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Microchipping Pets: Costs and Benefits

Losing a pet is a pet owner’s worst nightmare.  Sometimes, pets are never recovered, but microchipping your pet increases the odds of being reunited with your lost pet. According to PetFinder.com “Only about 22 percent of lost dogs that entered the animal shelters were reunited with their families. However, the return-to-owner rate for microchipped dogs was over 52 percent (a 238 percent increase). Less than 2 percent of lost cats that entered the animal shelters were reunited with their families.” 

Little girl reunited with her dog

Microchipping your pet increases the chances you will be reunited if they are ever lost.

What is microchipping?

A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice. This electronic chip is enclosed in a glass cylinder and when a scanner passes over the chip, the chip is activated and transmits an identification number unique to your pet. It is inserted under your pet’s skin, usually between the shoulder blades, through a hypodermic needle. There is no surgery required and it should not be any more painful than a normal injection.

What Information Does the Microchip Contain?

Your pet’s microchip will contain an identification number and is registered with a microchip registry where your contact information is stored. If your pet should become lost a veterinarian, shelter or rescue group can scan your pet and contact the microchip registry to notify them that they have your pet. The microchip registry will then contact you. Your contact information is not shared with the rescuer.

Cat being scanned for microchip

If your lost pet is found a veterinarian or rescue will scan for a microchip.

Do Microchips Have GPS?

No, microchips are not the same as GPS and do not have the capability to track your pet.

Do I Still Need Identification Tags if My Pet is Microchipped?

Yes! Identification tags are the quickest way for you to be reunited with your pet. While a microchip is a permanent identification that cannot be tampered with, having an identification tag attached to your pet’s collar makes it easy for the person who finds your pet to contact you immediately. However, if your pet’s collar is removed or lost, a microchip may be the only way you will be reunited with your pet.

Are Only Dogs and Cats Microchipped?

No, all kinds of pets are microchipped including rabbits, horses, cows, ferrets, reptiles and many more.

At What Age Can my Pet Be Microchipped?

Most Shelters and veterinarians will microchip your dog or cat once they are 8 weeks old. It is actually the size of your pet that determines when they can be microchipped.

What Are the Risks of Microchipping?

Complications from microchipping your pet are very rare. There have been cases of a pet developing a cancerous tumor at the microchip site, but those cases are very rare. The benefits of getting your lost pet back far outweigh the risks. 

Veterinarian injecting microchip into a dog.

Microchipping can be done by your veterinarian or local shelter.

How Do I Get My Pet Microchipped?

Your veterinarian or local animal shelter can microchip your pet for you. If you adopt a pet from your shelter or local pet rescue it will most likely already be microchipped.

How Much Does Microchipping Cost?

The average cost is about $45 however, your local shelter or Humane Society will usually offer microchipping at a discounted price. The price is a one-time fee. If you are adopted your pet from a local shelter or rescue, it is likely that your pet is already microchipped.

Do I have to Register My Pet’s Microchip?

Yes. When your pet is microchipped the shelter or veterinarian will provide you with the information you need to have your pet’s microchip registered. If you move or change phone numbers, you will need to update your contact information.

May is National Chip Your Pet month. This is a great time to get your pet microchipped if you have not already done so. This is also a great time to have your pet’s microchip checked by taking them to your local veterinarian to have them scanned.

Is your pet microchipped? Tell us what type of pet you have and why or why not you have chosen to have your pet microchipped.

 

What is Separation Anxiety in Dogs? Does Your Dog Suffer From It?

What is separation anxiety in dogs? Does your dog suffer from it? Here is my experience of living with a dog with separation anxiety, the signs to look for and what you can do to help your dog if you suspect he or she is suffering from separation anxiety.

Dog looking out window

Dogs with separation anxiety may chew through walls to get out and find you.

Many years ago, I adopted a beautiful four-month-old puppy from a couple who kept him in a dark, hot garage 24 hours a day. They rarely let him out, even to relieve himself. It was four horrible months for this little guy, so when I brought him home he was immediately attached to me and panicked every time I had to leave him. The first two weeks weren’t too bad as I had taken vacation time to help him adjust to his new life with me, but I did notice that when I left the house, even for a brief time, he would panic.

I once ran up to the local store, leaving my puppy gated in the kitchen, only to receive a call from my alarm company stating my alarm had been triggered, again. This time the poor guy had pulled the microwave off the counter. One of the previous times he had knocked over the cabinet where I kept my china. He ate through the drywall by my front door and urinated and defecated all over my house, no matter how many times I took him out. All because I left him.

A well-meaning friend suggested I crate him. He turned that crate into a twisted mass of metal. It was incredible he didn’t physically hurt himself. I cannot imagine what torment that poor dog went through.

I hired a trainer to help me help him, but he needed more than a trainer. This was 30 years ago. Today, trainers, veterinarians, and behaviorists know so much more about how to help dogs with separation anxiety. This is not to say that there is an easy fix for separation anxiety, there isn’t. But you can help your dog if you are willing to put in the work.

