Microchipping Your Pet

DID YOU KNOW…?  One in three pets will become lost at some point during their life.  Less than 5% lost cats get back to owner, often due to lack of ID.  The return-to-owner rate for microchipped cats was dramatically higher at over 38%.  However, for dogs, the facts are much better — the return-to-owner rate for microchipped dogs was over 52 %!


What is a microchip?

A microchip is a tiny transponder, about the size of a grain of rice that is encoded with a unique identification number.  It is used for permanent identification. The technology is relatively recent, but is becoming widely available.


How is the microchip put into my dog?

Before insertion, the sterile microchip is scanned in the package to confirm that the identification code of the transponder is the same as that shown on the package bar code label.


The needle containing the microchip is loaded into the application gun or syringe, and the pet is positioned for the injection. For dogs and cats, the standard site for microchip placement is in the subcutaneous tissue along the dorsal midline (the spine) between the pet’s shoulder blades. For correct placement, the pet should be either standing or lying on the stomach. Some of the loose skin between the shoulder blades is gently pulled up, and the needle is quickly inserted. The applicator trigger is depressed, injecting the transponder or microchip into the tissues.

Once the chip is inserted, the pet is scanned to ensure that the chip is reading properly and the identification number is checked. It is now a permanent and tamperproof method that cannot be lost.

Does it hurt to insert the chip?

The procedure is fast, safe, and appears to be relatively pain-free in most pets.  The chips are usually inserted without incident, even in the tiniest kittens and puppies. The application needle is quite large, and some clients will choose to have the microchip implanted at the time of sterilization (spay or neuter), so that the pet can be anesthetized for the injection.  However, this is not necessary, and the microchip can be implanted at any time that is convenient.

Is there anything I have to do?

Once your pet is microchipped, you must register him or her with the appropriate agency. Your veterinarian at Rita Ranch Pet Hospital will provide you with the relevant documents and contact information and will tell you if any fees are required. Failure to register your pet’s microchip identification will render the entire process useless. If you move or change your contact information, be sure to update your pet’s microchip information. If your pet is lost and recovered, this information will be used to reunite you with your pet.

How is the microchip detected?

The microchip can be ‘read’ with a microchip scanner, which detects the specific electronic code embedded in the chip, and displays the identification number on the scanner’s screen.

Since the occasional microchip may migrate, or move out of position, the microchip reader will be passed over the entire body of the pet in order to ensure that the chip will be detected if present.

Most, if not all, humane societies and animal shelters now have microchip readers, and routinely scan all stray and injured animals.  Steps are being taken to standardize the readers and develop databases that can be readily accessed.

 My dog always wears a collar with identification tags.  Isn’t this enough?

Unfortunately, collars and tags can break, be lost or be removed.  When the tags are new, they are easy to read.  However, as they get old and worn, it can become challenging to make out all the information that is on them.

 My dog has a tattoo already.  Why should I microchip him?

Unfortunately, tattoos can be difficult to read.  They are commonly placed in the flank area, where they can be obscured by hair.  Even when they are in the ears, they can become faded over time. They can also be readily altered. Even when they are readable, the information about the pet and its owner can be difficult to obtain.

Microchips cannot be easily misread, and the identification number is tamper-proof.  The information about the pet and owner is usually readily retrievable.

© Copyright 2005 Lifelearn Inc. Used with permission under license. January 20, 2015

Anesthesia Anxiety

Anxiety about anesthesia is similar to dread of flying — fear of the unknown. To ease your mind, we’d like to take time to explain what happens and what we do to make the experience as safe as possible.


What’s involved in a dental prophylaxis (cleaning)?

To evaluate and clean teeth properly, general anesthesia is mandatory. Some veterinarians and non-veterinarians advertise anesthesia-free dentistry — sometimes called non-professional dental scaling (NPDS). This is a huge disservice to both you and your pet.

