It’s a tiny chip, as small as a grain of rice, inserted into the back of your pet’s neck - but it might just be the difference between being reunited with your beloved pet or losing them forever.
Microchipping is a simple, lifelong way to identify animals and link them to their owners, resulting in the speedier return of lost, stolen or injured animals. In fact, over 80 per cent of animals that are microchipped are successfully reunited with their owners. If your animal is lost and taken into a vet clinic or SPCA, it can be reunited with you within hours of it being found.
In New Zealand, microchipping is required for all dogs registered for the first time, with the exception of working farm dogs. However, SPCA National Chief Executive Andrea Midgen says the organisation strongly recommends microchipping of all pets.
“All dogs, cats and rabbits at SPCA centres are microchipped before adoption. Unlike collars and tags, which can fall off, microchipping is a more permanent method of identifying your beloved animals if something happens.”
“Wellington City Council has recently become the first to make micro-chipping compulsory for all cats - a move which we wholeheartedly support and hope other councils around New Zealand will replicate.”
Over half a million animals are now registered nationwide on the Companion Animal Register.
The benefit of microchipping pets was illustrated in Canterbury recently, when the SPCA managed to reunite a beloved cat with its owner after more than three years apart. When Max disappeared in October 2013, his owner Kelly Osborn gave up hope of ever finding him again. Max had followed her flatmate down the driveway as she put wheelie bins at the kerb for collection, and never came back.
Kelly delivered flyers and desperately appealed for sightings of her beloved Max on social media. She gave up hope of ever seeing her black and white cat again. Three years later, he was handed into the SPCA and his microchip immediately identified Kelly as the owner. Just a few hours later, she had her beloved cat back. Kelly said without Max's microchip, she would have never been reunited with him.
SImilarly, in Marlborough Jimmy ‘the Ginga’ cat was reunited with his owner after two and a half years when he was found 20km from his home and identified by his micro-chip. Within a day of arriving at Marlborough SPCA, Jimmy was on a plane to Auckland and into the hands of his owner, who had since relocated to Auckland.
SPCA Canterbury and Marlborough Chief Executive Barry Helem said the team were thrilled to be able reunite the cats after such a long period.
"It really does illustrate the value of microchipping your animals. Without this, we may not have been able to find these owners and have such a happy ending."
● Microchipping does not hurt nor harm your pet’s health
● The microchip is approximately the size of a grain of rice
● The microchip lasts the lifetime of your pet
● Each chip has a number and when an animal is microchipped, the owner’s details are recorded against that number onto the New Zealand Companion Animal Register database
● Vet clinics and SPCAs have access to the New Zealand Companion Animal Register
● Microchipping can be used as legal identification if an animal’s ownership is in dispute
● Microchipping can help with legal identification in case your animal is stolen
● Animal microchips do not include GPS
● Currently vets are charging around $45 to $80 for microchipping. This is often cheaper if your pet is already in the clinic for another procedure, such as desexing
● The microchip is administered via a syringe and needle, which is not extraordinarily large.
● For most dogs and cats, it only stings as much as any injection or vaccination does. Many vets will apply some local anesthetic cream first, and the procedure only takes a few seconds
The SPCA supports the new animal welfare regulations announced this week by Ministry for Primary Industries and believes they are a win for animal welfare in New Zealand.
“The SPCA has been working very closely with the Ministry for Primary Industries to achieve positive animal welfare regulatory outcomes,” says RNZSPCA CEO (Acting) Andrea Midgen.
“The 46 new animal welfare regulations cover many animal welfare issues the SPCA encounters. We welcome the strengthening of these regulations to protect animals and believe they’ll help improve the lives of New Zealand’s animals.”
The SPCA is particularly pleased with the new regulations around dog tail docking, dogs left in cars, collar and tether wounds, dog dew claw provisions and dogs secured on moving vehicles:
1. Prohibiting unnecessary tail docking of dogs
The SPCA is opposed to all cosmetic surgeries carried out for aesthetic reasons and has consistently called for tail docking to be prohibited for many years. Many SPCA centres across the country have seen first-hand cases of home tail docking gone wrong, where in some instances euthanasia has been the only option for the dog.The new regulation prohibits tail docking unless done by a veterinarian to treat a significant injury or disease and is a true win for the welfare of dogs in New Zealand.
