Volume 1 – Issue 2 – Fall 2012
The goal of any identification system is to reunite lost and/or stolen pets with their owners. Does a microchip replace identification tags and rabies tags? Absolutely not! Microchips are great for permanent identification that is tamper-proof, but nothing replaces a collar with up-to-date identification tags. Having said that however, we all know how easy it is to lose a collar or have the collar deliberately removed. The rabies tag should always be on its collar, so people can quickly see that the pet has been vaccinated for this contagious disease. The rabies tag numbers allow tracing of pets and identification of a lost animal’s owner, but it can be hard to have a rabies number traced after veterinary clinics or county offices are closed for the day. The microchip databases are available online or can be accessed by telephone, and are available 24/7 365 days a year. The best reason to get your pet microchipped is to improve the chance of being reunited with your four-footed family member should you ever become separated. Identification tags and rabies tags are important but can be taken off or lost. A microchip is permanent and will last the lifetime of your pet.
What is a microchip?
It is a small, electronic chip enclosed in a glass cylinder that is about the same size as a grain of rice. It is implanted subcutaneously using a single-use syringe. Each microchip contains an individual, preprogrammed code that is permanent, unique, and cannot be altered. This chip does not require a battery and is engineered to last a pet’s lifetime. The chip is activated by a scanner that is passed over the area, and the radio waves put out by the scanner activate the chip. The chip transmits the identification number to the scanner, which displays the number on the screen. A resQ microchip can be read by any ISO-compliant scanning device worldwide.
Is the insertion of the microchip painful for my pet?
It is no more painful than a typical injection, although the needle is slightly larger than those used for injections. No surgery or anesthesia is needed. In fact, the microchip can be implanted during a regular veterinary visit. If, however, the pet is under anesthesia for a procedure such as a spay or neuter, the microchip can often be implanted while the pet is still under anesthesia.
ResQ is supported by a no-cost pet registration database in the U.S. that allows for a true, no-cost registration with lifetime updates. PetLink provides 24/7 customer support, including contact numbers for non-resQ microchip manufacturers and protection for pets regardless of their country of origin. Claws & Paws Veterinary Hospital® charges an insertion fee and then provides the owner with all the necessary information to register the microchip with petlink. It does not matter how many times the residence or phone numbers may change, there are no further charges to update information for the lifetime of the pet. There is no subscription or hidden fees. It is extremely important for the owner to verify and update information as needed. Successful tracking and reunification of pets with their owners requires current and accurate information within a registration database.
What is “ISO standard?”
The International Standards Organization, or ISO, has approved and recommended a global standard for microchips. This global standard is intended to create an identification system that is consistent worldwide. For example, if a dog was implanted with an ISO standard microchip in the U.S. and travels to Europe with its owners and becomes lost, the ISO standard scanners in Europe would be able to read the dog’s microchip.
41% of lost cats were reported by their owners to be indoor-only.
46% of lost dogs have been lost at least once before.
Benefits of Microchipping
Permanent, unalterable identification of pets can be a challenge. Although tattoos are an accepted form of identification, the procedure can produce discomfort and tattoos can fade with time and sometimes be altered. Identification tags are an effective means of identification only if they are in place on the pet when it becomes lost. Ear tags are effective and visible means of identification, but can be removed intentionally or by trauma.
**Please read for information on the TAGG GPS system.
What You Should Know for the Protection of Both
Your Pet and Your Family
Kids with pets make the perfect picture of love. Only a child can give that precious look and special caring touch, especially to a puppy or kitten. The dog or cat, in return, seems to show its unshakable loyalty to kids in particular. Their bond is truly infectious. Unfortunately, something else can be infectious too. Intestinal worms (parasites) commonly found in pets can actually find their way to humans. And children are very susceptible.
Perhaps you’re not aware of the problem, or don’t even realize that these parasitic worms can infect people as well as pets. But each year, thousands of human cases are diagnosed, many of them children. Left unchecked, the infection can lead to serious illness, even loss of sight. It’s a fact that intestinal parasites in pets are a growing public health concern. It’s also a fact that, as a pet owner, dealing with intestinal parasites is always going to be part of the deal.
