Pets & Microchips

How much do you know about your pet’s microchip?
When your pet goes missing, you can drastically improve the chances of being reunited with them, by having them microchipped!

Some sources suggest that 1 in 3 pets will go missing at some point during their life. Studies suggest that dogs with microchips were twice as likely to be reunited with their owners as those without and cats a whopping 21 times more likely.

Shockingly more than 50% of owners do not know much about their pet’s microchip and how it works. Many do not even know whether and where it is registered

Microchips are rice grain-sized, safe and hurts no more than any inoculation. The procedure can be done by a Veterinarian, a qualified animal welfare worker or a registered microchip service provider representative.

A responsible Veterinarian will scan for the microchip before any other procedure is done. They should scan the whole body if the chip is not found immediately. Just in case it migrated.  It is important that animals be scanned at their yearly check-ups as well as, before moving or possible traumatic events (thunderstorms or festive times when fireworks can be expected) to ensure that their chips still work. 

When choosing a provider, apart from research on the microchip, providers and their platforms, you can also ask your Vet and local shelters which one is commonly used in your area or can easily be scanned by local shelters or Vet’s scanners.  Always choose an anti-migrating microchip.  

Microchips are not as expensive as people think. Prices can vary from R180 at some SPCA’s to R450 at a Veterinarian. Divide even the most expensive ones by 10 years, it is only R45 a year for peace of mind and double the chance of your pet being reunited with you after being lost. That is money well spent! 

Some countries use different frequency microchips. So, if you are travelling abroad or emigrating with your pet, make sure you check this!

The important part after microchipping – REGISTRATION! 
No one else, but you are responsible to make sure the microchip is registered after the procedure.  A microchip is not a GPS and only stores an identification number.  If this is not linked to your information on a database, it is useless!  The Vet or service providers do not do this automatically.   

You should be able to register any brand of microchip across multiple registries/databases/platforms and in most cases it is free. Registries are however not required to share owner information, so if a Vet or shelter does not search on all databases, they might not find the owner. Owners must ensure their pets are registered across all platforms.  

Details required by platforms can include Pet details, medical information, owner details, medical insurance details, breeder details, photo, second/third contact person, your Veterinarian’s contact details, injector’s ID number or practice number. Make sure you have these details prior to avoid frustration or delay or incomplete info when registering. Add a photo on all databases which has this feature and make sure it appears in the search.  

Some of the popular databases in SA include: 

Virbac (backhome), Identipet, GetMeKnown, FivestarID, Petlookup, KUSA and others. The two main search platforms we use are Chip-n-Doodle and Animal Microchip Lookup Africa (AMLA).  

EXAMPLE: We have 3 pets. 2 with Identipet and 1 with Fivestar chips. They are registered on GetMeKnown, Virbac – BackHome, FivestarID and Identipet platforms. If we search for them on Chip-n-Doodle then it shows “found” under FivestarID and GetMeKnown only. If we search for them on Animal Microchip Lookup Africa they are “found” under Idetipet and Vibrac. Make sure you are registered on at least one of each of these search facilities. 

You can download a certificate op registration from all sites to keep it safe.

What about a collar ID?
A collar with a tag, in addition to the microchip, is advisable. An ID collar might get your pet home faster, so never underestimate its value, however, a collar ID can fall off or be removed by animal thieves. We only prefer an updated contact number without the pets’ names on the tag, for safety reasons.  Cats should have break-away collars to prevent them from getting stuck or injured.

IMPORTANT! Microchip your pets, register their chips on a few databases and keep the information up-to-date! 


Source: The Bulletin

Looking for a vet?
Search our Veterinary Directory!

Looking for a Welfare?
Search our Welfare Directory!

Adopting a Pet (Part 2)

What can you expect during the process of adopting a pet?
The process and policy might differ between organisations. The process usually includes an application form, meet & greet, home check, paying an adoption fee, sign an adoption contract, sterilisation and follow-up. Depending on availability for sterilisation at the Veterinarian or home check schedules, this can be completed in as little as 3 or 4 days. 

Irresponsible homing is not rescue! As there are far too many irresponsible organisations as well as scammers out there, we consider it to be a RESPONSIBLE ADOPTION only when it includes the following:

  • Organisation must be registered and have a clear adoption policy as well transparency and accountability.
  • Must have a comprehensive adoption application.
  • Must do a home check in person. 
  • Must require proof of address and copy of the adopters ID.
  • May not allow adoption for someone else as this is highly irresponsible and no reputable and responsible organisation will do this.
  • Must have an adoption contract which includes sterilisation policy and return policy.
  • Should do follow-up post adoption.
  • Meet and greet with all the family members (humans and animals) is important.
  • We believe adoption fee should include at least, the sterilisation, deworming, first vaccination , microchip and ID collar.

If it is an individual who is “re-homing” their own dogs or their friend’s, then it is not adoption and they are part of the problem by abusing the term ‘adoption’. Selling animals on Facebook goes against their community standard and should be reported to Facebook and the group admins.

Home checks:
This is one of the most important aspects when it comes to the credibility of responsible animal welfare organisations. As a prospective adopter, you do not have to be afraid of a home check!  You might learn some valuable information about being a pet owner or things to look for and so you can help educate others too! You can also build a relationship with a very knowledgeable person which can come in handy in the future. Most organisations will give you time to make the necessary, reasonable changes and still adopt.

Some home check considerations includes:

  • Access to basic needs like food, water and shelter.
  • Fences, swimming pools, neighbour’s animals and surrounding areas.
  • Inspection of the other animals in the home, their general condition as well as their behaviour toward their owners and other animals.
  • Children and their attitude towards the animals.

