Sunday, August 26, 2012


Ever since David Letterman popularized his "Top Ten" lists, just about everybody with any kind of a forum of interest has jumped into the fray.  Some of these lists are merely derived from someone's personal impressions of what should be on their list, while many others are based on some sort of factual database.  This week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats is adapted from an e-mail I received from "Dr. Jon," a small animal practitioner who writes a regular publication which I will reference a bit later.  Dr. Jon presents data that were accumulated by Trupanion, one of numerous pet health insurance companies.

As you read through this list, many of you will recognize these conditions as ones you have had experience with through the course of your dog ownership.  As any dog owner is well aware, dogs can get themselves into all sorts of trouble, depending on the nature of the dog, the amount and quality of supervision by the owner, and whether or not the dog has just been plain unlucky enough to be exposed to an infectious disease beyond the owner's control.

This issue won't be as long as a normal one since Helpful Buckeye is taking Sunday off (my normal publishing day) so that I can drive down to Phoenix to pick up Desperado at the airport.  We will then spend a few days in the Phoenix area...I've planned these days to include several surprise venues for Desperado's enjoyment.

One bit of house-keeping left over from last week's issue on "What NOT to feed your dog":  A long-time reader in Florida (my Aunt Cathy, Sam's lovable "mother") e-mailed me a question about the bread dough problem for dogs.  She wondered if the problem was with raw or already baked bread dough.  Well, that was a good question because the article I referenced didn't say which it was.  The article should have specified that the concern is with raw bread dough.  Good question!

How to IDENTIFY the Most Common Dog
From: Dr. Jon’s Dog Crazy Newsletter
When your pet is sick, it's hard not to think the worst. Not every condition that affects dogs is a rare and unusual disease though. In reality most of them are very common and we vets see them nearly every day. They're the first things we look for and ones that we get a lot of practice treating. Today I'd like to talk to you about some of these common conditions and how to recognize them.While I was researching for this article I wanted to ensure my data was the most accurate so I talked to my friends over at Trupanion. As a pet insurance company they see and pay a lot of claims so they get an idea of trends and common problems. They filled me in on the most common canine conditions from their list of claims submitted over the last year.
The following is their list of the 10 most frequently diagnosed health problems in dogs (along with any related information on that health problem as it was discussed by Helpful Buckeye in previous issues). Read it for some really helpful information and pay special attention to the tips on recognizing these conditions.
1.      Otitis Externa - Commonly referred to as an "ear infection", otitis externa is a condition characterized by inflammation of the external ear canal. It is particularly prevalent in dogs with long, floppy ears such as beagles. Ear infections represent one of the top 10 reasons dogs are brought to veterinarians and these infections may affect up to 20 percent of dogs. Common signs of an ear infection are scratching at the ears or shaking the head, as well as odor, inflammation and discharge in the ear.

2.      Skin Allergies/Dermatitis - Flea allergy dermatitis is the most common allergy in dogs and is caused by flea bites, specifically the saliva of the flea. The disease typically results in excessive itching and it predisposes dogs to the development of secondary skin infections in the irritated areas. Another common skin allergy is caused by “atopy,” an allergy to environmental substances. Signs of skin allergies are itching, redness, and hair loss.

3.      Diarrhea - Acute diarrhea is a common clinical problem in veterinary practice. It is characterized by a sudden onset and short duration (three weeks or less) of watery or mucus-filled diarrhea. Occasionally the fecal material is also obviously bloody.

4.      Vomiting - At one time or another your dog may have a bout of vomiting. Usually he'll have eaten something disagreeable, eaten too much or too fast, exercised too soon after eating or is affected by any number of noncritical conditions. Vomiting may be a sign of a very minor problem, or it may be a sign of something very serious.

5.      Pyoderma – This refers to a bacterial infection of the skin. Superficial infections (those within the top layer of skin and the hair follicles) can cause intense itching resulting in discomfort.
6.      Urinary Tract Infection - Inflammation of the urinary bladder, sometimes called a urinary tract infection, is usually caused by a bacterial infection. Most cases of bacterial cystitis are "ascending," meaning that the offending bacteria arise from the dog's own intestinal tract and "ascend" to the bladder, beginning at the perineum (the skin around the anus), proceeding to the urethra and ultimately the bladder. Common signs are increased urinary frequency, straining to urinate, accidents in the house and/or blood in the urine.

7.      Conjunctivitis – Another common condition is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the tissue coating the eye and lining the eyelids. Conjunctivitis is a common eye problem in dogs. It may be the only eye disease present, or may be associated with other diseases or eye problems. Common signs are redness of the conjunctiva, squinting, eye discharge or scratching at the eyes.

8.      Skin Masses - These lumps of tissue are within the skin or can be felt under the skin. The characteristic lumps and bumps are fairly common occurrences, especially in the older dog. A skin growth or mass may be a malignant or benign tumor, an abscess, a cyst, a hematoma (blood-filled mass) or a reaction by the skin to an allergen (hives).

9.      Giardia – A highly contagious condition, Giardia is a protozoan parasite found all over the world. Giardia lives in the canine intestinal tract and infection may result in gastrointestinal symptoms or present no symptoms at all. Common signs are stomach upset and diarrhea.

10.   Foreign Body Ingestion (Stomach) - The ingestion of a foreign object can cause serious health problems including laceration and trauma of the esophagus, stomach, and intestines. This condition is preventable with the correct precautions. Keep all items that your dog might ingest out of his reach. Observe his behavior when playing with toys to ensure he doesn't try to "eat" them.
Helpful Buckeye has addressed the topic of pet health insurance in several previous issues and those can be found at:  This reference includes 10 different issues in which the topic of pet health insurance was discussed, should be able to find whatever you're looking for in the way of pet health insurance.

