How Effective Are Microchips at Reuniting Lost Pets? Tuesday 28 August 2018 @ 09:27
One of the scariest things that can happen to a doting pet parent is losing your beloved pet. You needn’t panic, though! There are a number of different precautions you can take to make sure if your pet goes missing, they can find their way home safely. Should they go astray, your pet has a much higher chance of being identified and returned if they have a microchip, ID tags and a collar.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve talked about the logistics of moving house with dogs, birds and cats. The Lost Pet Finders community have shared loads of great tips on how to make things go as smoothly as possible, but there’s always a chance that things will go wrong and your pet will go missing. Today, we’re going to talk about one of the ways you can deal with this eventuality: microchipping.
NOTE: We recommend that you microchip your pet. The single greatest reason for microchips not being effective is incorrect contact details.
So without further ado… what does the community have to say?
MICROCHIPS WORK. Of course there are some exceptions to the rule, but the vast majority of commenters had positive experiences of microchipping to share. They found that their pets’ microchips gave them a real sense of security, and helped to reunite them with their lost pets when they went missing.
“You would be mad not to microchip your pet. Updating details is simple and get them checked when vaccination time comes around.” - Sue O’Neill (NZ)
Ian Banks (WA) adds: “We had one of our dogs escape from our yard due to a rubbish fence put up by the construction firm that were building next door. She was found and returned to us because of her microchip. They're essential.”
KEEP YOUR MICROCHIP UP-TO-DATE. As fantastic as microchips are, they’re no use if they don’t store the right information.
“I lost my cat for five weeks and he was found, taken to a vet and they scanned him. His microchip gave the vet my details and my emergency contact since they couldn't get a hold of me. MICROCHIP YOUR PET!!! I am so thankful that he could get scanned and be reunited with me. Keep details up to date always. They work!!” - Roxanne Milson (NZ)
Learning from past mistakes, Candace Gallagher (QLD) says, “Yes! Always make sure to update microchip details. If i updated my phone number i wouldn't have had to pick up my girl from the pound.”
How do I update my information?
If you know your pet’s microchip number, the easiest way to change your information is to search it on www.petaddress.com.au. If you don’t know it, you can find it by contacting your vet.
The website will then redirect you to the database listing your pet’s microchip number so that you can contact the company yourself. To make things easier, the websites of some pet registries have simple Change of Address forms you can use.
If PetAddress doesn’t find your pet’s registry details, contact your vet or whoever implanted the microchip and ask which database they used. Six of the main microchip registries are…
- Australasian Animal Registry;
- NSW Companion Animal Registry;
- Pet Register;
- Central Animal Records.
GET CHECKED REGULARLY. Accidents happen: databases update, microchips fail, information is uploaded incorrectly. When your pet has their annual checkup, ask your vet to check their microchip is working as it should.
Emma Darling (ACT) knows all too well how important this is: “At about 10 years old I was moving my cat interstate. I got my cat completely checked up, while I was there I asked they check her chip details. Turns out it was blank. Apparently, it all used to be snail mail or faxed in, they used to regularly lose chipping paperwork. So for like ten years my cat had blank chip details.
“I had her chip checked regularly at check ups, but only until I started researching moving details did I realise… If I had lost my cat and dog for whatever reason over those years, they wouldn’t have been returned due to human paperwork error… Things become complicated when microchipped wrongly. Saying that I’m all for microchips and think they are great when working correct.”
“It didn’t help us with our missing cat. But we since microchipped all our cats because any chance is better. There’s a big difference in cost between places. I’m concerned since hearing people say their pets chips haven’t been working, maybe it’s best to check them routinely. I don’t think all vets check, my Dad’s taken his stray to the vets and wasn’t checked for a chip. I have heard there are tracking tiles for collars, but not sure how far they work.” – Cassandra Barlow (NZ)
MICROCHIPS CAN FAIL. Not every plan is foolproof, and microchips are subject to failure just like everything else. Some people feel that microchips give pet owners a false sense of security.
Christine Parish (NZ) points out that as microchips have to be put in by a vet, human error can have a big impact on how well they work: “Yes also when done the vet doesn't register the chip properly.”