If an organisation doesn’t do home checks, they are only a pet shop and you are supporting one of the reasons we have a massive overpopulation crisis on our hands.  No matter what they call it!

Organisations get blamed for being too strict when it comes to adoptions. If the process is too ‘hard’ for you, the commitment to the animal for their life will be impossible for you. You must remember that we are responsible for the life of a sentient being, not just an object you buy at the shop and can return or throw away when you are not happy. It is NOT JUST ABOUT A GOOD HOME, BUT ABOUT THE RIGHT PLACEMENT for the animal considering their needs and the availability of resources to meet those needs.

One popular critique is not allowing adoptions when all the animals in the yard are not sterilised. It is a standard practice among reputable rescues to require any existing animals to be sterilised. It is counterintuitive to our mission as rescuers to allow puppies, kittens, or bunnies to be homed where there are unsterilised animals. We would not have this massive overpopulation crisis if people sterilised their pets. It is about responsible pet owners.


  • It may take some time to gain their trust, for them to adjust (3 months at least) and they might be scared at first or for extended periods of time.
  • Even if the bond is instant, you don’t know your pet yet, so take the necessary precautions around other people, children and pets and do not introduce them to everyone at once.
  • The breed should never be blamed for any issues, it is how you handle the situation.  Get some professional help from a trainer if the issues persist.

If you have any concerns or complaints regarding animal welfare organisations please contact THE PAW COMPANY via Facebook.


Source: The Bulletin

Looking to Adopt?
Search our Welfare Directory!

Adopting a Pet (Part 1)

Why saving a life though adoption is a great idea!
South Africa is overflowing with unwanted dogs, cats, puppies and kittens, even rabbits, birds and other animals. It’s sad to think that most of these animals in shelters will never experience a loving home and the security of a family they deserve. 

We have a massive overpopulation crisis on our hands because people: 

  • don’t sterilise their pets 
  • actively breeds animals 
  • support breeders/pet shops/animal dealers 
  • don’t take responsibility for their pets 
  • let their animals roam the streets 

The reality is that there are just not enough homes for all the animals. Only 1 out of every 10 dogs born find a forever home and millions of animals are euthanized (put to sleep) every year. More unwanted animals end up as bait dogs/cats/rabbits for dogfighting or get passed from one owner to the other until they eventually, if “lucky” end up in a shelter instead. 

We understand that it seems easier to buy a pet, but let us share with you why buying a pet is part of the problem.  The pet industry in South Africa is not regulated and pet shops do not promote responsible pet ownership (sterilizations, home checks, etc.). They make their profits by promoting IMPULSE BUYING. These animals can also come from a questionable source.

What is Adoption? 
Many animals come in as strays found and other animals are dumped, abandoned or surrendered by their owners. If these animals are not claimed by their owners within the pound period, the shelter has two options namely, euthanize or adoption. Adoption is when you give an animal from a registered rescue organisation/shelter a second chance, as part of your family. You will pay an adoption fee and go through a process of responsible homing.

It is never just about a good home, but rather good placement for that animal! 
There are many BENEFITS to adopting. You not only save a life but will also make resources and space available for the next one to be rescued. If you can do the math, you know you will save money by adopting! Pets are good for our physical and emotional health and adopted ones for the most part are already “trained”. You also help to lighten the load of a shelter that rescues animals and make the rescuers go on for just one more day. 

Image: Rustplaas Dog Shelter

Things to consider before adopting:

  • Are you ready for a pet? 
  • Can you afford pet care in the long term? 
  • Have you researched their specific needs and can you meet these needs? 
  • Does the animal fit your family’s lifestyle?
  • If you live in a townhouse complex, written approval from the body corporate, that pets are allowed, must be obtained.   
  • Municipal By-laws must be adhered to with regards to allowed number of pets.  
  • You may never know their breed, medical history or behavioural history. 
  • You will have to pet-proof your home beforehand. 
  • Get the necessary items for your car and for travel. 
  • You will still need to buy beds, blankets, toys, leashes, deworm every 3 months, vaccinate every year, buy good food every month, this does not even include saving for an emergency!  
  • They need to be spayed/neutered and a form of identification added. 
  • Social animals should not be the only animals in the house.   
  • They might need some training and patients to build trust, more time to adjust and might not get along with all people or animals. 
  • If you think adoption fees are too expensive, then we will advise that you rather not get a pet.  If you do the math a responsible pet owner would do, then you will know that the adoption fee which includes sterilisation and more, is at least half the price you would normally pay for everything which is included and that is excluding the animal itself.  

Image by Best Behaviour now operating as Beyond Behaviour

Rescue is the best breed! We always advise you to go and meet the animals available at your local shelter.  Shelter pets are not broken, they were only failed by humans. Adopting an adult pet can even be better than a puppy. You might just fall in love with one that you never thought of. Choosing the right breed for your lifestyle is however especially important. NEVER MAKE A DECISION based only on a dog’s LOOK or SIZE or BREED etc. The energy level of that animal should fit with that of your family.

If you like a particular breed, there are many different ones up for adoption through breed-specific rescues (e.g. google “Poodle” rescue SA).   Be careful with any organisations that do not do responsible homing which should include sterilisation and a home-check.

Changing a life through adoption is priceless! ADOPT DON’T SHOP!

Next week we will look at how the process for adoption works. 


Source: The Bulletin

Looking to Adopt?
Search our Welfare Directory!

Reporting animal emergencies & cruelty.

How to report a stray animal emergency, suspected or confirmed cruelty?
There might come a time where you see an injured animal or one in danger and this week we will look at what to do in such a situation. This includes injured animals who appears to be without a caregiver in that moment or animals that appear to be in distress.

When you find an injured, abandoned or stray animal – How to report it?
Your own pet should be taken to your vet immediately.  Withholding medical care from your animals can possibly be reported as cruelty which is punishable by law.