     The LA DODGERS pulled off one of the biggest trades in the history of baseball last night with the Boston Red Sox.  Whether or not this will help us overtake the SF Giants remains to be seen.  However, it does serve as a message to the rest of the National League that the Dodgers are again going to be a major player.

Helpful Buckeye was treated to a very nice dinner last night, while Desperado was out of town, by the coconut cream pie lady and her husband...thanks for that!

A couple of positive and forward-looking quotes for this can you lose if you follow these thoughts?:

"Set your life on fire; seek those who fan your flames. Rumi

“Dwell on the beauty of life.  Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.”  Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor and philosopher

~~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, August 19, 2012


This week's topic concludes the 3-part series covering pet food concerns.  Helpful Buckeye has already discussed "How Safe Is Your Pet's Food?" and "What's For Dinner?", both of which you can access in our list of recent archives.
This final part of the food trilogy deals with the many items you should stay away from when it comes to feeding your pets.  Veterinarians are sometimes criticized for the frequency with which they say "No" in response to a client asking "Should I...?" or "Could I...?" do this or that in regard to something about their pet.  When pet food is the subject of all those questions, you should be able to learn as much from your veterinarian when they say "No" as when they say "Yes."

Dog Food Ingredients To Avoid
Many people do not know that dog food packaging contains ingredient lists just like human food does. What you see on that label is the key to knowing whether a food is appropriate for your dog. Before you choose a new food, I suggest becoming educated about some common ingredients so you can know what’s preferable and what’s not so good.
One quick note: the higher up on a list an ingredient is, the more it makes up that food. Most of your dog’s food will be composed of the first few ingredients on the list. This is important to keep in mind if you see any of the below undesirable ingredients.
The number one ingredient to avoid is something labeled “by-products” or “by-product meals.” These are ingredients created from waste parts in the butchering process. These parts contain no muscle tissue, and are classified as unfit for human consumption. Meat by-products are things like lungs, spleen, liver, stomach, and even bone. If a dog food lists any kind of by-product as one of the first ingredients, avoid it. Instead, look for dog food that lists actual meat as an ingredient. And don’t confuse an ingredient like plain “chicken meal” for the yucky stuff described above; it’s not the same thing as chicken by-product meal.
Anything artificial is best to avoid as well. Many dog foods use artificial colors and flavors. These synthetic additives are unnecessary, since color has little importance for your dog and there are many natural ways to improve flavor. Some artificial dyes, such as FD&C Red #40, can even impact you; they can be so strong that if vomited, they can stain carpets and fabrics.
Dog foods also often contain fillers ; that is, parts with little to no nutritional value that are added to food to increase volume or weight. Almost all dog food is sold by weight, so bulking up food with inexpensive ingredients can save companies a lot of money. The issue is that your dog gets absolutely nothing from these ingredients, and in most cases their body can’t even break them down. (It even makes more work for you, since what comes in must go out, if you know what I mean). Common fillers include soybean meal and flour, as well as wheat middlings, wheat gluten, and corn meal gluten.
Try to get a dog food that little to no sweeteners or sugar as well. Excess sugar in your dog’s diet can lead to health problems like obesity and diabetes. The sugar on the ingredients list can appear in a number of different ways including cane sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. “But my dog loves his food!” you might say. Dogs are like people: they like what tastes good. But as we all know, what tastes good isn’t always what’s good for us.
On the other hand there are some ingredients that it’s good to have in your dog’s food. Look for dog foods that name natural ingredients and boast no preservatives or by-products. Fruit such as apples, blueberries, carrots, and cranberries all have benefits for your dog - and they add a more natural flavor and sweetness than many other additives. Certain vegetables and tubers are great for your dog too, such as sweet potato, yucca, and spinach.
Some more ingredients that are good to have in dog food include:
* DHA - an Omega-3 fatty acid that boosts the development of your dog’s brain
* Flaxseed - promotes a healthy digestive system
* Kelp - provides fiber and iodine
* Probiotics - strengthen the digestive system and provide natural antibiotics to boost your dog’s immune system 

Adapted from:

The inclusion of raw products into the food web is becoming more popular with a segment of our population, even to the extent of pet food preparation.  Could this be a problem for your pets?

Raw Diet or Commercial Pet Food?
The three main feeding choices for pet owners: raw diet, cooked food, or commercial pet food. In this article we explore the raw diet.
The debate of what to feed pets is a touchy subject among pet lovers. Advocates for raw diets insist that it is the healthiest food, but veterinarians don't always agree.

Scientists who have made a life’s work of studying pet health and nutrition do have answers. Every type of diet has its pros and cons, and raw foods are no exception.

Advocates claim that raw foods are "natural" and are closer to a dog or cat’s natural diet. But our domesticated pets are far removed from wild animals. Wild animals do not live as long as our pets, and they get parasites and bacterial infections from eating raw meat. They suffer and many die when bones get stuck in their throats, intestines, or perforate their stomachs. “Natural” sounds healthy, but there's nothing healthy or good about feeding pets a diet that can cause parasites, bacteria infections and medical problems.

There are pets who cannot handle a raw diet and develop colitis.

Research has shown that commercially available "human grade" meats are often contaminated with bacteria like E. coli that can cause serious illness. Meat sold for pet food surely has the same risk, if not more. Dogs and cats are not immune to Salmonella or other bacteria.

The Delta Society, a non-profit organization that trains volunteers for animal-assisted therapy, issued a statement that they would reject pets fed a raw diet (proteins) because they're likely to shed dangerous levels of bacteria that humans might be exposed to through contact.

On the other hand, commercial pet food contains ingredients that pets are allergic to. There are dogs that cannot tolerate corn or grain in their food, for example.