2. Dogs left in cars
Dogs left in a car on a hot day can suffer pain, distress and heat stroke, which in severe cases can be fatal or result in lifelong disabilities. Every summer the SPCA receives numerous calls from concerned members of the public about dogs left in cars. For many years the SPCA has run campaigns urging the public not to take the risk. Under the new regulation people leaving a dog in the car must ensure it does not display symptoms consistent with heat stress or will face an infringement offence.
3. Injuries from collars and tethers
A collar or tether that is not fitted properly can cause injury and distress to an animal, and in severe cases can embed into the neck of the animal. Unfortunately collar and tether wounds is something the SPCA sees far too often, and can require several surgeries and months of rehabilitation for recovery. In the most severe cases, humane euthanasia is the only option for the animal.
Under the new regulations, any damage to an animal from a collar or tether is unacceptable and not complying with this is an offence. Animal owners must ensure the collar or tether does not cause cuts, skin abrasions, swelling, or prevent breathing, panting or drinking.
4. Dog dew claw provisions
Up until now dew claws in newborn puppies could be removed for any purpose. They are often removed by dog breeders without veterinary assistance. The SPCA has long opposed the removal of dew claws for aesthetic reasons, and supports the new regulation that prohibits the removal of front and articulated dew claws unless done by a veterinarian for health reasons.
5. Keeping dogs secured on moving vehicles
The new regulation states that dogs must not be carried on the open rear of a moving vehicle unless they are secured or enclosed in a crate, with the exception of working dogs while at work. The SPCA fully supports this regulation, which will help prevent serious injuries or fatalities as a result of dogs falling from moving cars.
The SPCA is an approved organisation, meaning SPCA Inspectors have powers to enforce the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and protect all animals from ill-treatment, starvation and desertion.
So the SPCA Inspectorate is also welcoming the new directly-enforceable regulations, which replace some of the previous minimum standards contained in Codes of Welfare that were not directly enforceable. These will create more tools to help ensure people meet their obligations as animal owners.
“There are instances where prosecution is not possible or appropriate, yet SPCA Inspectors want to have a more formal approach to dealing with animal cruelty. This adds significantly to the compliance options available to our SPCA Inspectors,” says Ms Midgen.
“Previously the only legislative sanction available under the Animal Welfare Act was prosecution which is often not appropriate, lengthy and expensive. The new regulations provide an ability to deal more quickly and effectively with medium and lower level offending.”
For more information, please contact:
SPCA Communications Manager
022 658 3182
09 256 7307
Whoever dumped Skip that day didn't want him to be found. When Skip was just six weeks old, he was thrown away like an unwanted t-shirt, or a worn-out pair of pants.
He was dumped in a clothing bin, and left for dead. Can you imagine how terrifying that would have been for him?
All Skip had to keep him company were the damp and dusty clothes he was trapped in. We don't know how long he was in that bin for - but one day, a truck picked it up to transport it to another city.
Skip travelled a long and lonely way, tangled in towels and full of fear. When the truck finally stopped, Skip used every bit of strength left in his dehydrated body, to let out some anxious cries.
He was shivering from head to toe, his ribs were protruding out from underneath his itchy skin. Skip desperately needed the SPCA's help.
Skip was immediately rushed to the SPCA where he received the love and care he needed. But Skip's traumatic past left him unsure and anxious. Simple things like loud footsteps sent him running and hiding in fear.
Thankfully, today Skip is a happy, bounding, healthy six-month-old pup who spends his days with his family who protect and love him. But I wish I could tell you that Skip’s story is unusual.
The sad reality is that he’s just one of many animals who are so cruelly abandoned every year. They're crying out for your help.
When the temperature drops during these cold winter months, it can be life or death for an animal out on the streets. They can very quickly become dehydrated, pick up a deadly disease, or succumb to the harsh elements.
We desperately need your help to be there for these animals when they need us most.
The SPCA is almost entirely funded by generous people like you. As the days get colder will you help give warmth, love and safety to abandoned animals by making a generous donation.
Over winter, the bills at our SPCA centre pile up. It’s overwhelming.
It costs a lot to save lives, and there’s no sign of things slowing down. Just last week, another abandoned puppy was rescued by our SPCA Inspectors. And just like Skip, she was hungry, cold, unwell and frightened.
This puppy is only four weeks old and should still be with her mum. But her heartless owner dumped her in a freezing, frosty park to fend for herself. She had nothing but a cardboard box to keep warm.
You’re a crucial part of our team. Without you, it simply wouldn't be possible. We desperately need your help to be there for these animals when they need us most.
