What Happens When a Dog Gets Spayed?

Spaying is a procedure performed on female dogs (and cats) that remove their reproductive organs to prevent them from having puppies or kittens. In this article, we will review what happens when a dog gets spayed, how to prepare your dog for the surgery, and how to care for your dog after surgery. If you have a male dog, you may be interested in these articles — What Happens When You Neuter a Dog? and What to Expect After Neutering a Dog.

Spaying is most commonly recommended around 6 months of age, however, can be done as early as 6 to 8 weeks as well as later in life. The best time to spay a dog is when they are young and healthy. The worst time to spay a dog is when they are old, sick and have secondary complications from not being spayed such as a uterine infection called pyometra or breast cancer.

Why Dog Spaying is Important

Having your dog spayed can have many health, financial, and behavioral benefits. The benefits to spaying your dog include:

  • Prevents your dog from going into heat
  • Prevents your dog from getting pregnant
  • May make your dog more gentle and affectionate
  • May help prevent your dog from getting breast cancer later in life
  • Prevents your dog from getting an infection in the uterus later in life
  • Prevents cancer of the uterus or ovaries
  • The cost of spaying is far less expensive than the cost of raising a litter of puppies
  • Spaying your dog when she is young and healthy is less risky and much less expensive than spaying after your dog is ill or has a problem

What Happens When a Dog Gets Spayed

The spaying procedure, medically known as an ovariohysterectomy, is the surgical procedure in which both ovaries and most of the uterus is removed from your dog’s body.
Below we will provide details of what happens before surgery, the day of surgery and some information about post-op spay care.

What to Expect the Day Before The Surgery

Before surgery, your vet will provide you with recommendations on what you should do the day before the spay surgery. For most dogs, they will recommend that you not feed your dog food after 6 pm or give water after midnight the night before surgery. This means no food and no treats. The times may vary slightly based on your veterinarian’s preference and also other factors such as concurrent medical problems or the size and breed of your dog. For example, some small and toy breed dogs may be offered food later in the evening to prevent a low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

If your dog is taking medication, ask your vet if they want you to give the medication the morning of surgery. Make sure that you follow those instructions exactly. If your dog is a diabetic, please discuss the insulin dose you should give with the staff prior to the morning of surgery. Plan to bring any medication that your dog is taking with you in case they decide to give it to them or your dog needs to stay in the hospital.

Your vet will ask you to bring your dog to the hospital in the morning at a specific time. Many clinics will ask that you drop off your dog between 7 am and 9 am but this varies with the hospital’s surgery schedule.

What to Expect the Day of Surgery

You will need to load up your dog and take her to the hospital. Make sure the collar fits properly and she cannot slip out of it. Bring them on a regular leash and not a retractable leash. Small dogs can be taken in a pet carrier.

Below is what happens at many veterinary hospitals but the exact protocol may vary depending on your veterinarian and the individual veterinary hospital.

