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Pet Identification, Why It’s Important!

Each year millions of lost or abandoned pets are taken to shelters, rescues or lose their lives on the street. Less than 15% of dogs and less than 5% of cats in these situations are ever returned to their owners. Without identification, no one can identify whose pet is coming through their doors.

What is the best way to identify my pet?
The best way to make sure you pet gets identified is to get him or her microchipped. The microchip should be used in conjunction with a traditional collar and tags.

Why can’t I just use a collar?
Collars are a good way to identify your pet, but collars can come off and get lost. Without the collar there is no other way to identify your pet.

I have a cat that is only indoors, why should I get her microchipped?
Cats, by nature, are sneaky little critters and they can easily slip out the door between someone’s legs or if you’re carrying in a big package and can’t get the door shut right away. I know, this has happened to me! Or what if there is a fire, or a flood or some other kind of natural disaster? How would someone know that this was your cat? With a microchip they would!

What is a microchip?
Microchips are very small, about the size of a grain of rice. They are implanted with a needle below your pet’s skin, usually between the shoulder blades. Each microchip has its own unique code so when the chip is scanned, your pet can easily be identified. The chip is coated with a special material that causes scar tissue to form around it, preventing the chip from moving and locking it in place.

Will the chip have to be replaced?
No, most microchips will last 75 years, well beyond the lifetime of most pets.

Where can I get my pet microchipped? How much does it cost?
Most veterinarians, humane societies, or shelters will microchip your pet. The price will vary depending on your area, most vets charge about $30-$45. If you prefer to do it yourself, you can purchase HomeAgain microchips from Once your pet has received his HomeAgain microchip, you can go to the HomeAgain website and register him or her. For a fee of $19.99 you can be registered in the National Database for the lifetime of your pet, or if you wish, you can pay $19.99 annually and receive other benefits, including:

  • Proactive Pet Recovery offers
    • Lost Pet Alerts to local clinics, shelters and PetRescuers
    • Lost Pet Posters for immediate assistance in finding
      your pet
  • Pet ID Card with pet’s name, photo, vet information and emergency clinic contact information, to carry with you
  • 24/7 Emergency Medical Assistance ASPCA veterinarians provide telephone assistance in emergency situations (a $55 value free to HomeAgain members)
  • Lost Pet Medical Insurance will reimburse you for emergency medical treatment up to $3,000 (less a $50 deductible)

What do I do if my pet is lost?
First, call HomeAgain or wherever your pet’s microchip is registered and notify them. Call local veterinarians and shelters and alert them of a lost pet. For more tips, check out this blog post, How to Find A Lost Pet.

Glucosamine & Your Pet’s Joint Health

Like humans, as our pets age, their joints and ligaments age too. They become stiff and painful, hampering your pet’s way of life. However, with treatment, these symptoms can be alleviated and your pet can regain mobility. By supplementing your pet’s diet with Glucosamine, you can help your pet maintain healthy joints and flexibility.

Glucosamine has long been known in Europe for its ability to relieve the pain and symptoms associated with arthritis and joint degeneration. It has recently become more popular in the United States and is now being used for joint health in pets.

What is Glucosamine?
Glucosamine is a building block of cartilage tissue. Cartilage, the tissue found at the ends of the bones and along the joints, is a sponge-like mass of cells that acts like a cushion to the joints. Glucosamine is found naturally in the body and is composed of glucose and an amino acid, glutamine. It helps produce glycosaminoglycan, which is used to build and repair cartilage and other tissues.

Which supplement?
There are a huge variety of Glucosamine supplements on the market today, both for humans and animals. The amount of Glucosamine per dose varies greatly between products.

Glucosamine is also often combined with Chondroitin. Chondroitin helps block enzymes that break down cartilage. Methysulfonyimethane or MSM, is also often combined with Glucosamine, it is known for its anti-inflammatory effects, which helps aid in relieving the pain of arthritis.

Glucosamine can be found in two different forms, Glucosamine Hydrochloride (HCl) and Glucosamine sulfate. They both work well in pets, however, the Glucosamine HCl is purer and provides more Glucosamine per unit weight.

Although you can use human Glucosamine for your pet, it is better to choose one that is specifically developed for animals as these products contain Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) that helps your pet more efficiently absorb the Glucosamine. offers a large variety of arthritis and joint care supplements, such as Cosequin, Glyco-Flex and SynoviCre. You’re sure to find the right supplement to fit your pet’s needs.

Omega-3 Supplements

Most Omega-3 supplements come as skin and coat supplements for your pet. These supplements contain a combination of fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Often these supplements are given to pets to help treat skin or coat disorders, inflammation, itching, allergies or shedding.

Yellow Tiger Cat

Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids (EFAs) as you and your pet, can’t live without them! They are critical for cellular function and can only be obtained through your pet’s diet. These EFAs help distribute oxygen to the blood stream, improve skin texture, coat cell membranes, relieves inflammation, and helps reduce allergy responses.

Omega-3 fatty acids include:

  • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

EPA and DHA are found primarily in cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, halibut and herring, and fish oil supplements. ALA is found in dark, leafy greens, and in soybeans, walnuts, flaxseeds and their oils, as well as canola oil (Holistic Pet).

Many pet foods only contain a minimum of EFA, which isn’t enough to support good health in most pets. By supplementing your pet’s low-fat diet with Omega-3 supplements, you can assure that your pet gets the best nutrition for a healthy skin and coat. With the addition of Omega-3 supplements, you can see results in your pet as early as 2-3 weeks, but it will take longer (about 10-12 weeks) to see optimum results.