Will you donate today and help save lives?
Thank you for spreading the warmth this winter.
If you've adopted a pet, it's important that you understand the different types of vaccinations available to them, and how these protect your pet's health and wellbeing.
Vaccinations for dogs
The core vaccinations for dogs in New Zealand protect them against canine parvovirus, leptospirosis, canine distemper and hepatitis.
Canine parvovirus is a highly infectious and usually fatal viral infection that is seen far too often in SPCA Centres and animal shelters around the country. This disease mainly affects puppies, but can also affect older dogs which are unvaccinated or have not had regular boosters. Sadly, parvovirus causes great pain and suffering to dogs and can result in death if untreated.
Parvovirus can be transmitted by any person, animal or object that comes in contact with an infected dog’s faeces. The hardy virus can live in the environment for years, so just taking your dog for a walk down the street or to the park can put them at risk of contracting the disease if they are not fully vaccinated.
It is essential that dog owners protect their pets by making sure their dogs are up to date on vaccinations, and ensure their puppy does not go outside until they have been fully vaccinated. A series of shots are required that start when the puppy is just six weeks old.
Symptoms of parvovirus includes lethargy, severe vomiting, and bloody diarrhoea that results in life-threatening dehydration. There’s no specific treatment, however an infected dog may be put on a drip, giving antibiotics to prevent any secondary infections, and given medication to try to prevent vomiting.
Dogs of all ages (most serious in puppies or older dogs) can be affected by canine distemper, which is most commonly spread by direct contact with an infected dog. However, the virus is persistent in the environment, therefore strengthening the requirements for vaccinations. Symptoms vary from fever and depression, to coughing, vomiting and diarrhoea, discharge from eyes and mouth and coughing.
Sadly dogs with very severe symptoms often don’t survive this disease. Mildly affected dogs can recover, but some will go on to have neurological problems in later life where they can suffer from muscle tics, difficulty walking or walking in circles and seizures. Other long term symptoms are eye problems and thickening of the skin on the nose and pads.
Thankfully thanks to widespread vaccination, canine distemper is now uncommon in New Zealand.
Leptospirosis is a serious disease that affects the liver and kidneys in dogs and in severe cases can be fatal. Less severely affected dogs can recover from this disease, but will carry the bacteria for months afterwards, and their urine is an infection risk to other animals.
The main source of infection is via another animal’s urine. It may be spread by rodents and less frequently also other animals. If your dog frequents places inhabited by rats - the bush, creeks and streams, farms, parks - or if you know there are rats around your home, your dog should be vaccinated, especially if it is of a breed such as a terrier that enjoys hunting rodents.
Leptospirosis is generally seen north of Taupo in New Zealand, but has been seen as far south as Palmerston North. Leptospirosis can also infect people, of which infection is usually from direct contact with animals.
Infectious Canine Hepatitis
This is a serious and often fatal disease for dogs. It causes fever, signs of liver disease, inflammation, gastrointestinal, ocular and neurological problems. The virus can be spread by infected body secretions, saliva, faeces and urine. The disease is now relatively uncommon due to good vaccination practices, however cases do appear due to lapses in vaccinations.
The ‘Kennel Cough’ vaccine
Your vet may ask if you wish to give your dog an ‘optional’ vaccine for Kennel Cough. The name "Kennel Cough" refers to a group of diseases causing an infectious cough transmitted from dogs to other dogs. While the vaccination against Kennel Cough is not 100% preventative, vaccinated dogs can still catch kennel cough but are less likely to, and if they do the disease is not likely to be as severe and they are likely to recover quicker.
This vaccination is often a requirement for dogs going into boarding kennels, doggy daycares and may also be beneficial for dogs visiting areas where they mix closely with many different dogs on a regular basis. In older dogs, or those with medical conditions, it may be beneficial to ensure they are given the kennel cough vaccine as well – check with your vet.
Vaccinations for cats
Also known as Feline Enteritis, this is a viral disease causing severe vomiting and diarrhoea especially in young kittens. It is spread by the faeces and urine of infected cats and pregnant cats can transmit the disease to their kittens in the womb. However, the disease is easily prevented by routine vaccinations.
In late pregnancy the kittens survive, but the virus can damage the part of the brain which controls co-ordination. This results in a condition called cerebellar hypoplasia, also known as ‘wobbly kitten syndrome’. Kittens with cerebellar hypoplasia suffer from tremors and poor coordination and may also be born blind. This damage is permanent, but they may go on to have otherwise healthy lives.
