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Microchipping 101

By Pet Health

Here’s a staggering statistic:

One in three pets become lost at some point in their lives.


For anyone avoiding a utility pole, perusing a storefront window or has logged into any social media account, it is not uncommon to see a posting related to someone who has found a lost pet or an owner seeking a lost pet.

The figures from humane societies across North America are sobering and troubling. Millions (!) of pets go missing and are picked up by SPCAs on a daily basis. A significant portion of those lost pets are euthanized because their owners simply cannot be located.

Microchipping isn’t a magic bullet by any means, but it provides a simple, safe and quick means of permanently providing your pet with a distinctive form of identification.

Scroll down for the Top 10 Microchipping FAQ’s

What is a Microchip?

A microchip is a small, electronic chip enclosed in a glass cylinder that is about the same size as a large grain of rice.

The unit is a radio-frequency identification (RFID) transponder that carries a unique identification number. When scanned by a vet or shelter, it transmits the ID number and is read-only. There’s no battery, no power requirement, and no moving parts. The microchip is injected under the loose skin between your pet’s shoulder blades and can be done in your vet’s office. It’s no more invasive than a standard vaccination.

What it is not.

A microchip does not replace a collar or tag.

If your pet becomes lost, the first person she is likely to encounter will not be an animal shelter or vet clinic employee, but rather your neighbor down the street, or some random citizen who your confused and/or hungry pet took a liking to.

You can save everybody – including your pet – a lot of anxiety by making sure that your pet has a collar with your contact information on it. If the collar comes off, a microchip can serve as a good backup and help your pet find her way home.

Your pet’s microchip is not a GPS.

A microchip is not like a GPS tracker that can be used to find a pet’s location. Microchips don’t transmit information. When a scanner is passed over a microchip, it will show the chip’s code, which is linked to the owner’s contact information. Under no circumstance can the microchip be used to determine a pet’s location.

The microchip is useless if it’s not registered.

Unfortunately, many people believe that if their pet is microchipped, they can never get lost. Any animal shelter or vet will be able to pull up their contact information and call them directly.

Microchips don’t store your personal information – they store a unique code that is linked to that chip. If you don’t register that code and connect it with your contact information, then whoever scans that code will be no closer to finding you than if your pet was microchip-free.

How is a Microchip implanted ?

A needle is used to place a small chip – the size of a large grain of rice – under the animal’s loose skin, usually between the shoulder blades.

It takes seconds. No surgery or anesthesia is required – a microchip can be implanted during a routine veterinary office visit. It takes more time to do the paperwork than implant the microchip.

On the pain scale, it hurts about as much as having blood drawn. It’s a large needle. For that reason, a lot of people have it done when their pets are being spayed or neutered.

This procedure doesn’t need to be done by a veterinarian, although it’s recommended.

Five benefits of microchipping your pet.

  1. Identification collars and tags can break or get lost.
  2. Microchips are made to last the life of your pet – up to 25 years.
  3. Peace-of-mind. Successful scans result in reuniting you with your pet as soon as possible.
  4. Your pet gets lost, it is far less likely to be euthanized or re-homed.
  5. You have low-cost and reliable proof of ownership in cases of theft.

Hopefully, your pet will never go missing. But if it happens, you are giving yourself and your cherished pet the best chance of a swift, joyful reunion. 

What does it cost ?

If you’re going to a vet just for a microchip, it’s probably going be in the range of $50 and $75. If you have it inserted while you’re having other treatments done – like a regular check up – then it may be a bit less in some cases.

The City of Toronto offers a microchip service via a mobile Chip Truck. This service is offered April through October and costs $25 for cats and $35 for dogs, plus $10 for a City of Toronto pet license.

Click below for times and locations.

How will it help me get my pet back ?

It’s only going to help if someone picks up your pet and takes him to a shelter or veterinarian’s office to be scanned for a chip. Some people think chips are like a tracker or a GPS device, but a microchip only works if someone scans the chip.

FACT: Many more pets are microchipped than are properly registered. The paperwork needs to be complete and the chip has to be registered to you, complete with current contact information.

