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Posted Aug 10 2009 4:31pm
Helpful Buckeye received a lot of e-mails this past week about the discussion of Spaying and Neutering, our current topic in Questions On Dogs and Cats. Apparently, even though this is a fairly familiar topic for most pet owners, many of our readers feel that they don't understand all the reasons for these surgical procedures being so popular. Most of the e-mails posed questions that will be answered either this week or in next week's concluding section. Other messages were of the "Gee, I didn't know that!" variety...and that's great, because one of Helpful Buckeye's stated goals for this blog is to make this an educational experience for all who are interested.

Another matter of some importance has arisen this past week for Helpful Buckeye and Questions On Dogs and Cats. Helpful Buckeye received notification from Dr. Geoff Rutledge, Chief Medical Information Officer of Wellsphere HealthBlogger Network, that Questions On Dogs and Cats was not only invited to be a part of their network, but also that Helpful Buckeye has been awarded their Top HealthBlogger status. The Top HealthBlogger Award from Wellsphere comes with a "badge" which is displayed in the column to the left. Dr. Rutledge wrote: "We are delighted that you have decided to join our exclusive HealthBlogger Network because we value your writing and think it will make a positive impact on the lives of our members and visitors. We're looking forward to promoting your blog and helping you get the recognition you deserve." The Wellsphere HealthBlogger Network draws over 4 million visitors per month and is still growing fast. The network started out as a web site for human health concerns, but has added numerous "communities" of interest to their readers, including a Pet Health Community. You can access their web site at:, then click on Communities, click on Pet Health, click HelpfulBuckeye under the word People, and you will arrive at my Profile page. On this page you will find a complete listing of all my blog issues and any communications ongoing from the network's readers. Helpful Buckeye's full Bio is available at: Wellsphere has also given me an additional "badge" as a Featured Patient Expert on Wellsphere.

There are still a few odds and ends of logistics to be straightened out for locating your desired topics on the Wellsphere pages, so bear with them for a few days. If you have a few free minutes this week, spend them looking over the features of the Wellsphere HealthBlogger may find some things of interest beyond pet health!

Questions On Dogs and Cats will still be a weekly blog with our original goals and format still intact. The only difference is that our blog will now be part of a much larger readership. If that changes anything, it should only be for the better! Thanks to our regular readers for staying with us for the past 16 months!

Last week's poll question showed that most of you feel the dog would still be able to deliver a painful bite, even after having its teeth shortened. Helpful Buckeye agrees with that 100%. Be sure to respond to this week's poll question in the column to the left.


1) The Humane Society of the United States Veterinary Medical Association congratulates Banfield, The Pet Hospital, for making a corporate decision to stop performing ear cropping, tail docking and devocalization procedures at its 745 hospitals throughout the United States. HSUS says that, "Banfield's decision reflects a growing trend in the veterinary profession to take a stand against medical procedures which are performed on companion animals solely for the cosmetic preferences or convenience of the caregiver and which provide no medical benefit to the animal." For the rest of the press release, go to:

2) The American Veterinary Medical Association has released the results of a study showing that Service and Therapy dogs can run a risk of being contaminated with MRSA as well as other pathogens as a result of their contact with patients in health care settings. The study states: "These results suggest that therapy dogs may become infected with pathogens during their visits to health-care facilities and reinforces the importance of good hand hygiene before and after handling therapy animals." To read more about this concern, go to:

3) A health advisory committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends four post-exposure rabies vaccine doses, rather than five, for people without previous rabies vaccinations. For anyone requiring this type of post-exposure treatment, this news from the CDC will be very welcome, reducing the number of injections by 20%. For the rest of the details, go to:

4) Australia will no longer offer importers the option of irradiating imported cat food to reduce microbial hazards following reports of a possible link between irradiated food and neurologic damage in cats. Dr. Georgina Child of the University of Sydney reported finding an association between Orijen cat food from Canada and neurologic damage in Australian cats, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Orijen's manufacturer, Champion Petfoods, recalled the cat food in Australia. Champion, which exports Orijen to dozens of countries, indicated that Australia is the only one that requires importers of Orijen to irradiate the food because Champion does not wish to subject the food to heat treatment. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved irradiation for several types of food, including pet food, but the process is not in widespread use in this country. This update is from the files of the AVMA and might bear watching in the future.


Helpful Buckeye presents the second part of our popular topic-- SPAYING AND NEUTERING.

Benefits to Society of Spaying and Neutering

Both of these surgical procedures will prevent unwanted litters and also eliminate many of the behavioral problems associated with the mating instinct. Your community will benefit from this since unwanted animals are becoming a very real concern in many places. Stray animals can easily become a public nuisance, soiling parks and streets, ruining shrubbery, frightening children and elderly people, creating noise and other disturbances, causing automobile accidents, and sometimes even killing livestock or other pets.

