By Carey Keith, DVM
Q: I hear so many stories about missing pets that are never reunited with their owners. What can I do to maximize the chances of getting my cat or dog back if they wander away?
There are several ways to help pets find their way home should they go missing. First and foremost, be sure to have a collar and tag on your pet with your current contact information. Dogs and cats are frequently picked up close to home, and a collar with your phone number could be the fastest way to get your pet home!
Should your animal lose the collar, it is best to have a back-up plan. That plan comes in the form of a tattoo or microchip, or both. Each form of identification has its advantages and disadvantages.
In BC, tattoos are placed in the pet’s right ear, and consist of three letters and three numbers. The letters represent the clinic that applied the tattoo and the year in which it was done, and the numbers are unique for that animal at that clinic, for that year. The disadvantages of tattoos are that they require anesthetic, they can at times be difficult to read, and the owner’s information is only available from that clinic and generally not available outside of business hours. Should you lose your pet outside of BC, it may not be traceable back to your veterinarian, as other provinces and states would not have the clinic codes. The cost of a tattoo is usually $15 to $50, depending on the clinic and whether the procedure is done in conjunction with spaying or neutering.
If you are planning to travel with your pet, having a microchip implanted may be your best option. A lost pet brought to any clinic or shelter in North America is scanned to detect the presence of a microchip. If one is found, it’s a simple matter of contacting the microchip company, which has your information available 24 hours a day, seven days a week! Another great advantage of microchipping is that your animal does not need sedation, so your veterinarian can implant the chip during a regular visit. The cost of microchipping is around $75.
Hopefully your pets will never go missing, but if it does happen, it is reassuring knowing that you have done all you can to help them find their way back home.
Carey Keith, DVM, is co-owner with Trinity Smith, DVM, of Central Animal Hospital in Vernon, BC (www.centralanimalhospital.ca). Dr. Keith completed her Bachelor of Science degree at UBC and her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine at Colorado State University. She began her veterinary career in Vancouver and within a few years moved with her husband and children to the Okanagan. Dr. Keith purchased Central Animal Hospital with Dr. Trinity Smith in 2009. In 2015 they designed, built, and moved into the new home of Central Animal Hospital at 1901 Kalamalka Lake Road, Vernon. This state-of-the-art hospital allows them to grow and build the practice to its potential. Dr. Keith’s special areas of interest include oncology, soft-tissue surgery, and internal medicine.
For appointments and emergency service, call 250-549-0402.
*Reprint from our Pet 2014 Issue.