Tag Archives: dog

Microchipping 101

This blog article was written by our tame vet student and blogger Joanna Woodnutt. Jo loves fostering for us and sits on our administrative board amongst her vet school duties. She has an interest in preventative feline care.

 

All cats and kittens from Lina’s Cat Rescue are fitted with a microchip. But there are a lot of myths about microchips that can lead to them being useless!

Myth 1: A microchip means your cat can be returned to you if it’s found.
FALSE. A microchip means your cat can be returned to you only if your data is up to date! If you’ve lost that phone or moved house it’ll be useless!

Myth 2: A microchip will help you to find a lost pet.
FALSE. It is not a GPS signal- it only helps if your pet is found and scanned. For this reason it’s a good idea to have them wear a collar saying that they’re chipped!

Myth 3: Only dogs, not cats, need to be microchipped.
FALSE. Although it is true that the new law only states that dogs must be microchipped, it is cats that are more likely to stray. They’re also less likely to tolerate collars, so the chip is an essential back-up!

Ok, so we’ve debunked some myths, but that raises more questions…

How does a microchip work?

A tiny chip,MICROCHIP about the size of a grain of rice, is injected under the animal’s skin just between the shoulder blades. This chip contains a unique number which can be read using a handheld scanner.

This number is held on one of a couple of national databases, and they can correlate the number with the data they have on file for that chip- such as a phone number and address.

So why do we use them?

If your cat is found, any vet, police station or charity should be able to scan him and look up the number. They can then use the data the company holds to get hold of you and return your pet. A pet can’t lose a microchip like they lose a collar, so it’s a great way of finding out who they belong to.

Microchips are invaluble to us as vets. Just the other day somebody brought in a cat that they had found and we reuinted him with his owner within the day. It’s so lovely to see. But all too often we phone the number on the file and it’s not listed, and we contact the address and there are new people living there… it’s heartbreaking that a simple mistake means this cat won’t get to go home- Joanna Woodnutt, vet student

So please remember: A microchip is only as good as the data on it. If you move house, update the data. If you change phone numbers, update the data. If it’s been a year since you last looked, why not phone them up or log in online and just double-check that it’s all correct? One day, you might be very glad you did.

So how do I change my information?

Here are some companies that hold databases and can help you to change your information:

PetLog
PETrak
Anibase

You’ll need your microchip number, which will be on your cat’s paperwork and is 10 or 15 digits long. It may look like a barcode. If your cat has a passport, it may be in there, or it might be written into their vaccination card.

If you can’t find that, try calling your vets as they might have it on their records. Or, if you know where your pet was originally chipped, try calling that vets- they may still have the chip number in their database!

If all of that fails, don’t fret! Get in contact with the companies anyway and ask them to check the pet’s details. It will take a lot longer but they should be able to trace them for you!

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Introducing A New Cat- Hints and Tips!

So you’ve picked up that new cat or kitten, and you can’t wait to get it home and introduce it to everybody- including his feline family! Not so fast! Introducing a new pet can be tricky and making sure all involved are comfrotable is the first step to making sure you have a happy home.

So what do I do when I first bring him or her home?

  • Choose a quiet room for your cat. If you have other pets, they should not have access to this room. Ensure there are some hiding places to help your cat feel comfortable. The cat’s food and litter should go in here as well.
  • If the house has outdoor access (i.e open windows, a cat flap) or other pets in the house, you should confine the cat to the room for at least a week to help them get used to the new smells, sights, and you! Don’t isolate them though- make sure you go in and spend time with your cat so that they feel comfortable around you!
  • Once you have released your cat from his carrier, you should leave them alone to become accustomed to the space. If you have no other pets and there is no outside access, you can leave the door to the room open and allow your cat to explore at his own pace. Don’t pester the cat- just let him approach you.

Letting your new cat go outside

  • Firstly, never let your cat go outside until you are confident they understand who is feeding them. Cats may run away and try to get back to what they think of as ‘home’ if let out too quickly. We usually suggest 2 weeks is enough time, but if your cat is still very timid, leave them indoors for longer! During this time, train them to come when called by giving them treats when they respond.
  • Let them out on a dry day just before a mealtime- they won’t go too far if they know dinner’s not far off! Leave them for around an hour, then call them in for dinner. Shut them in for the night.
  • Repeat this routine for a few days, then start gradually increasing the amount of time they spend outside.