  • Save your local SPCA and welfare organisation’s emergency numbers as well as the areas you frequently travel to.
  • If you find an animal that is abandoned, injured or in danger, please DO NOT LEAVE THEM!
  • Keep calm as the animal can feel your anxiety. Most of the time they are scared and might run away from you.
  • Never chase them as they can get injured further. If it isn’t safe for you nor the animal to approach, then keep an eye on them or follow from a distance until help arrives.
  • Call your nearest SPCA on their emergency number. Call until they answer. Don’t just send a message.  An animal’s life depends on it! They have to attend to sick or injured animals that do not appear to have an owner at the time.
  • Give an exact location. Drop a pin via WhatsApp, of the specific location or at least a specific address. Not just the house behind no 2 Spuy drive! The SPCA or other welfare organisations can’t drive up and down searching for a hurt animal 30 minutes after you sent a message, nor without a proper description. They rarely find the animal and it might be too late.
  • Give a proper description of the animal e.g. a black Labrador with a white patch limping in this area in this direction.
  • If you have a food and water rescue pack in your car, you can put it in a safe area for them. In general, we don’t advise giving food, but sometimes this animal has not had any for days or it can get the animal to come to you.
  • If you can get close or can move them out of harms way, do so and stay with them.
  • If you have something warm close by and they are cold, cover them.
  • Take them to the nearest veterinarian or SPCA if possible, as it will save time. The Vet will handle the emergency and contact the SPCA if needed.
  • If you hit the animal with your car, please do not drive off. Rather lie and say you found them than leave them to suffer and die!
  • Follow up until the animal is safe. You are at that time all they’ve got!

NOTE: Don’t report emergencies through Facebook as it is not monitored 24/7 and precious time could be lost.

Reporting confirmed or suspected cruelty to animals:
It is your moral duty to report cruelty to animals. If you are in doubt, still report it as a welfare check might be in order to confirm.

Cruelty to animals is a crime and is punishable by law!

Most organisations will require some paperwork for this, but it will stay confidential and will not be revealed to the accused.

  1. If it is safe for you to take video or pictures do so.
  2. Get the exact address or pin drop.
  3. Contact your local SPCA.
  4. Assist with the case where possible.

Do you know of an abandoned animal or saw one being dumped?
Abandoning an animal is an act of animal cruelty and an offence in terms of the Animal Protection Act No 71 of 1962. If you see or know of someone who has moved and left their animals behind or who goes away for long periods of time and leave their animals alone or those who dump them somewhere, please report it!

Anyone can open a case of abandonment or cruelty at your nearest SAPS. Even if you think nothing will happen, you are creating a paper trail which could save an animal’s life in the future. You can also contact your local SPCA or other animal welfare organisations for guidance.

Thank you to each of you who are reporting cruelties or animals in distress. You can be the voice for the voiceless!


Source: The Bulletin

Looking for a Welfare?
Search our Welfare Directory!

Looking for a vet?
Search our Veterinary Directory!

Hot weather and your pets

Photo by The Paw Company

When you are feeling the heat of the summer, so are they!

Even though many parts of the country have recently experienced lots of rain and cooler weather, the summer is here and protecting your pets from the heat is crucial for their well-being. Heatstroke is also a health risk!

Hot weather safety

Here are a few tips from the Humane Society to keep your pets safe in the heat:

  • Please make sure your pets/animals are sheltered from the elements.
  • They need 24 hour access to fresh, clean and cool water. Keep their bowls out of the sun.
  • Never leave an animal alone in a vehicle, because overheating can kill them. The inside of a vehicle can reach high degrees in mere minutes, even with the windows cracked.
  • Take walks during the early morning or after sunset.
  • On very hot days, any outdoor exercise should be brief or only during the cooler hours of the day.
  • Test the pavement/ground/road with the back of your hand before you go for a walk. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for their paws. Use the 5 second rule. If you can’t hold your hand on the road or pavement for 5 seconds, then it can potentially burn their paws and cause injury.
  • Never leave an animal out in the sun. Always ensure they have access to shade.
  • For those breeds with a thin coat or lighter skin, prone to sunburn, apply animal safe sunscreen.
  • Regulate the temperature inside your home. Use air-cons, fans, or give access to cooler areas like a basement or darker room with tile floors.
  • Take extra precautions with old, overweight or snub-nosed dogs in hot weather. Boston terriers, Pekingese, Pugs, Lhasa Apsos, Shih Tzus and Bulldogs are especially vulnerable to heat stroke. Dogs with heart or lung diseases should be closely monitored.
  • Watch for signs of heat stroke. These include panting, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, rapid pulse, bright red gums, and blue tongue or lips.
  • Treat heat stroke immediately. Move them to a cool place and lower their body temperature with cool (NOT icy) water, then contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.
  • Provide a safe dog pool to help them cool down. This should be supervised.

Why you should not shave your pet according to Dr. Karen Becker

Most cats and many dogs shouldn’t have their coats shaved, even during the heat of summer. It may seem counterintuitive, but your pet’s coat actually provides heat relief in warm weather.

Many long-haired cats can require regular brushing to prevent mats that ultimately lead to a “buzzcut”. As a general rule dogs shouldn’t be shaved, either; however, there are exceptions, such as dogs with chronic hot spots. Some dogs actually really like a very short coat; in this case, consider a “puppy cut”.

Photo by Dr. Karen Becker from Facebook page

The risk of flash flooding is also a reality. See some tips below on this.

Photo from The Paw Company Facebook page

It doesn’t matter what kind of weather we have, your animals should always be protected from the elements as you are responsible for them. If you see an animal that appears owner-less at the time, in danger, injured, in distress or one that is not protected from the elements, please contact your local SPCA immediately!