What kind of information is contained in the microchip and can my pet be tracked ? Will it store my pet's medical information ?

The microchips presently used in pets ONLY contain identification numbers. No, the microchip is not a GPS device and cannot track your animal if it gets lost. Although the present technology microchip itself does not contain your pet’s medical information or track it’s whereabouts, it may become a standard feature in the next-generation chips.

What are the risks associated my pet ? Could there be microchip complications for my dog or cat?

Yes, but the number is extraordinarily small. The British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) maintains a database of adverse reactions to microchips. Since the database was started in 1996, over 4 million animals have been microchipped and only 391 (.01%) had any reported adverse reactions.

Migration of the microchip from its original implantation site is the most common problem reported. Other reported issues, such as failure of the microchip, hair loss, infection, swelling, and tumor formation, were reported in much lower numbers.

Should I be concerned about my privacy if my pet is microchipped ?

The information you provide to the manufacturer’s microchip registry will be used to contact you in the event your pet is found and their microchip is scanned. The only information about you contained in the database is the information that you choose to provide when you register the chip or update your information.

If that information is missing or incorrect, your chances of getting your pet back are dramatically reduced. 

What is an “ISO” standard microchip ?

In the early 2000’s, not all microchips could be read by scanners. Since then, the International Standards Organization (ISO) has approved and recommended a global standard for microchips. The global standard is intended to create an identification system that is consistent worldwide.

For example, if a dog was implanted with an ISO standard microchip in the Canada travels to Europe with its owners and they become separated, the ISO standard scanners in Europe would be able to read the dog’s microchip.

Does a microchipping really help to get my lost pet home ?

Yes. A study (Lord et al, JAVMA, July 15, 2009) of more than 7,700 stray animals at animal shelters across the United States showed the following:

  • Dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 21.9% of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were reunited to their owners 52.2% of the time. Almost 2.5x better success rate!
  • Cats without microchips were returned to their owners a lowly 1.8% of the time, whereas microchipped cats went back home 38.5% of the time. More than 20x more likely to be reunited!

Can a microchip replace identification tags and collars ?

No. Microchips are great for permanent identification that is tamper-proof, but nothing replaces a collar with up-to-date identification tags.

If a pet is wearing a collar with tags when it’s lost, it’s often a very quick process to read the tag and contact the owner. If a pet is not wearing a collar and tags, or if the collar is lost or removed, then the presence of a microchip might be the only way the pet’s owner can be found.

What maintenance is required after implantation?

Essentially none. The microchips themselves do not require ongoing care, although you do need to keep your contact information up-to-date in the database.

In the event you notice any irregularities near the site of the microchip, such as oozing or swelling, contact your veterinarian.

Are microchips foolproof ?

It is not an infallible system. Although rare, microchips can fail and become undetectable. Improper scanning technique can also lead to failure to detect a microchip.

Some of the animal-related factors that can interfere with the microchip detection include:

  • animals that can’t stay still or struggle while being scanned
  • the presence of long, knotted hair at or near the microchip site
  • excessive fat deposits in the area of implantation
  • a metal collar

Are you looking for a Fear Free “family doctor” for your pet?
Book an Appointment

Our entire Cabbagetown Pet Clinic team is Fear Free Certified.
Meet the Team

AAHA Accreditation

By Pet Health

Have you heard of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)?

Probably not. And why would you?

Maybe you think the AAHA is some backwater acronym for a minor hockey league in Manitoba. Perhaps you’ve read a pet health blog or website that mentioned AAHA Accreditation. Or, maybe you’re familiar with the red-and-white logo you’ve seen at the entrance to the Cabbagetown Pet Clinic.

What do we know – or care – about AAHA Accreditation?

Unlike human hospitals, veterinary hospitals in Canada do NOT require to be accredited by any specific regulatory body. AAHA Accredited animal hospitals are the ONLY facilities that choose to be evaluated on over 900(!) quality standards that go above and beyond basic provincial regulations.