And of course, the corn or grain-free commercial foods are more expensive. That's another issue in itself!

For more information about raw diets, check out the Food and Drug Administration’s website,, and search for “raw pet food.” For more information about the Delta Society’s position statement, see and search for “raw food.” For the American Veterinary Medical Association’s information links on food safety, go to

Adapted from:

Should You Supplement Your Dog's Diet?
As a general rule, before supplementing your dog's diet, you should discuss with your veterinarian the available evidence or recommendations supporting the use of nutriceuticals and dietary supplements. Be certain to avoid high levels of supplementation of any single nutrient unless you're certain that it's safe and won't interfere with any other medications your pet may be taking.
Supplements fall into two general and very large categories: vitamin and mineral supplements and nutriceuticals. Nutriceuticals are nutrient supplements given to obtain a pharmacologic (drug-like) effect or to prevent a specific disease. The overall benefit of vitamin and mineral supplements is hotly debated. According to most feeding studies of healthy dogs, dogs that eat an appropriate balanced diet do not need supplements. Nevertheless, many of us take dietary supplements ourselves and wish to provide our pets with the same potential benefits.

Of course, dietary supplements can also be dangerous. Excessive supplementation with calcium salts, for example, can lead to significant bone diseases in growing dogs. Vitamin D supplementation can lead to harmful elevations of the blood calcium and damage to the kidneys. Nutriceuticals fall into a different category since they are used to either prevent or treat specific diseases. Examples include: taurine (an amino acid essential to cats) and Cosequin (a protein complex of possible benefit in joint health). There are others, such as L-carnitine (sometimes used for heart
conditions), rutin (used for a serious condition called chylothorax) and co-enzyme Q10. Be aware that the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate supplements in the same way that drugs are regulated and controlled. The proof of effectiveness and safety demanded for pharmaceuticals is not required for nutriceuticals or vitamins.

As a general rule, before supplementing your dog's diet, you should discuss with your veterinarian the available evidence supporting the use of nutriceuticals and dietary supplements. Be certain to avoid high levels of supplementation of any single nutrient unless you're certain that it is safe and will not interfere with any other medications your pet may take.

Adapted from:

At this point, I can't help but recall the words of one of my nutrition professors back in veterinary medical school...he said, "If you are feeding your pet a properly balanced diet, the only thing you are accomplishing by supplementing that diet with vitamins and minerals is to make the pet's urine more valuable."  His reference was, of course, to the fact that water-soluble vitamins and minerals don't build up in the body, but rather are excreted in the urine.  In other words, if your pet is eating a properly balanced diet and does not suffer from any type of nutrient deficiency, then that properly balanced diet should be all that pet gets to eat.

Now, for some examples of specific items that should never be given to your pets as foods or treats:

6 Foods You Should Never Feed Your Pet
Keeping chewing gum in your purse is not the best idea if you have a pup with a sweet tooth. Many sugar-free candies, sweets and mints contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener that can be deadly for dogs. When ingested, xylitol causes a sudden release of insulin in a dog's body which leads to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Warning signs include vomiting, lethargy and trouble with coordination. If left untreated, xylitol toxicity can be fatal.
Chocolate, Coffee, and Caffeine
Chocolate contains both caffeine and a chemical called theobromine, both of which are toxic to dogs if eaten in large enough quantities. Your dog will probably be fine if he accidentally eats a chocolate chip cookie, but depending on his size, chowing down on dark chocolate or baker's chocolate could cause vomiting, diarrhea, rapid or irregular heartbeat, restlessness, muscle tremors, seizures or death.
Grapes and Raisins
Think grapes and raisins are healthy low-calorie snacks or treats for your dog? Think again. Whether they're plucked from a vine or sprinkled out of a box, grapes and raisins can cause acute (sudden) kidney failure in your canine. The signs of grape toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy.
No matter how much he begs, don't let your pet lick the remnants of a bowl of guacamole dip -- the avocado is likely poisonous to dogs and cats and can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
Garlic and Onions
It doesn't matter if they're minced, chopped, sliced, diced, cooked or powdered -- garlic and onions (as well as leeks and shallots) contain chemicals that damage red blood cells in dogs and cats.

The affected red blood cells can rupture or lose their ability to carry oxygen effectively, which could lead to life-threatening anemia. Make sure you read labels carefully, as many foods, such as meat-variety baby food, contain these dangerous ingredients. And don't even think about using garlic as a cure for fleas -- it doesn't work and could be more harmful than helpful to your pet.
A less deadly threat of onions being included in pet food is that it frequently leads to increased flatulence and gas...
Macadamia Nuts
While they're an excellent source of vitamin E for humans, macadamia nuts can prove fatal for dogs. As few as 10 macadamia nuts can cause frightening symptoms in dogs, such as weakness, vomiting, tremors and joint pain.
Adapted from:
Dog owners beware: raw fish can be fatal to your
best friend
If you frequent the shores of Isabella Lake to walk and play with your dogs please take extra precaution. Two cases of Salmon Poisoning Disease (SPD) have been reported. Both dogs survived after treatment. Dogs eating dead fish or discarded fish entrails along the shore line could become ill if the fish is infected, and if the dog is not treated death usually occurs within 14 days. Particularly avoid fish cleaning stations where entrails may be discarded improperly. The Forest Service will be posting warning signs at fish cleaning stations around the lake.