  • For South Africa visit the NSPCA website.


Source: The Bulletin

Looking for a vet?
Search our Veterinary Directory!

13 French Bulldog Health Problems to look out for!

Image: Pixabay

1. First and perhaps the most common issue this beautiful breed has is Allergies. They are prone to both environmental and skin allergies. Skin conditions can develop due to scratching, itchiness and licking caused by environmental  triggers. If not properly treated these conditions can lead to skin infections. Common environmental triggers include dust mites and mold spores. Food allergies are also common and can cause severe digestive problems. There is an array of food, including chicken or wheat that they can be allergic to, causing runny or hard stools, itchiness, and nausea.

2. Ear infections can cause a lot of discomfort and pain when not treated, it can also cause hearing loss. It is important to keep in mind that their cute batlike ears mean they are prone to infections due to their unique shape and narrow ear canals, the ear wax cannot move or function properly within the ear. It is crucial to take good care of your Frenchie’s ears and treat ear infections the very moment your dog shows signs of discomfort often this will be by shaking their heads or having slightly droopy ears.

3. All Brachycephalic breeds have great difficulty “venting” themselves due to their narrow nostrils and short snouts, making them extremely Heat Sensitive. It is not uncommon for Frenchies to suffer from heatstroke, even a short ride in a poorly ventilated or hot car, or a short walk on a hot day can be too much for them to handle. Signs of heatstroke are: noisy panting, vomiting and disorientation. It is best to rush them to the vet while you try to cool them so the vet can stabilize them. It may mean the difference between life and death.

4. Cataracts are common in most breeds, especially when the dogs get older. However, the problem is very common in Frenchies as well, especially if the dog comes from a line who suffers from cataracts. They also tend to develop cataracts at an earlier age

5. Cherry eye is a very common condition in all brachycephalic breeds. When the third eyelid that gives the eye extra protection has a weak attachment area, it can result in cherry eye or a prolapsed eyelid.

Image: Pixabay

Above photo: Cherry eye typically causes irritation and redness, swelling and excessive tearing may also occur. The eyelid can often be massaged back into place, though surgery is often needed to permanently correct the problem.

6. Conjunctivitis or “pink eye” as it is also known is a condition triggered by infection causing bacteria. Its easily  recognizable by the redness in the eye and a watery or gunky discharge. It can be extremely itchy, uncomfortable, or painful. If left untreated it can lead to vision problems and even spread to other dogs in the home as it is contagious.

7. Frenchies have a genetic predisposition to food allergies, which can lead to upset tummies and more serious digestive problems like Colitis, chronic diarrhea, and irritable bowel disease. Colitis can be especially difficult to deal with. It is a painful condition that causes inflamed bowels, which causes severe stomach pain and a runny tummy.

8. Gastroenteritis is also very common in the French bulldog breed. When they eat, they cannot breathe well through their noses like other dog breeds can, so they tend to breathe through their mouths. This causes them to suck in air as they eat, causing bloating and an upset stomach.

9. Some of the scariest health problems with this breed have to do with the Cardiovascular system. Some of the most common Cardiovascular Issues include heart murmurs which can cause irregular beats and skips. Although some  murmurs do not affect the dogs, others can be severe if they are caused by another condition or heart abnormality. Another common occurrence is dilated cardiomyopathy. This disorder is genetic and can pass through generations. The condition causes enlarged heart chambers that can not correctly contract, which causes irregular heart beats and weakened heart muscle.

10. Hip Dysplasia is a genetic condition caused by breeding tactics that favor the body shape but causes hip joints to not form correctly. This inherited disease is degenerative meaning it will likely get worse with age. Current treatments focus on making the problem less severe and treating pain and inflammation.There are also surgical options to treat the disease however physical therapy, weight reduction and joint supplements are more favorable non-invasive treatments.

11. Patellar Luxation is a condition that causes the patella or kneecap to slide out of place, this is extremely painful and can cause lameness. Dog breeds with stubby bodies tend to suffer from this usually congenital condition. Treatment ranges from natural remedies like diet control, weight management and massage therapy to corrective surgery. Surgery is however most effective when completed during the earliest stages of the condition.

12. French bulldogs can suffer from more serious conditions like Spinal disorders. These conditions effect the spine, causing pain, lameness, and even low quality of life for some. Some of these disorders include intervertebral disc disease, degenerative myelopathy and hemivertebrae, which is a condition in which the spinal bones don’t form correctly. French bulldogs are especially susceptible to this due to their screw-tail.

13. Dogs with short noses are often prone to a condition called Brachycephalic respiratory syndrome, otherwise known as Brachycephalic airway syndrome, which affects a dog’s respiratory system. This syndrome can lead to several other issues like stenotic nares, which causes narrow nostrils that prevent ample airflow. Laryngeal collapse due to airflow restrictions placed on the larynx. This syndrome can affect the rest of the body as well, for example the digestive system, due to the stress it places on the organs.

Image: Pixabay

Image: Pixabay

Above photos: A visual comparison between a dog with stenotic nares, and a dog with normal wide nostrils. While the dog on the right can breathe easily, with effective airflow through the nostrils, the dog on the left struggles with insufficient airflow which means the only way to find relief will be breathing through the mouth. The only treatment for this condition is surgery to widen the nostrils enough so the dog can breathe properly.

Do your homework

Image: Pixabay

While Frenchies, whether a puppy or adult, are cute and full of personality, they are a high maintenance breed. Their folds need cleaning, their ears need to be wiped out regularly. They need a home where they will not be left outside on hot days. They are utterly adorable, but they are not for everyone. And chances are you will deal with vet bills higher than your own medical costs. So, if you are looking for a dog that will remain healthy for most of its life, or if you want a dog who is minimal effort and cost effective, then this breed is probably not for you.

