∙ The American Humane Association estimates over 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the U.S. every year. One in three pets will become lost at some point during their life.
Microchips are a unique means of identification for pets. The rice-sized radio identification device provides a permanent and distinctive form of identification for dogs, cats and many other animals.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (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% of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were returned to their owners 52.2% of the time. Cats without microchips were reunited with their owners only 1.8% of the time, whereas microchipped cats went back home 38.5% of the time.”
In the United Kingdom, where microchipping has been mandatory for the last 5 years, the return rates are significantly higher.
Unlike collars and tags that can be easily removed, microchips are implanted under the skin of the pet and can’t be lost.
Microchips have aided in the return of pets to their original owners many years after being lost. In some cases, the pets were found hundreds or even more than 1,000 miles away from home!
No identification system is 100% fool proof, but when microchips are implanted correctly, registered correctly and the database is kept up to date, they significantly increase the odds of getting your pet home to you!
If you find a pet who you think is lost, most veterinary offices and animal shelters will allow you to bring the pet in and “scan” the pet for a microchip. This quick process can help reunite pets with their families.
The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has a universal look up tool to help aid in this endeavor. Microchip numbers can be loaded into the website and the veterinarian or shelter can then find the right database where the pet should be located. petmicrochiplookup.org. Another helpful site is petchipregistry-us.info.
∙Researchers with Kyoto University and other institutions found that cats recognize other felines in the same household when the names of the latter are called. Team members said cats conjure up a mental image of other felines in such situations.
“What we discovered is astonishing,” said Saho Takagi, a research fellow specializing in animal science at Azabu University in Kanagawa Prefecture neighboring Tokyo who initiated the study when she worked at Kyoto University. “I want people to know the truth. Felines do not appear to listen to people’s conversations, but as a matter of fact, they do.”
The finding was published in the scientific journal Scientific Reports.
Just like humans, animals also react to unexpected situations, causing them to pay close attention to whatever is happening for prolonged periods.
Realizing this was the case, team members wanted to determine if cats can identify the names of their “friend” felines. For the study, they selected 25 cats from households with three or more pet felines each.
With them seated, the researchers let the cats hear human voices calling names of other felines in the same household. The images of named cats and others were then displayed on a monitor to examine their reaction.
The results showed that felines kept looking at the photos of unnamed cats longer, suggesting they know the names of those they live with.
This difference was not apparent when felines kept at cat cafes were used. The researchers said this was probably because so many cats live in the facilities that the name of each one is called less frequently.
The survey also checked if domestic cats can distinguish various human family members. Felines from larger households tended to stare longer at the facial images of unnamed people.
∙ Cornell University scientists warn that some commercial dog foods may contain too much copper, which can increase the risk of liver disease for all dogs but particularly in certain breeds.
Food and Drug Administration officials are considering evidence regarding whether the concentrations in dog food could be harmful.
Dr. Sharon A. Center is an emeritus professor of internal medicine at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, where she specializes in liver disease. She said chronic consumption of excess copper can lead to copper-associated hepatopathy, signs of which include abdominal swelling, decreased appetite, diarrhea, increased thirst and urination, jaundice, lethargy, and vomiting.
Doberman Pinschers are among dog breeds with predispositions toward copper-associated liver disease, but scientists at Cornell University warn that high copper concentrations in dog diets puts other dogs at risk as well.
A veterinarian who is monitoring a pet’s liver enzymes can identify increased alanine aminotransferase as an early sign of the disease, she said, but confirmation requires a liver biopsy. Treatments with chelation can cost several thousand dollars, and affected dogs need to permanently switch to copper-restricted diets.
by Andrei Ionescu
Earth.com staff writer
A team of researchers from the University of Adelaide in Australia has found that veterinary visits can be highly stressful experiences for dogs. By measuring the heart rates of 30 dogs of various ages and breeds during a mock veterinary examination, the scientists found that one-third of the dogs’ heart rates nearly doubled between the waiting room and the examination table.
“Regular veterinary care is integral to companion dog health and welfare, but fearful patients can inhibit provision of care and pose a risk of injury to veterinary staff,” wrote the study authors. “This study aimed to identify the physiological and behavioral responses of a sample of 30 dogs of various age and breed, to a standardized physical examination in a simulated veterinary setting.”
While in the waiting room, the dogs’ average heart rate was 97 beats per minute (bpm), during the physical examination, one third of the dogs’ heart rates nearly doubled, peaking at an average value of 180bpm (with a greyhound experiencing a heart rate as high as 230bpm). The heart rates were the highest during the first stage of the examination (when dogs were patted by the examiner), as well as the last one (a simulated vaccination). By contrast, the middle stage – involving a teeth examination – elicited the lowest heart rates.
The researchers noticed that the elevated heart rates were correlated with body language showing fear, such as tails tucked between the legs or ears tilted back. Overall, females seemed to be more anxious than males during veterinary visits.