Symptoms are vomiting, lack of appetite, fever, diarrhea, weakness, swollen lymph nodes and dehydration. Signs generally appear within six days. Canines (dogs, foxes coyotes) are the primary species susceptible to salmon poisoning. Salmon and other fish that swim upstream to breed can be infected. The disease does not affect, cats, raccoons, bears, skunks, etc. Humans are also not affected, but eating raw salmon or trout is not advised. Treatment can be relatively simple if diagnosed early by your veterinarian by administering antibiotics and a“wormer.”
The best treatment is prevention. Keep your pets on a leash and monitor their activities on the shorelines. It only takes a moment for a dog to nab and swallow fish remains left by irresponsible fishermen. The fish do not die and wash up on shore from this disease - they have to be caught and then discarded. A diseased fish does not display visible signs of SPD and once caught and cooked there is no risk to the person eating the fish.
The disease will not persist in Isabella Lake. As infected fish are caught or die off the disease will expire because it is non-transferable. The host of the disease, snails known as Oxytrema Siluca are not present in Isabella Lake and without the host the disease cannot persist. (See cycle graphic). The source of the infected fish into Isabella Lake is unknown. The historical endemic region for SPD is the extreme northern California north of the Feather River, the west slope of the Sierra Cascade range, reaching into Alaska.
The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) referenced the March fishing derby as a possible source as well as the possibility of fishermen coming from northern California with fish they cleaned at Isabella Lake cleaning stations. Derby fish were purchased from the Lassen Hatchery in November, raised in pens on Isabella Lake and released just prior to the derby. In addition three to five pound “trophy trout” were purchased and planted from Lassen in March.
DFG in response to Sun questions stated they do not know of every source in which fish can be introduced to our region. DFG states that it is their “policy to not plant fish from this SPD endemic region into areas south of the Feather River drainage due to the SPD issue.” The Sun questioned DFG as to why DFG would issue a permit and recommends a private hatchery from within the endemic region with no mention of SPD during the permit process. Public information Officer Janice Mackey’s response was, “Their policy does not apply to private hatcheries.”That policy seems in conflict with public safety and their effort to control the introduction of disease. The unanswered question remains, what qualifies a private hatchery to meet DFG permit approval?
Forest Service Resource Officer Steve Anderson stated in an email, “We cannot positively determine the source of the disease at Lake Isabella. The fishing derby used trout from sources approved by the California Department of Fish and Game through their permitting process.” He also said that according to Internet sources, there have been a few other central and southern California reports of this disease such as Lake Irwin in Orange County.
Please, if you fish, please be responsible for your fish and guts. Do not leave them accessible to wildlife or pets. Save your friends and neighbors the heartache of losing a cherished pet.
Tips on Bread Dough and Dogs
By: Dr. Debra Primovic
Don't feed your dog bread dough. When bread dough is ingested, it rises in a dog's stomach and as the dough ferments, alcohol is produced. After ingestion, dogs will act nauseated, vomit, act painful, lethargic or become disoriented.

The problem with bread dough ingestion can be from the severe distention of the abdomen as the dough rises in the stomach or from the alcohol produced as the dough ferments causing alcohol toxicity.

