seems to have taken after us. Apparently a bit of a wanderlust herself, little Fiona braved the road (and the cold snow for the first time) during those 38 days. She turned 7 months old and then 8 months old while we were, largely, living out of our van. She did so admirably and I have come home with 10 solid tips for those of you who love road-tripping but also prefer to take your dog with you when you travel.

1. Visit the vet before you go.

It's important that your dog is in good health if you're going to expect your dog to behave well and enjoy a road-trip, particularly if it's a lengthy one. Take your dog to the vet before you hit the road. Make sure your dog has all vaccinations he or she might need, depending on where you're traveling to on your trip. A Rabies vaccination is an especially important one. Not only will you be stopped from crossing borders without proof of an up-to-date Rabies vaccination, but you put your dog at great risk if he or she doesn't have one or is due for a new shot. While you're at the vet, purchase any medication your pet may need. As a courtesy to dog-friendly hotels as well as to your dog, it's a good idea to get a new batch of flea and worm preventative medicine going before your dog is on the road with you. If your dog hasn't been spayed or neutered and you're open to the idea, this is a good time to move forward with the procedure and save yourself and other dog owners from the hassle of an unexpected doggy pregnancy. The vet can also insert a microchip under your dog's skin. Our dog was a rescue and the rescue company inserted one of these before we adopted her. While having her on the road, continually in different cities, this little chip certainly eased my mind.

2. Take a trip to the pet store.

Depending on where you're going on your trip, your dog may need all sorts of things that you wouldn't ordinarily have around. Make sure you have a supply of food large enough to last through your entire trip, unless you think you'll be in places where you can find refills. Complement this with a healthy snack for your dog, which you'll find handy if your dog is feeling anxious from the road or simply deserves a treat. We bought our dog a robust rope toy for the road to give her something new to focus on while spending extended hours in the car. If you don't already have a car crate for your dog, consider purchasing one. It's important that your dog's riding situation is as safe as it can be--for both you and the pup (if you slam on your brakes and your dog comes flying toward the driver's seat, it's likely to worsen the incident and perhaps cause an avoidable accident). Consider the climate of where you're going. Since our dog is a short-haired Whippet/Catahoula mix who had never seen snow before this trip, we bought her a warm coat. She hated it, but it kept her from shivering while we walked her around the bitter cold in Minneapolis. While at the pet store, you can also consider buying a new leash, collar, doggy first aid kit, nail clipper, a bright orange vest if you'll be out in the woods during hunting season, and, my personal favorite, the FURminator (it's a relatively expensive dog brush, but it will keep the upholstery in your car and luggage more hair-free than any other brush or technique I've found).

3. Prepare a comfort zone for your dog.

My theory was this: Fiona is going to be exposed to countless new places, people, and experiences on this trip. She needs a comfort zone, a safe place, that is just for her--somewhere she can go to feel calm and relish in the familiar. We made this place her car crate, which is, I think, the most practical thing to do. We filled the crate with a blanket from home we no longer needed, her favorite toys, and, admittedly, tons of treats at first (hey, we wanted her to love it). We even had a battery-powered night light near the crate at first so that she wouldn't be in total blackness throughout all of the hours of driving through the night we did. The main point here though is that your dog feels as though he or she has a place in the car--a familiar zone.

4. Pack your car wisely.

If you're getting ready to go on a road-trip, especially a long one, you know as well as anyone that there's only so much space in your vehicle for your belongings. As for us, our car was packed to the brim when we set out. To complicate it further, we had a bike and bike rack on the back of our car (we were bringing a bike to a friend as a favor), which made it difficult to open and close the back door without careful consideration. You'll need your dog's go-to items nearby--not packed deep in a piece of luggage beneath piles of luggage. Items to keep near you: a supply of plastic bags, towels for dirty paws, food, water, food and water dishes, leash, any medication, papers, nail clippers, brush, and anything else you deem important. As a general rule of thumb, if it's out of reach, you probably won't bother using it. We wound up creating an entire 'Fiona' bag and keeping it at the edge of the car's trunk area.

5. Evaluate your route carefully.

Many factors go into road-tripping with your dog and a big factor is location. Where are you going? If you're crossing the border in certain parts of Ontario, any Pitbull-looking dog can not only be refused entry into Canada, but I've read that this breed can actually be taken from owners and euthanized. Read up on Pitbulls in Ontario. Pitbull owners need to be especially careful because of Pitbull bans like the Pitbull ban in Denver, Colorado. Where you're going on your trip will also determine which vaccinations are necessary and what kind of climate you can expect. While traveling with your dog isn't usually complicated by regional jurisdictions, it can be. Make sure you know the laws of the land for you and your dog before you travel.