“Have you ever tried updating your details on those microchip places and there’s more than one .I’ve tried twice it’s still wrong I just make sure the dogs are registered and my address is updated at a council level ,” – Heather Veltri (VIC)
THEY CAN BE TRICKY TO UPDATE. It makes sense that the most common cause of microchips not working is an owner’s failure to update them: a many of our community members found it difficult or even impossible to update their details. Microchipping as a process would definitely benefit from a simpler way of updating these details.
Veronika Sain (ACT) knows that without an easier way of staying on top of details, microchips shouldn’t be our only way of keeping track of our pets: “From reading previous comments it’s wise to never assume contact details have been entered or changed correctly and get intermittent scans at vets to make sure yourself rather than relying on others.”
“I tried several times to get details changed for a dog I rescued never happened!” – Maria Cosgrove Serafini Ash
Need more information?
There’s loads more information about pet care on the Lost Pet Finders Blog! Here are a few that might come in handy when you’re thinking about microchips:
- Socialising your shy cat!
- The top things to do before you bring your new dog home
- 5 Things You Must Do to Find Your Lost Pet
Anything to add?
Do you have any important tips that you feel we’ve left out here? Let us know in the comments below!
Once again, we’d like to thank community members like Sue, Ian, Roxanne, Candace, Emma, Cassandra, Christine, Heather, Veronika and Maria, without whom this article would not have been possible.
Moving House with Your Bird Tuesday 31 July 2018 @ 00:00
We’ve come to the end of our advice series on moving house with pets. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been asking all of our community members a final question: What’s the one piece of advice you’d give someone moving house with a bird?
We’ve already talked about the best tips for moving house with a dog, but a bird is obviously a very different animal. So what do we need to do?
Lost Pet Finders’ Guide to Moving House with a Bird
COVER THE CAGE. Chances are, your bird isn’t overly accustomed to spending time in moving vehicles. They already have wings, why would they need a car? Try to reduce stress by keeping their cage covered while in transit, so they don’t need to worry about why the world is moving by so quickly.
As Sharon Williams (TAS) explains, “Ensure they are used to travelling and pop them in a small travel cage, I keep mine half covered when travelling so if they want a dark area of the cage they have it, you can also buy travel backpacks for birds.”
Kate Burrell (NZ) also recommends this: “Cover the Cage when moving it in Car and make sure Cage is Secure and most of water dish empty...keep away from cats & dogs....”
KEEP IT LOCKED. Birds can be devilishly intelligent animals, and the last thing you need when you’re driving to your new home is a bird flying all over the car! Lock the cage to save yourself the drama.
“Tie all doors shut on the cage and ensure the cage is securely attached to its base.” - Susan Roberts (SA)
Jill Larche Large (NZ) adds: “Padlock the door and cover the cage… secure the cage with the seat belt” – that bird’s not going anywhere!
INVEST IN A DECENT TRAVEL CAGE. Don’t attempt to shove your entire aviary in the car! This will just take up valuable packing space, and your bird will be just as safe and happy in a travel cage.
“Put the bird in a small cage and make sure they are familiar with the cage. Also talk (whistle) to the bird while traveling, they need to feel safe and have water and food. Our take cockatiel travelled from SA to ACT with two dogs and was fine. We also got her out to stretch her wings and she was happy to come out.” - Sue Parker Walton (ACT)
Bird lover Shannon Murphy (WA) says, “With a bird make sure you always have another cage ready for transport and have their other cage ready at the new home”
Your bird’s travel cage should be both comfortable and secure, and you need to be able to rely on it not to let your bird escape.
Most importantly of all, your bird needs to feel safe when inside, so they can travel without stress. It’s worth putting some thought into the type of travel cage you want to go for, as a decent one will last for your bird’s lifetime. Examples of good cages include the Pawhut Stainless Steel Travel Cage, Celltei Pak-o-Bird and A&E Cage Company Soft Sided Travel Carrier.
COVER THE WINDOWS. Once you and your bird arrive in your new home, it may take them some time to get used to the new surroundings. The first few times you let your bird out in your new house, make sure all of the windows are closed and covered to prevent panics and escapes.