  • When you arrive at the veterinary hospital, they will likely ask you to sign a surgery consent form that confirms the surgery to be performed as well as routine questions about if you want optional baseline bloodwork or an electrocardiogram (EKG), any needed vaccinations, CPR status, if you would you’re your dog microchipped (if not already done), and any other procedures such as removal of baby teeth, dewclaw removal, or repair of an abnormal hernia. Older dogs may also have mass removals after the spay procedure. This consent form may also include a cost estimate.
  • It is also important that you provide the veterinary hospital with an accurate phone number where you can be reached during the day.
  • Once your dog arrives, she will be taken back to the hospital’s treatment room where she will be evaluated by the technicians for any problems. Often at this time they will draw blood if approved by you to ensure your dog’s organs are healthy. If they identify any problems or concerns, the doctor will call you before proceeding.
  • The doctor will examine your dog and give injectable sedation. While your dog is relaxed, they will often shave the leg to place of an intravenous (IV) catheter and give additional drugs that allow total relaxation.
  • Your dog will then be moved into the surgery room. Most dogs are intubated (a tube placed into the trachea) to deliver safe inhalation anesthesia. Veterinary hospitals have anesthesia protocols that consist of very safe drugs and monitoring equipment that constantly monitors your dog’s heart rate, respirations, blood pressure, EKG, and temperature. The monitoring equipment is attached to your dog.
  • Your dog will then be positioned on her back and feet secured to the edges of the table. The technician will generally proceed to shave the hair on your dog’s belly. Disinfectant is then used to gently and thoroughly clean the skin.
  • Your veterinarian will put on a sterile hat, gloves, and a gown and organize their surgical instruments for surgery. An incision is made near the belly button and will vary in length depending on the size of your dog. The uterus and ovaries are identified and surgically removed. The body wall, tissues between the body wall and skin, and finally the skin is sutured closed. The actual surgery takes anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes depending on your dog’s age, breed, and size.
  • Your dog will continue to be monitored as they wake up from their anesthesia. This can take anywhere from an hour to several hours. At first, they are groggy then gradually become more aware and alert as the drugs wear off.
  • When you pick your dog up from the vet, the veterinary team will provide you with detailed post-op instructions. Your pet may be sent home with pain medication and/or antibiotics. Those instructions will most likely include:
    • Keep your dog in her e-collar at all times until your vet gives you the clearance to remove it. This will most likely be approximately 10 to 14 days post-op.
    • Keep an eye on your dog’s stitches to monitor its recovery. If the area becomes inflamed, swollen, or has discharge, please call your veterinarian immediately. Some dogs have sutures and other dogs have sutures under the skin that are absorbable. This will vary with the veterinarian.
    • Keep your dog calm for two weeks after surgery. If there are other dogs in your house, you may need to keep your dogs separated post-op.
    • You may need to get creative with your feeding routine. With the e-collar on, some dogs won’t be able to eat out of their food dish. Most have found success by elevating their dog’s dish so that the e-collar doesn’t hit the floor while they’re eating.
    • You’ll need to keep up with your dog’s pain management routine carefully post-op. Attach a magnetic whiteboard to your fridge so that you can write down when you last gave your dog meds and when it will need them again.

What to Expect After Dog Spay Surgery

Some dogs will be sleepy immediately after surgery and some will be slightly nauseated. Begin feeding your dog slowly, small amounts at a time. Immediately after surgery, offer small amounts of water. If there is no vomiting, you can offer small amounts of food. Don’t offer a huge meal as some dogs may vomit. Give a little bit of food at a time and you can always offer later.
What is most critical is to keep your dog quiet and ensure she doesn’t lick at her incision. If there is any indication she will lick at her incision, it is critical that you use an E-Collar.
Check the incision twice daily looking for swelling, redness or discharge. Call your vet immediately if you notice any problems. Assuming everything goes well, see your vet for any recommended follow-up appointments and suture removal.

What Happens When You Neuter a Dog?

Dog owners commonly have questions about what happens when you neuter a dog. Below we will review exactly what happens before, during and after neuter surgery. First, let’s review the terminology used for dog neutering because the term “neuter” is commonly used incorrectly.

Neuter, from the Latin word neuter, means the removal of an animal’s reproductive organ. The term neuter is often used improperly when it is used to refer to male animals when the term neuter correctly refers to both males and females. The correct term for males is “Castration” while the correct term used for females is “Spay” or “Spaying”.
For the purpose of this article, we will use the term neutering as a term to mean castration of a male dog.

Why Dog Neutering Is Important

Each year, there are millions of dogs turned over to animal shelters. Last year it was estimated that the number was almost 20 million. If you look at the fact that only one out of every 10 dogs taken in to shelters find homes, that means 18 million dogs and cats were destroyed. This brings a tear to my eye just typing these words.

Neutering can prevent this. Neutering is a simple procedure that can prevent unwanted animals.
The benefits of neutering include:

  • Removes the risk of pregnancy.
  • Dogs are often calmer, less roaming, fewer aggression issues.
  • Eliminates or minimizes health issues such as prostate problems, breast cancer in females, uterine cancer, and uterine infections.
  • Castration is especially important in dogs that testicles fail to descend into the scrotum. There is a high rate of cancer in these dogs and neutering can minimize the chance of future problems.

When Are Most Dogs Neutered?

Neutering is done most commonly at or around six months of age. However, many veterinarians perform this procedure as early as 8 to 10 weeks. Early neutering can be done safely and has a number of advantages, especially in cases of pet adoption.

There are some studies that suggest there are health benefits to neutering later in life. Learn more in this article: To Neuter or Not to Neuter.
In general, most veterinarians recommend neutering around 6 months of age.

What Happens When You Neuter a Dog

The male neutering procedure, medically known as a castration or orchiectomy, is a surgical procedure in which both testicles are removed from the dog’s body.