6. Research your destinations.

Once you know where you're going, you can further research the area. The Yelp iPhone app on our cell phone helped us get through our road trip with Fiona immensely. When we needed to take her to a vet in Minneapolis, Yelp pointed us in the direction of a highly rated but still affordable vet just a few miles down the road from where we were staying. He was great with her and with us and the experience certainly could have been more sour had we simply taken her to the nearest vet without doing any research. The app also helped us to locate dog parks as we traveled and other dog-friendly areas. We kept her exercising and socializing along the way because of this, which helped her to sleep more soundly when it was time to jump back in the car. A little bit of research can give you a go-to mental or actual list of vets, dog parks, pet stores, and pet-friendly hotels and other destinations.

7. Avoid stressing your dog out.

A stressed out dog is, often times, a difficult to manage dog. Try your best to avoid stressing your dog out. Turn off the speakers in the back of your car if your dog is back there. Remember that sounds affect dogs much more acutely than they do humans. If your dog is naturally anxious in the car, consider giving your dog doggy Valerian Root. It's all-natural and can be crushed up into your dog's food for a calming effect. Make sure your dog can sleep in his or her environment (ie, if you dog vomits inside the crate, by all means, clean up the mess before expecting the dog to go back in the crate and soundly sleep). Do not leave your dog unattended in the car for any period of time. A warm day will mean a very hot car interior.  Avoid sporadic changes in your driving when possible. The fewer times you slam on the brakes, speed up quickly, honk your horn, etc., the better.

8. Exercise your dog.

Many problems I hear about between dog owners and their dogs are simple cases of lack of exercise. Your dog needs to be exercised to be happy, fair and square. Just like humans, dogs need regular exercise. If you don't regularly exercise yourself, it's still your duty as a dog owner to regularly exercise your dog. This is even more important on the road since your dog will be spending much of his or her time cramped up in the car crate. Stop at rest stops. Most of them have a pet area and some of them even have elaborate trails for dog walking. Instead of standing still, waiting for your dog to do his or her deeds, jog with your dog. It will get your heart racing and help your dog to travel well in the car if you do this every 2-3 hours at rest stops. On top of this, locate dog parks when you can. An exercised dog is a happy dog, remember that.

9. Keep a consistent schedule.

It's not always easy to keep a consistent schedule while road-tripping--it was difficult for us. Road-tripping is unpredictable. Accidents, traffic, bad weather, the sudden urge to drive all night, the coming and going of new people and places--by definition, your schedule probably isn't very consistent while you're on the road. But dogs love consistency and familiarity. If you can only consistently do one or two things a day, do them! Feed your dog at the same times or walk your dog for 15 minutes every morning. Whatever it is, give your dog something to rely on as a standard part of everyday life and, I'm just conjecturing based off of our experience, your dog will have an easier time adjusting to the road.

10. Reward your dog.

Being a well-behaved road dog, especially during the first road trip, is no easy feat for any dog. Use positive reinforcement to encourage your dog's good behaviors. Have treats around to give your dog when he or she has behaved well in the car. Use the phrase 'Good boy', 'Good girl', or 'Good dog' every time they are appropriate. Dogs generally understand the word good and they like it. Why? Because dogs want to know when they're doing a good job. Let your dog know when he or she is behaving well through treats, exercise, and positive reinforcement and your dog will want to continue behaving well.

OK, I know there has been some repetition in these articles but...that's a good thing because all of it is important if you want to have a successful and safe road trip with your pet.


Now it's time to be concerned about Ohio State's basketball team.  They've lost a game on 3 consecutive weekends...and 2 of those were at home.  The players are still exhibiting poor shot selections and Helpful Buckeye is starting to think there might also be a problem with the coaching.  If the coaches can't get our star players to get more into the offensive flow, we're not going to go into the NCAA tournament with much confidence.

As Helpful Buckeye and a friend discussed the pros and cons of using GPS for directions this past week in Las Vegas, the words of Jimmy Buffett came to mind:

“The best navigators are not always certain where they are, but they are always aware of their uncertainty.”  Billy Cruiser, in Where Is Joe Merchant?, by Jimmy Buffett

~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~

Monday, February 20, 2012


In many parts of the country, folks are starting to think about road trips they would like to make later this spring or during the summer.  I know that Desperado and Helpful Buckeye have been talking about it.  As more and more pet owners have started to take their pets along with them on road trips, there has been a lot of discussion about whether or not that is a smart thing to do and, if so, what should a pet owner do to assure the trip is problem-free. 

Even more basic than heading out onto the interstate for a road trip with your pet is the idea of having your dog with you just "driving around town."  There has definitely been a trend toward pet owners having their pets with them almost all the time, in just about any situation or surrounding.  As a result, pet owners need to be aware of the circumstances to which they expose their pets, including whether their pets are creating problems for other people and whether there are any safety considerations for their pets.

As an introduction to the basic question of, "Should Dogs Go Everywhere?", let's begin with a short discussion of the pros and cons:

Should Dogs Go Everywhere With Their Owners?

Recently, the New York Times "Complaint Box" column took on a thorny issue: Are dogs too welcome in the city's public spaces?

After seeing dogs cavorting around Banana Republic, the Gap, furniture stores and even grocery stores, Barbara Rosenblatt wrote that she's had enough. "Animals are joining the ranks of small, bored children who must accompany their grown-ups just about everyplace," she wrote. "Perhaps what it will take to keep animals out of stores is a few too many paw prints on the merchandise, or a deposit by a dog that mistook a rug for a sidewalk."

Erica Manfred fired back, arguing that her 11-pound mutt deserves to go where she goes. "Well, I'm into my second adolescence and I've become a rebellious old lady. I take Shadow wherever I go because he makes my life bearable, and I don't care what anyone thinks," she wrote.

Whether or not Manfred cares if she's annoying other patrons with her canine cutie, plenty of readers were worked up enough to get into the fray. In fact, the Times received more than 500 comments from readers on both sides of the debate. One reader complained about health violations of dogs sniffing, licking and even pooping in food-service stores.

Another was more irritated by dog owners than dogs themselves. "Dog owners are worse than smokers in their inflated sense of entitlement," the reader commented. "Because they think their dogs are 'cute,' you should excuse their rude behavior."

Not surprisingly, there were dissenters. One commenter argued that most dogs are better behaved than most kids. "I don't like listening to wailing babies and whining children or their parents hissing at them," one reader wrote. "Leave the kids at home, please, and bring the dogs on!"

Clearly, New Yorkers are sharpening their claws over this contentious issue. Which side of the debate do you stand on?

Adapted from:

OK, did that arouse any feelings, one way or the other?  Helpful Buckeye doubts that there are very many of you who don't care, one way or the other.  And, since you're spending a few minutes each week reading this blog, you most likely would prefer to have your pet with you a lot, albeit in a responsible manner.  So, taking that approach, what are some of the considerations you should be aware of for taking your pet with you in a vehicle?

Is your pet travel-ready?
Here's how to safely satisfy his wanderlust - and yours.

Third wheels aren’t a standard feature of honeymoons, but when Joanne and Jonas Banner were planning a camping trip to the redwood stands of Northern California, the newlyweds had no intention of leaving behind their 10-year-old pointer mix, Sandy. “Getting married was really important to us, and she’s a big part of our lives,” says Joanne, who lives with her husband in Trabuco Canyon, Calif. “So we wanted to take her on that important trip.”

The Banners’ desire to share vacations with their pet isn’t unusual. In a survey of more than 6,000 pet owners worldwide, 61 percent of respondents reported taking their pets on a trip of more than 50 miles at least once a year. Dogs are the most frequent traveling companions, but some plucky cats enjoy getting out of the house, too.

Vacationing together can be a rewarding experience for you and your pet, but multi-species travel requires thought and planning. Before you hit the road with a four-legged copilot, assess whether the trip is in his best interests. If your plans include activities where animals aren’t allowed, consider whether your pet will be happy and well-behaved when left alone in a hotel room. And as much as you may long to watch your pup frolic on the beach or to share a cozy mountain cabin with your feline friend, animals who suffer from motion sickness, anxiety in new environments, or other conditions that make travel unpleasant for them should be left at home with a trusted pet sitter.

For first-time travelers, start by preparing them for the long road ahead. Sue Percival and her husband introduced their dog and five cats to their new motor home by “camping” in the driveway of their St. Johnsville, N.Y., home for several nights. “This way it’s not a strange place,” Percival says. “You’re not just … throwing them in there and heading down the road.”

When your pet is comfortable in the new space, you can follow up with short jaunts around town to accustom him to the vehicle’s motion and evaluate his suitability for longer trips.

If he proves to be the adventurous type, start mapping your itinerary by checking the many websites that list animal-friendly hotels, campgrounds, restaurants, parks, beaches, and events. Call ahead for reservations and ask about any size or breed restrictions, deposits, or extra charges. And double-check the pet policies at the sites you want to visit; not all recreational spots allow dogs on trails, and some dog parks are open only to local residents.