If your dog accidentally ate some dough, call your veterinarian or local emergency clinic at once.
The incorporation of raw milk into diets both for humans and for pets has been getting some increased attention in the media lately.  Should you consider using raw milk in your pet's food or as something to drink?  Listen to this very informative podcast from the American Veterinary Medical Association and you'll learn the answer:
The last item for you to think about this week in terms of whether or not to feed something to one of your pets is if the pet might be allergic to a certain food or food ingredient.  Food allergies are becoming recognized much more frequently and can often be difficult to diagnose or pin down.
Food Allergies
Dr. Stephen White, a professor of dermatology at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, answers this week's questions about food allergies.
Question: What is the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance?
Answer: Food allergy denotes an immune response to a food; food intolerance presumes no immune response. In veterinary practice the difference is difficult to distinguish, and probably not clinically important in most cases, and the more general term cutaneous adverse food reaction (CAFR) is often used.
Question: How common are actual food allergies?
Answer: This is debatable, as many cases are probably noted by owners (particularly if there is vomiting or diarrhea involved with the feeding of a new food) and never reported to veterinarians. A rough estimate would be around 5 percent of dogs, probably the same in cats.
Question: How does a food allergy present itself?
Answer: The most common clinical sign of food allergy affecting the skin in dogs is nonseasonal scratching, which is usually generalized. This also may be primarily directed at the feet or ears.
The most common lesions that the owners see are a red rash, scaling, or an increase in skin pigmentation. In cats, small crusts or facial/head/neck scratching are common. Of course, there are other causes of all of these signs.
Food allergy may also cause gastrointestinal (GI) signs, such as diarrhea and vomiting. About 10 percent of dogs with skin lesions from food allergies also have GI signs. Perhaps a greater number may show mild signs, such as slightly softer stools.
Rare cases of seizures in dogs have been linked to food allergies.
Question: Are there specific symptoms that are different from the symptoms of an environmental allergy?
Answer: No, except that food allergies don't change with the seasons, whereas environmental allergies sometimes do, depending on the exposure to the allergen (pollens, house dust, etc.).
Question: How is a food allergy diagnosed? Patch test or by process of elimination?
Answer: Neither. Patch testing is for contact allergies and is difficult to do in pets as the patches have to stay on the animal for 48 hours.
Intradermal or serologic testing, as is done with environmental allergies, have been shown to be very inaccurate in diagnosing food allergies.
Eliminating various foods piecemeal from a pet's diet is also time-consuming, inaccurate and frustrating for the owner.
The ideal method of diagnosis is the feeding of an elimination ("hypoallergenic") diet. The elimination diet ideally contains one protein and one starch.
These must be based on previous exposure of the pet to various food stuffs. It is important to remember that dogs that live in households with cats tend to have been exposed to fish, through their consumption of either cat food or cat feces.
Other than fresh water, nothing else should be fed to the dog during the elimination-diet trial. This means that vitamins and chewing toys must be eliminated and that flavored medications (such as certain ecto/endoparasite preventatives) should be replaced by other, equally effective non-flavored preparations.
Protein-flavored toothpaste should be replaced by the malt-flavored variety. Because the elimination diet is not a balanced one, owners should be warned that the dog may lose weight, develop a 'dull' haircoat or scaling, or be hungrier than usual.
Cats need to be monitored to be sure they are eating the diet because cats that refuse a new diet for several days can become seriously ill.
Because many owners are unable or unwilling to cook for their pet for the time period needed, commercially prepared limited-antigen diets available through veterinarians may be used.
Usage of a commercially prepared diet will give an approximately 90 percent chance of determining a food allergy; however, none of these diets will work for all animals, and failure of an animal to improve on such a diet may warrant trying another one, or a home-cooked diet in another trial.
The length of the elimination diet is somewhat controversial; however, our observations have justified a dietary trial of eight weeks.
If some itchiness persists at 12 weeks into the diet trial, this may indicate the need for continuing the diet, but that may also indicate the presence of concurrent hypersensitivities.
In cases where antibiotics are given to treat secondary infections, or oral corticosteroids for severe itchiness, the diet must be continued for a minimum of two weeks past discontinuation of these treatments, in order to properly judge its efficacy.
Upon resolution of clinical signs with the feeding of an elimination diet, the animal should be challenged with its regular diet to confirm the diagnosis of a food allergy.
Recurrence of clinical signs is usually noted within two week. At that point the animal is given its elimination diet again, and the owner then may elect to challenge with suspected allergens, each allergen being given one to two weeks at a time.
The most common proven allergens in the dog are beef, chicken, milk, eggs, corn, wheat, and soy; in the cat, fish, beef, milk and milk products.
Allergies to more than two allergens are uncommon. Once the offending allergens are identified, commercially prepared dog foods that do not contain them may be fed to the pet.
In cases in which the owners refuse to do provocative testing, one of the limited antigen pet foods may be used as a maintenance diet.
Question: In addition to eliminating the food that is causing the problem, how else can a pet with a food allergy be treated?
Answer: Many will have secondary bacterial or yeast skin infections and the proper antimicrobial medications may be used. If severely itchy at the initiation of the diet, a short course of corticosteroids may be indicated.
Question: Are there some pet foods that are less likely to provoke an allergic response from a sensitive pet?
Answer: No
Question: What kinds of things should a pet owner look for when selecting a commercial pet food and/or treats?
Answer: Like many other things in life, you get what you pay for when you buy pet food. Make sure that the food lists the ingredients and that it is shipped across state lines (i.e., stick to major brands, or to foods that are not produced in your state). This insures that the food has met federal guidelines. State guidelines vary from state to state, and are usually not as strict as the federal ones.
In summary:
A Pet's Diet Demands Attention
…No owner wants to see a pet get sick from its food, and there is no excuse for food contamination or feeding something to your pet that you shouldn’t. The issue is magnified by pet owners who, in trying to avoid quality concerns of commercial pet food, make a homemade diet using raw ingredients. An alarming number of clients are choosing a raw meat diet, but many are unaware of the serious risks and dangers that the raw meat diet poses to human health.
Diseases such as E. coli, salmonella, listeria and toxoplasmosis can be carried in raw meat, milk, eggs or produce. Pets can often tolerate some contamination in foods, but people can get very ill. Humans can become sick by contact with the raw food either directly or indirectly by contact with food bowls, counters, fur, saliva or feces. Particular attention has to be given when children and the elderly are exposed to a pet eating a raw meat diet. We have heard other veterinarians discuss the value of raw diets but never heard a pediatrician, infectious disease physician or public health official advocate a raw meat diet for pets.
There are hundreds of different foods available to feed pets, but not all are scientifically formulated. They vary in price and quality. Many of the benefits people see in feeding a raw meat homemade diet to their pet could also be accomplished by feeding a better or different commercial diet, or by adding necessary supplements or probiotics. Animals do have sensitivities and allergies to foods, and limited antigen diets can be successful to treat their problems. Trial and error is often needed to find a good diet for a specific problem or pet.
The use of commercial diets is a better choice than homemade pet food, in our opinion. With the options available, a quality diet with proper clinical trials and quality control is the better choice.
So, what can we as owners and veterinarians do to ensure the safety of our pets and families? Check the FDA website regularly for information. Read labels, make sure the company is reputable, and that scientists and veterinarians (rather than pet trainers, pet store employees, or pet breeders) are involved in the formulation of the diet you feed your pet. Quality control by the manufacturer and quality ingredients give you the best chance of avoiding contaminated, toxic, and/or improper ingredients.
This concludes our trilogy on what to feed or not to feed your pets and why or why not.  By now, you should understand that your veterinarian is still the best person with which to discuss what you should be feeding your dog or cat.  If they cannot answer your questions, they will know who to go
to for the information.
Any questions or comments should be sent to Helpful Buckeye at: or submitted at the "Comment" section at the end of this issue.
The LA Dodgers have picked up their intensity this past week, playing 7 games against 2 teams that are ahead of them in the overall standings for any wild card position in the playoffs.  We took 3 of 4 from the Pirates and 2 of 3 from the Braves, all of those on the road.  Now, we head home for a 3-game series against our hated rivals, the SF Giants.  It's like playoff baseball in mid-August!

Helpful Buckeye climbed Mt. Elden this past week, considered to be one of the toughest hikes in Arizona...mainly due to the rockiness of the trail and the steep incline of the upper portions of the trail.  This was more training for a specific part of my big September hike.  A good friend made up some of her special trail mix for me and it really came in handy during the climb.  She combined dried cranberries, pecans, and white chocolate kisses.  I like the mixture so much that I made up a batch to enjoy while preparing this issue today (Sunday).