What to Expect the Day Before The Surgery

Your veterinarian will provide you with recommendations on what you can do the day before the surgery. For most dogs, they will recommend that you not feed your dog food after 6 pm or give water after midnight the night before surgery. This means no food and no treats. This may vary slightly as some toy breed dogs may be offered food later to prevent low blood sugar problems (hypoglycemia).

If your dog is taking medication, ask your vet if they want you to give the medication the morning of surgery. Make sure that you follow those instructions exactly. If your dog is a diabetic, please discuss the insulin dose you should give with the staff prior to the morning of the neuter. Plan to bring any medications your dog is taking with you in case they decide to give it or your dog needs to stay.

Your vet will ask you to bring your dog to the hospital in the morning at a specific time. Many clinics will ask that you drop off your dog between 7 am and 9 am but this varies with the hospital’s surgery schedule.

What to Expect the Day of Surgery

You will need to load up your dog and take him to the hospital. Make sure the collar fits properly and your dog cannot slip out of it and plan to use a regular leash (preferred over retractable leads). Small dogs can be taken in a pet carrier as well.

Below is what happens at many veterinary hospitals but the exact procedure may vary depending on your veterinary and the individual vet hospital.

  • When you arrive at the veterinary hospital, they will likely ask you to sign a surgery consent form that confirms the exact surgery to be performed. It will also include routine questions about if you want baseline bloodwork, any needed vaccinations if you would like your dog microchipped (if not already done), and any other procedures such as removal of baby teeth, dewclaw removal, or repair of an abnormal hernia. Older dogs may also have mass removals after a neuter procedure. This consent form commonly includes a CPR form. CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is a routine question asked for any pet undergoing anesthesia. Don’t be alarmed. We are asked the same questions when we go to the ER or are admitted to the hospital. The veterinary team will do everything possible to provide the safest experience for your dog but are obligated to ask this question to honor your beliefs and wishes in regards to CPR. This consent form may also include a cost estimate.
  • It is important that the veterinary hospital have an accurate phone number where you can be reached during the day.
  • Once your dog is at the veterinary hospital, he will be taken back to the hospital’s treatment room where he will be evaluated by the technicians for any problems. Often at this time they will draw blood if approved by you to ensure his organs are healthy. If they identify any problems or concerns, the doctor will call you before proceeding.
  • The doctor will examine your dog and give injectable sedation. While he is relaxed, they will often shave the leg to place an intravenous (IV) catheter and give additional drugs that allow total relaxation.
  • Your dog will then be moved into the surgery room. Most dogs are intubated (a tube placed into the trachea) to deliver safe inhalation anesthesia. Veterinary hospitals have anesthesia protocols that consist of very safe drugs and monitoring equipment that constantly monitors your dog’s heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, EKG, and temperature. The monitoring equipment is attached to your dog.
  • Your dog will then be placed on his back and feet secured to the edges of the table. The technician will generally proceed to shave the hair on your dog’s belly around the testicles.
  • Disinfectant is then used to gently and thoroughly clean the skin. A sterile drape is placed over the surgical site.
  • Your veterinarian will put on sterile hat, gloves, and gown and organize their surgical instruments for surgery. An incision is made just cranial to the testicles on the midline using a scalpel blade or laser. The length will depend on the size of your dog. The testicles are identified and surgically removed.
  • The incision is then closed with one or two layers of self-dissolving sutures (stitches). The outer layer of skin is closed with sutures or surgical staples. The actual surgery will only take about 20 to 45 minutes. The procedure can take longer in older or large-breed dogs.
  • Your dog continues to be monitored as they wake up from their anesthesia. This can take anywhere from an hour to several hours. At first, they are groggy then gradually become more aware and alert as the drugs wear off.
  • When you pick your dog up from the vet, the veterinary team will provide you with detailed post-op instructions. He may be sent home with pain medication and/or antibiotics. Those instructions will most likely include:
  • Keep your dog in its e-collar at all times until your vet gives you the clearance to remove it. This will most likely be approximately 10 to 14 days post-op.
  • Keep an eye on your dog’s stitches to monitor recovery. If the area becomes inflamed, swollen, or has discharge, talk to your vet. Some dogs have sutures and other dogs have sutures under the skin that are absorbable. This will vary with the veterinarian.
  • Keep your dog calm for two weeks after surgery. If there are other dogs in your house, you may need to keep your dogs separated post-op.
  • You may need to get creative with your feeding routine. With the e-collar on, some dogs won’t be able to eat out of their food dish. Most have found success by elevating their dog’s dish so that the e-collar doesn’t hit the floor while they’re eating.
  • Give your dog the prescribed medications. It can be helpful to attach a magnetic whiteboard or paper to your fridge so that you can write down when you last gave your dog meds and when it will need them again. This also helps all members of the household understand the medication schedule to minimize errors.