Jessica Silva (NZ) knows all too well how important this is: “Give them familiar food and water dishes, and plenty of treats to teach them that this change is a good thing. Cover any windows in the first few times they're out and about with you in the house if they're tame birds. Prevents accidents if they get a fright.”
“General advice is:
1. PLACE A LOCK ON YOUR BIRD CAGE OR AVIARY.
2. DOUBLE CHECK ALL WINDOWS AND DOORS ARE SHUT, BEFORE YOU RELEASE YOUR BIRD IN THE HOUSE, SO YOUR BIRD DOES NOT FLY OUT.” – Cher N Char (QLD)
PACK IN A DIFFERENT ROOM TO YOUR BIRD. If your bird sees you moving around all your stuff, chances are this will confuse and worry them. Add to this the loud and peculiar noises that moving house can entail, and it’s best to just leave them in peace!
Daniela (NSW) found this out the hard way: “Changes to a bird's immediate environment can make them stressed and cause them to pull feathers. This happened to my baby. We discovered it was the organizing and collecting of items around her that made her anxious. Best advice is to pack your boxes and dismantle your furniture in a different room from your bird so they're removed from all the loud noises, excessive movements and sudden changes.”
SET UP THEIR SPOT. Once you’ve established your bird’s new personal space – complete with their old cage, favourite snacks and toys – it’ll be much easier for them to get settled in.
“my male tiel has always been a good traveller and good with visiting others. so all i had to do was setup his spot in the new house, while he was in his travel cage, and just popped him in his mansion."
Going Away Without Your Cat Tuesday 17 July 2018 @ 11:04
Recently, we asked our followers a question: What is the one piece of advice you’d give to someone going on a trip without their cat? We’ve already discussed how to go about massive moves with cats and dogs, but what if you’re only going somewhere for a few days? One thing we’ve learned is that everyone has their own little way of going about this.
Before we kick off the post, we need to thank everyone who got in touch with their incredible tips. Once again, we’re going to put together everyone’s great suggestions and unique ideas into a handy checklist so that readers can get advice from loads of people at once. You never know when this information will come in handy for you or someone you know, so make sure you save it somewhere it’s ready to share! So without further ado…
Lost Pet Finders’ Guide to Leaving Your Cat Alone
THE LIVE-IN PETSITTER. If you’re comfortable with letting someone else live in your house for a few days, finding a live-in petsitter is a great way of making sure your cat is cared for and doesn’t get lonely.
Karen Anne (WA) does just this when she has to leave h
er cat alone for a couple of days: “Pet sitter. We have a 19 year old cat with dementia, would never take her away from her home environment. Sitter sleeps in spare room so cats regular sleeping in our beds is not disturbed. Bed linen not changed before we go so it still smells like us. We tell them what we do and say as we leave the house etc so they can do the same. First day have them come with take away chicken to encourage friendship. Cat is purely inside cat.”
Barb Bradshaw (TAS) also recommends this: “House sitter. Animals are happy in their own domain”
THE CATTERY. If you can’t find anyone who’s able to stay in your house while you’re away, a cattery might be a good option for you. Your cat will have plenty of professionals on hand (er, paw) to cater for their needs, so you won’t be the only one going on holiday!
As Meegan Bennett (VIC) explains, “Mine go to the best cattery ....it's so good they come home happy and relaxed.”
Meegan’s personal recommendation is “Catshack” in Narre Warren, because “Nic and Simon have the perfect set up, highly recommended by myself and many others”. However, there are many other great catteries to choose from all over Australia and New Zealand.
Jackie Wallis (TAS) adds: “Board at my Vets” – definitely something to consider if your local vet offers that service!
THE VISITING PETSITTER. Catteries may not be for you, and that’s alright! A visiting petsitter will also do a good job. Get a professional petsitter – or even just a friend or relative – to call in and visit your cat every now and then.