Panleukopenia is highly contagious and attacks the cat's immune system, leaving it unable to fight infection. There is no specific treatment other than fluids and medication to control vomiting and antibiotics to prevent secondary infections. Older cats are more likely to survive Panleukopenia than young kittens.
Feline calicivirus (cat flu) can by spread by direct contact with affected cats, or by air-borne spread, or contamination of the environment. Cats that recover can occasionally become lifelong carriers, and able to transmit the infection to other cats, and signs of the virus may recur when the cat is under stress of any kind.
Symptoms of feline calcivirus include fever, inappetance, discharge from the nose and eyes and sneezing. It can also cause drooling and severe mouth ulcers. More severe strains can lead to pneumonia. Stress or illness can cause flare-ups of the virus. Cats of all ages may be affected, but the disease is most common in kittens.
It’s important to note that vaccination prevents infection with some strains of feline calicivirus but not all. However, cats that do become infected generally have much milder symptoms than those that are unvaccinated.
Vaccinations for rabbits
There have been reports of rabbits dying across the country from Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV). This calcivirus causes a highly fatal haemorrhagic disease in rabbits with a mortality rate of up to 100%.
Animals of all ages are susceptible to infection but rabbits older than 5-7 weeks of age are most often affected by serious disease resulting in death. Most infected animals show no signs of disease but just suddenly die within 12-36 hours of the onset of infection. Occasionally rabbits may show signs such as anorexia, depression, congestion of mucous membranes, and neurological abnormalities such as incoordination or convulsions.
If a rabbit survives the initial infection, death from liver failure can occur over days to several weeks. A small number of rabbits may develop a chronic form of the disease, they may have mild symptoms, and may become carriers of the disease.
Infected rabbits shed the virus in their urine, faeces and respiratory secretions. It can be transmitted to other rabbits through direct contact with these secretions or on contaminated objects (such as through a cage, bowls or people’s hands). The virus can survive in the environment for a month and flies and other insects are thought to transmit the virus mechanically (by moving infected secretions from place to place).
Vaccination is the best way to ensure that your pet rabbits will remain safe from the disease. Baby rabbit (called kittens!) should be vaccinated between ten and twelve weeks of age and then every year. If the chance of exposure to the virus is high, rabbits can be vaccinated before this but they will require another vaccination at ten and twelve weeks of age. Rabbits need to be in good health to be vaccinated.
Rabbit owners should also take the following extra precautions:
• Prevent direct and indirect contact between domestic and wild rabbits, and avoid cutting grass and feeding it to your rabbits if there is the risk of contamination from wild rabbits.
• Remove their uneaten food on a daily basis.
• Wash hands, with warm soapy water between handling rabbits.
• Good insect control is also important and will help reduce the risks of introduction of both RHDV and myxomatosis. Insect control could include insect proofing the hutch or keeping your rabbits indoors.
• All cages and equipment should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
A new strain of RHDV has recently been released in Australia in an attempt to control wild rabbits. There is always some risk that this virus may reach New Zealand. Therefore, rabbit owners should keep in contact with their veterinarian for up to date advice about the best way to protect their rabbits as vaccination and other recommendations may differ.
For more information and advice, please contact your local veterinarian.
Vaccines aren’t required for pet birds, fish and guinea pigs.
In general, most companion chickens or backyard flocks are not vaccinated in New Zealand. The best thing to do would be to ask a local veterinarian what they recommend. But do remember your chooks and roosters will need regular worming and red mite control.
Where there are large number of pigs, vaccinations should be used routinely. Common vaccines include Leptospirosis, Parvovirus, Erysipelas and Mycoplasma . Contact your local vet regarding their recommendations for your area, you can also ask regarding worming for your pigs as well. If the pig is considered at risk the recommendation is for a vaccination for piglets at one week old and booster 2 weeks later and pregnant sows 2-6 weeks before farrowing and re-vaccination 2 weeks prior to farrowing.
Older animals tend to find the cold weather over winter a bit of a challenge, especially those with arthritis. Arthirits is inflammation of the joints and can have many underlying causes including prior injury, degenerative disease and developmental disorders. Remember that, although arthiritis is more common in older animals, it can affect even young and middle aged animals also so the tips in this article can help them too!