Jennifer Fearing did plenty of pre-trip planning when she and 7-year-old pit bull mix Yoda took a cross-country adventure from Washington, D.C., to Sacramento in 2008. The trip wasn’t a vacation; Fearing was reporting to a new position as The HSUS’s California state director. The journey was lengthened by daily stops at dog parks along the way, but the effort enhanced the experience. “One of the pluses about having dogs in the car is that I think you take better care of yourself,” Fearing says. “We stopped more and walked around more because we had him with us.”

The Percivals enjoy traveling with their pets so much that this summer they’re accompanying their dog Sterling on his vacation. The 7-year-old pooch and his owners are heading to Four Paws Kingdom, a North Carolina campground that offers agility classes, obedience training, canine massage, and activities for the human tagalongs. The cats will stay behind in the RV, content with bird-watching and climbing the 72-inch cat tree inside their home on wheels.

In for the Long Haul

Not all travel is optional. If you’re moving, your pet may need to weather a road trip even if they loathe it. Here are some steps to make the experience easier and more enjoyable for both of you:

• PREP WORK: Help prepare your pet for moving day by introducing her to your vehicle and taking brief drives together.

• UNEASY RIDER: If your pet turns out to be a poor traveler, ask your vet for a mild sedative or homeopathic remedy that will calm her but not knock her out. Do a trial run with the treatment to make sure she doesn’t have an adverse reaction.

• CALMING TRICKS: To soothe rattled nerves, try providing your pets with some cover, such as a blanket to snuggle under. When Aaron Dean moved his family from Florida to Colorado, his two dogs were experienced riders, but the cats were quick to vocalize their complaints. After four hours of nonstop yowling, “we wanted to drive into oncoming traffic,” Dean says. Eventually, he draped blankets over the carriers, and the darkened den atmosphere calmed the kitties for the rest of the trip.

Happy Trails, Safe Travels

Safety is a priority on any road trip, but pet companions necessitate extra precautions. Even mild fender benders can be life-threatening to those who aren't properly packed in. Loose cats have been known to wedge themselves beneath brake pedals, and a hard stop can throw an unrestrained animal into the windshield.

• SHOW SOME RESTRAINT: To prevent injury, pets should always be secured in the backseat when the car is moving—dogs in a seat belt and harness, cats in a carrier. As much as your pet may want to ride shotgun, the explosive force of an expanding airbag can crush a cat carrier and seriously injure an animal in the passenger seat. If you have a station wagon or SUV, another option is installing a barrier behind the backseat that keeps your pet confined to the cargo area.

• PACK IT IN: If your car is piled with luggage or household goods, make sure everything is securely tied down to prevent heavy objects from toppling onto your pet when the vehicle is in motion.

• EVERYBODY INSIDE: Don’t let your dog ride with his head out the window. As much as he enjoys the wind in his fur, flying rocks, debris, and bugs can cause injuries and the increased airflow can damage lungs.

• CAUTION...PRECIOUS CARGO: To prevent theft or heat stroke, never leave your pet in the car unattended. Even with windows cracked, the temperature inside a car on a mild day can rapidly rise to dangerous levels that can cause brain damage or death.

• MAKE LIKE A BOY SCOUT: Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date, and bring a copy of its records and, in case of emergency, a list of veterinary clinics along your route.

Adapted from: and All Animals Magazine, July/August 2010

Do most of you follow those simple suggestions about how to make your pet more safe when in a vehicle?  If you need more encouragement to do so, here are several more thorough explanations:

States Cracking Down On Dogs Behind The Wheel
The Danger For Pets On The Road

If it's any indication of the danger free-roaming pets face in a vehicle, New Hampshire, the country's only state that does not have a mandatory seat belt law, actually requires dogs to buckle up.

Live free or die, goes the state's motto, but Spike and Spot don't have that liberty. And with due reason. Seven other states, Connecticut, California, Massachusetts, Nevada, Washington, Oregon and Rhode Island also require owners to kennel or tether animals because of the severe danger the sudden stops and potential collisions pose to pets. An unrestrained dog can land you with a ticket between $50 and $200.

Animal lovers would almost always rather take their pet with them to run errands or on a road trip than leave them at home or at a pet motel. But for all that love for canines, most drivers have seen "dog people" take things too far, driving with their dogs in their laps or lying around their shoulders like a neck pillow and, yes, sometimes at the wheel.

 And it's a double dose of danger: for the distracted driver and the unrestrained animal.  "If you make a sudden stop, your dog can be thrown through the windshield," said Loretta Worters, spokesperson for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "He could also be thrown to the floor and interfere with access to gas and brake pedals."