Source: English & French Bulldog Rescue SA

Looking for a Vet?
Search our Veterinary Directory!

The French Muse

The French Muse

Image: Pixabay

That Frenchie sure is cute!

But where does is come from? The French Bulldog is a manmade breed, the breed was created by crossbreeding the Bulldog with smaller ratter breeds, resulting in the very first variation of French Bulldogs. This was back in the 18th Century.

They have since been bred to be more of a companion breed than a ratter breed. Their mussels have shortened, they have become a bit stockier and today they have many of the bulldog breed health problems that everyone prays to avoid. The French Bulldog is prone to many health issues, some of which are severe and worrisome. It is of utmost  importance that owners educate themselves on the possible health risks before adopting a French Bulldog of any age. Can these health issues be avoided? As a member of the public there is only one way to try and do so if you buy a puppy. The answer lies in the tests done by the breeder to ensure the parents are safe to breed with. You have the right to ask about these tests, whether they were done, whether they carry any genes for any of the major health problems, and of course you have the right to see those test results.

You should always insist on seeing both parents, if possible.

Photos can be deceiving;

  • You need to see them up close and personal,
  • Watch their breathing, watch them walk and run,
  • Look at their eyes, their nostrils and listen to the ever (in)famous snorts and grunts.

It will give you an idea of how your puppy could possibly grow up to be.

But what if you adopt? Well, then you ask the organization you are adopting from if they had the Frenchie vet checked. Every reputable rescue should always have every dog that comes in properly checked over by a vet. A good once over could potentially identify any of the most common Frenchie Health problems.

Source: English & French Bulldog Rescue SA

Looking to Adopt?
Search our Welfare Directory!

Looking for a Vet?
Search our Veterinary Directory!

What you can do if your pet dies at home?

Pet Burial Image by The Paw Company


You can’t get a hold of your or other vets in the area or any of the above.  This means the body will need to stay with you until the vet practice is open or the body can be collected.  This might be upsetting for many, but here are some suggestions on the dos and don’ts in the meantime:


  • Make sure the pet is deceased.  They might be unconscious or in a deep sleep.  Look, listen and feel for a pulse and breathing.  You can look and see if the chest rises and falls. Listen closely to whether you can hear breathing or even hear their heart beating.  You can put your finger under their nose to feel for breathing.  To allocate a pulse you can place the ball of two fingers (not the thumb) on the depression found in your pet’s inner upper thigh over the Femoral artery.  You can also place your hand over the left side of their chest where their elbow touches their body.  If there is a pulse but no breathing, then rescue breaths are required.  If there is no pulse and no breathing, CPR is needed.  It is important to know basic first aid for your type of pet (cat, dog, bird, etc.).
  • Use gloves if possible and heavy-duty trash bags.  If you don’t have heavy-duty bags, use multiple bags for the body.
  • Place a towel under the tail, genitals and mouth of your pet. Their body may begin to expel fluids as the muscles relax. This will protect carpets and flooring.  Clean the areas around your dog’s mouth, genitals and anus if the fluid has been released. Keep in mind that more body fluids might be released as you move the body.
  • It is important to understand that the remains of the pet must be handled as soon as possible and before the onset of rigor mortis. Rigor mortis, the stiffening of the joints, typically begins within 10 minutes to three hours after death and can last as long as 72 hours. The temperature will affect this process.
  • Use a blanket, towel, or bed sheet that is large enough to wrap around the body. Place your pet’s body on its side in a curled-up position, as if sleeping. If your pet dies with their legs stretched out, gently fold them in closer to the body if they haven’t already stiffened. The sleeping position can also offer a sense of peace and make it easier to move the body later. Tightly wrap the body and move the body into the trash bags. Securely close the bag with knots.
  • The body needs to be kept cool. An animal’s body begins to decompose immediately after death and will soon begin to give off a foul odour and attract insects. The hotter the temperature, the faster the rate of decomposition. If you can’t get the body to your vet or a local pet cremation service or use a freezer/refrigerator, we suggest to keep the body in a cool utility room, basement, or garage floor and making use of additional trash bags is recommended.  This should be for no longer than 4-6 hours, as the odour will become severe and spread through the house. 
  • I do support other pets being allowed to smell the body, so they can better understand what happened and it can help them with the grieving process too. Yes, they grieve too. If you don’t know why the animal died or they have been poisoned or had a transmissible disease then this is not advisable.
  • If the body is going elsewhere, be sure to put a labell on the bag with your name, number and your pet’s name.


  • Don’t panic.  I know it is easier said than done, but when you panic, it can cause extra distress for other family member or pets which adds to the trauma and you may not be able to think clearly.
  • Don’t leave your pet in a warm place. A cool, dry place such as a garage will have to do if you can’t keep it in a freezer or refrigerator.
  • Don’t try to handle it alone as the death of a pet can be a traumatic experience. Call a friend or family member if you are alone when it happens.
  • Don’t move larger pets without assistance. As the pet’s body stiffens it may be more difficult to move alone.
  • Don’t bury the animal in your yard if the local bylaws do not allow for it or if you don’t know why your pet died, if they had a transmissible disease or were poisoned. This can be dangerous for other animals and your family as well as the environment.

Image by Dr. Karen Becker


  • Contact vets in advance about euthanasia prices.  Some are double the price of others.  Also ask the vet what they do with the body, especially if you pay for cremation, ask through which company.
  • If you do not have the funds to euthanize a pet who is suffering, please surrender them to your local SPCA, which will end the suffering humanely. They may not refuse any animal.
  • If you found a body in the road, please remove it from the road.  Take a picture if you can and send it to your local lost and found pet groups so they can give closure to someone whose pet is missing.
  • Please don’t replace the animal soon after with another pet as you will introduce the new family member into a low/sad energy home which is unfair to them.  As mentioned, your pets grieve too, so keep an eye on them.