Any pet, no matter how well cared for, is at risk of exposure to intestinal worms in the environment. Keeping your dog or cat well groomed and well fed certainly helps, but pets are animals at heart. They’re going to go sniffing and poking around, especially where other animals have been. Worm eggs can be anywhere, remaining infectious for months and even years. Despite all of your concern and care, your pet can ingest those eggs while it’s grooming or playing in the grass. The larvae can even penetrate your pet’s skin while it’s resting or sleeping. Like it or not, the danger of infection to your dog or cat is always around. And so, too, is the danger of infection to you and your family. Think about it. The only ones who love stroking and cuddling your pet more than you do are your kids. The little ones love playing in sandboxes or in the yard, and hand washing may be an infrequent event. Plus, with a house pet, there are even more contact points between parasites and people: beds, chairs, and the carpet. Remember, your pet’s intestinal worm eggs can be anywhere, not just outdoors. Your pet is a member of your family, and it’s natural to want to protect all your family. Now, keeping both children and pets safe from intestinal parasites is easier than ever.
Recognizing the human and animal health threats that intestinal parasites pose is the first step. Next is treating your pet regularly for worms, because the odds are high that your puppy, kitten, or adult pet is infected with worms. Even after treatment, your pet may become re-infected with some type of intestinal parasite.
There are multiple species of intestinal parasites that infect pets. The most common are hookworms, whipworms, roundworms, and tapeworms. Hookworms and roundworms are passed to puppies from their mothers or to adults with puppies from the environment. Tapeworms are acquired when a pet eats an infected flea. That means it could be a dead flea in the environment that is infected. Whipworms are acquired when the pet drinks water or eats food contaminated with the whipworm eggs.
Hookworms and roundworms are zoonotic parasites. This means they can be transmitted to people through ingestion or, in the case of hookworms, burrowing under the skin. The recommendation from the Companion Animal Parasitic Council (CAPC) is to feed pets cooked or prepared foods and give fresh water. Any sandboxes should be covered when not in use, garden areas should be protected immediately and feces in backyards should be picked up daily. Good personal hygiene must be practiced when handling animal waste especially in children and others at increased risk. Whipworms are not considered zoonotic at this time, although there are rare reports of infections. Tapeworms have several different species. While some of them infect both humans and dogs/cats, the Dipylidium caninum species, which dogs get from eating infected fleas, does not usually infect people.
According to the CAPC, the current guidelines for controlling intestinal parasites are to give anthelmintic (dewormer) treatments to puppies/kittens at two weeks of age and repeating every two weeks until broad spectrum parasite control begins. This is usually at six to eight weeks of age when monthly heartworm preventatives are started. These products contain anthelmintics and therefore, when given once monthly, help keep the pet free of intestinal parasites. Fecal examinations are recommended two to four times during the first year of life and one to two times per year in adults.
Chocolate Poisoning in Pets
We’ve all heard it, “Don’t give pets chocolate because it can kill them.” How true is this? How much is too much? What do I do if my pet gets into my chocolate stash?
Why is Chocolate Lethal?
The truth is chocolate contains theobromine which is a naturally occurring stimulant found in the cocoa bean. It increases urination and affects the central nervous system as well as the heart. It is the theobromine that is toxic to both dogs and cats. However, cats are less prone to eating chocolate since they are unable to taste sweetness. Dogs on the other hand, will eat just about anything. Even in small quantities, chocolate may be toxic to dogs. There are variables to consider like the individual sensitivity, animal size, health of the pet, and chocolate concentration.
Symptoms of Chocolate Ingestion and Poisoning in Dogs
The first signs of theobromine (chocolate) poisoning are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, increased urination, and/or hyperactivity. As time passes and there is increased absorption of the toxic substance, an increase in the dog’s heart rate, which can cause arrhythmia, restlessness, hyperactivity, muscle twitching, increased urination or excessive panting may occur. This can lead to hyperthermia, muscle tremors, seizures, coma, and even death.