AAHA Accreditation = Superiour Care + Better Value + Healthier Outcomes

What is the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)?

The Standard of Veterinary Excellence.

Established in 1933, the AAHA has focused on promoting high-quality standards for the constantly progressing segment of small-animal practice through accreditation and other initiatives.

The original directors were convinced that it was necessary to provide better protocols and methods than were generally available for small-animal practices.

That philosophy is still alive today as a guiding principle of the AAHA. It has helped inspire and sustain the growth and development, not only of the AAHA but also of the practice of small-animal medicine throughout Canada and the United States.


“Enhance the abilities of veterinarians to provide quality medical care to companion animals.”
 “Enable veterinarians to successfully conduct their practices and maintain their facilities with high standards of excellence.”
 “Meet the public’s needs as they relate to the delivery of small-animal veterinary medicine.”


The AAHA Standards of Accreditation were developed to push this mission and has established itself as the leader in developing benchmarks of excellence, business practice standards, informative publications, and educational programs – all designed to help veterinary practices thrive.


“Seeks to lead the profession in the provision of the highest quality of care for companion animals by improving standards of care, championing accreditation, and supporting our member practices in all aspects of this pursuit.”


The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) is the ONLY organization to certify animal veterinary hospitals across Canada and the US. Today, more than 4500 practices (12-15% of all veterinary practices) are AAHA-accredited.

More information about the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) can be found at

Why AAHA Accreditation is Important to our Cabbagetown Pet Clinic Clients.

At the Cabbagetown Pet Clinic, we believe becoming an AAHA-accredited veterinary practice wasn’t about prestige or status – it’s about operating at the highest level. It’s a way to force ourselves to be the best we can be – our dedicated staff is constantly looking to make things better.

AAHA Accreditation serves a variety of purposes.

  • It recognizes and quantitatively certifies excellent veterinary practices in Canada and the United States.
  • It helps good veterinary hospitals become great ones by bringing out the maximum potential of the practice. AAHA provides the framework and support of running a highly professional practice.
  • Practices want the best for their patients and pet owners, and AAHA provides resources for our team to deliver the best medicine.
  • It serves as an excellent recruitment tool for us – it acts as a beacon to attract the best-of-the-best candidates who are dedicated to operating at the highest standards.
The accreditation process is challenging, rigorous, voluntary, and not guaranteed. When we made the promise to step up to become accredited, we were making a statement that our practice is committed to excellence to our clients in Cabbagetown.
To become AAHA Accredited, we were required to undergo a rigorous evaluation process to ensure we met ALL of the protocols prescribed by the AAHA.


These include these areas:

  • Antimicrobials
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Diabetes Management
  • Fluid Therapy
  • Infection Control, Prevention and Biosecurity
  • Mentoring and Continuing Education
  • Nutritional Assessment
  • Oncology
  • Pain Management
  • Preventative Healthcare
  • Senior and End-of-Life Care
  • Weight Management
  • Canine and Feline Life Stages
  • Anesthesia
  • Dental Care
  • Medical Records Management
  • Emergency/Urgent Care

To maintain accredited status, we undergo a wide-ranging, on-site evaluation every three years to certify that we are compliant with the AAHA’s mandatory standards.

The Case Against AAHA Accreditation ?

We’ve heard the argument that the stringent AAHA requirements are too rigorous and costly to put into practice, and that those costs get passed onto our clients.

Is there a downside?

No. We would say it’s a commitment to a higher standard by the Cabbagetown Pet Clinic and our clients to go the extra mile and ensure their pets receive best-in-class treatment and preventative care. If that’s considered a downside, we’ll accept that. By the way, our pricing structure is reviewed regularly and is always competitive across the entire Toronto market.

Three Reasons Animal Hospitals may NOT seek AAHA Accreditation.
  1. The goals are too burdensome and time-consuming for vet clinics that are limited by space concerns, such as those in big-city, high-expense storefronts.

We recognize this difficulty, but this did not impede our cozy and welcoming facility in downtown Toronto in pursuit of accreditation.

