Keeping Track of Your Pets With Microchips and GPS Smart Collars

When dogs or cats go missing–whether they run away or are stolen–it can be devastating for both pet and owner.

According to the National Humane Society, more than 10 million pets are lost each year. Only 26 percent of dogs and less than 5 percent of cats who come into shelters as strays are reunited with their owners.  An even more alarming fact is that 1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats in these shelters end up being euthanized.

As a pet owner, even if you haven’t experienced such a loss, there is always the possibility you could.  However, there are also some preventative measures you can take to help keep your pet safe.

While embedding microchips in pets has become an increasingly common procedure for veterinarians and is a good tool for reuniting lost pets with their owners, they’re not foolproof. In order for a microchip to be effective, pet owners must register the chip with the manufacturer. If they don’t, when a pet is brought into an animal shelter or veterinarian’s office and the chip is scanned, no contact information will be associated with the pet and microchip, making it much more difficult to unite the animal with its owner.

GET SMART— The Smart pet collar is the latest innovative technology designed to give pet owners peace of mind. It’s a GPS tracker collar for your pet that works almost like an iPhone. It allows you, via an app on your phone, to not only communicate and send messages to your furry friend, but also monitor and alert you to its whereabouts.

So if Fido or Fluffy wanders too far away from the backyard, a notification is immediately sent to your phone. If the animal does manage to run away, the collar will automatically flash the message “I’m lost” along with your phone number to alert anyone who may come in contact with the animal.

Remember, regardless of how careful you are with your pets, they can still get lost. Providing your pet with a GPS collar as well as a microchip can go a long way to ensure a happy and healthy reunion if ever your pet strays from home.

If you’re planning to microchip your pets, be sure to take them to a licensed veterinarian.  To verify the license of a veterinarian, contact the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Veterinary Medical Board at (916) 515-5220, or visit their website at vmb@dca.ca.gov.

 

Ticks Don’t Take a Winter Vacation

You may think that in winter you don’t have to worry about tick prevention, but if you live in any of California’s snow-free, temperate regions, adult ticks and emerging nymphs pose a threat all year long. Adult ticks are active from October to May, while younger and smaller nymphal ticks—about the size of a sesame seed—are active from January to October.

The three most common ticks in California (from top to bottom): The Western Black-Legged Tick, the Pacific Coast Tick, and the American Dog Tick.

The three most common ticks in California (from top to bottom): The Western Black-Legged Tick, the Pacific Coast Tick, and the American Dog Tick.

Ticks are nasty parasites, but they serve a purpose in the circle of life. They are food for reptiles, amphibians and birds; they host a variety of other organisms (many of those bad for humans); and because they carry diseases and drain blood, they act as a natural population control for their larger hosts—we just don’t want those “larger hosts” to be ourselves or our pets.

These mini-vampires can transmit a number of diseases including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tick-borne relapsing fever, tularemia, babesiosis, anaplasmosis and erlichiosis. Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in California, but luckily, most tick bites don’t transmit disease.

If you’ve been bitten by a tick, the Medical Board of California offers some advice—and an illustration of how to take out the tick—on page 10 of this issue of the Medical Board of California Newsletter.  Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics and most patients recover completely without complications if the infection is caught early. But if left untreated, the disease can cause arthritis or nervous system disorders.

Once a tick is discovered, it should be pulled out as quickly as possible.  After you remove the tick, be sure to wash your hands and apply antiseptic to the bite area. Old-fashioned tick removal remedies such as insecticides, lighted matches, gasoline, petroleum jelly or liquid soaps don’t work and may cause injury to you or your pet.

The best way to protect your pets from ticks is through the use of monthly flea and tick preventatives, which are available from your veterinarian. If you are looking for a veterinarian, don’t forget to check the license first with the Veterinary Medical Board of California.

When working with or looking for tick prevention, the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends you:
  • Discuss the use of preventive products, including over-the-counter products, with your veterinarian to determine the safest and most effective choice for each pet.
  • Always talk to your veterinarian before applying any spot-on products, especially if your dog or cat is very young, old, pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.
  • Only purchase EPA-registered pesticides or FDA-approved medicines.
  • Read the entire label before you use/apply the product.
  • Always follow label directions! Apply or give the product as and when directed. Never apply more or less than the recommended dose.
  • Remember, cats are not small dogs. Products labeled for use only for dogs should only be used for dogs, and never for cats.
  • Make sure that the weight range listed on the label is correct for your pet because weight matters. Giving a smaller dog a dose designed for a larger dog could cause the animal harm.