Naturally, pet owners are concerned when anesthesia is required. However, performing NPDS on an un-anesthetized pet is inappropriate for the following reasons:

Professional dental scaling includes scaling the surfaces of the teeth above and below the gingival margin (gum line), followed by dental polishing. The most critical part of a dental scaling procedure is scaling the tooth surfaces that are within the gingival pocket (the subgingival space between the gum and the root), where periodontal disease is active.  Unlike human dentistry, access to the subgingival area of every tooth is IMPOSSIBLE in an un-anesthetized canine or feline patient. Removal of dental tartar on the visible surfaces of the teeth has little to no effect on a pet’s health, and it provides a false sense of accomplishment.   The result is purely cosmetic.

What can you do?

Remember, age is not a disease. However, older patients often are discriminated against that need urgent dental care to decrease pain and improve quality of life. No amount of antibiotics is going to help a pet  suffering with mobile teeth caused by Stage 4 periodontal disease.  Letting the periodontal disease rage on is far more dangerous than professional oral hygiene care performed under general anesthesia.  Untreated periodontal disease means your pet is constantly suffering from pain and harmful oral bacteria is entering the bloodstream.  This bacteria can lead to heart disease and/or failure, kidney disease, or liver disease.

Every patient must be evaluated before anesthesia. When your pet’s physical exam is normal, age-appropriate blood tests are performed.   Much like a pilot performing a pre-flight checklist, we run through a list of critical systems beforehand.  We want to know as much as possible about your pet! It just adds to our comfort knowing as much about our patient before performing a procedure that will drastically alter its current status. Additionally, the testing will make you feel more secure that your pet us truly as healthy as they look!

Anesthesia protocols (the medications and type of anesthesia provided to each pet) is personally tailored for each individual patient.  The doctor will decide what is best for that pet, and it will vary by age, condition, and the length of and type of procedure. Local anesthetics (nerve block or “numbing”) are used on all dental procedures when any teeth are extracted or any tissue is cut.

General anesthesia involves a combination of drugs. To lessen pre-procedure stress, all patients are given a sedative and often several pain relievers before anesthesia is administered. Once the animal is relaxed, an experienced veterinary technician will insert an intravenous catheter and start intravenous fluids.  When it is time to induce (put under) anesthesia,  a short-acting anesthetic is administered through the IV catheter to render the pet unconscious.

Once the animal is under, the veterinary team inserts a breathing tube to keep the airway open and clear of water and debris — this also delivers oxygen and an inhaled anesthetic gas, which will keep the pet unconsciousness during the procedure. The team also monitors the pet’s heart rate and rhythm, blood pressure, body temperature, oxygen levels and carbon dioxide output, a key indicator of changes in cardiorespiratory function.


It’s also important to maintain an animal’s normal body temperature, because if the body temperature drops, the patient is less comfortable and may not metabolize the anesthetics  properly. We use blankets that circulate warmth, lots of soft blankets, and even warm water bottles to keep the pet warm. The IV fluids keep pets hydrated and also gives veterinarians an easy portal to administer other drugs should an animal need them.

A technician trained in veterinary dentistry begins the professional dental scaling  — this includes scaling the surfaces of the teeth above and below the gingival margin (gum line) to remove all tartar and calculus.  The most critical part of a dental scaling procedure is scaling the tooth surfaces that are within the gingival pocket (the subgingival space between the gum and the root), where periodontal disease is active.  This is followed by a thorough dental polishing to smooth rough edges on the enamel of the tooth.  Full-mouth (every tooth) dental x-rays are taken to ensure the roots of the teeth are healthy and not causing your pet any discomfort.  The veterinarian evaluates each tooth for mobility, infection, and bone loss and extracts (removes) any problematic teeth that may be causing pain or disease both now, and in the future.  An optional sealant may be applied at the end of the procedure to discourage the development of new tartar for up to six months.

When a procedure is completed, patients move to the recovery area, where they’re monitored closely by their technician until they fully awake.  The doctor will call you with an update at this time and arrange for your pet to released from the hospital later that day.  At that time, the doctor and technician will discuss with you any medications and home-care.  We usually recommend starting home dental care about a week after the cleaning to keep those teeth looking great!