  1. AAHA Accreditation standards discriminate against older, established clinics where the quality of care is excellent, but the structural changes necessary for pre-1980 practices are cost-prohibitive.

So, it costs too much? If a practice is still operating with policies and procedures instituted 30 years ago, it seems hard to fathom (but is still possible) that your pet is receiving the latest advances in technological and preventative care.

When purchased in 2008, Cabbagetown Pet Clinic made the commitment to invest in the process to ensure the clinic was prepared to meet the challenges of the stringent AAHA procedure. We were accredited in 2012.

  1. Some believe the process is impractical, countering that the vast majority of the pet-owning populace has no idea what it means for an animal hospital to have obtained AAHA Accreditation.

This may be true in some cases, but clients do their homework nowadays and capable of doing research that will put them and their pets in the best possible situation. If more hospitals (currently 12-15% are accredited) worked harder to gain certification, then clients would come to recognize what AAHA means when they see the plaque on the door or the logo on the website.

Eventually, there will be a tipping point – likely initiated by an increasingly highly educated client base – where the majority of practices feel it’s in their best interest to welcome the extra pressure to perform and meet this high AAHA bar. Until then, we will proudly continue our ongoing obligation to meeting (and exceeding) the latest AAHA requirements.

As more practices get onboard with AAHA, we feel that professional practice standards in the veterinarian community will rise and pets everywhere will receive better care.

AAHA and the Future.

Since AAHA was founded, everything they represent has been done has been with one goal in mind: to help veterinary professionals provide exceptional care for companion animals.

We share this goal.

At the Cabbagetown Pet Clinic, we are driven to ensure that your pet is happy, healthy, and has access to the latest innovations in veterinary medicine so you and your pet can enjoy a long, wonderful life together.

Are you looking for a Fear Free “family doctor” for your pet?
Book an Appointment

Our entire Cabbagetown Pet Clinic team is Fear Free Certified.
Meet the Team

We are Fear Free Certified.

By Pet Health

Pet fear and stress are major factors keeping pet owners away from vet clinics.

It comes as no surprise that pets and owners personalities, environments, backgrounds and other factors are diverse – many of these factors play into how a pet behaves in our clinic. Even under normal circumstances, when a new patient comes into the clinic, everything is foreign, nothing makes sense, and nothing is natural.

It also doesn’t help that people take it personally when their pet is called ‘mean’ or ‘crazy’- as clients closely identify with their pets. In actuality, those descriptions often skirt the truth that pets are simply afraid.

While widespread research already exists associated with understanding the effects of fear and anxiety in animals, there continues to be an ongoing need for more examination in this emerging veterinary field.

What is Fear Free and What does it Mean?

The goal of Fear Free is to keep the amount of stress in animals as low as possible at home or when visiting the veterinarian and to prevent it from expanding to outright anxiety or fear.

The Fear Free Mission Statement:

“Our mission is to prevent and alleviate fear, anxiety, and stress in pets by inspiring and educating the people who care for them.”

Dr. Marty Becker – dubbed “America’s Veterinarian” – founded the Fear Free movement in 2016. It has since become one of the most innovative initiatives in companion animal practice, with more than 52,000 veterinary and pet professionals across Canada and the United States dedicated to becoming Fear Free Certified®.

The Fear Free approach is based on recognizing and introducing a guide to reducing fear, anxiety, and stress-related to visits to veterinary hospitals.

The fear-free movement aims to eliminate elements in a vet practice that may trouble dogs and cats – things like white lab coats/scrubs, harsh lights and slippery, cold exam tables while adding things they like. Easy Cheeze!

This effort is a two-way street – accomplishing this takes energy and requires active communication between pet owners and their veterinary team.

The reward is simply a better experience and less stress for all involved.

How is Fear Free Beneficial for my Pet ?

It has been recognized by the veterinary community that pet hospital visits can cause psychological harm to some pets. When animals (and humans, for that matter) have repeated exposure to an experience linked to an adverse or distressing event, it’s becomes very difficult to reverse.