Introducing your new cat to another pet

  • Try to allow your new cat and other pets to smell one another without meeting face to face. The best way to do this is to feed them either side of the same door, so that they associate a good thing (food) with the scent. You may also swap blankets from your pets to allow them to get used to one another’s scents, and ensure that you spend time with all of them so that they can smell one another on you.
  • After about a week, when your cat is comfortable with you and the smell of your other pets, you should allow your cat to explore the rest of the house. Confine your other pets so that they can do this in peace. They’ll have time to identify hidey-holes and smell areas that the other pets have marked as their own, so that they know where they can and can’t go.
  • Let your pets meet in a controlled manner. First, ensure your cat has an ‘escape route’ to his room, as well as a high shelf or a cardboard box ‘den’. If you have a dog, put it on a lead and ask him to lie down. Then allow your cat to approach at his own pace. If you have other cats, let them approach at their own pace, ensuring that there are enough ‘hiding places’ to allow them to all escape if scared.
  • If at any point the interaction begins to become aggressive, separate the animals. Do not put yourself in danger by directly separating the animals- instead throw something soft, make a loud noise, or squirt them with a bottle of water. If these situations are allowed to develop, it becomes a cycle of fear and aggression, and will not resolve. Allow the animals to calm down and start again from the beginning, moving more slowly through the steps this time.

Of course, these steps aren’t foolproof and it’s always a difficult time for any cat, but most will get used to new things given time. Getting a plug in ‘Feliway’ can help keep everybody calm, and is available at most vets and many pharmacies.

Antifreeze Poisoning- What to Do

This is not a subsitute for proper veterinary care. If you suspect your cat has antifreeze poisoning, please don’t sit around googling and reading this- go to your vets NOW, as this is very commonly fatal. 90% of cats die after drinking antifreeze.

Antifreeze is the most common poison during the winter months, and can kill dogs, cats, and even humans, as well as a multitude of other creatures. A lot of people assume that these poisonings are purposeful, but that is not always the case- antifreeze has a sweet smell and taste, which attracts cats more than normal water. Some people use it to stop their water features freezing over, or it might spill whilst they’re filling the windscreen washer in their car- there are many places an inquisitive and thirsty pet can find antifreeze!

To make things worse, a 4kg cat only needs to drink about 5ml of antifreeze for it to be toxic- that’s about a teaspoonful! They can get this simply by licking their paws after walking through it, so it’s very hard to say how a cat got poisoned!

The Science

Antifreeze is usually made of a substance called Ethylene Glycol, which in itself isn’t actually all that poisonous- it’s actually a type of alcohol! Unfortunately, your body tries to metabolise it- like it does with anything else- using an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase. The product that is formed when it does this is extremely poisonous and causes fatal kidney damage.

 

The Signs to Watch Out For

The first signs, which occur 30mins to 3 hours after drinking antifreeze, are caused by the Ethylene Glycol itself. These are signs that you would associate with being drunk, for instance:

  • Vomiting
  • Seeming depressed/sleepy
  • Appearing uncoordinated
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination

These will steadily get worse, although a brief recovery has been reported in some dogs. Signs of damage to the nervous system usually occur next, such as:

  • Stumbling
  • Weakness
  • Slow responses
  • Stopping drinking and urination

Then, as the body starts to metabolise the drug, the signs turn more serious. 12 to 24 hours after drinking, the cat may show:

  • Oral ulcers
  • Salivation
  • Seizures
  • Coma

First Aid:

There is no question about what to do in any poisoning case- take your pet straight to the vet, every minute can count. Call them as you leave the house, explaining the emergency- this will give them a chance to get things ready. They may also give you first aid advice over the phone.

On your way out the door, grab a bottle of vodka or gin if you have it to hand- no, it’s not for you! The vet may be able to use it to help your cat, and having an extra bottle to hand can help.

What Your Vet Will Do:

What your vet does depends on the stage your pet is at. If you’ve only just caught them drinking it, they may encourage the cat to vomit or provide something to try to bind the antifreeze and stop it being absorbed.

If your cat is showing signs of having drunk antifreeze a little while ago, the vet will try other things, which may include getting your cat drunk- and this is where that bottle of Vodka comes in! Ethanol is metabolised by the same enzymes in the liver as Ethylene Glycol, but it takes priority so it out-competes the Ethylene Glycol for the receptors. If the vet can keep your cat drunk on a drip for long enough, the Ethylene Glycol will be lost from the body before it can be metabolised into dangerous chemicals. The vet may also place your cat on a fluid drip to protect your cat’s kidneys by keeping them well hydrated.