The hardest part of being a pet guardian is saying goodbye. Remember your grief is valid & personal. Reach out if you need to! There are professional counsellors for those who have lost pets. You will need time to grieve properly. Also read strategies to cope with the loss as well as help your other pets cope with the loss..


Source: The Bulletin

Looking for a vet?
Search our Veterinary Directory!

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is one of the most common and consequential infectious diseases of cats around the world. In infected cats, FIV attacks the immune system, leaving the cat vulnerable to many other infections. Although cats infected with FIV may appear normal for years, they eventually suffer from immune deficiency, which allows normally harmless bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi found in the everyday environment to potentially cause severe illnesses. Though there is no cure for FIV, recent studies suggest that cats with FIV commonly live average life spans, as long as they are not also infected with feline leukemia virus.

Risk and Transmission
The primary mode of transmission for FIV is through bite wounds from an infected cat. Casual, non-aggressive contact, such as sharing water bowls or mutual grooming, does not appear to be an efficient route of spreading the virus. As a result, cats in households with stable social structures where housemates do not fight are at little risk of acquiring FIV infections. Only on rare occasions, an infected mother cat may transmit the infection to her kittens. However, if the mother becomes infected with FIV during her pregnancy, the transmission risk to the kittens is increased. Sexual contact is not a significant means of spreading FIV among cats.

FIV-infected cats exist worldwide, but the prevalence of infection varies greatly. In North America, approximately 2.5-5% percent of healthy cats are infected with FIV. Rates are significantly higher (15 percent or more) in cats that are sick or at high risk of infection. Because FIV is transmitted through bite wounds, un-neutered male cats with outdoor access, especially those who are likely to fight with other cats, are at the greatest risk for FIV infection. There is currently no vaccine commercially available in North America to protect against FIV, so the best way to reduce risk is to limit contact with cats who may be infected with the disease by keeping cats indoors and testing all cats within the household.

Clinical Signs
There are three phases of infection with FIV – the acute phase, the asymptomatic (or latent) phase, and the progressive phase. 

The acute phase of infection generally occurs 1-3 months after infection. At this time, the virus is carried to lymph nodes, where it reproduces in white blood cells known as T-lymphocytes. The virus then spreads to other lymph nodes throughout the body, resulting in temporary lymph node enlargement that is often accompanied by fever, depression, and lack of appetite. This phase of infection may be very mild and is often missed by owners or attributed to other causes of fever.

Following the acute phase, cats will enter an asymptomatic phase, which may last for months to multiple years. During this time, the virus replicates very slowly within the cells of the immune system, and cats will not show any outward signs of illness. Infected cats may exhibit blood work abnormalities, such as low white blood cell levels or increased blood proteins. Some cats will remain in this stage and never progress to more severe disease.

As the virus continues to spread through the immune system, cats will enter a progressive immuno-compromised state during which secondary infections may occur. Most illness related to FIV is not from the virus itself, but from these secondary infections or problems with the immune system. Cats may develop chronic or recurrent infections of the skin, eyes, urinary tract, or upper respiratory tract. Inflammation of the gums and severe dental disease, known as gingivostomatitis, is common in cats infected with FIV, and they are significantly more likely to develop cancer and immune-mediated blood disorders than healthy cats. Weight loss, seizures, behavioral changes and neurological disorders are all possible. The severity of these illnesses can vary greatly, but once cats become ill with multiple critical infections or cancers, survival time is usually no more than a few months. 

It is important that the FIV status of all cats be determined when they are first acquired, if they become ill, and regularly if they have any risk of exposure.

When a cat is first infected with FIV, its immune system develops antibodies against the virus that persist in the blood for the rest of its life. To diagnose FIV, blood samples are examined for the presence of these antibodies. This can often be performed using a technique known as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) right in the veterinarian’s office, though positive results may be confirmed using the western blot or immunofluorescence (IFA) assays at a reference laboratory.

Because these tests check for antibodies to the FIV virus rather than the virus itself, there are a few scenarios when a single test is not sufficient to determine if a cat is truly infected with FIV or not. 

A negative antibody test indicates that the cat has not produced antibodies against the FIV virus and, in the vast majority of cases, indicates that the cat is not infected. There are two scenarios in which negative results may occur in infected cats. It takes the body between 2 and 6 months to develop enough antibodies against FIV to be detected, so if a cat had been infected very recently, it may test negative for FIV even though it is truly infected. If exposure is possible, it is recommended that cats are retested after at least 60 days to get a more accurate result. On very rare occasions, cats in the later stages of FIV infection may test negative on FIV antibody tests because their immune systems are so compromised that they no longer produce detectable levels of antibody.

Because few, if any, cats ever eliminate infection, the presence of antibodies indicates that a cat is infected with FIV. Because false positives are possible, it is recommended that positive results in healthy cats are confirmed using a second technique mentioned above. There are two scenarios where a positive antibody test may not represent true infection. Infected mother cats transfer FIV antibodies to nursing kittens, so kittens born to infected mothers may receive positive test results for several months after birth. However, few of these kittens actually are or will become infected. To clarify their infection status, kittens younger than six months of age that test positive for FIV should be retested at 60-day intervals until they are at least six months old. If their antibody test remains positive after six months old, they almost certainly have a true infection. FIV vaccines also cause a vaccinated cat to produce antibodies against the FIV virus that can be difficult to distinguish from those produced by a cat in response to natural infection with FIV. Cats who have been vaccinated will test positive for FIV antibodies, so it is essential to know the vaccination history if possible. There has been no commercially available FIV vaccine available in North America since 2016, so it is becoming less likely that a positive result on an antibody test is due to a previous vaccination.  This vaccine is available in other countries, such as Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.