The epidemic is so high that some insurance companies like Progressive and State Farm are offering collision coverage for customers' dogs or cats at no additional premium cost. The insurance will pay up to $1,000 if a customer's dog or cat suffers injury or death.

Adapted from:

Whether those insurance companies would pay for your pet's injury if you were the one driving without properly protecting the pet is unclear from this article.  If you foolishly insist on driving with your pet not properly protected, you might want to look into that.

A second problem....

Pets In Hot Cars

Rayne Nolte was in the parking lot of a Mankato, Minnesota, mall last week when she spotted Roxie, a Yorkie mix, trapped in a car. The temperature was 88 degrees with a heat index of 103, and the car's owner was gone.

You may have found yourself in Rayne’s situation before. Many pet parents believe that cracking a window is enough to keep their dogs cool in the car while they make a quick pit stop—but they couldn’t be more wrong. "Automobile temperatures can very quickly rise to dangerous levels; the average temperature increase in a parked car is 40 degrees, and the majority of this increase occurs in the first 15 to 30 minutes," says Dr. Louise Murray, Vice President of ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital. When it’s 80 degrees outside, your car will be a staggering 114 degrees after 30 minutes!

Worse still, dogs can’t cool themselves down as easily as people, and once they overheat, they can suffer extensive organ damage or die. Luckily, Rayne made all the right moves. Follow her lead by taking these simple steps.

Step 1: Try to Locate the Pet Parent

Roxie’s people were nowhere in sight, so Rayne called mall security, who tried to find Roxie’s family through the loudspeaker. (You can ask most stores to do this.)

Step 2: Educate

Rayne couldn’t find Roxie’s pet parents, but if you do, explain the dangers of leaving a pet in a hot car. Make sure the pet gets out of the car as soon as possible.

Step 3: Call 911

Fourteen states have enacted specific laws that protect dogs in hot cars, as have many municipalities—but even in places lacking such a law, leaving an animal in a hot car may constitute cruelty.

Rayne and the mall security officers dialed 911. When the police pulled Roxie from the steamy vehicle, she was very ill but soon on the road to recovery.

Step 4: Pat Yourself on the Back

Pets are counting on people like you to save their lives. Rayne rescued Roxie just in time, and she made a full recovery! And according to the Mankato Free Press, the pet-sitter who left Roxie in the car was charged with a petty misdemeanor.

Adapted from:

Step 2 might present a problem since some people who either aren't aware of the danger or don't care about the danger could resent someone trying to explain the problem.  Tread lightly on that one....

A third problem....

Cruelty Alert: Dogs in Pickup Trucks

A few years ago, Julien Roohani of Portland, Oregon, was at work when her roommates spontaneously decided to go on a hike. Not wanting to exclude Julien’s six-month-old Shepherd/Border Collie mix, Niña, they threw her into the back of their pickup truck and set off for an adventure.

Niña had never been in a truck bed before. Whether she was scared or just spotted something of interest, she managed to jump out during the drive. Panicking, the roommates called Julien, who rushed Niña to an emergency veterinary clinic where she was diagnosed with a broken spine and other severe injuries. Julien had no choice but to allow her young pup to be humanely euthanized.

Unfortunately, stories like Niña’s are all too common. It is never safe to drive with an unrestrained pet—especially with that pet in an open truck bed.

“When you drive with a loose dog in the back of your truck, you’re taking a huge risk and placing your dog and other motorists in danger,” says Chuck Mai, a vice president with AAA Oklahoma. “Even if a dog is trained, we’re talking about an animal who responds to stimuli on impulse. This irresponsible decision can start a deadly chain reaction on the road.”

Is It Legal?

Transporting unrestrained dogs in low-sided truck beds has been banned in a handful of states, including California and New Hampshire, and municipalities including Indianapolis, Cheyenne and Miami-Dade. However, in the vast majority of jurisdictions, it’s not even illegal to transport children in this manner, so we must rely on common sense and education to protect children and pets alike.

How You Can Help

One can feel terribly helpless witnessing a loose dog in a pickup truck. The best course of action is to try to get the vehicle’s license number (if you can do so while remaining safe) and call the local police. Rather than dialing 911, Jill Buckley, ASPCA Senior Director of Government Relations, suggests storing your police precinct’s phone number in your cell phone.

Adapted from:

Again, trying to deal with some people who think nothing of letting their dog ride loose in the back of a pick up truck possibly could lead to a confrontation.  The suggestion of reporting such an incident to the appropriate police department is safer for you and more likely to lead to some help for the dog.

That takes care of the first part of this topic, which has dealt mainly with situations you should avoid.  Be sure to return next week for the conclusion which will provide a lot more suggestions for making road travel with your pets as safe as possible by presenting things you should do.