When playing racquetball today, I actually felt like I was the whole way back from my torn calf muscle in September of last year.  I had pretty much regained the strength in the muscle and no longer walked with any limp...but I still wasn't moving quite as fast as I had before.  Today, I made several quick moves to the front of the court without any hesitation and it felt really good to do that without thinking about it.
Not a day goes by that I don't think about this quote:
"Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine."
--Anthony J. D'Angelo

~~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 relationshipblog 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, August 12, 2012


Most dog and cat owners have gone through the unfortunate experience of either seeing their pet be injured in some way or finding them injured after the fact.  Even though dogs and cats are usually quite agile, they still seem to be able to get into trouble pretty easily.  If you find that your pet has become injured in some way, what would you do?  How would you handle the pet in order to determine what type of injury has occurred and perhaps how serious it might be?  If you felt the injury needed some medical attention, how would you get the pet to your veterinarian? injured cat in the making?
These are all legitimate questions and it would serve a pet owner well to have an idea ahead of time what one should do in those circumstances.

Let's take a look at some examples of what kinds of situations can lead to pet injuries, how to determine the seriousness of an injury, how to properly handle your dog or cat if it is injured, and tips for transporting the injured pet to the veterinary hospital.
Tips on Care for an Injured Dog
Just as people do in the course of a day, dogs can injure themselves. Sometimes this results from a tumble when running up or down the stairs, jumping down from your bed, otherwise harmless frolicking with your other pets, being in a fight with another dog or cat, trying to jump out of a vehicle or it can be more serious, such as being hit by a car.
Many traffic accidents involving dogs, both minor and severe, could have been prevented by a pet owner exercising more proper control of their pet. Be sure that your dog is well trained and preferably always under the control of a reasonable person with a leash when he is being walked outside, especially when being walked near a busy road.

If for some reason an accident does occur and your dog experiences any of these misfortunes, do not panic. Keep your emotions in check and use common sense. Your dog is still very much at risk for further injury, so be extremely careful when moving him out of further danger.

Warning: A dog that is badly injured may bite you if he is in shock or severe pain. This holds true even if he belongs to you and knows you.  As loving and trusting as your pet is under normal conditions, injured animals can be dangerous. An injured animal becomes scared and confused, and can often react by biting, scratching, or attacking those trying to assist, so keep your face away from an injured animal’s mouth. Proceed slowly and gently in the presence of an injured animal, being aware of any agitation or fear. If the animal is not vomiting, you may wish to muzzle an injured pet to make sure you won’t be bitten.
  • Never assume that even the gentlest pet will not bite or scratch if injured. Pain and fear can make animals unpredictable or even dangerous.
  • Don't attempt to hug an injured pet, and always keep your face away from its mouth. Although this may be your first impulse to comfort your pet, it might only scare the animal more or cause them pain.
  • Perform any examination slowly and gently. Stop if your animal becomes more agitated.
  • Call your veterinarian or an emergency veterinary clinic before you move your pet so they can be ready for you when you arrive.
  • If necessary and if your pet is not vomiting, go ahead and place a muzzle on the pet to reduce the chances you'll be bitten. 
  • Muzzling Your Dog...That loving and devoted dog can quickly become a snarling biting machine if he's injured and in pain.
  • You'll need to muzzle him as quickly as you can before he has the chance to bite you, other people or other dogs.  A muzzle will protect you from strong jaws and sharp teeth. However, if left on for more than ten minutes at a time, it could harm your dog.  With his mouth tied shut, he won't be able to pant. This can result in breathing troubles or overheating. Work as quickly and as effectively as you can to check out the situation.  If you can't complete everything in ten, give him a cooling down period by relaxing the muzzle for a few minutes.  Don't try to treat anything while the muzzle is off. Sit calmly and speak to him in a quiet, soothing tone.  After a few minutes, muzzle him again and continue working.  A purchased muzzle won't work properly if it does not fit snugly around his snout and then wrap around behind his ears to be tightened.  If it's loose enough to slide back toward the eyes, it won't limit him from opening his mouth enough to bite you or anyone else nearby.  If you don't have a purchased muzzle, use a two to three foot length of strong and soft material.  A scarf or a length of gauze would also do, a leg from a pair of pantyhose, towels, stockings, gauze rolls, or other piece of clothing to muzzle him.

  •  Follow these steps to make an emergency muzzle:
  • Make a large loop (a half knot) in the center of the length of material.
  • Stand behind your dog, then quickly slip the loop over his snout and tighten it before he can shake or paw it off.
  • The half-knot should be on the top of his snout.
  • Bring the two ends down, keeping the loop tight against the snout.
  • Cross the ends under the snout and bring them back behind his head.
  • Using a bow (not a knot, so you can quickly remove it), tie the ends snugly below and behind his ears.
Cats and other small animals may be wrapped in a towel to restrain them, but make sure your pet is not wrapped in the towel too tightly and its nose is uncovered so it can breathe.
Whatever has happened, the pressing need will be to evaluate the damage and then decide how to get healing under way.

Moving An Injured Dog Especially if the dog was hit by a vehicle, regardless if the dog is conscience or unconscious, it must be moved to a safe place. Have someone watch out and block further traffic while you adhere to the following tips:

1. Before attempting to move the dog out of the risk of traffic, check over the his body for obvious wounds, cuts, and distorted limbs.

2. With the help of another person, carefully drag and then lift the dog's body onto a blanket or a coat if you have one. Pull the blanket or coat out of harms way. Avoid rubbing any obvious injuries.

3. It is important to keep the dog muzzled if he is experiencing obvious shock or pain. Be sure to securely tie the muzzle so as to prevent an accidental bite.