What to Expect After Dog Neuter Surgery

Some dogs will be sleepy immediately after surgery. Learn more about What to Expect After Neutering a Dog.

How to Deal with Dog Neuter Costs

Clients often ask for suggestions to help with dog Neuter costs. Learn more about How Much Does Dog Spaying or Dog Neutering Costs here. Some shelters have special pricing. Another option is to have pet insurance. Some pet insurance companies offer “basic care” or “wellness care” coverage that will cover routine care such as vaccinations, dental cleaning, parasite control, neutering, and much more. Pet insurance can help cover the cost of surgery and any associated complications. You can learn more about types of pet insurance at Pets Best.

Should You Worry About Your Dog Having Surgery?

Most healthy dogs do well during routine neuter surgery. By knowing what to expect and how to prepare yourself and your dog, the surgical procedure, hospital stay, and home recovery can go smoothly.

Additional Articles Related to Dog Neutering

How Much Does Dog Spaying or Dog Neutering Cost?

The cost to neuter a dog can vary based on the age of your dog, size, breed, if he or she is healthy or ill, your vet hospital, and where you live in the country. We will review dog-neutering costs, what is included with the dog neutering fee, and offer ideas on how to save money.

How Much Neutering and Spaying Can Cost On Average

The cost of neutering your pet generally includes a package of offerings. Before we get into that, let’s review the definitions of neutering and spaying. The term neutering refers to the removal of an animal’s reproductive organ. The term neuter is often used incorrectly when it is used to refer to male animals when the term neuter correctly refers to both males and females.

The correct term for removal of an animal’s reproductive organ for males is “Castration” and the correct term used for females is “Spay” or “Spaying”.

Most veterinary clinics know what you mean when you ask about the price to neuter your dog but depending on the clinic – don’t be surprised if they ask if your dog is male or female. The cost for a spay surgery is higher than the cost for castration. Spaying takes longer and involves opening the abdominal cavity.

It is important to know what is and what is not included in the spay or castration fee. When you get a quote, ask what is included so there are no hidden costs or surprises.

The neutering procedure generally includes the following (this will vary with the individual each hospital):

  • Examination
  • Sedation
  • General anesthesia
  • The surgery (Spay or Castration)
  • Post-op recovery monitoring
  • Pain medications
  • Antibiotics (if needed)
  • Nail Trim
  • E-collar
  • Post-op recheck such as suture removal
  • Optional additional cost: Laser therapy of the area post-surgery
  • Optional additional cost: Screening blood work

When getting an estimate for spay or castration procedures, be sure to ask what is and what is not included. There are a few optional items that will be an additional cost such as prep bloodwork or an electrocardiogram (EKG) as health screening tool. Some clinics or veterinary hospitals have packages that include all of the above in the neuter costs.

Other services and procedures that are an additional cost include hernia repair, removal of baby teeth, anal gland expression, vaccinations, parasite control medications, and/or lump removals. Nail trims are often included with routine spay and neuter surgery, however, some clinics may charge an additional fee. Learn more about the step-by-step details of What Happens When a Dog Gets Spayed and What Happens When You Neuter a Dog?

Cost ranges for a dog spay can vary from $65 to $500 and castration can range from $45 to $300 in most areas. The cost will also vary with the facility offering the procedure. Shelters, humane societies, and other low cost spay/neuter clinics are generally less expensive than veterinary hospitals. There can be a big difference in the cost just based on where you live in the clinic. A spay in New York City may be $500 while only $200 in the Midwest.

How The Size and Other Things Impacts The Surgery Cost

The size of your dog impacts the cost of surgery. Why? A bigger dog requires more drugs for sedation, more time to clip and clean the area, more time to do the surgery, more suture materials, more pain medications to go home, and well…more everything. Big dogs generally cost more.

