Having a Microchip Can Get Your Pet Home Quickly

Check the Chip Day is right around the corner on August 15. On this day, veterinarians everywhere encourage pet owners to make sure that the information contained on their pet's microchip is up-to-date. Although not intentional, many people forget to change their address, telephone number, or other contact information on their pet's microchip when they move. Unfortunately, that's no better than not having a microchip at all. If your pet gets away during or after your move, there is no way to reunite him with you.

What is a Pet Microchip and How Does It Work?

A microchip is a tiny piece of metal that is no bigger than a grain of rice. It uses radio frequency identification technology (RFID) to store information such as your pet's name, your name, and your contact details. While a microchip greatly increases the chances of finding a lost pet, it's important to understand that it's not a global positioning system (GPS). It can't tell you the location of your dog, cat, or other type of animal.

Should your pet become lost, anyone who spots her can bring her to the nearest veterinary clinic. Once there, the staff uses special scanning equipment to determine if your pet has a microchip. If the scanner detects one, the only information returned is the microchip identification number. The staff member then enters the number into a universal pet look-up system to retrieve your contact details.

Why a Tag and Collar Isn't Enough

Placing a collar with a tag containing your pet's name and your contact information is still a good idea. People can see the identifying information and call you to come and retrieve your pet. However, collars can slip off and lettering may become worn. When that happens, there is no way of finding out whom your pet belongs to if he doesn't have a microchip.

Placing a Microchip is Fast and Painless

Some people avoid getting a microchip for their pet because they think it will cost a lot or they don't want their pet to feel pain. The average fee is around $50, which includes registration in a national database. That's a small price to pay for your peace of mind. The procedure takes just a few minutes and is no more uncomfortable than getting an immunization. We insert the microchip under a fold in your pet's skin near the neck area. Please contact us if you would like more information or to schedule a microchip placement appointment for your pet.

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Vaccinations Help Your Pet Live a Long and Healthy Life

Just like babies and young children, your pets need to receive their vaccinations on schedule to develop and grow normally. Without vaccines, it's much easier for them to succumb to serious or deadly diseases like rabies and distemper. While no shot is completely without risk, it's up to you as a pet parent to weigh those risks against the diseases your pet could get by not getting the immunization.

 At Grantsburg Animal Hospital, we are happy to counsel you on the right vaccine strategy for your pet. Because we treat several different species, we know that each animal has unique health needs. We provide your pet with both core and non-core vaccines. The latter type is required by law. It also guards against the spread of a deadly or highly contagious diseases. We make recommendations for non-core vaccines on a case-by-case basis depending on your pet's lifestyle and inherent risk factors.

Canine Vaccinations

Puppies and adult dogs should receive the following core vaccines at specific ages and intervals:

  • Rabies
  • Distemper
  • Parvovirus
  • Canine hepatitis
  • Leptospirosis, which is a bacterial infection spread by contact with wild animals.

You also have the option of getting these non-core vaccines for your dog:

  • Lyme disease
  • Kennel Cough (Bordatella)
  • Canine influenza

Feline Vaccinations

Kittens and adult cats have their own schedule of recommended and optional vaccinations. Core immunizations include:

  • Rabies
  • Distemper
  • Feline herpesvirus to protect against a highly contagious upper respiratory disease.
  • Calicivirus, another upper respiratory illness that also causes joint pain, fever, ulcers, and anorexia. feline leukemia
  • Feline leukemia

Non-core cat vaccines include bordetella.

Equine Vaccinations

Your horse should receive the following core vaccinations to guard against equine-specific illnesses:

  • Easter/Western Equine Encephallomyelitis, a virus spread by mosquitoes with a mortality rate as high as 90 percent.
  • Rabies
  • Tetanus
  • West Nile Virus

You may also wish to consider the following non-core vaccines based on your horse's current risk factors:

  • Equine herpesvirus – Remove – not sure if this is still made.
  • Equine influenza
  • Potomac Horse Fever, a condition common in horses that roam in pastures near open waterways.
  • Botulism - Remove
  • Strangles, a highly contagious disease in barns with multiple horses of all different ages. It affects the ability to breathe and swallow normally.

Grantsburg Animal Hospital uses our own vaccination and de-worming schedule to evaluate the specific needs of each individual horse.

We Can Help Keep You on the Right Track with Vaccines

Whether you've just brought home a new pet or you're concerned that you may have missed some of your older animal's vaccinations, we can help. Please contact us to schedule an appointment or to request additional details about our vaccine recommendations.

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Allergies in Pets Are Nothing to Sneeze At

Allergies1While it’s well-known that people can be allergic to various types of animals, pet owners are sometimes surprised to learn their pets can have allergies too. We hope to change that, especially since July is National Allergy Awareness Month. Before you can recognize and treat allergies in your pet, it’s important to know the types of things they are allergic to.

House Mites

The shed skin of people and the dander of animals create microscopic dust mites. At a size of approximately 300 microns, they are impossible to see. In spite of this, house mites are the leading cause of allergies in both people and pets. When your dog or cat inhales them, it can cause respiratory distress and a skin condition called atopic dermatitis.

Fleas and Insects

Fleas require a warm-blooded animal host for survival. They get into your pet’s fur and can make her miserable by causing excessive itching. It’s never too early to start your puppy or kitten on year-round flea protection to prevent this. Insect bites are a more common allergy trigger in horses.


Your pet can develop an allergy if he regularly inhales the pollen from grass, weeds, trees, and plants. Pollen counts tend to be highest in the early spring and fall, so it’s best to keep an animal with allergies inside until there is less pollen in the air. Horses may develop an allergy to hay, so be certain to look for possible indications.

Pet Food

Some dogs and cats are highly sensitive to the ingredients in commercial pet food, especially meat, dairy, corn, soy, wheat, and yeast. If you suspect your pet has a food allergy, our staff can recommend a hypoallergenic or grain-free alternative. Food allergies are less common in horses, but may include grains, grasses, or the additives in supplements and natural feeds.

Common Allergy Symptoms in Dogs, Cats & Horses

Excessive scratching and scooting, which is when your dog or cat scoots on his rear end across the floor, are two of the most common signs of animal allergies. Others include:

  • Offensive odors
  • Infections of the skin
  • Rubbing the ace
  • Flatulence
  • Belching
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea or an increased number of bowel movements
  • Frequent ear infections
  • Hives
  • Watery eyes
  • Nasal drainage
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing

With severe allergies, your pet may scratch so much that she creates bald spots on her skin.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Before you can treat a pet allergy effectively, you need to know what it is. We recommend scheduling an appointment for testing if symptoms don’t resolve within a few days. Additionally, our parasite prevention and control program can help keep many allergies at bay.  Make an appointment with us today if your pet is experiencing any of the above symptoms, and Dr. Greg will advise you on the best plan of treatment for your pet.

Photo credit:  Neonci | iStock

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