According to recent studies by the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute:

  • 77% of pets showed signs of anxiety and stress in a clinic environment.
  • More than 50% of animals showed dislike for waiting in the reception area of their veterinarian’s office.
  • 38% of owners are stressed about the prospect of taking their pets to the hospital.

Quite simply, one bad veterinary appointment won’t be easily forgotten and will make subsequent visits more challenging.

Cabbagetown Pet Clinic’s goal is to establish trust and re-boot the pet’s approach (if previously lost) and teach them not to respond to fight-or-flight mode.

What is the the Fear Free Certification Process ?

This demanding certification course was developed with feedback from a 160-member advisory group, including board-certified veterinary behaviourists, well-known veterinary practise management specialists and other leaders in the field.

The Fear Free Pet Professionals program is administered through eight, extensive online modules. Each component ends with an exam – this needs to be successfully completed prior to moving on to the next module. When all eight modules have been completed, the participant (or animal hospital) will be awarded a Fear Free Certificate.

Our Fear Free Certified Cabbagetown Pet Clinic staff is trained to:

  • Reduce or remove anxiety triggers that can cause pets to become fearful at the veterinary hospital.
  • Help and advise owners on how to deliver calm pets to our hospital.
  • Enhance the quality of medicine in our practice.
  • Improve safety for the veterinary team.

How is Fear Free Practiced at the Cabbagetown Pet Clinic ?

Our Cabbagetown staff have taken took ownership of the Fear Free movement and haven’t looked back. We understand the importance of applying these protocols, as it’s wonderful to see the reduction of fear, anxiety and stress in our patients daily. 

What are some of the practices used in Fear Free handling at the Cabbagetown Pet Clinic ?
  • Limited or no restraint when examining a pet.
  • Additional time with each animal giving a pet more time to build trust = a positive relationship.
  • Yummy treats to keep pets occupied during examinations. Easy Cheeze!
  • Counter conditioning is the process of diverting a pet from potentially negative stimuli.
  • Species-specific pheromone sprays in each exam room.
  • Immediately moving anxious animals from the main reception area to an exam room.
  • Skid-free mats on exam tables.
  • Getting on the pet’s level, even if it’s on the floor.
  • Knowledge of various medications that can minimize anxiety or stress.
  • It is very important for our veterinary team and pet owners to be calm, speak in a peaceful cadence and to approach pets in a relaxed, deliberate manner.

Indicators of Stress in your Pet.

 How to identify signs of stress in your dog.

Common signs of stress and anxiety in dogs are:

  • A tense face; lips drawn back.
  • Tail between legs.
  • Pinned back ears.
  • Shaking.
  • Lowered body position.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • Shedding.
  • Snarling, growling or excessive barking.

Other forms of stress include loss of appetite and digestive issues. Any time a dog rejects food, it is an indicator that something could be wrong. If your dog is feeling anxious and stressed, it can lead to gastrointestinal issues including constipation and diarrhea.

How to identify signs of stress in your cat.

An anxious kitty is quite easy to spot. Common signs of stress and anxiety in cats are:

  • Trembling
  • Withdrawal and hiding.
  • Becoming less active.
  • Trying to escape.
  • Ears held back on head.
  • Hissing
  • Dilated pupils.
  • Destructive or aggressive behavior.
  • Diarrhea
  • Failure to use the litter box.
  • Sores and lesions resulting from over-grooming.

Other symptoms include a loss of appetite, weight loss, extreme vocalization, sluggishness and restlessness.

In a case of separation anxiety, your cat will likely be fine as long as you’re around but may begin acting anxious when she can sense that you’re about to leave.

What can you do to create a Fear Free environment for your pet?

6 Ways to Make a Fear Free Happy Home for your Cat.

More people than ever are maintaining their cats indoors only – life for cats is far safer inside, with no coyotes or cars to put them at risk. In place of being outside, cats still require an enriched atmosphere for their physical, mental and emotional health.

The best way to enrich your cat’s environment is to appeal to their natural interests.

  • Cats need a clean litter box(s).