“Ideal is probably to find someone reliable who will attend your home and continue feeding your cat and changing her litter according to the same schedule as you do so as to disrupt your cat's routine as little as possible.” - Stephen Alevras (VIC)
“I have a great cat sitter who comes in every day to feed and have a cuddle with my little one. I find this is best for us as my girl freaks out in boarding. She is in her own home with all the familiar things and her usual food and treats.” - Pauline Battersby (ACT)
GET ON FACETIME. An added bonus that comes with a live-in or visiting petsitter is that you can ask them to let you facetime your pet through their phone.
Cat lover Em Jay says, “Facetime them when you miss them. Take a lock of their hair with you so they are always close by. What am I saying? Just don't do it. I can't handle being away from my babies.”
If you’re in the market for some special tech, you could consider buying a pet camera like the Furbo, Pawbo+ or Petcube Bites. These gadgets also have great bonus features like two-way speakers, motion detection and treat dispensers.
LEAVE YOUR CAT WITH EVERYTHING THEY NEED. Some cats are startlingly independent and need us a whole lot less than we might think. If you trust your cat to behave, eat the right amount and not mess up your house, try giving them the independence they obviously think they deserve.
Penelope Cohen (WA) has this down to a fine art: “Lock in the house with access to plenty of food and fresh water, more than normal amounts. Extra litter tray if necessary too. Leave a radio on or programme your tv to turn on/off. Leave some old clothes near where they might sleep so they are reassured by your scent. Have someone you trust with them and you trust not to accidentally let out, come by once a day to change their water, top up the biscuit bowls, put down fresh wet food if using and clear the litter trays and any vomit. Don't make the task too onerous for your helper; keep the tasks simple and quick. Leave the number of your vet on the fridge and leave plenty of food in the cupboard for them. Make sure they know where you keep the cat carrier. Buy them a present when you return if not paying them.”
Nicole Harrison remembered to do all of this when she went away, and her cat was definitely grateful… “We leave ours home alone for up to 4 days. He has an automatic cat feeder and a water fountain so he's cared for. We have a friend who he loves go around once a day and give him pats. We also make sure our sheets haven’t been changed recently and leave our robes around on the floor for him to smell. Seems to work. And when we return he seems less than impressed That we are ruining his peace haha”
KEEP THEM SECURE. Whether you go for a petsitter, cattery or kitty independence, it’s important that you make sure your cat is somewhere safe while you’re away. After all, you won’t be there to know if they’re just on an adventure or they’ve gone missing entirely.
Maryann Morrell’s plan is simple. “We lock our 4 in the house. Have lots of small boxes with kitty litter in it. Lots of water and tiblets in containers. My sister visits every 4th day and tidied up. They are content and safe inside. I am content with not worrying and enjoy my holidays.”
Because what’s the point in going on holiday if you’re just going to worry all week?
Need more information?
There’s loads more information about pet care on the Lost Pet Finders Blog! Here are a few that might come in handy when you’re thinking of going away:
Anything to add?
Do you have any important tips that you feel we’ve left out here? Let us know in the comments below!
Once again, we’d like to thank community members like Karen, Barb, Meegan, Jackie, Stephen, Pauline, Penelope, Maryann, Em and Nicole, without whom this article would not have been possible.
Scaredy Pups: The Fear of Random Objects Tuesday 19 June 2018 @ 12:13
Phobias are irrational, so it can be hard to understand why your dog is afraid of something and even harder to work out how to help with that fear. Over the last couple of months, we’ve discussed the most common fears a dog might experience, and how to deal with those fears. Our most recent phobia was the fear of cars, which can make it pretty difficult to go anywhere and do anything with your pup.
Some of the other common doggy fears you may wish to learn more about might include…
We’ve finally come to the end of our fear list, but there are still other fears out there! If your dog has a fear we haven’t covered and you’d like more information on that phobia, don’t hesitate to get in touch. While we wait to hear from you, let’s talk about the last item on our list: dogs who are afraid of specific objects.
Is your dog afraid of your vacuum cleaner? Do they run and hide or bark constantly when you bring out the halloween pumpkins?
Do they get jumpy when you try to move the furniture in your house? These are telltale signs that your pooch has a phobia of certain items.
Why Is My Dog Afraid?