Benefits of Spaying My Female Pet

Female dogs experience a “heat cycle” approximately every 6 months, depending on the breed of dog—larger breeds may be a little longer than 6 months. A female dog’s heat cycle usually lasts about 21 days, during which your dog may leave blood stains in the house and may become anxious, short-tempered, and actively seek a mate. A female dog in heat may be more likely to fight with other female dogs, including other female dogs in the same household.

Female cats can come into heat every 2 weeks during breeding season until they are mated and become pregnant. During this time they may engage in unwanted behaviors such as frequent yowling and urination in unacceptable places.

Spaying eliminates heat cycles and generally reduces the unwanted behaviors that may lead to owner frustration and, ultimately, a decision to relinquish the pet to a shelter. Most importantly, early spaying of female dogs and cats can help protect them from some serious health problems later in life.

Benefits of Neutering My Male Pet

Once they are sexually mature (on average, 6 to 9 months of age), male dogs and cats are capable of mating. Both male dogs and cats are likely to begin “marking” their territories by spraying strong-smelling urine on your furniture, curtains, and in other places in your house. Also, given the slightest chance, intact (not neutered) males may attempt to escape from home and roam in search of a female in heat. Male dogs and cats seeking a female in heat can become aggressive and may injure themselves, other animals, or people by engaging in fights. Roaming animals are also more likely to be hit by cars.

Neutering male dogs and cats reduces the mating instinct and can have a calming effect, making them less inclined to roam, less aggressive, and more content to stay at home. Staying closer to home decreases their chances of being injured in fights or automobile accidents. Neutering your male pet can also lessen its risk of developing prostate disease (in the dog) and testicular cancer.

Advantages For You of Spaying and Neutering

For the owner, the surgery results in much added convenience. It eliminates the blood stains on the carpets, floors, furniture, and bedding (both yours and the pet’s). Usually, tomcats will stop spraying their strong-smelling urine on your furniture and drapes. You’ll no longer have annoying or menacing suitors to contend with, either within your house or from the neighborhood. There will be no need to confine your female pet during a heat cycle. No more will you have to be confronted with unwanted litters to take care of or find new homes for. Your pet will be much more likely to stay home and devote more attention to you and your family.

Remember, raising a litter of puppies or kittens, wanted or unwanted, means added expenses. A nursing mother needs extra food and care and, once weaned, the offspring must be fed as well. New puppies and kittens need vaccinations and they may need to be treated for parasites. Even if your unspayed pet never has a litter, she could develop certain “female” disorders that would require more involved surgeries later in her life.

Will Spaying or Neutering Affect My Pet’s Disposition or Metabolism?

The surgical procedures have no effect on a pet’s intelligence or ability to learn, play, work, or hunt. Most pets tend to be better behaved, more gentle, and more affectionate following the surgery, making them more desirable companions. They usually become less interested in other animals and more willing to spend time with your family.

Removing the ovaries or testicles can affect your pet’s metabolism. As a result, some spayed and neutered pets seem to put on weight more easily if they are permitted to overeat and get less exercise. The diet of every dog and cat should be carefully regulated to prevent excess weight, and this is particularly true following a spaying or neutering procedure. If you have any concerns about this aspect for your pet, your veterinarian can advise you as to the best diet and exercise plan for each stage of your pet’s life.

More Behavioral Benefits From Spaying Your Dog

Female dogs usually become sexually mature between 6 and 12 months of age. During this time, they experience a surge of the hormone estrogen and begin their reproductive cycle, which leads to their heat cycles. Only when a female dog is in heat will she be receptive to mating with a male dog.

Having your dog spayed won’t affect her working abilities, friendliness, playfulness, or personality. However, spaying can affect many of the behaviors associated with the recurring heat cycles. You may see a reduction in these behaviors after your dog is spayed:

  • Roaming —While in heat, female dogs often try to leave home in search of males, which puts them at risk of getting lost and being injured or killed on roadways. If you don’t have your dog spayed, you’ll need to confine her indoors or in an escape-proof yard when she’s in heat. Confined in a yard surrounded by most types of fencing is not necessarily a guarantee against a chance mating—a persistent male dog can easily mate a female in heat right through most fences.

  • Frequent urinations —Females in heat urinate often in order to attract male dogs with the scent of their urine. Not only will this cause a line-up of neighborhood male dogs at your door, but it can also lead to urine on your carpets and furniture.

  • Irritability —Each heat cycle causes significant hormonal changes in a female dog. Some of them become irritable or nervous and may even feel some pain due to ovulation.

  • Aggression —Unspayed female dogs sometimes compete for the attention of a male dog by fighting. Female dogs will sometimes behave aggressively if people or other pets attempt to approach or touch their puppies. Some dogs that don’t get pregnant during a heat cycle can experience a “false” pregnancy and often will “adopt” objects and treat them like a litter of puppies. These females may guard the adopted objects as if they were real puppies.