Other factors that can impact the cost of spay and castration surgery for dogs is the breed, age, if your dog is sick, obese, or if your dog is in heat or pregnant. Some breeds such as bulldogs can require more time to do surgery. Young dogs are often less expensive to spay then older dogs. Younger dogs are often healthier, smaller, and therefore easier to spay. Obese dogs can require more surgical time. Dogs that are in heat or pregnant require more time to perform the surgery because the blood vessels that feed the reproductive organs are larger which lengthens the surgery time required. Lastly, if the spay or neuter procedure is done as a treatment for a sick dog, the cost is substantially higher because other treatments are required such as intravenous (IV) fluids, pain medications, and antibiotics. The hospitalization time is longer and the risk of complications are also higher with sick dogs. The recovery time is about the same for both small and large dogs. Most dogs will go home the same day of surgery or occasionally the day after.

How Pet Insurance Can Help You Manage The Costs

The amount of money pet owners in the United States spent on pets nearly doubled from 38.5 billion to 66.8 billion dollars over the past decade. Costs include one-time costs such as those associated with spaying and castration procedures, annual costs (such as food, treats, vaccinations, and parasite control), and unexpected costs (such as costs related to lacerations, bite wounds, or other medical problems).

  • Pet insurance can help you cover the costs of illness, unexpected trauma, as well as the cost for basic care ore “wellness” such as vaccinations, parasite control, and spaying and neutering your dog.
  • Pet insurance can be a very good way to help pet owners do the best they can while on a budget. After you pay your deductible, pet insurance will pay for a percentage of your vet bill that will depend on your policy. For example, if you have a policy with a 90% copay – this means the pet insurance company will pay for 90 percent of your bill. This can really help with unexpected costs. Some pet insurance companies offer basic care options to help you off-site the cost of spaying and neutering. Learn more about Pets Best here.

Additional Articles of Interest Related to Dog Neutering Costs

Dog Neutering and Spaying: What You Need to Know

Many dog owners have questions about dog neutering and spaying. First, let’s define the words Neuter and Spay. Neuter, from the Latin word neuter, means the removal of an animal’s reproductive organ. The term neuter is often used incorrectly when it is used to refer to only male animals when the term neuter correctly refers to both males and females.

The correct term for the removal of an animal’s reproductive organ in males is “Castration” while the correct term used for females is “Spay” or “Spaying”. Other terms used to refer to neutering is “de-sexing” and “fixing”.

Neutering is used to reduce the risk of unwanted puppies to control the animal population issues, reduce behavior issues with intact pets such as roaming, humping, heat cycles, reduce the incidence of aggressive behavioral issues, and eliminate the risk of diseases such as infections of the uterus, referred to by the medical term pyometra, breast cancer, and/or prostate problems.

The Male Dog Neutering: Castration

Male neutering, known by the more accurate term “Castration”, is used to describe the surgical procedure that involves removal of the testicles. Castration is also known by the medical term “orchiectomy”. This procedure is performed under general anesthesia and involves a surgical incision just cranial to the testicles. Learn more about What Happens When You Neuter a Dog?. Another good article that may be of interest is What to Expect After Neutering a Dog which considers what to expect from your dog’s behavior post neuter as well as post-operative care.

The Female Dog Neutering: Spay

Female neutering, known by the more accurate term “Spaying”, is used to describe the surgical procedure that involves removal of both the ovaries and uterus, which is called an ovariohysterectomy (commonly abbreviated as “OHE”). This procedure is performed under general anesthesia. It involves an incision along the midline of the abdomen near the umbilicus. Learn more about What Happens When a Dog Gets Spayed and about post-op care.

When Do You Neuter Dogs?

Neutering is most commonly recommended around six months of age. However, neutering is done in some situations as early as 6 to 8 weeks and can also be done at any age. Learn more about The Pros and Cons of Early Spays and Neuters In Dogs and Cats. Some studies may suggest that there are benefits of waiting to neuter. Learn more in this interesting article — To Neuter or Not to Neuter – What You Should Know.

However, the best time to neuter is when your dog is young and healthy as opposed to when your dog is older and has life-threatening uterine infections (Pyometra) or prostate problems.

How Pet Insurance Can Help Manage Cost of Dog Neutering

Dog neutering can be costly. It is more expensive to neuter a female dog than a male dog. The female neutering procedure takes longer and involves opening the abdominal cavity. The male dog neutering procedure does not involve opening the abdominal cavity and takes less time.