4. Gently feel every limb for broken or dislocated bones. And if you suspect a fractured limb, then move it as little as possible. Also, a dog with potential spinal injuries should be lifted on a flat board.

5. Some dogs which have been injured in car accidents appear to be normal. But beware, they may have damage to internal organs and still need gentle handling. Once the dog has been removed for further risk in traffic, examine it thoroughly and take him to the nearest vet.

Canine first aid is very similar to first aid for people. Determine the extent of injury and what should be done for the animal. Begin with the ABCs: airway, breathing and circulation. Assess if the dog's airways are clear. If it has trouble breathing it will need medical attention immediately.

The quality of the dog's respiration is also a clue to how it is doing. Slow, shallow breaths are a sign of a critical animal that needs veterinary care quickly. Panting or normal breathing means you need more information about what is going on.
Circulation refers to the cardiovascular system. Check the animal for a pulse and for bleeding. This should be done carefully, as injured animals can bite out of pain or fear, if necessary cover the animals mouth to prevent being bitten. If there are any open bleeding wounds, apply pressure to stop the bleeding. Wounds that bleed heavily or go through all the layers of skin will need medical attention to properly clean and close. Try to keep the wound covered and apply moderate pressure until you can get the dog to a vet. 

Check the animal for any broken bones. An animal with a spinal injury will usually not want to move and should not be moved. If the animal has a nonspinal fracture, muzzle it using a piece of cloth or sock if necessary. Place it on a board or other flat surface for transport again. Broken limbs are best left alone. They can be painful and must be set based on an X-ray, so the best thing is to take them to a vet immediately.

If a cat is the injured animal, a different set of suggestions will apply...mainly because an angry or upset cat can be much more difficult to handle than a dog.

How to Restrain an Injured Cat

by Sheldon Rubin, DVM

Restraining an injured cat is a great technique to learn to help your pet receive the proper cat care. How you approach the cat will depend on whether the cat is cooperative or uncooperative. This is important because a cat has five weapons: the mouth and four claws. Cats don't react in their usual manner when they're injured because of the stresses involved. The following methods should minimize your chances of being scratched or bitten by the frightened cat you are trying to help.

Restraining a Cooperative Cat

You should try Method 1 or Method 2 when you have someone else with you to help your injured cat. Place the cat in your arms or lap or on a table or other raised surface using either of the following two methods.

Method 1

Step 1: Position yourself so the cat's head is to your left.

Step 2: Reach with your right hand over the cat's body and under its chest so the chest is resting in your palm.

Step 3: Lift the cat firmly toward you so that its body is secured between your forearm and your body.

Step 4: Grasp the top of the front legs with the fingers of your right hand, which is still supporting the chest.

Step 5: Using the other hand, prevent the head from moving by grasping under the throat. Scratching the ears with this hand from under the throat is often very comforting.

Step 6: Treatment can then be administered by your assistant while the cat is in your arms.

Method 2

Step 1: Grasp the loose skin on the back of the neck just below the ears. Lift the cat; most cats will become very submissive when this method is used.

Step 2: Grasp the hind legs with your other hand to prevent scratching.

Step 3: Still holding the cat, place it on a table, injured side up.

Step 4: Pull forward on the skin of the neck and pull backward on the hind legs as if gently but firmly stretching the cat.

Step 5: Have your assistant administer first aid.

If You are Alone

If you are alone to restrain the injured cat, use extreme caution along with the following tips.

Step 1: Grasp the loose skin on the back of the neck just below the ears.

Step 2: Lift the cat, and place it on its chest on a table or other raised surface.

Step 3: If the cat will not stay, place it in a large, open box.

Step 4: Administer first aid to the injured cat.

Restraining an Uncooperative Cat

Even if a cat is normally docile, you should be prepared for him or her to give you some trouble. Below are some techniques to help you remain in control of the situation.

If You Have an Assistant

Method 1

You should try this method when you have someone else with you to help your uncooperative injured cat.

Step 1: Drop a blanket or towel over the cat.

Step 2: Scoop up the cat so the towel or blanket encompasses the entire cat, including all four paws.

Step 3: Expose only the injured area, keeping the rest of the cat covered.

Step 4: Have your assistant administer first aid. If the cat is still very aggressive, transport untreated, still covered in the blanket or towel, to the veterinarian.

If You are Alone

Method 2

You should try this method when you have no one else to help you with your uncooperative injured cat.

Step 1: Drop a blanket or towel over the cat.

Step 2: Scoop up the cat so the towel or blanket encompasses the entire cat, including all four paws.

Step 3: Tie the ends of the towel or blanket together with a cord to form a bag, or place the cat in a closed box.

Step 4: Do not attempt to treat the cat's injury. Transport the cat to the veterinarian.