Preventing a tick bite is important and you need to take precautions when you or your pets enter tick habitats such as tall grass and brush in urban, suburban, and rural settings. Below are a few things you can do while outdoors:

  • Wear light-colored clothing to make it easier to see ticks if they are on your clothes.
  • Tuck your pants into your socks when you are walking, hiking, or working in tick areas.
  • Use repellents containing at least 20% DEET.
  • Do tick checks for several days after you or your pets have been in tick habitat. Pay close attention to the hairline, waistline and armpits.
  • Remove attached ticks immediately. This can reduce the risk of transmission of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.
  • Seek medical attention if you, a family member, or your pet becomes ill after a tick bite.

To see additional photos or find out more information about ticks, visit the Centers for Disease Control’s information page.

 

 

August 15, 2016 is National Check the Chip Day! 

006c0704pmEstablished by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), National Check the Chip Day was created as an awareness vehicle to remind pet owners to check and update the contact information on their microchipped pets.  Not just for dogs or cats—ferrets, birds and other companion pets can be microchipped too.

According to the AVMA, a study of more than 7,700 stray animals at animal shelters showed that dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 21.9 percent of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were returned to their owners 52.2 percent of the time.  Cats without microchips were reunited with their owners only 1.8 percent of the time, whereas microchipped cats went back home 38.5 percent of the time.

What is a microchip?

A microchip is a permanent, electronic, tamper-proof form of identification for pets.  The size of a grain of rice, the “chip” is enclosed in a glass cylinder and implanted painlessly into the animal (typically between the shoulders and below the skull) by being injected under the skin using a hypodermic needle.  No surgery or anesthesia is required.

How does the “chip” help reunite a lost pet with its owner?

If a pet is separated from its owner and the pet’s tag is missing, the microchip is a permanent form of identification.  Most animal control, local shelters and veterinarians know to “check the chip” when unidentified pets are brought to them.

How does the microchip work?

Activated by a scanner that is passed over the area of insertion, the chip transmits the animal’s unique identification number to the scanner via radio waves, which displays the number on the screen.  The chip does not require a battery.

What information does the microchip contain?

Microchips currently used in pets only contain identification numbers.  They are not GPS tracking devices.  When a pet owner “chips” and registers their pet, an identification number is assigned and is then stored in the manufacturer’s database.  The medical history of the pet is not stored, only the contact information of the owner.

To support the notion of microchipping pets, the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) sites the following facts:

  • More than one million pets are lost or stolen each year.
  • One in three pets will get lost during their lifetime.
  • Without pet identification, 90 percent will not get home.
  • Overcrowded animal shelters often are forced to destroy lost pets unless they can be returned to their owners in a short time.
  • “Dog nappers” may eventually release the animals they have stolen, but they may end up miles from home.

When it comes to easily identifying a found pet and reuniting them with their owner, nothing replaces a secure collar tag with current information.  However, collar tags are not fool-proof as they can become unreadable, lost or removed, which is why the CVMA acknowledges the limitations of each type of pet identification and recommends both collar tags and microchips for pets.

For more information on microchipping pets, visit the California Veterinary Medical Association website at www.cvma.net.  You may also contact the Veterinary Medical Board via email with additional questions at vmb@dca.ca.gov.

Winterizing pets can take the chill away

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Both indoor pets and outdoor pets can be affected by the chill of winter weather, but there are steps pet owners can take to ensure their pets’ health and well-being.

Avoid Space Heaters

Indoor pet owners need to turn off space heaters or purchase one that shuts off automatically when tipped over. Numerous house fires have started from space heaters knocked over by pets.

The Humane Society recommends that outdoor pets be brought in during inclement weather for their safety and protection. Outdoor pets are susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite.

Winter Needs For Outdoor Pets

Pets spending time outdoors during winter need more food and also need to have their outdoor houses insulated against the cold. The opening should face away from the wind and a burlap or plastic flap can be added. Water bowls can freeze, especially overnight, so be sure ice is broken or removed so thirsty pets can have a drink. Plastic or ceramic bowls are recommended because pets’ tongues can stick to frozen metal bowls.

Warming Up Car Engines

Be careful when warming up your car in the mornings. Warm cars attract cats and small wildlife seeking respite from the cold. To avoid drawing any unwelcome guests, bang on your car hood to scare away animals before starting your engine.

