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.

 

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.