What are the symptoms of separation anxiety?

  • Getting upset as you are getting ready to leave.
  • Overly excited when you return.
  • Urinating and defecating in the house while you are away even though they have had ample opportunities to relieve themselves before you left.

    Dog destroying item

    Dogs with separation anxiety may become destructive

  • Whining
  • Barking
  • Panting
  • Excessive salivation
  • Destructive behavior
  • Vomiting

What you can do to help:

  • First things first, see your veterinarian in order to make sure there isn’t some underlying issue that is mimicking separation anxiety.
  • Feed your dog just before leaving the house. This can help your dog associate something positive with your departure.
  • Keep your departures and arrivals low key.
  • Provide your dog with lots of interactive toys to keep them occupied.
  • Sometimes adding another dog to the family can help, but there is no guarantee.
  • There are medications that may help, but they are not long-term solutions.
  • Hire a dog walker or pet sitter to keep your dog company while you are away.

    Sad dog

    A dog with separation anxiety may be helped if you are willing to put in the work

One or more of the solutions above may help your dog cope with their separation anxiety. Be patient, it may take some time to figure out what works best for your dog.

Do you think your dog suffers from separation anxiety? Contact us to see how we can help.

What Leash is Right for You?

As professional dog walkers, we are very particular about the types of leashes we use. We do not walk dogs on retractable leashes or bungee type leashes. But why? Isn’t it nice to let your dog have a little freedom out on the walk? If you are using one of these types of leashes let us give you a couple of scenarios and then you can make a more informed decision about the type of leash you want to use.

The Retractable Leash

You are out for a morning stroll when an off-leash dog charges your dog. Your dog runs circles around you trying to escape his aggressor. Suddenly, the cord from the retractable leash is wound so tightly around your legs you can’t move, and your dog can’t move because he/she has used up the length of the retractable leash trying to escape. You are helpless to rescue your dog or to even help yourself. If you are wearing shorts there is a possibility that the cord from the leash will cut into your skin. Ouch!

Dogs meeting on retractable leashes

Retractable leashes limit your control over your dog.

Maybe you and your dog meet other dogs on leash, but in the chaos of greeting, the dogs’ leashes get entangled, the dogs panic and a fight ensues. Using a retractable leash makes it so much more difficult to keep leashes untangled than a standard leash.

Or, what if you are out for a walk with your dog and you accidentally drop your retractable leash? The leash retracts, and the plastic handle of the leash hits your dog sending her into a panic. As your dog runs the plastic leash handle continues to hit your dog sending her into more of a panic.

Bungee Leashes

If the snap on this type of leash breaks while the leash is stretched it can snap back hitting you in the hand, face, eye or some other part of your body. Again, Ouch!

 

Standard six-foot leash

I personally use a six-foot leather leash. Yes, it’s a bit more expensive, but you get what you pay for. Leather leashes last, they are more comfortable in your hands, they don’t collect dog hair. Leather leashes are great for strong active dogs. You can also purchase a nylon leash, but make sure you test the feel in your hands. I find nylon leashes harder on the hands. Nylon leashes can collect dog hair and while they can come in fun colors, those colors may fade over time.

Retractable leashes

Retractable leashes can get tangled or caught on something.

The type of leash you use is important for your safety and the safety of your dog. Choose wisely.

Running With Your Dog

Jogger running with two dogs

Running with your dog can be fun for both of you.

If you want to run with your dog you should take a few precautions before you get started:

Before You Start

1. Before you start a running program with your dog, make sure he or she is healthy enough for the endeavor. A trip to the vet should be first on your list before starting.
2. Once your pooch is cleared to start running, don’t take off on a 10-mile run. Just like people, dogs need to be conditioned. Start slow and build up your dog’s endurance.
3. Training is important. Your dog needs to learn how to run alongside you so that you can both enjoy the time together.
4. Not all dogs are meant to be runners. If your dog is older, short-snouted, or just too small to keep up, leave them at home when you go for your jog.
5. DO NOT run your dog if it’s hot outside. Dogs do not disburse heat the way we humans do. Keep some of these things in mind: [Read more…]

The Importance of Picking Up After Your Dog

 

Every day I am out walking dogs and every day I see piles left by dog owners who don’t pick up after their dog. I get it! Sticking my hand in a bag so I can pick up a warm pile of dog poop is not exactly on the top 10 list of my most favorite things. But what are the consequences of not picking up after your dog? Well, there are many. Here are just a few of the things that dog poop can contain:

  • E-Coli
  • Salmonella
  • Parvovirus
  • Roundworms
  • Tapeworms
  • Cryptosporidium

[Read more…]

Travel with Your Dog: Tips and Tricks

Dog in car

Travel with your dog can be a lot of fun

Recently my dog Kensi and I took another road trip to the mountains of North Carolina. This is becoming an annual event for us. I rent a beautiful cabin and we go hiking every day. It really is my bliss, hanging out in the woods with my dog. But there is a stressful side to this travel with your dog thing, how do you keep your dog safe when you are on the road? [Read more…]