Monthly Archives

June 2015


Snakes Got You Rattled?

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Did you know that out of the 15 species of rattlesnakes native to the United States 11 can be found in Arizona, more than any other state in the country? Some people can spend their entire lives here and never see even one, others swear they practically trip over rattlesnakes everywhere they go. During the summer, snakes, like people and pets, avoid the blistering heat of midday, and are more active in the early morning or early evening just so it’s wise to be vigilant at those times.

Rattlesnake bites usually involve dogs. Often, the bite occurs on the face, as the dog is inquisitive about, or aggressive towards, the snake. It is not uncommon for the dog to lose an eye. Snakebites can take a heavy toll not just on a pet’s health but also an owner’s wallet. Antivenin is very expensive and sometimes a bitten animal needs more than one vial.

A rattlesnake vaccine is now available, and like a tetanus shot, acts as a preventative, building up antibodies prior to an attack. After an exam to make sure the pet is healthy, the vaccine is administered by injection in two doses, one month apart. Booster shots are scheduled depending on the area’s “rattlesnake season.” Because antivenin is so costly and can have adverse effects, the vaccine is becoming a popular option for pet owners.

If a vaccinated pet is bitten, antivenin may still be recommended because there is no way of judging the amount or potency of the venom received, or how many antibodies have had a chance to build up. What the vaccine does best is give the pet a fighting chance that the snakebite won’t be fatal.

But the best treatment is prevention. Check your yard for snakes. If you and your dog are out walking, don’t let your pet run ahead of you where he might “sniff out” a snake hiding in a crevice or under a rock. If your pet does get bitten, seek out medical help as soon as possible. A snakebite is always a medical emergency. While some dogs are fearful of snakes and will back off, others just can’t stay away from that rattler. For those dogs who are “repeat offenders” there are “snake-proofing” classes that can be effective in training curious canines to keep their distance. Remember an ounce of prevention is worth an ounce of antivenin.

For more information on rattlesnake vaccine, antivenin and snakeproofing classes for dogs call Johnson Ranch Animal Clinic, 480-987-4555.

Helping Your Hound Get Found

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Several Super Bowl Sundays ago, sometime between kickoff and halftime, a big Rottweiler named Bear made his escape from his fenced-in yard. He climbed on top of his doghouse, which was near the fence, then jumped over it and ran away. Bear’s owner drove all around the neighborhood looking for his dog and asking everyone he met but nobody saw Bear.

On Monday he checked the dog pounds to no avail, thinking his pet was gone for good. But luckily, Bear had a microchip. So by Wednesday, Bear was at Maricopa County Animal Control getting a routine scan which showed an AVID microchip. Animal Control called AVID’s central registry and read them the chip’s ID number. AVID told them the chip was registered to a Dr. Marc Schmidt. On Thursday Marc’s receptionist got a call from Animal Control. They gave her the information from AVID, she looked up the number, matched it with the owner’s name and called him with the good news.

Bear, who was picked up four miles from home, was tired and his paws were sore but the microchip did what it was supposed to do. It brought Bear home and may have even saved his life. Most animal agencies and humane societies have scanners and lost pets brought to these facilities that are found to have microchips will not be euthanized or sold to research laboratories.

While a microchip is as small as a grain of rice, it’s a big help in getting pets like Bear back home. The technicians and receptionists at Johnson Ranch Animal Clinic routinely scan pets for microchips. But sometimes the staff does not find a microchip in a pet that is supposed to have one. How can that happen?

  • The chip was never implanted.
  • The chip was not implanted properly and came out.
  • The chip is no longer functioning.
  • Even if there is paperwork showing the pet was microchipped, mistakes happen.
    – Did you see the chip being implanted?
    – Did the chip show up on the scanner after it was implanted, to confirm that it is indeed in your pet?
    – If done improperly, the chip may be left in the syringe or implanting device or may come out (usually shortly after implanting).
    – On very rare occasions the chip may stop working altogether.

Similarly, the staff has discovered a chip in a pet when the owner swore the animal never had one. How does this happen?

  • When the current owner acquired the pet, the breeder, animal control unit, rescue group, pet shop or humane society failed to tell the new owner that they had implanted a chip.
  • The animal control unit, rescue group, humane society or pet shop did not know that the pet came to them already microchipped and they did not scan the pet to find out.
  • When the pet was previously scanned, the chip was missed because a Universal Scanner was not used and the chip did not register with that scanner.
  • When the pet was previously scanned, the person scanning the pet did not check for a migrated chip.

Microchips are available from several different companies but the Universal Scanner used at Johnson Ranch Animal Clinic will pick up any functioning microchip. If you think your pet has a chip and our scanner doesn’t pick it up, we will x-ray your pet at no charge. Microchips show up very clearly on x-rays so we can confirm if one is there. And once your pet has been chipped, always remember to update your contact information if you move or change phone numbers so that your data in the Microchip registry is current.

If your pet does not currently have a microchip, or if you are not sure that your pet’s microchip is working properly, contact us at (480) 987-4555 today!

–Rikki Schmidt

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270 East Hunt Hwy, Ste. #4
San Tan Valley, AZ 85143