Some final notes before your pet undergoes general anesthesia:

Share your concerns with your veterinarian… Ask whether your pet’s health or breed requires specialized anesthesia

Find out when you need to take away food… We recommend no food after 8pm the night before to reduce the risk of vomiting under anesthesia. Certain pets, including diabetics and very young animals, may not be able to fast that long.

After your pet wakes up:

Be sure you understand and follow the discharge instructions… Ask your veterinarian and your technician if you have any questions about medications or home-care.

Give your pet a couple of days to fully recover. Usually, pets are pretty drowsy the first night after anesthesia, and many have no interest in food. Your pet likely will be much closer to normal the next morning and back to normal by day two.

Why Should I Have My Pet Neutered?


  1. First and foremost, for population control.  The dog and cat world is already overpopulated.  There are millions of pets in pounds waiting to be adopted.  Give them a chance!  Your pet may be responsible for dozens of unwanted pregnancies.
  2. Uncastrated males are more susceptible to several related health problems:
    1. Testicular tumors, which often become malignant, are common in dogs, but obviously non-existent in the neutered male.
    2. Prostatic cancer, also tending to be malignant and prostatic enlargement are much less common in male dogs neutered before the age of three years.
    3. Other hormone related diseases such as perineal hernias and perineal adenomas are reduced.
    4. The strong smell of “tom cat” urine is eliminated with the absence of male hormone production.
    5. Also related to decreasing hormone levels is the reduced tendency to fight other males, thus preventing bite wounds and abscesses.
    6. Castrated males are not prone to disease transmitted by sexual contact such as Feline Leukemia, Brucellosis and other venereal diseases.
  3. Finally, neutering your pet will decrease his sex drive.  This prevents roaming tendencies.  Roaming increases the risk of being stolen, hit by cars, and getting into fights with other animals.


But above all, your pet is happier-he doesn’t realize what he is missing.  He has no desire for “sex,” which would be unfulfilled anyway.  He is in much better physical condition with the absence of this stress, and can focus all of his attention on being a faithful companion.

What is involved in neutering my pet?

Your pet will be given a short acting anesthetic, an incision will be made in the scrotal area and his testicles will be removed.  Depending on the veterinarian performing the surgery, dogs require sutures to close the incisions, which need to be removed in seven to ten days.  Cats heal well without closing the incisions.  He will be able to go home at the end of the day although he may be a little groggy.  Within a day or two, he will feel as well as he did before surgery.  All in all, the long-term rewards of a healthier, happier pet and companion make this routine procedure one of the best things you can do for him.

Why Should I Have My Pet Spayed?

There are many and behavioral benefits to having your female dog or cat spayed:


  1. Convenience to owner – Eliminates “heat” or estrous cycles: no bloody discharge.
    • Eliminates the scent that attracts annoying males.
    • No need to confine your female while in heat.
    • Eliminates the frantic pacing and crying by the female while in heat (cats are especially vocal at that time).
  1. Better health for your pet
    • Eliminates all of the problems and potential serious risks involved with pregnancy and birth.
  1. Helps decrease the overpopulation problem
    • By not bringing more unwanted puppies and kittens into the world.
    • Rids you of the worry of what to do with unplanned litters of puppies and kittens.
  1. Eliminates sexual frustration
    • Decreases your pet’s desire to roam in search of a
      mate-decreasing the possibility of fights with other
      animals, car accidents, etc.
    • Lets your pet relax and enjoy being part of the family.



  • Spaying will make my pet fat.    Spaying your pet will not make her fat and lazy.  Too much food and not enough exercise are the main causes of obesity.
  • She should have one litter first.    It is actually better for her NOT to have a litter or even a heat cycle before being spayed.  If your pet has one or several heat cycles prior to being spayed, she has a higher chance of developing mammary tumors later in life.
  • Spaying will hurt her.    Spaying is a safe and relatively painless operation done by a licensed veterinarian.  Pain medication is sent home for a few days following surgery.  Most pets feel fine the next day!
  • I will be able to find homes for my puppies & kittens.    You may be able to find them all homes but are your sure they are all good homes?  And remember each time you place one of your puppies or kittens, somewhere else an animal is being put to sleep because there was no home for her.