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National “Check the Chip” Day at Johnson Ranch Animal Clinic

By | News/ Events

Wednesday. August 15 is “National Check the Chip” Day, when pet owners are encouraged to check and update the contact information registered with their pet’s microchip.

Microchips are the reason “Lost Dog” and “Lost Cat” stories can have happy endings even if the pet has been missing for months or found a thousand mile from home

Veterinarians and staff at Johnson Ranch Animal Clinic can scan any pet’s microchip; tell the owner what data is on the chip; and if needed, provide them with information on how to update their pet’s microchip registration if they have moved or changed phone numbers.

Sometimes, we find chips pet owners did not even know were there. 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 inform them that they had implanted a chip.
  • The animal control unit, rescue group, humane society or pet shop never scanned the animal so did not know that the pet was already microchipped.
  • When the pet was previously scanned, a Universal Scanner was not used so the chip was missed because it did not register.
  • The person scanning the pet previously did not check for a migrated chip.
  • The implanted chip may be bad and no longer working.
  • The previous owner did not tell the new owner that the pet had a microchip.

Sometimes our staff does not find a microchip in a pet that is supposed to have one. This can happen if the chip was never implanted or implanted improperly and came out.

Even if you have paper work showing your pet was microchipped, someone could have made a mistake. Did you witness the chip being implanted? Did you see the chip scanned after it was implanted, to verify that it is indeed in your pet?

If you say your pet has a chip but our universal scanner does not pick it up, we can take an x-ray. If they are there, microchips will show up very clearly on x-rays.

So on August 15, bring your pet to Johnson Ranch Animal Clinic at 270 E. Hunt Hwy, Ste. 4. That’s in the plaza on the corner of Bella Vista and Hunt Highway.

The staff will check for a microchip or help owners scan the pet themselves. There’s no charge and it just takes a few minutes. Pets will get treats while “chip” style refreshments will be available to their owners.

To learn more about microchips and Check the Chip Day, call Johnson Ranch Animal Clinic at 480-987-4555 or visit the AVMA’s website at

Long haired chihuaha tilting head

What’s Barking Up Your Pet’s Family Tree – Doggy DNA

By | Client Education

Veterinarians always get the pets no one else wants. That’s how we ended up with Foxy, a little brown dog that looked like she was put together from spare critter parts. She had large, feathered ears like a Papillion and a beautiful, long, brown and tan coat. Her golden eyes were almost coyote-like while her reddish nose was sort of “piggy-looking” and her agile, lithe, eight-pound frame resembled a weasel.

But inquiring minds want to know, so we administered a canine heritage DNA test. It identified 38 breeds of dogs, from Afghan hound to Whippet, using a simple swab from the dog’s mouth.

Beyond simply satisfying curious dog owners, DNA testing also serves an important medical purpose. Since certain diseases seem to be more prevalent in some breeds, once the breed makeup is known, both the owner and the veterinarian can watch for signs of those diseases and become pro-active to prevent them.

When the results came back for 8-pound Foxy, it was no surprise that she was part Chihuahua, but I refused to believe she had a 70-pound Samoyed for a grandparent with a touch of beagle as well.

We tried again when a more sophisticated test became available. This one identified more than 130 AKC recognized breeds that may be present in mixed breed dogs.

Those results were even more startling. In addition to 8-pound Foxy having chihuahua, poodle and sheltie in her lineage, it also found traces of Irish wolfhound.

I called the geneticist who explained, “The test determines what’s in your dog, not what your dog is. Sometimes what’s in the genes may not show up as physical manifestations of that particular breed.”

So, if you decide to test the D-N-A of your D-O-G, be forewarned. Often what you see is not what you’re going to get.

July 4th: People Have Fun… Pets Have Fears

By | Client Education

The 4th of July can be very stressful for many pets. Some become so terrorized by the loud noises and the fireworks they panic and run away from home.

In fact, July 5th is one of the busiest days of the year for animal shelters. But while many escaped pets end up there, many others are injured, killed, or lost for good.

Include Protecting Your Pet as Part of Your Holiday Planning

  • Keep your pets inside on the 4th and don’t leave them home alone.
  • Secure the house against escapes:
    • Close all doors and windows
    • Put the pet in a “safe room” to decrease noise from the outside.
    • Use TV or music to help cover the firework noise
  • Distract your pet with toys and food puzzles
  • Try calming apparel such as Thundershirts, ear muffs, and caps
  • Consider Pheromone sprays that give the pet a feeling of well-being…
    Feliway for cats and Adaptil for dogs are available at pet stores.

Plan Ahead for the Likelihood Your Pet Does Escape

  • Before July 4, microchip your pet and have their collar and tags on.
  • Make sure the chip is registered and the contact information is up to date.
  • Take current pictures of your pet. They may be needed for posters, emails and faxes.
  • Immediately contact local animal control units, shelters, rescue groups and veterinarians.
  • Discuss desensitizing and counterconditioning your pet with your veterinarian.

What About Drugs?

  • In some cases, your veterinarian can prescribe drug therapy that may help.
  • Sedatives, tranquilizers, anti-anxiety, and other drugs have been used.
  • Don’t wait until July 3 to ask about them.
  • Drug therapy is not always successful and may need time to evaluate.
  • Drug therapy is most effective when used in combination with other recommendations.

Ten Things the Arizona Bark Scorpion Won’t Tell You

By | Client Education


Scorpions are arthropods like spiders. Arizona has over 30 species of scorpions but only the small, pale yellow, bark scorpion is considered life-threatening.


Baby scorpions are more venomous and deadly, than adults because they can’t yet control how much venom they inject. Male bark scorpions are slightly bigger than the females, about 3” long.


In over 40 years of keeping records, no human deaths have been reported but the bark scorpion’s sting can produce severe pain and swelling, numbness, breathing difficulties, muscle twitching and spasms, and even convulsions.


Arizona bark scorpions glow in the dark under a black light so hunt for them at night. During the day they hide in walls, under stones, or in and around tree bark, from where they get their name.


They love crickets, but also eat spiders, centipedes, and other scorpions. Bark scorpions can go without eating for more than six months.


Spraying for scorpions doesn’t help much because short of a direct hit, most pesticides don’t affect them. Keeping their food source out of your house will.


Only bark scorpions can climb vertical surfaces like walls, drapes, the side of your house or up your leg. They can also cling to the underside of rocks.


Attention Pet Owners! Here are common signs of a bark scorpion sting:

  • Localized pain and swelling
  • Yelping, licking, limping, head shaking, rubbing, etc.
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Trouble urinating or defecating
  • Drooling or vomiting
  • Abnormal behavior


If you see or suspect that your pet has been stung by a scorpion, call your veterinarian immediately.

Most animals recover within four hours without a problem, but some can have a more severe reaction affecting the heart, lungs and nervous system. Scorpion venom can kill small pets such as puppies, kittens, hamsters, and guinea pigs.


Reduce your chances for a scorpion encounter:

  • Switch your outdoor lights from white bulbs to yellow. Yellow light doesn’t attract as many bugs.
  • Check your weather-stripping. If a business card can fit underneath, a scorpion can slip through.
  • Clear away, or move, woodpiles that are stacked up near the house.
  • Don’t leave wet towels on the ground around a pool or spa. Scorpions like the moisture.
  • If you’re gardening or digging around ornamental bark, wear gloves and keep your eyes open.
dog with swollen mouth

Snakes Got You Rattled?

By | Client Education

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, 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.

Contact Us

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