Chiropractic Therapy for Pets

Chiropractic is an alternative health care profession that has been traditionally practiced in humans, but has now begun to move to the animal world. Spinal manipulation is nothing new, in fact, it has been around almost as long as acupuncture, which was being used by the Chinese as early as 2700 B.C.

Chiropractic focuses on the treatment of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system. It involves manual manipulation of the spinal column and other joints and soft tissues. It is believed that joint dysfunction can interfere with the nervous system and result in diminished health. When something is out of place, whether it be a bone or damaged muscle or nerves, it throws the entire body off.

The goal of chiropractic is to fix spinal misalignments or subluxations. These misalignments can cause a variety of symptoms from pain to swelling to loss of movement.

Some symptoms to look for include:

  • sitting with legs out to one side
  • favoring limbs
  • stiffness
  • refusing to go up or down stairs
  • changes in behavior
  • sensitivity to touch along the back
  • pain and swelling
  • changes in coordination

Subluxations can be caused by trauma, over exertion or just normal wear and tear. These subluxations are corrected by first performing an examination and x-rays. This will help the chiropractor determine which part of the spine is misaligned. Then, the chiropractor will gently manipulate the spine to help realign it.

Care usually requires multiple visits as it takes time to heal the ligaments, muscles, etc. that have been out of place. It’s important to remember that the chiropractor doesn’t heal your pet, but your pet’s body does. The number of visits varies depending on the animal and the amount of misalignment. Some pets will require a monthly adjustment, while others may require more frequent visits.

I am a strong advocate of chiropractic for humans, being a patient myself, but I hadn’t ever realized that it has been used in animals. It does, however, make sense as they have similar bone structures to humans. It is kind of amazing how much human and veterinary science overlap. Pets receive the same kinds of medications that we do, they have similar treatments (even laser surgery!), so I can understand how it works.

Has anyone ever used chiropractic for yourself or your pets? I’d like to hear your stories!

To find out if there is a Veterinary Chiropractor in your area, visit the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association.

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Flea Allergy Dermatitis

Since flea season is right around the corner, I wanted to talk about Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD). FAD is the most common skin condition that veterinarians see. FAD occurs when a dog or cat is allergic to flea bites.

FAD symptoms worsen during peak flea seasons, usually during the summer or fall. Once your pet has been bitten (even just once), you will notice excessive scratching, chewing, licking or biting. More extreme signs of FAD include small, red skin lesions and hair loss. Hot spots can also be present.

Diagnosis is based on your pet’s history, clinical signs and the presence of fleas. Your veterinarian might also do an intradermal test, this is similar to allergy testing in humans, where a small amount of solution is placed under the skin. If a reaction occurs, you are allergic to that particular allergen.

Pets with FAD are treated by keeping the pet itself and its environment flea free. To control fleas on your pet, you will want to use a spot-on flea control product, such as Advantage or Frontline Plus.

To treat your home, you can use a combination of vaccuming and insecticide, such as Virbac Area Treatment to rid your home of any current flea infestations.

Professional Pet Sitter’s Week

If you use a pet sitter, send some flowers or a note this week to tell them how much you appreciate them caring for your pet while you’re gone!

Pet sitters do much more than just feed and water your pet while you are away. A professional pet sitter will spend quality time with your pet as well as provide play and exercise time. Pet sitters often will not only care for your pet, but will bring in your mail, water your plants and turn lights on and off to help deter crime.

A pet sitter offers both you and your pet many benefits.

Your pet gets:

  • the environment he knows best.
  • his same diet and routine.
  • relief from traveling to and staying in an unfamiliar place with other animals (such as a boarding kennel).
  • attention while you’re away.

You get:

  • the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your pet is being cared for by a professional.
  • someone to bring in your newspaper and mail so potential burglars don’t know you’re away.
  • someone who will come to your home
  • other services, such as plant watering and pet grooming.

Just because someone has the title of professional pet sitter, doesn’t mean that they are qualified to care for your pet. Here are some things to look for when choosing a pet sitter.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, when looking for a pet sitter, you should keep these things in mind:

It’s important to learn all you can about prospective pet sitters’ qualifications and services. Before selecting a pet sitter, interview the candidates over the phone or at your home. Find out the following:

  • Can the pet sitter provide written proof that she has commercial liability insurance (to cover accidents and negligence) and is bonded (to protect against theft by a pet sitter or her employees)?
  • What training has the pet sitter received?
  • Will the pet sitter record notes about your pet, such as his likes, dislikes, fears, habits, medical conditions, medications, and routines?
  • Is the pet sitter associated with a veterinarian who can provide emergency services?
  • What will happen if the pet sitter experiences car trouble or becomes ill? Does she have a backup?
  • Will the pet sitter provide related services such as in-home grooming, dog walking, dog training, and play time?
  • Will the pet sitter provide a written service contract spelling out services and fees?
  • If the pet sitter provides live-in services, what are the specific times she agrees to be with your pet? Is this detailed in the contract?
  • How does your pet sitter make sure that you have returned home?
  • Will the pet sitter provide you with the phone numbers of other clients who have agreed to serve as references?

Even if you like what you hear from the pet sitter and from her references, it’s important to have the prospective pet sitter come to your home to meet your pet before actually hiring her for a pet-sitting job. Watch how she interacts with your pet—does your pet seem comfortable with the person?

To help your new pet sitter and your pet get accustomed to one another, you might want to take a weekend trip and see how everything works out. This will give you a better idea if your pet sitter and your pet are made for each other.