Litter boxes are a requirement for all cats. Providing a litter box is the minimum. Thought has to be given to the size of the litter box, the location, the type of litter used, and the daily care of the litter box.

  • Cats like to move.

Outside of sleeping 16+ hours per day(!), your cat likes to roam and hunt. Keep your cat’s mind stimulated for at least 20-30 minutes twice a day and help reduce stress with exercise and interactive games. Some cats prefer toys with feathers that mimic a bird, while others prefer those that look like a small rodent. Laser pointers are like catnip for entertainment.

  • Cats are prolific hunters.

An increasing number of animal behaviour experts now support the notion of feeding cats from puzzle toys and even teaching them to search and “hunt” for their food indoors. The notion of free-feeding, or leaving food out 24/7 is increasingly antiquated.

Research has begun to demonstrate that animals (at least those species studied, ranging from captive zoo bears to laboratory rats) actually prefer to ‘work’ or ‘hunt’ for their meals than to have it placed in a bowl.

  • Cats like elevation.

Unlike people, cats use vertical space – cat trees, cat-friendly tables, window ledges or perches – as well as horizontal space.

Most cats enjoy perches because it allows them to survey the surrounding area and see any perceived danger before the danger becomes a threat. Providing vertical space offers confident cats a good view of all that’s going on, and that feeling of control that cats crave.

  • Cats need to scratch.

Scratching surfaces are important for your cat’s health and well-being.

They leave visual and scent messages with their claws. Even if there aren’t other felines in the home it doesn’t matter – cats are predisposed to scratch. Most cats prefer vertical and horizontal scratching options.

  • Cats like hideouts.

When cats feel insecure, they will jump at the chance to find a place to hide. While under a sofa or bed is sufficient, a cat tunnel is the ‘cat’s meow’!

5 Ways to Provide a Fear Free Happy Home for your Dog

Life for most dogs is pretty good, but they are pack animals and NEED attention. Dogs love being around their owners and are completely loyal to them. The least we can do is return the favour in the following ways:

  • Dogs need exercise.

Without a doubt, the number one way to reduce a dog’s stress is through regular, daily exercise. Walking, playing, trips to the dog park, swimming or any form of physical activity will not only reduce stress levels, it also helps them to live a longer and healthier life.

  • Mental stimulation is just as effective as physical exercise.

Think about different types of toys available that entice a dog to work for a treat or reward.

  • Soothing background noise.

Classical music has been used to “calm the savage beast” and can work the same for many dogs. While we’re away, relaxing tones can provide comfort during your absence. It could be as simple as leaving the television on while at work, or while running errands.

  • Pet-owners emotions.

Attitude is everything. If you can remain composed, your dog becomes less stressed and anxious. Dogs are remarkably perceptive when picking up on our emotions – if we become upset along with them, they’ll simply continue the behavior.

  • Crate training is a great practice.

When it comes to safely transporting your pet, you want your dog to feel like the crate provides them a refuge. Just like a den for wolves in the wild, this dog-friendly space makes them feel comfortable in their own space at home.


Our pets can have profound emotional responses — both positive and negative — to events in their lives. Oftentimes, we have trouble recognizing this. We can help our furry friends immensely by appreciating this fact and joining with our Fear Free veterinary professionals at the Cabbagetown Pet Clinic to act on it.

Are you looking for a Fear Free “family doctor” for your pet?
Book an Appointment

Our entire Cabbagetown Pet Clinic team is Fear Free Certified.
Meet the Team

Farley Foundation [2019]

By Fundraising

Farley Foundation [2019]

If you have pets, you already know the joy and love they bring to your life. Now science is confirming just how good they really are for you – both mentally and physically. Pets are apparently great oxytocin boosters!

Recent studies (here, here and here) have shown that the bond between people and their pets can increase fitness, lower stress, and bring happiness to their owners. They can increase opportunities to exercise, get outside, and socialize. Pets can help manage loneliness and depression by giving us companionship.

However, there may come a time when some people face an awful truth. Their much-loved pet needs a critical procedure or treatment and they lack the means to pay for treatment.

