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.~~

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