To circumvent some of these problems with testing, a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test can be used to detect short segments of the virus’ genetic material. This tests for the presence of viral DNA itself rather than detecting antibodies against the virus. Because this method can produce relatively high numbers of false-positive and false-negative results, it is not the preferred method for screening tests but can be useful as a confirmation test in some instances.

Treatment and Management
Unfortunately, there is currently no definitive cure for FIV. However, it is important to realize that while it is impossible to predict the survival of a given cat infected with FIV, cats infected with FIV can live very normal, healthy lives for many years if managed appropriately. Once an FIV infected cat has experienced one or more severe illnesses as a result of infection, however, or if persistent fever and weight loss are present, the prognosis is generally less favorable.

For a healthy cat diagnosed with FIV, the most important management goals are to reduce their risk of acquiring secondary infections and prevent the spread of FIV to other cats. Both of these goals are best met by keeping cats indoors and isolated from other cats. Spaying and neutering will eliminate the risk of spreading FIV to kittens or through mating and will reduce the tendency of cats to roam and fight if they do get outside. They should be fed nutritionally complete and balanced diets, and uncooked food, such as raw meat and eggs, and unpasteurized dairy products should be avoided to minimize the risk of food-borne bacterial and parasitic infections.

Wellness visits for FIV-infected cats should be scheduled at least every six months. The veterinarian will perform a detailed physical examination of all body systems with special attention to the health of the gums, eyes, skin, and lymph nodes. Weight will be measured accurately and recorded, because weight loss is often the first sign of deterioration. A complete blood count, serum biochemical analysis, and a urine analysis should be performed annually.

Vigilance and close monitoring of the health and behavior of FIV-infected cats is even more important than it is for uninfected cats. 

Because most illness in FIV-infected cats is the result of secondary infections, it is very important that cats be promptly evaluated and treated when any signs of illness occur. These cats may require longer or more intense treatments and courses of antibiotics than cats without FIV. For routine procedures such as dental therapy or surgery, antibiotics may be recommended to help prevent secondary infections from taking hold. 

Treatment for the virus itself is limited and mostly use drugs developed for treatment of Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Zidovudine (AZT) treatment can help cats with severe dental inflammation (stomatitis) or neurologic disease, but has not been shown to prolong survival in FIV-infected cats and can have serious side effects. There is significant ongoing research investigating different combination antiviral therapies to treat FIV.

The only sure way to protect cats is to prevent their exposure to the virus. Cat bites are the major means by which infection is transmitted, so keeping cats indoors, away from potentially infected cats that might bite them, markedly reduces their likelihood of contracting FIV infection. To reduce the chance of indoor cats becoming infected, it is ideal to assure that only infection-free cats are brought into a household occupied by uninfected cats. In some cases, separation of infected from non-infected cats is possible in a household, and this is ideal if infected cats must be brought into occupied by non-infected cats.

Unfortunately, many FIV-infected cats are not diagnosed until after they have lived for years with other cats. In such cases, all the other cats in the household should be tested. Ideally, all infected cats should be separated from the non-infected ones to eliminate the potential for FIV transmission. It is important to realize, however, that since FIV is transmitted primarily by bite wounds, transmission from an infected cat to an uninfected cat is much less likely in households that have stable social structures (i.e., households in which cats do not fight).

FIV will not survive for more than a few hours in most environments. However, FIV-infected cats are frequently infected with other infectious agents that may pose some threat to a newcomer. For these reasons, to minimize transmission of FIV and other infectious diseases to a cat that is brought into an environment in which an FIV-positive cat has lived, prudence dictates a thorough cleaning and disinfection or replacement of food and water dishes, bedding, litter pans, and toys. A dilute solution of household bleach (four ounces of bleach in 1 gallon of water) makes an excellent disinfectant. Vacuuming carpets and mopping floors with an appropriate cleanser are also recommended. Any new cats or kittens should be properly vaccinated against other infectious agents before entering the household.

Human health concerns
Although FIV is similar to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and causes a feline disease similar to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) in humans, it is a highly species-specific virus that infects only felines. There is currently no evidence that FIV can infect or cause disease in humans.

Source: Cornell Feline Health Center

Looking for a vet?
Search our Veterinary Directory!

What is included in the SPCA’s responsibility?


Image shared by Bethal SPCA

When you understand the mandate of the SPCA, you may be able to help animals more effectively.
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals which in short is SPCA, aims to protect all animals from cruelty, neglect and ill-treatment that often results from ignorance about animals and their needs, although it is no excuse. The SPCA has authority basically in terms of any animal’s welfare. The local municipality and police in each town are however responsible for certain complaints about animals like those causing a nuisance or disturbance of the peace.

You are always welcome to contact the SPCA to advise you or help where they can. It is however important to understand their mandate within the local municipality in terms of lost, found, stray or injured animals, selling, deceased and nuisance complaints.  There is more to the mandate than what we discuss below, especially when it comes to practices like hunting, performing animals in circus or aquariums, illegal wildlife trade next to the road and more.

Every SPCA has a jurisdictional area wherein they operate.  Contact your nearest SPCA or the NSPCA if there is not one nearby.

Some situations that may appear as though the SPCA must get involved, aren’t actually within their mandate. Their mandate is to prevent cruelty, and in a country that spans over a million square kilometers, their Inspectors must place their focus on cases where the Animals Protection Act is being contravened. Please consider the following guidelines:

Barking Dogs
Barking dogs does not fall within their mandate and you should contact your local Municipality or police station to lodge a formal complaint regarding barking dogs. If it sounds more like distressed barking, please contact the SPCA to investigate at that address.

