Ash Veterinary Clinic


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Check Your Pet’s Tags!

Many pets get new collars for Christmas, so when you are changing your pet’s jewelry over, make sure to check their tags. Make this a New Year’s tradition that will ensure the safety of the furry friends that we call family. Here at Ash Veterinary Clinic and Emergency Center, we know that New Year’s resolutions are hard, but this task is far easier to accomplish. 

Set a plan to do your “neck checks” around the first of the year. It is easy to remember that way. Call your dog over and play along. You want to look for wear and fit on the collar and legibility on the tags. A properly fitted collar is important, but the right type of collar is also essential. For dogs, a buckled or snap-together collar made of leather or nylon webbing is the best choice, and the proper fit is comfortably close, but not too snug. Many times at the clinic, we tighten down collars for owners to ensure their pet does not escape, only to have the owner’s loosen the collar as soon as they get the pet back. A general rule of thumb is fitting two fingers comfortably under the collar.

Make sure your dog is not wearing a choke chain or pinch collar at all times. These are for training and walking only, and pose a severe hazard if left on an unsupervised dog. Choke collars can catch on objects and even the teeth of other dogs in play. In such cases, the dog’s natural instinct to pull away can lead to injury as the chain pulls tight.

If you have the right kind of collar on your dog, look at the holes and the fasteners. The collar is weakest at these spots, so if you see signs of excessive wear or strain you will need to replace the collar soon. Cat collars are different, though. You still need to inspect the collar for wear and tear, but some cat collars are meant to “break away” if the pet gets caught or trapped by the collar.  

As for those tags, they need checking, too. A license is required by law, but since many lost pets are picked up by people in the neighborhood, it is a good idea to supplement the license with an ID tag that has a couple of phone numbers — yours and the number of a friend or relative. Check to make sure the information is current and legible, and if not, order a new one. Consider putting “REWARD!” on the tag with a collection of phone numbers. This gets the point across that you want your pets back quickly.

A microchip is another form of identification well worth considering. The tiny transponder, about the size of a grain of rice, is inserted by a veterinarian over the shoulder blades of dogs and cats and serves as a permanent identification that cannot be slipped off or removed. If you have a microchip implanted in your pet, it is not possible to check for the chip as part of your New Year’s neck check. But do make a mental note to ask your veterinarian to scan for it the next time your pet visits. Most veterinarians and shelters have hand-held devices that can detect the presence of a chip, and can determine if it has stayed put in a spot where it can be found by shelter-workers, should your pet ever stray. Some companies that make microchips provide owners with tags to put on their collars. This is a good idea because if your pet does go missing, it informs the person that finds them that your pet has a microchip.

Do not delay in fixing any problems you find with your pet’s collar or tags. Problems with collars and tags are easy to fix, much easier than looking for a lost dog. Here at Ash Veterinary Clinic and Emergency Center in Carleton, we want to ensure that your pet stays safe and want to remind you that an intact collar and legible tags are the cheapest insurance you can buy against lost pets or accidents.

[4:06:25 PM] Dianne Raftopoulos: