A missing-dog story has a happy ending thanks to an identification tag
By Kim Campbell Thornton
It's one of the most alarming phone calls a pet owner can receive: "Hello? I've found a dog. His tag says 'Thornton' on it, and it has this phone number."
That was the call I received last month while I was in Oklahoma, visiting my parents. My husband was recovering from surgery and had a cold, so we placed the dogs with a pet sitter who had kept them many times previously.
I was stunned and frightened. Had all the dogs escaped the sitter's home, or just this one? Were the other two still running loose somewhere? I rummaged for a pen and some paper so I could take down the caller's name and phone number. I called my husband to alert him that he needed to call the person and arrange to get our dog. I wasn't sure which one it was, since Keeper and Harper both have brown-and-white coloring.
Then I called the pet sitter. "Do you have my dogs?" He admitted that Keeper was missing -- he had somehow slipped out of the house unseen. They were searching for him. Happily, Harper and Gemma were still there. I let him know that Keeper had been found -- turns out he was just next door -- and that my husband would be by soon to pick them all up.
You might say that I'm a little obsessive when it comes to the amount of information I put on my pets' identification tags. They are engraved with our last name, our home phone number, two cellphone numbers and our veterinarian's phone number. Of course, my dogs are also microchipped, but an ID tag is the first and easiest option for recovery. All the finder has to do is read the tag and call the phone number on it.
In our case, the man called our house phone first but didn't leave a message. My husband didn't recognize the number, so he didn't pick up the call. I had my phone on silent because my parents and I had just gotten out of the movies, but luckily I felt it vibrate. I didn't recognize the number either, but it was an Orange County area code, so I answered.
In addition to their ID tags, my dogs wear tags from HomeAgain and the American Kennel Club's Reunite service. The microchips are registered with those organizations, so if the man had called either of those numbers, we would have been notified. And of course they all have their license tags from the county. Those tags don't have phone numbers, but if the finder had called Orange County Animal Control, they would have been able to identify Keeper and get in touch with me.
Accidents like Keeper's escape can happen to anyone. He's very good at home about not running out the door, and I would not have expected him to escape in such a manner, but you never know what a dog is going to do.
You can never prevent your dog from becoming lost, but you can take easy, inexpensive steps to increase the likelihood that he'll come home safely:
-- Keep a collar with an up-to-date ID tag on him.
-- Put multiple phone numbers on the tag.
-- Check the tag regularly to make sure the engraving hasn't faded.
-- Microchip him.
-- License him.
-- Register his identification with an organization such as the American Kennel Club's Reunite service.
And remember: If you find a lost dog, be sure to leave a message at all the phone numbers.
How often should
I deworm my cat?
Q: I just read that cat owners should deworm their cats monthly instead of annually. Why is that? I never see worms in my cat's poop, and he gets a fecal exam every year with a deworming if he needs it. -- via Facebook
A: I know it sounds like a lot, but veterinary parasitologists now recommend year-round parasite prevention for good reason. A recently published study in the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association found that more than half the cats examined had tapeworms that weren't evident through a fecal flotation test (how your veterinarian checks for the presence of intestinal parasites). Many of the cats also had roundworms. In most of the cases, the cats did not have evidence of worms in their feces or on fecal flotation. That means a lot of cats are carrying intestinal parasite loads that haven't been identified.
It's not unusual for cats to have a negative fecal exam for tapeworms or for your indoor cat to be exposed to roundworm or hookworm eggs brought into your home through mud, dirt or soil on your shoes. If your cat hunts and eats crickets, beetles or rodents, he can ingest roundworm eggs or larvae that way.
Ask your veterinarian about a parasite prevention program that's appropriate for your cat's lifestyle and health, as well as the types of parasites common in your area. He or she can recommend a broad-spectrum monthly preventive that's safe for cats and effective against intestinal parasites, fleas and heartworms, which are a risk to cats as well as dogs. If that's not a good option for you, have your adult cat dewormed two to four times a year as a preventive measure. During their first year, kittens should be screened at least four times for intestinal parasites. Dog owners, the same information applies to your pets. -- Dr. Marty Becker
Do you have a pet question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker.
"Test-tube" puppies yield
hope for dog, human health
-- Researchers at Cornell recently whelped a litter of beagle-cocker spaniel puppies using in vitro fertilization, a scientific first. The technique lays the foundation for conserving endangered wild dogs and rare dog breeds, and using gene-editing technologies to eradicate heritable diseases in dogs. It also provides a powerful tool for understanding the genetic basis of diseases, says Alex Travis, associate professor of reproductive biology in the Baker Institute for Animal Health in Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine. The study describing the effort was published online in the Dec. 9 issue of the journal PLOS One.
-- If you have muscle or joint pain and use a topical pain medication containing the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) flurbiprofen, your pet could be at risk if he licks your skin or otherwise ingests the drug. The Food and Drug Administration received reports of five cats in two households who became ill or died after their owners applied the cream or lotion to themselves. Even small amounts of the drug can be dangerous to pets, so it's important to store the medications out of their reach, discard applicators or gloves used to apply the medication in a place where pets can't get to them and prevent pets from licking skin of people who use the drugs.
-- Vaccinating dogs for rabies may help to eliminate the disease in humans. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 80 percent of people at risk for the disease live in poor, rural areas in Asia and Africa. "Vaccinating 70 percent of dogs regularly in zones where rabies is present can reduce human cases to zero," says OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) director-general Dr. Bernard Vallat. It's easier and less expensive to vaccinate dogs for the disease than it is to treat humans bitten by rabid dogs. -- Dr. Marty Becker and Kim Campbell Thornton
ABOUT PET CONNECTION
Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by "The Dr. Oz Show" veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and award-winning journalist Kim Campbell Thornton. They are affiliated with Vetstreet.com and are the authors of many best-selling pet-care books. Joining them is dog trainer and behavior consultant Mikkel Becker. Dr. Becker can be found at Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker. Kim Campbell Thornton is at Facebook.com/KimCampbellThornton and on Twitter at kkcthornton. Mikkel Becker is at Facebook.com/MikkelBecker and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.
CAPTIONS AND CREDITS
Caption 01: An identification tag helped ensure that a lost dog was returned quickly to his owners. Position: Main Story
Caption 02: The first litter of puppies born as a result of in vitro fertilization. Credit: Mike Carroll, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine Position: Pet Buzz/Item 1