This places the pet owner in a distressing predicament that has only two possible outcomes – neither of them good. The choice is stark – decline non-elective treatment, or possibly euthanize.

Not only is the health of a beloved pet at risk, so is the potential health of the owner.

Thankfully, there’s a third option.


When donating online, please leave us a note on the form to let us know where to direct your raffle entry.

What is the Farley Foundation?

The Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) established the Farley Foundation – a registered charity – in 2002 because they (and we) believe there needs be a potential third option – to get financial help for those who need it. The goal is to help pet owners who aren’t able to afford necessary or emergency veterinary care for their beloved pets.

The funds distributed by the Farley Foundation are a direct result of OVMA-member veterinarians fundraising efforts, big-hearted donations from the public and sponsors. 

The Cabbagetown Pet Clinic has been actively involved with this growing initiative since 2012 and has raised thousands of dollars through bottle drives, garage and bake sales and raffles. This success could not have been accomplished without incredible support from Cabbagetown residents, veterinary partners and the local business community. In turn, these civic-minded Cabbagetown citizens and businesses have helped support many local pet lovers in need.

Who is Farley ?

The Farley Foundation name pays homage to one of Canada’s most renowned pets – Farley, the Old English sheep dog – from Lynn Johnston’s internationally acclaimed comic strip, “For Better or For Worse”. Her comic strip chronicles the life of the Patterson family, and has appeared in more than 2,000 newspapers worldwide.

In 2001, Lynn Johnston generously allowed one of her most beloved characters – Farley – to be the face of the Foundation to help promote it’s philanthropic efforts. Famously, the treasured Farley character dies after saving a family member who had fallen into a raging river.

Farley’s image helps to promote awareness of the Foundation, making it possible for thousands of low-income pet owners to continue the relationship with their pets who mean the world to them.

Who we help.

The Farley Foundation assists those who are struggling financially to pay for veterinary care for their pets. Pet owners who cannot afford medical care for their sick or injured pet are encouraged to talk with their veterinarian about the availability of Farley Foundation funding, if they fall into one of the categories below:

  • Seniors receiving the Federal Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).
  • Disabled individuals receiving the Ontario Disability Support Payment (ODSP) or the Canada Pension Plan Disability Payment (CPP Disability).
  • Individuals receiving assistance through the Ontario Works Program.
  • Persons with an annual income of less than $25,000.
  • Supportive housing for seniors, retirement homes or long-term care facilities with live-in pets.
  • Women at risk of abuse who are entering a registered Ontario women’s shelter and who are participating in OVMA’s SafePet Program.

If the above requirements are met, funding is available to subsidize the treatment of any animal whose primary purpose is companionship, without restriction on the species of animal. If the pet owner doesn’t meet these criteria, they’re not eligible to receive Farley funding.

What’s covered… and what’s not.

The Farley Foundation provides funding for non-elective procedures or treatments such as surgery (including some dental surgery), diagnostics and hospitalization.

It is important to understand that there are a couple caveats associated with this financial assistance program.

The Farley Foundation does not deal directly with pet owners. Pet owners interested in the program are required apply for assistance through their regular veterinary clinic. Pet owners must have a pre-existing veterinary-client-patient relationship with the practice from which they’re seeking funding. Status updates on the application are also handled through their clinic.

Ineligible treatments include:

  • Routine physical examinations and vaccinations.
  • Spays and Neuters. (unless it is deemed essential to the continued health of the animal)
  • General Prophylactic Dental Care.
  • Food and Medications.

To date, the Farley Foundation has disbursed more than $4 million to assist nearly 10,000 pet owners in need. Donations in excess of $25.00 can be claimed as a charitable deduction.

When you donate to the Farley Foundation, you change two lives: the life of a real pet and the life of their owner. You’re helping to preserve and protect a bond of love and devotion, and giving hope to those who depend the most on their pets for love and companionship.