As we’ve already discussed, a dog can develop a phobia for any number of different reasons. With fears of specific objects, it often comes down to the dog being afraid of something they aren’t familiar with.
A key example of this comes when you decorate for holidays, whether that’s Halloween, Christmas or someone’s birthday.
Suddenly, there are flashing lights, balloons, shiny objects and sometimes even foliage. Your dog clearly doesn’t know what day of the year it is, or why you’re putting a random tree inside your house.
Dogs can sometimes develop phobias as a result of negative experiences. For example, if you accidentally put a chair down on your dog’s paw or close their tail in the door, this can easily lead to a fear of these objects.
It’s also pretty common for a dog to be afraid of objects that make strange and unpredictable noises. For example, some teddy bears have mechanisms inside them that cause them to play a song or make a laughing noise. This can be surprising and terrifying to a dog who as just about become accustomed to teddy bears as inanimate, silent objects. Your dog can develop a fear of this toy as a result, and that fear may even pass onto other stuffed toys. This can also be the reason for a dog’s fear of hair dryers, washing machines and other loud household appliances.
Between birth and adolescence, many dogs experience two different “fear periods”. These periods are temporary, but can result in permanent phobias if dealt with incorrectly. At these points, a dog will often begin exhibiting a fear of objects, people or situations they were previously comfortable with. For example, they may suddenly start acting shy around new people, or begin to growl at the sofa.
The first fear period is the “fear impact period” where your puppy is beginning to learn about the difference between dangerous and safe things, and this generally takes place between the ages of eight and twelve weeks. At this time, your dog is trying to make sense of the weird world that surrounds them, so every person and item needs to be re-evaluated.
Your dog’s experiences, whether they’re negative or positive, will stay with them for the rest of their life. A good way to help them is to provide as many positive social experiences as you can. Some important ideas include…
- Avoiding scary or new environments;
- Using positive reinforcement to reward and congratulate your pup;
- Remembering to keep calm as much as possible, because your pup will mirror your reactions and your anxiety will quickly become their anxiety;
- Encouraging planned socialisation with people and other dogs.
Desensitizing Your Dog to Objects of Fear
The kindest and simplest way to help your dog through their fear of random objects is to help them see the item as a good thing instead of a scary one. This is called desensitizing. This is the same technique used to help dogs afraid of loud noises.
Take, for example, a dog who is afraid of fast food wrappers.
- Begin by gathering a very generous amount of small, tasty treats that are easy for your dog to swallow. Things like chunks of cheese, hotdogs, cold cuts or leftover roast are perfect. Just make sure that whatever you choose, it isn’t likely to upset your dog’s tummy.
- Avoid weight issues by counting the treats you use as part of your dog’s meal. They won’t mind!
- Begin by placing the fast food wrapper far enough away that your dog is not yet reacting to it.
- Begin throwing treats in the direction of the wrapper, so that they create a trail your dog will slowly follow closer to the item. If your dog starts getting nervous, slow your progress by throwing the treats at shorter intervals.
- Try to give your dog a training “break” every now and then. For instance, if you began 20 feet from the wrapper and have managed to work up to 10 feet from the wrapper, toss a few treats at the 15-foot mark to let your dog relax. It may seem counterintuitive, but taking these breaks can really speed up the process.
- Only carry out this training for about 5 minutes at a time, making sure to always finish in high spirits. You can do this once per day, or even several times each day. Just make sure your dog always has at least 5 minutes to rest between each session.
- Once your dog is happy to take treats right next to the wrapper, try moving it a little bit with your foot while dropping lots of treats at once.
REUNION OF THE DAY: Cookie the spoodle from Melbourne VIC Tuesday 12 June 2018 @ 13:00
REUNION OF THE DAY: Cookie
"We want to thank you for helping to reunite us with our beloved Cookie.
The Brimbank Veterinary Clinic contacted us after seeing our Pet Alert to inform us that a good samaritan had dropped Cookie at their place very shortly after he went missing from our house.
We are so thankful to everybody involved.
Here are a few pictures of our reunited family!
Warmest Regards from us all." - Gilbert, Tidi and Tommy