Stray Animals
The local Municipality in each town is responsible for complaints regarding stray animals, which include animals in the street, animals causing a nuisance, or animals attacking people & other animals. Please contact your local Municipality or police station for assistance in this matter.

However, if you can enclose a stray, please do so and take the animal to the nearest SPCA. If a stray animal appears thin, sick, injured, or in distress, you should immediately contact your local SPCA emergency number! Call until they answer, don’t send a message and especially no emergencies via Facebook because these pages aren’t monitored 24/7.

Many of the SPCA, even though it is not part of their mandate, might pick up strays and especially those that are reported as being on the street for a long period as well as “power breeds” used for dog fighting.

If an animal is constantly on the street and you know who the owners are, you can contact the SPCA and request a proactive inspection at the owner’s home. Please do this to help the animal.

Deceased Animals
The local Municipality in each town is responsible for the collection of dead animals in puclic areas. If you do find a deceased animal lying in the street, please try and move the body out of the way.  It might be helpful to take a picture and send it to your local lost and found groups so they can give closure to someone whose pet was lost.

The Selling of Animals
The SPCA opposes the sale/trading of animals, however, it is not illegal to trade with domestic animals and therefore, they have no jurisdiction to intervene unless there are welfare concerns. There are certain regulations to be followed in terms of welfare which they can investigate and act upon. If you are unsure, rather let them investigate. In the case of any breeders (registered or backyard), they need the breeder’s address to conduct a proactive inspection (we often ask for this) which you can request or an inspection if you actually see welfare concerns including lack of food and water, distress, confinement, etc.

Side note: The selling of animals goes against Facebook community standards and should be reported to the Facebook group admins and Facebook itself.  If the seller does not mention a price in the post, ask for it in the comments and report that comment too.  If they use the word adoption, ask for their NPO/NPC registration number. If they can’t provide theirs or they have one and do not include sterilization and home checks, then they should not be using the word adoption.

In South Africa, SPCA Inspectors are authorized in terms of the Animals Protection Act 71 of 1962 (as amended) and the Performing Animals Protection Act No. 24 of 1935 (as amended) and undertakes most of all animal welfare investigations and prosecutions in South Africa.

This means that in terms of both the Acts mentioned above, qualified inspectors with magisterial authorization have the powers that include the obtaining of search and seizure warrants to enter any premises and seize any animal to prevent suffering. The SPCAs work with local law enforcement and when individuals are in contravention of the provisions of the Animals Protection Act, it can lead to an arrest, including the abondoning of an animal. Keep in mind it is not always as simple as to just remove an animal.

The public can take animals to the SPCA that seem lost, abandoned or whose owners did not keep them safe in their yards. For animals in danger or injured, they will go out ASAP!

Pound period
When an animal is taken to the SPCA there is a pound period. The pound period is mainly determined by the local municipal bylaws for animals. According to these local laws the SPCA can either euthanize or adopt the animal out after the pound period. Pound periods can vary between SPCAs from 5 to 14 days. 

During the pound period, they do not advertise animals, but owners who have lost pets can contact them, send an email with pictures and details, but the best option is to visit the kennels to see if your pet has been taken to them. Follow up and visit frequently.  Remember that they work with many animals a day and different volunteers, so it is crucial that you go in to check.

Claiming your lost animal
Owners who claim these animals during the pound period might need to pay for sterilization, micro-chipping, collar ID deworming, vaccinations and pound fees per day, for their care. This will be determined by the SPCA’s policy.

If an owner claims the animal after the pound period, they will need to go through the adoption process.

When someone’s animal is constantly in the street.  Please take them to the SPCA as the owner can then explain to the SPCA why they allow their animals in the street, they will have to meet all the above requirements for claiming an animal and will be subject to a home check too.

Surrendering an animal
If you can no longer take care of your animal, you can surrender them to your nearest SPCA by signing a document that transfers ownership to the SPCA in a “no questions asked” kind of way. However, if you dump the animal in the street or leave them behind when you move and they find you, it is contraventions of the Animals Protection Act and will have serious repercussions.

If your pet is suffering and or severely ill, please do not let them suffer any further because you can’t afford to put them to sleep.  You can surrender them to the SPCA at no cost (consider a donation though) to end their suffering humanely as soon as possible.

Please report animal cruelty directly to your local SPCA. If you suspect cruelty or are unsure, please report it immediately so they can investigate. There is a legal process they have to follow which may include first only a notice to comply or a warning, etc.  The animal can’t just be removed without evidence, so report it even if you are unsure and when it happens again. Try to get evidence if you can do this safely.   All of this can speed up the process to remove the animal. These reports can be done anonymously.


SPCA REPORT CRUELTY – Image as shared by Bethal SPCA

Please save the contact numbers in advance, especially the emergency ones!

Highveld Ridge SPCA (Evander):

  • Office: (082) 869 2350 / (017) 6322654
  • Emergency number: (082) 222 1122 / (067) 114 7206

Bethal SPCA:

Before you blame the SPCA, please go and volunteer, to better understand.  Become a member so you can have a say through voting at the AGM. Please sterilize your pets, keep them safe in your yard, keep them healthy, meet their needs and also make sure your microchip is registered on multiple databases. 

Remember that when an animal is a “nuisance” to you, it is not the animal’s fault, but a human who failed them. Thank you to each who supports the reputable local animal welfare organizations, so they can continue the good work. Next week we will look at what to do if your pet dies at home.


*Please note that I write this as someone who has been involved with the SPCA, but does not represent the SPCA here in any way.

Source: The Bulletin

Need to contact an Animal Welfare?
Search our Welfare Directory Listing!