Antifreeze Warning

Avoid antifreeze pet poisonings by wiping up any spills and keeping it secure and out of reach. Pets, wildlife and small children are attracted by the sweet taste of antifreeze, but it is deadly when ingested.

Snowy Dangers

Pets’ paws can become frostbitten in below zero temperatures. Remove ice and snow from pets’ paws immediately.  Chemicals and salts used to melt ice on roads and sidewalks can also be toxic to pets. Always rinse dogs’ paws after walks in areas where these substances might be used.

Fur May Not Be Enough

Fur, while it may look warm, may not be enough to keep pets from getting chilly, especially if they have short hair or their fur becomes wet. Cats usually will not tolerate wearing coats or sweaters, but dogs can fare well in winter attire. Doggy boots, jackets and sweaters should fit well, but not be too tight that circulation could be cut off. Puppies and kittens should never be left outdoors. Younger, older and sick pets must be kept indoors.

Hypothermia

Symptoms of pet hypothermia include violent shivering, followed by listlessness, weak pulse, lethargy, muscle stiffness, problems breathing, lack of appetite, rectal temperature below 98 degrees, coma and cardiac arrest.

Treatment for hypothermia includes bringing your pet indoors to a warm room, wrapping it in blankets, giving pet four teaspoons of honey or sugar dissolved in warm water to drink or rubbing 1-2 teaspoons of corn syrup on its gums to provide an immediate boost of energy.

Do not use hair dryers, heating pads or electric blankets to warm pets because this could burn your pet or cause surface blood vessels to dilate, compromising circulation to vital organs.

Instead, use hot water bottles wrapped in towels and place against the animals abdomen, armpits and chest. Then, call your veterinarian immediately.

By taking the proper precautions, you can safeguard your pets against inclement weather.

DEA Prescription Drug Take-Back is Saturday

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This Saturday, get rid of unused, expired and unwanted drugs at the 10th Annual DEA National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

On September 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., hundreds of locations throughout the state will accept unneeded and expired prescription drugs, including controlled substances, for safe and legal disposal.

The Take-Back event aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the public about the potential for the abuse of medications.

The family medicine cabinet is where many drug abusers get prescription medications that they use to get high. Anyone who has access to that bathroom – including teens, relatives, guests and workers in your home – can remove some or all of the medications. Prescription painkillers are especially sought out by abusers, as are muscle relaxants and anti-anxiety medications.

Prescription drug abuse has been declared a national epidemic and thousands of people die every year from overdoses and poisonings. Studies show that many of those prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends.

In the previous nine nationwide Take-Back events for the last four years, 4,823,251 pounds or 2,411 tons of drugs were collected.

To find a collection site near you, go to www.dea.gov .

Hot Weather Can Harm Pets

Hot dog

For our four-legged friends, warm summer days can spell trouble in the form of heat stroke and heat-related injury.

Dr. Beth Parvin, a consultant with the California Veterinary Medical Board, warns that heat stroke in pets is a medical emergency that can quickly turn deadly. She advises that even after pets are removed from the heat, animals suffering from heat stroke still need immediate veterinary medical attention to avoid complications.

Dr. Parvin says leaving pets alone in a parked vehicle, even with the windows cracked, is the most frequent cause of heat stroke. Temperatures inside a vehicle can quickly soar to 140 degrees. Besides being unsafe for your animal, it’s also illegal in California.

Section 597.7 of the Penal Code states, “No person shall leave or confine an animal in any unattended motor vehicle under conditions that endanger the health or well-being of an animal due to heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation, or lack of food or water, or other circumstances that could reasonably be expected to cause suffering, disability, or death to the animal.”

Warning Signs of Heat Stroke:

  • Excessive panting, salivating or discomfort.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Increased heart and respiratory rate.
  • Drooling.
  • Mild weakness.
  • Disorientation.
  • Stupor.
  • Collapse.
  • Seizures.
  • Diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees.
  • Coma.
  • Death.

If heat stroke is suspected, try to cool your pet off immediately and then get your pet to a veterinarian.

Home Treatment of Heat Stroke:

  • Move pet to a cool, shady area.
  • Avoid ice or very cold water.
  • Cool pet by spraying with or immersing in cool – not cold – water or wrap pet in wet towels.
  • Wet earflaps and paws with cool water.
  • Allow, but don’t force, the pet to drink cool water.