How Much Chocolate is Deadly?
The buzz humans get from eating chocolate may last 20 to 40 minutes, but for dogs it can last many hours. Dogs metabolize theobromine much more slowly than humans. In dogs, the half-life of theobromine is 17.5 hours, so in severe cases clinical symptoms of chocolate poisoning can persist for 72 hours. Even small amounts of chocolate can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
To answer the question “How much is too much” is not simple. The general health, age, and weight of the pet must be considered. If a 50-pound dog eats a teaspoon of milk chocolate, it’s not likely to cause serious problems. However, if that same dog chows down on a two-layer chocolate cake, his stomach will probably be upset and it’s likely vomiting and diarrhea will follow. Add in that the dog may be
an aged pet or in poor health or smaller in size, the symptoms may be worse.
Another fact that must be considered is the type of chocolate ingested. Not all chocolates are the same and the theobromine levels found in each can be a determining factor for the severity of the toxicity. The four types of chocolate that you should be aware of are:
- White Chocolate—Has the least amount of theobromine: 200 ounces per pound of body weight. It takes 250 pounds of white chocolate to cause signs of poisoning in a 20-pound dog, 125 pounds for a 10-pound dog.
- Milk Chocolate—Mild signs of toxicity can occur when 0.7 ounces per body weight is ingested; severe toxicity occurs when two ounces per pound of body weight is ingested (or as little as one pound of milk chocolate for a 20-pound dog.) The average chocolate bar contains two to three ounces of milk chocolate.
- Semi-Sweet Chocolate—Mild signs of toxicity can occur when 0.3 ounces per pound of body weight is ingested. More severe poisoning may occur when one ounce per pound of body weight is ingested (or as little as six ounces of semi-sweet chocolate for a 20-pound dog.)
- Baking Chocolate—This kind of chocolate has the highest concentration of theobromine and therefore is the most toxic for pets. As little as two small one-ounce squares of baking chocolate can become toxic to a 20-pound dog (or 0.1 ounce per pound of body weight.)
Diagnosing chocolate poisoning is generally based on the owner’s witnessing or suspecting ingestion and on physical exam findings. Pets that have ingested toxic levels of chocolate are generally hyperactive, panting, have increased blood pressure and increased heart rates. Dehydration may also occur if there has been significant vomiting and diarrhea. Your veterinarian will perform a comprehensive physical examination, including a chemical blood profile, electrolyte panel and a urinalysis. These tests will help determine if there is a chocolate/theobromine overdose. Blood work may be performed to determine theobromine concentration levels. An electrocardiogram (ECG) can be performed to help determine if the heart is showing any abnormalities in rhythm or conduction of heart beats.
While there is no specific antidote for theobromine poisoning, your veterinarian is likely to treat symptomatically. Call your veterinarian immediately when any amount of chocolate is ingested. They can help determine the proper treatment for the pet. If it has been less than two hours since ingestion, the veterinarian may recommend inducing vomiting followed by an administration of activated charcoal. The activated charcoal will help inhibit the absorption of the toxin. An anticonvulsant might be indicated if neurological signs are present and needs to be controlled. Intravenous fluids may need to be given depending on dehydration levels, medications, and oxygen therapy are also options the veterinarian may use. It is possible that the dog will experience diarrhea 12-24 hours after ingestion. The veterinarian will diagnose, make recommendations and provide individual treatment options designed to meet your pet’s needs.
Home Care and Prevention
Remove your dog from the source of chocolate and call your veterinarian immediately. Home care for pets that have ingested toxic levels of chocolate is primarily aimed at reducing gastrointestinal upset and making certain that there is no access to additional chocolate. Once the nausea is gone, the veterinarian may recommend a bland diet for a couple of days. It is crucial to the pet’s health to keep chocolate products out of their reach as there is no antidote for theobromine poisoning. Just as we child-proof our homes, we should doggie-proof them for our four-footed companions as well. Have the number for your veterinarian handy at all times so that when an emergency occurs it is easy to find. Claws & Paws Veterinary Hospital® (281) 997-1426 or Emergency Clinic (713) 941-8460.
What’s New at Claws & Paws Veterinary Hospital®
*We salute and congratulate our newest RVT Sarah Mooty! She passed her state exam with flying colors and we are proud to have her as one of our valuable team members.
What is Pet Sitting?
By Alan Mansfield
To answer this question successfully, we recommend checking with your veterinarian about all potential options for the care of your pet(s) while out of town. Many clinics offer basic boarding services and most will typically have recommendations of other facilities should they not have enough room for your important family member. Boarding is a wonderful service, offering a structured stay for your baby. Pets will routinely go out for exercise and potty breaks and receive their medications (if there are any) on a set time schedule. Many veterinarian clinics also offer bathing and grooming services. The added benefit of boarding your pet is that there are many individuals taking responsibility for the care and treatment of your pet as opposed to just one.
After checking with the veterinary clinic, you may determine that pet sitting is a more attractive service, but what is it? Though services provided will ultimately differ from pet sitter to pet sitter, in general, the pet sitter will come to your home a predetermined/negotiated number of times per day. It is best to try and mimic your pet’s routine as closely as possible as if you were home yourself taking care of them. This includes feeding and water schedules, cleanliness of their living space, potty pick up outside as well as the litter box inside, treats for whatever activities you desire, walking and/or other exercises, medication administration as you designate, and any other special needs your baby has come to love. Other services may include bringing in the mail, paper, watering of plants, lawn and gardens, basic pool maintenance such as pump activation and skimming services, porch lighting requests, fish and pond duties, and even overnight stays of your pet sitter, effectively combining house and pet sitting.
To find a reliable pet sitter, once more, start with your veterinarian. Many will have pet sitters on staff, although the hospitals themselves are not usually responsible for the services or actions of these individuals. However, if the clinic believes in the employee’s work competencies enough to hire and maintain them on staff, that’s an immediate and trustworthy reference right away. This should also provide comfort to you that the individual is able to spot any medical needs that may arise during your trip and knows exactly where to take them in case of an emergency.
Once you have the names of potential pet sitters, you should ask each for a list of references. Once finding out if a certain staff member is a pet sitter, you may be able to skip the step of narrowing down your selection if you’re been going to a certain animal hospital for an extended time frame and already have a great working relationship with that individual. However, it is still good practice to obtain at least three references from this person; after all, they’ll be coming into your home and taking responsibility of your extended family member’s care.
Finally, the initial visit of your pet sitter takes place, preferably before your trip and with you present, so that your baby sees this person come into your house with your permission. This is when you’ll clarify all of the services you will require of them, including but not limited to the number of daily visits, feeding, potty pick up, medications, mail, newspaper, lawn watering, etc. A payment schedule is usually derived at this initial meeting. How a pet sitter charges is determined strictly by that individual.
In general, many have a fee schedule based solely on the daily number of visits to your home, and others will have a base fee for two visits plus feeding/watering with additional charges for extra visits or services such as walking, medicating, and lawn or pool care. Before the initial visit, you may want to speak to the potential pet sitter about their fee structure, as well as when they expect payment. Many accept payment after services are provided, while others ask that it is left at your house at the onset of your vacation.
Again, if you’re going on vacation and need help deciding your pet’s care while away, consult with your veterinarian about the most proper care of your baby. It all depends on yours and your pet’s needs. Together you can come up with a plan most suitable for your beloved family member. Remember to give yourself plenty of time to take care of everything so that everyone, including your pet has a wonderful time.
The staff at Claws & Paws Veterinary Hospital are committed to, not only caring for the pets within our care, but in educating our clients, so they are better able to make decisions for their pets. We have begun a project to create educational videos to answer those questions most often asked of us.
If you have suggestions of a video you would like for us to develop, please contact us via email.
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