Tips for Transporting an Injured Dog

By: Marcia King

Perhaps one of the scariest things dog owners are ever called on to do is transport our injured dog to the veterinarian or emergency animal hospital. What should you do to avoid hurting or further injuring a dog in pain? And what precautions should you take to avoid hurting yourself?
1. Call your veterinarian or emergency animal clinic first and describe your dog's injury and cause, if known. They may want you to apply certain first-aid techniques prior to or during transport, for example, washing a wound with water or applying pressure to stop blood flow. Knowing that a wounded animal is on the way also expedites the check-in process.
2. If possible, ask a neighbor or someone nearby to drive. It's best if the distracted dog owner is not the one behind the wheel.
3. Even the gentlest dog may bite if he's scared or if you hurt him while moving him, so protect yourself by doing the following:
 •Muzzle your dog. You can lightly tie a necktie, stocking, gauze roll bandage, scarf, etc. around your dog's mouth before you move him, unless your dog is exhibiting respiratory problems or is unconscious. "Once the dog gets settled or any time the dog is not being observed, remove the muzzle," urges James K. Roush, DVM, Dipl ACVS, and Professor and Section Head of Small Animal Surgery at Kansas State University. If your dog gets sick and vomits, not being able to open his mouth wide enough to vomit could have serious or fatal consequences.
 •Have someone hold your dog's head to prevent him from turning and biting you.
•Gently lay a small pillow, towel, or blanket between your dog's mouth and your hand until you are done moving the dog, suggests Darryl Millis, DVM, Dipl ACVS, Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and Chief of Surgery at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. 
4. Staunch uncontrolled bleeding (more than 5 minutes) by applying pressure to the site with a clean, padded bandage or gauze square to minimize blood loss. 
5. If a limb is broken below the knee or elbow, wrap a bath towel around the leg and secure it loosely with tape in order to help reduce painful movement. When moving the injured dog, gently support the bone on either side of the fracture so that the broken bone does not bend awkwardly. In general, don't attempt to splint it, says Millis. "Excessive manipulation of the fracture could be painful and result in an owner becoming bitten."
6. If bones are exposed, don't try pushing the bones back in place, Millis warns. Instead, place a clean towel or sterile gauze over the open wound and/or broken ends and then immobilize as described above.
7. If the dog appears to have only a broken limb and is small enough to carry, Millis says you can usually pick him up by putting one arm under the chest, the other under the abdomen, then lifting him up. "Be careful about the head and neck – you don’t want to get bitten."
8. Alternatively, transport your dog in a crate or size-appropriate box. 
9. To transport large or heavy dogs, gently slide a sturdy board beneath the dog, suggests Millis. You can use a table leaf, bookshelf, plank, ironing board, cutting board, toboggan/sled, door, throw rug, blanket or something similar to act as a stretcher, or the tray from his crate. "Keep your dog from jumping or falling off the board, by using a padded strap or towel tied around the body and board," advises Roush. If a tray or board isn't available, use a towel or blanket to serve as a stretcher or as a sling.
10. Take special care if your dog is immobile, can't walk on his hind limbs, or is wobbly on his hind limbs, as he may have a pelvic or spinal injury, says Roush. Excess movement could exacerbate the injury. Use a board or tray, as described above, to minimize movement.
How to Transport an Injured Cat
by Sheldon Rubin
An important part of cat care is knowing how to transport an injured cat without hurting him or her or making the injury worse. To successfully transport an injured cat, you must remember it has five weapons: the mouth and four claws. An injured cat is likely to also be frightened -- especially if it is being moved -- so great caution must be taken.
If the Cat can be Lifted

Method A

Step 1a: If the cat is cooperative, reach with your right hand over the cat's body and under its chest so the chest is resting in your palm. Lift the cat firmly toward you so its body is secured between your forearm and your body.
Step 1b: Place the cat in a carrier or closed box to transport the cat to the veterinarian.
Step 2a: If the cat is uncooperative, and if you are alone, put a towel or blanket over the cat, including all four paws.
Step 2b: Tie the ends of the towel or blanket together with a cord to form a bag, or place the cat in a carrier or closed box.
Step 2c: Transport the cat to the veterinarian.

If the Cat Needs a Stretcher

Step 1: Use a blanket, a flat board, or a strong piece of cardboard.
Step 1a: If you are using a blanket, place one hand under the cat's chest and the other hand under its rear. Carefully lift or slide the cat onto the blanket.
Step 1b: Grasp each end of the blanket and lift. Try to keep the blanket taut to form a stretcher.
Step 1c: Transport the cat to the veterinarian.
Step 2: If you are using a flat board or strong piece of cardboard:
Step 2a: Place two or three long strips of cloth or rope under the board, avoiding the area where the cat's neck will rest. 
Step 2b: Place one hand under the cat's chest and the other under its rear; carefully lift or slide the cat onto the board.
Step 2c: Tie the cat to the board to prevent him or her from falling.
Step 2d: Transport the cat to the veterinarian.
These emergency handling techniques are easy to use, but the time to learn them is not during a crisis.
Practice them before you need them. Practice alone and with a helper. Make these dog handling techniques part of an annual training period, perhaps when you rehearse your evacuation if you live in a disaster-prone area, or on your dog's birthday.
You should always keep your pet's medical records in a safe, easily accessible place. Bring these with you when you take your pet for emergency treatment.
Adapted from:
It is not Helpful Buckeye's intention to make all of our pet-owning readers into EMTs or Veterinary Assistants, but rather this is an effort to help you become an even more responsible pet owner who knows how to respond when a pet injury occurs.
Any comments or suggestions should be sent to Helpful Buckeye or posted at the "Comment" section at the end of this issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats.
The LA DODGERS have finished the week just 1 game behind the Giants.  Their performance still lacks consistency however.  A 4-game series in Pittsburgh against the Pirates will be a tough way to start the week, considering the Pirates have the best home record in all of baseball.
Helpful Buckeye has spent most of this past week at a self-imposed computer "boot camp," during which I worked on transferring all the important data from our 7-year old desktop computer to our flashy new model.  This, of course, included getting familiar with the new desktop as well as backing up all of our files, adding interesting new software, making copies of recovery discs, and making absolutely sure that I had copied my more than 10,000 songs and 14,000 pictures.  The new set up is pretty slick, almost like getting a new car.  Yippee!
A very good friend sent me an e-mail this week that said this quote reminded him of me:
"Progress is about challenging yourself in situations in which you feel uneasy and uncertain.  That's where you stumble and that's where you grow."  Anonymous
He's been closely following my efforts to test myself against some of the geographical challenges of the Southwest.  He has provided me with a listening ear, a caring attitude, and a sounding board for my plans.  He'd be right there beside me if his health allowed.  Thanks, man!
~~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.~