There are many varied signs of arthritis and these can often be quite subtle; this means that arthritis might not be noticed until the animal has been suffering for quite some time and the disease has progressed significantly. You may notice that your pet is slow to rise from the floor or a seated position, especially first thing in the morning; they may be a little cautious going up or down the stairs; or may have a subtle but persistent lameness.
Cats are particularly subtle in their signs of arthritis, you may notice nothing more than reluctance to jump onto higher surfaces such as a table or bed where previously they would have jumped up easily.
Radiographic studies have shown that the majority of cats over ten do have some arthritis, so when in doubt assume that your older cat probably does have some joint soreness. Animals with arthritis don’t tend to cry out in pain, more often they just seem to be ‘slowing down’. But in reality many animals that just seem to be ‘slowing down’ have arthritis, which is a medical problem that you can help them with and improve their quality of life.
If you suspect arthritis you should take your pet for a check-up with your veterinarian. If you have an older animal, even if you do not suspect arthritis, you should ask your veterinarian to check for and discuss arthritis at their regular check up. There are many treatment and management options for arthritis that can help your pet feel more comfortable and be more active well into old age. The sooner arthirtis is picked up and managed the happier and healthier your pet will be.
Here are some of the many treament options available for pets with arthritis:
1. Special diets and dietary supplements: There are some veterinary prescription diets that are formulated specifically to help support joint function and help reduce inflammation. There are also supplements that you can add to an animal’s food that can help to fulfill the same purpose. However, often the diets are more successful as they have been specially formulated to have the correct components and ratios to give the best effect. Special diets and dietary supplements are unlikely to be adequate as the sole treatment in more severe or advanced cases of arthritis. However, they can be an excellent addition to other treatments and may even help to slow down the degenerative process in inflamed joints, so the earlier in the process they are started the better. This management option is safe to be used in conjunction with most other treatments.
2. Pentosan polysulfate sodium injections (or other similar products): This product protects and helps cartilage repair and also has anti-inflammatory properties. This treatment consists of a course of injections that your veterinarian can give to your pet. It is safe to be used in conjunction with most other treatments.
3. Acupuncture: Most animals tolerate acupuncture very well and it has been shown to reduce pain and increase endorphin release in arthritic pets. Acupuncture may help to reduce or eliminate the need to use prescription medications to treat arthritis; this can be very important in animals that have medical conditions that make the prescription medications use to treat arthritis unsafe for them. Acupuncture can be performed in combination with other treatments.
4. Weight control: The pain and inflammation of arthritis are made worse if your pet is carrying extra weight. Low-impact exercise such as walking or swimming (for those animals that are happy to swim!) combined with an appropriate diet is extremely beneficial to arthritic pets. Helping an overweight arthritic animal to reach an ideal weight can make a big difference to how they cope with their arthritis.
5. Prescription medications: It is most common for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to be used for arthritis treatment, though other options are available. These are very effective medications but remember that, like any medication, NSAIDs are not without side effects. Animals with liver or kidney problems are particularly at risk and your veterinarian will want to check your pet’s liver and kidney status prior to starting treatment and monitor this regularly for as long as your animal is on the medication. This will likely involve blood and urine tests as well as regular check ups. Never give your pet any over-the-counter human medications! Many of those that are safe for humans are very dangerous for our pets. Talk to your veterinarian about the best options for your pet but always try to use other methods to minimise the need for prescription medications if you can.
6. Make sure that your pet is kept warm and dry, especially when it is cold: Coats and jackets are available to keep your animal warm and there are cosy and even special heated pet beds available. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations as not all products are safe and you don’t want to unintentionally cause burns to your pet.
7. Soft and padded resting areas: Arthritic animals will be more comfortable if they have a bed (or more than one!) that has plenty of padding for sore joints and that will also keep them warm. This should be away from any draughts and off the floor (but not so high that it is difficult to get to).
8. Take care with exercising your pet: Arthritic and elderly animals may have more difficulty walking on slippery surfaces such as wet ground, snow or ice. They may be more prone to slipping and falling. So take care when walking your pet, go slowly and avoid slippery areas.
9. Make getting around easy: Most arthritic and elderly animals will have difficulty getting up to and down from higher places (for example, the car and onto the bed) and up or down stairs. Therefore, it can be very helpful to provide your animal with a ramp or some other way to more easily and safely get to those places that they find difficult to reach.
There are many approaches to managing arthritis and usually the most success is achieved by combining more than one of the above management suggestions.
The good news is that, with your veterinarian’s help, there is a lot you can do to improve your arthritic pet’s quality of life!