Veterinarians will treat not just the heat stroke, but also check for complications. They will:

  • Lower the animal’s body temperature to a safe range.
  • Continually monitor pet’s temperature.
  • Give fluids, oxygen and medication as needed.
  • Monitor for shock, respiratory distress, kidney failure, heart abnormalities and other complications and treat accordingly.
  • Take blood samples before and during the treatment to check the clotting time of the blood, since clotting problems are a common complication.

Seek immediate veterinary medical attention to ensure your pet’s temperature returns to and stays at normal and to ensure there are no complications. Be sure you don’t lower your pet’s temperature too much as this, too, can cause complications.

With proper care and planning, heat stroke in pets can be preventable.

The Humane Society of the United States says that brachycephalic (short-nosed) animals such as pugs, bull dogs or Persian cats, and pets with long hair are the most vulnerable to heat stroke as are dogs and cats that are young, elderly, overweight or those with heart or lung diseases.

Dr. Parvin says on hot days these pets should be kept indoors in air conditioning. She says providing outside pets with access to plenty of shade and cool water is critical to their safety during hot weather.

To avoid heat stroke, be sure to limit your pet’s exercise to early mornings or cooler evenings and avoid hot pavement or gravel that can burn tender paws. Also, don’t muzzle your dog during hot weather because panting allows them to cool off.

During periods of high temperatures, cooling centers throughout California are open to the public. Some cooling centers allow entrance to pets on leashes, depending on the location. To find a pet-friendly cooling center in your area, contact your local city or county offices.

For more information about the Veterinary Medical Board, go to http://www.vmb.ca.gov/.

Merced Veterinarian Ordered To Pay $20,000 In Restitution To The Department Of Consumer Affairs

Veterinary Medical BoardMerced Veterinarian Jimmy Lee Byerly has been ordered to pay $20,000 to the Department of Consumer Affairs following a civil agreement with the Merced County District Attorney’s Office for engaging in unfair business competition.

An investigation revealed Byerly was practicing veterinary medicine from his home and was not authorized by the Board of Veterinary Medicine to do so. By practicing out of an unregistered location, Byerly was avoiding inspections and paying registration fees.

In addition to paying restitution, the agreement with the District Attorney’s Office states he must register the location of his practice; not practice at his home, unless registered with the Veterinary Medical Board; dispose of medical waste appropriately; and display his license at his primary place of business. Byerly’s practice is also subject to inspections by Board representatives.

By following the terms and conditions of the injunction, and after three years, Byerly shall be entitled to have the District Attorney’s Office sign a stipulation setting aside the judgment and dismissing the case with prejudice.

Byerly may face administrative action against his license by the Veterinary Medical Board.

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The Department of Consumer Affairs promotes and protects the interests of California Consumers. Consumers who wish to file a complaint can contact the Department of Consumer at (800) 952-5210. Consumers can also file a complaint online at www.dca.ca.gov.

 

Riverside County Man Convicted For Conducting Unlicensed Veterinary Activity

VMBSACRAMENTO – A Riverside County man has been convicted of one misdemeanor count of unlicensed practice of Veterinary Medicine as the result of an investigation by the Veterinary Medical Board.

Linden Richard Clark was prosecuted by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office after the investigation determined he was offering and performing anesthesia-free dental cleanings on animals without a license – which is illegal.

“Practicing veterinary medicine without a license is a serious violation and exposes the public to incompetent and potentially harmful services,” said Veterinary Medical Board Executive Officer Annemarie DelMugnaio. “It is important for consumers to verify a license to make sure they are dealing with licensed veterinary professionals. Consumers should also consult with licensed veterinarians regarding acceptable animal dental cleaning methods before they take their pet in.”

Clark violated Business and Professions Code Section 4825 and was placed on Summary Probation for 36 months, ordered to pay a $140 restitution fee and serve 150 days of work release. He was also ordered to personally inform all customers that he is not licensed or hold a registration, and have no professional contact with any animals unless under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian and must have a supervising veterinarian review his work for the first 60 days.

For more information about the Veterinary Medical Board, visit www.vmb.ca.gov.

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The mission of the Veterinary Medical Board (VMB) is to protect consumers and animals through development and maintenance of professional standards, licensing of veterinarians, registered veterinary technicians, and premises, and diligent enforcement of the California Veterinary Medicine Practice Act.

 The Department of Consumer Affairs promotes and protects the interests of California Consumers. Consumers can file complaints against licensees by contacting the Department of Consumer Affairs at (800) 952-5210. Consumers can also file a complaint online at www.dca.ca.gov.