The Ohio State Buckeyes basketball team continues to have problems with Michigan schools.  After losing at Ann Arbor to Michigan yesterday, we are now tied with both Michigan and Michigan State for the conference lead.  The next 2 weeks will settle the dust and show everybody which team is the real conference champ.  Right now, Helpful Buckeye suspects that we won't be the champion if we don't quit settling for jump shots and can't get into a better offensive flow.

A snow squall is blowing right now as I finish this issue.  We haven't had much snow to speak of since the middle of December...only about 9 inches...and this squall isn't supposed to amount to much.  The effects of La Nina have really been evident this winter.

Desperado and Helpful Buckeye will be heading over to Las Vegas this week to spend a few days with friends from Pennsylvania.  The weather is supposed to be sunny and in the mid-70s...that will be comfortable!

So far this year, Desperado and Helpful Buckeye have been able to enjoy a lot of different things that were missing from most of the last half of 2011.  We've taken a few short trips that were fun, enjoyed the treasures of the Flagstaff area almost on a daily basis, participated in several events surrounding the centennial celebration of Arizona, and got one of our birthdays properly taken care of.  This all goes along with a quote I saw this week from Ben Franklin: "Happiness consists more in small conveniences or pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom to a man in the course of his life." 

~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~

Monday, February 13, 2012


Helpful Buckeye has been preparing an overview of heart problems for pets and this week, with Valentine's Day coming up, seemed to be an appropriate time to run this issue.  We'll confine this first installment to the dogs out there in "petland" and take a look at cat heart problems a bit later.  Wishing a Happy Valentine's Day to all of you...and your pets.  If you have a special Valentine, give them an extra hug...and offer a hug and a treat to your pets...they deserve it!


Your dog’s heart is just like yours. It’s a four-chambered pump made of muscle.  The four chambers are separated by heart valves which ensure that blood can only flow in one direction.

Your Dog’s Circulation

The heart is a part of the circulatory system along with the lungs and blood vessels.  Each contraction of the heart muscle pumps blood around your dog’s body, supplying the organs with the energy and oxygen they need, while at the same time carrying away the waste products.

Heart Disease in Dogs

How common is heart disease in dogs?

About 10% of all dogs have some type of heart disease.  Most importantly, the incidence of heart disease increases dramatically with age. The incidence of heart disease increases to more than 60% in aged dogs.  This is particularly the case in dogs with valvular heart disease:

• About 10% of dogs between the ages of 5 and 8 years are affected
• 20-25% of dogs between the ages of 9 and 12 years are affected
• 30-35% of dogs more than 13 years are affected
• 75% of dogs over 16 years are affected

If your dog has been diagnosed with heart disease, don't lose hope. With early diagnosis and appropriate treatment and management, you increase your dog's opportunity to live a more normal life.

What Are the Causes of Heart Disease?

There are several ways your dog can be affected by heart disease:

Acquired Heart Disease

• Accounts for 95% of all heart conditions
• Disease that develops during the course of your dog's life

 Principal causes of acquired heart disease:
  •  Valvular disease, which is also known as atrioventricular valvular insufficiency (AVVI) or mitral valve disease or endocardiosis
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)
Congenital Defects
  • Heart problems that your dog is born with
  • Will usually be diagnosed when your dog is very young (ie, still a puppy)
  • Account for a very small percentage of the diagnosed heart-related problems
What Is Valve Disease?

Atrioventricular Valvular Insufficiency (AVVI) or mitral valve disease is the most common form of heart disease in the dog. Three quarters (75%) of the cases of canine heart disease in North America are caused by chronic valve disease.  As the name suggests, this disease affects one or more of the heart valves. Heart valves normally form a perfect seal when closed. However, in valve disease one or more of these valves "leak," allowing blood to be pumped backwards. This backward flow creates a noise, called a murmur, which your vet can hear with a stethoscope.
Valvular disease is 1.5 times more common in male dogs than females. This form of heart disease usually occurs in small- to medium-size dogs, less than 44 pounds (20 kg). The most susceptible breeds are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Poodles, Schnauzers, Chihuahuas, and Fox Terriers.

 What Is Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)?

DCM is the second most common form of heart disease in a dog.  DCM is a disease of the heart muscle itself where the dog's heart fails to pump effectively. The contractions of the heart are weak and therefore blood is not pumped through the body efficiently.  Typically, the heart stretches and enlarges, which over time further decreases its ability to pump blood around the body.  DCM usually occurs in medium- to large-breed dogs such as Dobermans, Boxers, Great Danes, Dalmatians, Irish Wolfhounds, St. Bernards, English Bulldogs, and Cocker Spaniels.