To prevent the development of the behaviors listed above, it’s best to spay your dog BEFORE she reaches sexual maturity (usually 6 months of age). If your dog has practiced these habits for a few years, they might persist even after spaying her. However, if you have an older dog, it’s still worth considering having her spayed. Even if you can’t completely get rid of her problematic behaviors, you might see them less often if she’s spayed—and spaying will still be beneficial to her physical health. Your veterinarian can help you decide if your older dog is still a good candidate for the surgery.

This concludes the second part of our discussion on SPAYING AND NEUTERING. In next week's issue, Helpful Buckeye will finish this discussion with coverage of the medical benefits of the procedures, common myths associated with spaying, and the potential detriments associated with spaying.

Any comments or questions, please send an e-mail to: or click on the word, Comment, at the end of this issue and leave your comment.


A while back, we showed you some of the new ideas in dog beds. Now, the cats are drawing some attention for their range of choices:

Check out all 10 of these new cat bed designs at: Click on the arrows to look at all 10, ranging in price from $82-$650...ouch!


1) A story with a nice ending took place at the Humane Society of the Black Hills, in Rapid City, SD recently: " Weak and almost lifeless with deep wounds to her face and right eye, De De -- a 7-year-old dachshund -- had been wrapped in a blanket and heartlessly tossed in a dumpster. Fortunately, the garbage truck driver on that particular route regularly checks the trash bins for fear of finding a human body or pet. On this day, his fears were realized, and after unwrapping the frail dog, he rushed her to the local animal shelter. There, all hearts and hands reached out to De De, who still craved human interaction despite her battered condition. Although it is not known whether her injuries were caused by another animal or by human abuse, a grant from the Second Chance Fund paid for the cleaning of her wounds, the removal of her ulcerated eye and the extraction of 22 teeth. Happily, De De has been adopted by the veterinary technician who fostered her during her recovery -- and who is also the “forever” mom to yet another lovable one-eyed dachshund." Here is De De now: 2) A few weeks ago, Helpful Buckeye referred to a story in Phoenix of a dog owner being fined for her dog making too much noise. Now, other cities around Phoenix are taking on this problem in various ways. From the Arizona Republic: " Ordinances that regulate dog-bark complaints vary widely. Some cities tend to favor the upset neighbor, while others place a heavier burden of proof on the resident registering a complaint." Read the article and look over the list of cities on the right for all the different approaches to the problem of barking dogs in the city:

How many of you are experiencing a troublesome,barking dog in your neighborhood?

3) Not to be outdone by De De's very fortunate rescue and rehabilitation, another dog, named Skylar, was rescued by the ASPCA from a bad situation in Wisconsin. Skylar's hair was so matted, she couldn't walk. Afer her rescue, her story bears a striking resemblance to De De's: here is Skylar: 4) A recent study from Northern Ireland may provide some early clues to determining whether your cat is "right-pawed" or left-pawed." Read the details of the study and draw your own conclusions:

Even though the study didn't include very many cats, the high percentage of correlation is still impressive.

5) Now that the recession may be showing signs of easing a bit, some of you might be interested in picking up one or two of these items for your pets:

Wow, it's another world for some people, isn't it?

6) Apparently, Paris Hilton decided she was going to go well beyond the list in #5. Here's a sneak peek at her $325,000 dog house:

It's nice to have a little discretionary loose change laying around....

7) Now, for the story that makes you say, "I thought I'd heard everything!" A man in Florida claims his cat was responsible for downloading more than 1000 pictures of child pornography on his computer. He says the cat jumped onto the keyboard while some music was being downloaded:

I wonder if the cat used its left or right paw for the downloads?

The LA Dodgers have apparently decided it's OK to play mediocre baseball since they had such a big lead in their division. Well, not only do they not have the most wins in baseball anymore, but also, their lead over Colorado and San Francisco has dwindled.
It's a good thing the NFL training camps have opened because Helpful Buckeye can spend some time reading about the Steelers, while the Dodgers are stumbling along.


Helpful Buckeye lost a good friend this week...a molar from my lower jaw. Yes, and this was one of the molars I used for a fair amount of my chewing. A routine visit to my dentist revealed that this tooth might be dead. The same day, I then spent time in the chair of an endodontist, trying to learn more about its status and possibly save the tooth, and ended up in the chair of an oral surgeon in order to have it removed...and it was dead. Such are the curveballs of life that we face from time to time.

Yesterday (Saturday) was one of those really special days, better than the best, with a temperature of 70 degrees, humidity of 8%, a slight breeze out of the SW, and a classic, blue, sunny sky. I took a peaceful, long bike ride as my reward for holding off on any physical exercise (as per the oral surgeon's advice) for a few days. My conclusion at the end of the bike ride was is good!

Some of you might be wondering, "How does Helpful Buckeye loosen up before one of his long bike rides?" Well, I've got the answer for you, right here on video:

My flower garden seems to be approaching the height of its production for the summer. It has done better than in past summers, probably because I've been home more this summer to take care of it. As Luther Burbank, American horticulturist, described flowers: "Flowers always make people better, happier and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine to the soul."~~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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