DCM and Grain-Free Diets for Dogs

By Pet Health

What you need to know about grain-free diets and Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)

It’s natural to get concerned anytime that we see a news headline implicating a negative relationship between our pet’s health and wellbeing and their diet.

At Cabbagetown Pet Clinic, we have been fielding many calls about a recent report released by the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) in the United States (dog food manufacturers are NOT regulated in Canada). This study was initiated after the FDA received 515 reports of Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs between Jan. 1, 2014 and April 30, 2019 which appeared to link dog breeds not typically susceptible to DCM genetically, and diets predominately labelled and marketed as “grain free”.

The report details FDA’s ongoing investigation into a “potential connection between certain diets and cases of canine heart disease”. We feel its important try and set the record straight and to help reduce some of the anxiety surrounding its recent findings.

You can read the full report here:

At this time, there is no verifiable evidence that these ingredients are a primary cause of DCM, but dog lovers should be aware of this alert and it’s ongoing investigation.

Q&A for DCM and Grain-free Dog Food.

What is Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) ?

Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a serious disease affecting the heart.

Canine DCM occurs when the muscle wall of a dog’s heart thins, thereby weakening it and making it more difficult to pump blood. Congestive heart failure, irregular heartbeat and sudden death can result.

What Causes DCM ?

There a many factors that can lead to the development of canine DCM. Genetics appear to play a central role in the predisposition some dog breeds (Dobermans and Boxers have had specific genetic mutations identified) which makes them more susceptible to develop DCM.

One factor of concern with respect to nutrition, which is the focus of this report, is a deficiency of some amino acids (namely taurine and carnitine) or other nutritional components in the diet which may be causing an increase in cases of DCM in dog breeds not known to have genetic predisposition.

The FDA has not come to a definitive conclusion with respect to why “grain-free” dog food diets are suspect. The only common relationship that investigators at the FDA have observed is “grain-free” diets that use peas, lentils and other legumes and/or potatoes listed as one of the main ingredients appear to be associated with an increased incidence of canine DCM. There are currently many theories, but no conclusive answers clarifying how these diets can intensify this condition.  

How do I know if my dog has DCM ?

The indicators of DCM differ depending on the breed of dog and at what stage the disease has progressed.

Symptoms include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • pale gums
  • increased heart rate
  • coughing
  • difficulty breathing
  • periods of weakness
  • fainting
  • abdominal distension

Abnormal respiratory signs are most common initial complaint.

What should I do if my dog eats a grain-free, legume-based or other implicated diets ?

As a general rule of thumb, the best thing you can do for your dog’s dietary health is to consult your veterinarian. Together you can weigh the pros and cons of your dog’s diet and, if necessary, monitor your dog for signs of DCM. A discussion with your veterinarian will result in a tailored recommendation that reflects your dog’s needs and medical history.

To be clear, the FDA is not advising dietary changes based solely on the information gathered to date.

How did the FDA compile the list of brands ?

Of the dog food brands on the FDA’s list, 91% of the products were labeled grain-free and did not contain corn, soy, wheat, rice, barley or other grains, while 93% contained peas, lentils, chickpeas and beans, or potatoes. The common thread appears to be legumes, pulses (seeds of legumes), and/or potatoes as main ingredients in the food.

The FDA does not believe these cases can be explained simply by whether or not they contain grains, or by brand or manufacturer. Brands cited by the FDA most frequently (as of April 30, 2019) that had at least ten reports include: 

Currently, no therapeutic diets manufactured by Hills, Purina or Royal Canin have been associated with cases of diet-associated DCM.

Has the FDA recalled any of these brands ?

No. It is important to note that the FDA has not recalled any of the brands mentioned above. The potential connection between these foods and canine DCM has not been definitively confirmed, and there’s not enough conclusive data indicating that the aforementioned brands need to be removed from the market.

What’s Next ?

If your dog is showing possible signs of DCM, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. If the indicators are severe enough and your veterinarian is not available, obtain emergency veterinary care.

To conclude, the FDA is continuing to investigate and gather more information in an effort to identify whether there is a specific dietary link to development of DCM and will provide updates to the public as information develops.