 How Will Heart Disease Affect My Dog?

Most forms of heart disease will, unfortunately, eventually result in heart failure. Heart failure occurs when the heart, weakened by disease, fails to pump enough blood to meet the body's needs.  If your dog has been diagnosed with heart disease, don't panic. With early diagnosis and appropriate treatment and management, you increase your dog's opportunity to live a more normal life.

Diagnosis and Detection

How is a heart problem diagnosed?  It is important for you and your dog to make regular visits to your veterinarian. Early diagnosis and treatment will ensure your dog leads a happier, healthier, and longer life. Your veterinarian will follow a series of key steps and use some of the latest diagnostic tools to distinguish heart disease from respiratory problems.

1. Clinical History...The veterinarian will need to know the age, breed, and medical history of your dog. He/she will evaluate the onset and type of cough and may ask about:

• Changes in attitude, behavior, and activity level
• Changes in breathing
• Changes in appetite and weight
• Sleeping habits
• Previous evidence of heart disease
• Previous treatment history

2. Physical Examination...A thorough physical examination will provide your veterinarian with clues as to whether your dog has any heart-related problems. He/she will then evaluate:

• Weight and body condition
• Breathing rates
• Heart rates
• Pulse rates
• Skin or tissue abnormalities
• Abdominal shape

3. Listening to your dog's heart and lungs...A stethoscope may allow your veterinarian to determine if a heart murmur is present (Appreciate that not all murmurs are easily heard). Also, the heart rate and rhythm can be assessed with a stethoscope to determine if there is an irregular heartbeat. He/she can listen to the lungs to detect abnormal sounds.

4. X-rays...Technically known as radiographs, x-rays can help the veterinarian evaluate the size and shape of the heart and assess the severity of your dog's heart disease as well as allowing a veterinarian to view your dog’s other internal organs.
5. Additional tests:
  • A blood chemistry and complete blood count (CBC) analysis to assess your dog's cardiovascular health
  • A blood pressure test-- find out if your dog’s blood is flowing properly or if there is resistance in the bloodstream
  • An ECG (electrocardiogram)--to evaluate the electrical activity of your dog’s heart to measure and diagnose abnormal heart rhythms
  • Identification of a cardiac biomarker called NT-proBNP that signifies stretching of the heart’s chambers
  • An echocardiogram--ultrasound evaluation of your dog’s heart that can assess valvular function, identify leaking valves, and measure cardiac output
Heart Disease Symptoms

What are the signs of heart disease?  In the early stages of heart disease, your dog's body may make adjustments to allow him or her to cope with the disease. During this stage of the disease your dog may show no visible signs of being unwell.

As time goes by and the disease progresses into clinical heart failure, your dog's body will no longer be able to make adjustments for the disease progression. At this stage, owners often notice deterioration in their dog's health.  Signs of heart failure in your dog that you may notice include any of the following in any combination:
  • Coughing
  • Changes in breathing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Labored breathing
  • Rapid/fast breathing
  • Changes in behavior
  • Tiring easily
  • Reluctance to exercise/not wanting to go for walks
  • Less playful
  • Slowing down/lack of energy
  • Depressed/withdrawn
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Fainting/collapsing
  • Weakness
  • Restlessness, especially at night
  • Swollen abdomen
The signs of heart failure can be subtle and mistaken for changes associated with aging. Watch as your dog goes about his or her daily activities. If you notice any changes in your dog's behavior, appetite, or level of movement, talk to your veterinarian.

Commonly Affected Breeds

The following breeds are more likely to develop atrioventricular valvular insufficiency (AVVI):

• Boston Terrier
• Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
• Chihuahua
• Fox Terrier
• Miniature Pinscher
• Miniature and Toy Poodles
• Miniature Schnauzer
• Pekingese
• Pomeranian
• Whippet

The following breeds are more likely to develop dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM):

• Afghan Hound
• American Cocker Spaniel
• Boxer
• Dalmatian
• Doberman Pinscher
• English Bulldog
• English Cocker Spaniel
• Great Dane
• Irish Wolfhound
• Newfoundland
• Saint Bernard
• Scottish Deerhound

Treating Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

Although there is no cure for the common causes of heart failure in dogs, there are treatments available that can greatly improve and extend your dog’s life.  If your dog has been diagnosed with heart failure and clinical signs are visible, it is likely that your veterinarian will recommend a treatment program.  Your dog’s treatment program will vary according to your dog’s individual needs and the type and stage of heart disease.

CHF Treatment Considerations

It is important to remember that treatment for CHF does not cure the disease, but it can help your dog resume a more normal life.  Your veterinarian may recommend one or more of the following medical treatments:
  • Diuretics are medications to remove excess fluid buildup from the lungs or abdomen, eg, furosemide (Lasix).
  • ACE-inhibitors, or inhibitors of angiotensin-converting enzyme, are a group of medications that open up constricted blood vessels and are used primarily in the treatment of hypertension and congestive heart failure. Commonly prescribed ACE-inhibitors are enalapril, benazepril, and ramipril.
  • Inodilators are medications that both increase myocardial contractility and open up constricted blood vessels, reducing the workload on your dog's weakened heart. Currently, there is only one dual-acting inodilator available, Vetmedin® (pimobendan) Chewable Tablets.
There are a number of other medications that your veterinarian may recommend for the treatment of your dog's heart failure. These will depend on the specific needs of your dog.

Also, your veterinarian will closely monitor your dog's medication(s) to determine if adjustments need to be made.  Always consult your veterinarian if you notice any change in the behavior or activity of your dog, particularly during the first few days of treatment.

Caring for Your Dog with CHF
  • Visiting your veterinarian...It is likely that your dog will be put on long-term medication after being diagnosed with heart failure, so your visits to the veterinarian may need to be more frequent at first. However, once your dog’s condition has stabilized with treatment, you can expect to resume a more regular and potentially less frequent visit schedule.  The objective of successful treatment is to make your dog feel better and live longer, at the same time as minimizing unexpected problems and emergency visits.  If your dog’s condition changes noticeably at any time, you should consult your veterinarian immediately.
  • Diet and exercise...Your veterinarian may recommend dog food that is nutritionally well-balanced and suitable for a dog with a heart condition. Some degree of sodium (salt) restriction may be recommended for some patients.  Ask your veterinarian about treats and “people food,” such as cheese and meat, as many foods will not be suitable for a dog in heart failure. Avoiding high sodium (salty) foods is often recommended.  Exercise is important, but it’s recommended that you consult your veterinarian about the type, level, and frequency of exercise for your dog. If your dog collapses or seems weak during activity, you should consult your veterinarian immediately.
  • Additional Care...The most important thing you can do for your dog with heart disease is to watch it closely. Monitor your dog’s appetite, behavior, and level of movement. Be sure to alert your veterinarian of any changes in your dog, such as weight loss or increased water consumption.  Respiration rates are an additional method of monitoring your dog’s health. Counting your dog’s breaths per minute can help you assess your dog’s lung function and overall health.  When your dog is resting or sleeping, count the number of breaths he or she takes in 15 seconds. Multiply that number by 4 to get the number of breaths per minute. If the “resting” respiratory rate increases by more than 20 percent over 2 to 3 days, contact your veterinarian.
Remember that there is no substitute for the personalized care your dog receives from your veterinarian, so always seek professional advice for this or any other problems you feel your dog might be experiencing.

Adapted from: 

Sponsored by: Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc.

© 2011 Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc.


The Ohio State Buckeyes basketball played the Spartans of Michigan State yesterday in Columbus.  Over the last 10-15 years, these 2 teams have been the class of the Big 10 conference and this year is no different.  Well, one of the teams showed up to play and it sure wasn't the Buckeyes!  The Michigan State players played like the game really meant something while the Buckeyes seemed to be just going through the motions.  The result was an impressive thumping by the Spartans.  Unlike college football, a loss like this probably won't cause any overall damage to the Buckeyes' season...however, it should definitely get their attention about having to play better as the NCAA Tournament gets closer. 


Desperado and Helpful Buckeye had a really nice evening celebration of Desperado's "Big" Birthday on Thursday...accompanied by good friends, one of whom had her birthday the same day.  Desperado's horoscope predicts a pretty good, we're awaiting that with open arms!  After the numerous difficulties we went through last year, this quote from the author of "The Great Gatsby" will be our current mantra:

“Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over."

--F. Scott Fitzgerald, American author

With Mardi Gras rapidly approaching, we're starting early on the preparation of food and compilation of music for our Mardi Gras dinner party at the end of this week.  The combination of Cajun, Creole, and Zydeco foods and music presents a wonderful expectation for the culinary and acoustic senses...bring it on!  Laissez les bons temps they say down in the Big Easy!

This Tuesday, the 14th of February, 2012, is not only Valentine's Day, but also the Centennial of Arizona, the youngest of the "lower 48" states.  Desperado and Helpful Buckeye's adopted state has provided many attractions for us and we have attempted to see as much of it as possible.  The history, cultural mixes, foods, visual beauty, and, yes, some wacky, out of the blue locations have been a real joy to witness and experience.  We still have a lot we plan to see this year....
~~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.~~