The cost for dog spays can range from $100 to $500 depending on the size and age of your dog. The cost for dog neuters can range from $45 to $350. Learn more about the costs of Spaying and Neutering with this article: How Much Does Dog Spaying or Dog Neutering Cost?

Many pet owners consider if they should have their pet neutered at their local veterinary hospital that may be more expensive vs. at a low-cost spay neuter clinic. Many shelters offer discounted spay and castration services. They will often also offer lost cost vaccinations and microchipping services that can be done at the time of the surgery. Here is another article that may be useful: Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Clinics vs. Your Local Vet.

Pet insurance plans are another method that can help you pay for medical costs associated with illnesses and injuries as well as wellness costs such as for vaccinations, dental cleaning, blood work, fecal checks, parasite control, and spaying and castration surgery.

For example, Pet’s Best offers a “routine care” option that you can add to your pet insurance plan. One thing that’s nice about this is that the benefits are available from many companies with no waiting period, meaning you can often use the benefits within a day or two of enrollment. The best wellness plan will provide $100 toward your dog spay or neuter. Learn more about Pet’s Best Routine Care Options to see if they will help you pay for your dog’s neutering procedure.

If you are planning your dog’s spay-neuter procedure and need help paying, it is possible to sign up for the routine care options and start using the benefits soon.

Additional Articles that May Be of Interest About Dog Neutering

How Much Does Dog Spaying or Dog Neutering Cost?
What Happens When You Neuter a Dog?
What Happens When a Dog Gets Spayed 
What to Expect After Neutering a Dog 
A Major Investment: The Costs Associated with Dog Ownership
Are Pet Wellness Plans More Affordable than Insurance?
Factors to Consider Before You Compare Pet Insurance Policies
How Does Pet Insurance Work?
How Much Should You Expect For Dog Vet Costs?
Is There Pet Insurance That Covers Pre-Existing Conditions?
Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Clinics vs. Your Local Vet
Pet Insurance: What It Covers & What It Doesn’t
Preparing Your Dog For Surgery: What You Should Know
Pros and Cons of Spaying and Neutering in Dogs
To Neuter or Not to Neuter – What You Should Know
What Are the Benefits of Spaying and Neutering Your Pet?
What’s the Best Pet Insurance in Regards to Cost?

Zinc Deficiency (Zinc Responsive Dermatosis) in Dogs

Overview of Zinc Deficiency in Dogs

Zinc deficiency in dogs can cause hair loss and skin problems. Zinc is an essential mineral required for the production of over 300 enzymes necessary for various bodily functions including healthy skin and hair, normal immune function, normal thyroid function, wound healing, and normal sexual function.

Zinc should be a normal component of a dog’s diet. The absence of zinc in the diet can cause various abnormalities affecting the skin, metabolic function and immune function. Zinc deficiency causes the condition called zinc responsive dermatosis.

Zinc isn’t readily or easily absorbed by intestine of dogs. It is estimated that only 5 to 40% of ingested zinc is absorbed in normal dogs.

Causes of Zinc Deficiency in Dogs

Causes and risk factors for canine zinc deficiency include:

  • Young puppies and dogs fed a diet deficient in zinc.
  • Diets rich in calcium prevent normal zinc absorption. Calcium binds with zinc, which prevents absorption.
  • Dog breeds such as the Siberian Husky or Alaskan Malamute have a genetic inability to absorb zinc properly. Zinc deficiency has also been reported in Bull Terriers, Labrador Retrievers,
  • Doberman Pinschers, Standard Poodles, German Shepherd dogs, Golden Retrievers, Rottweilers, German Shorthaired Pointers, Beagles, Rhodesian Ridgebacks and Great Danes.
  • Diets excessively high in zinc prevent normal zinc absorption.
  • Diets with low levels of total fat and essential fatty acids affect zinc absorption
  • Plants contain a substance called phytate which hampers the absorption of zinc. Diets that are high in fiber (plant-based) can cause zinc deficiency.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease can cause abnormal absorption of zinc.

What to Watch For

Signs of zinc deficiency in dogs may include:

  • Hair loss (Alopecia)
  • Scaling and crusting skin lesions around the face, head, legs, and pads of the feet
  • Red or swollen footpads
  • Thickened crusted footpads
  • Fissures (cracks) on the nose and/or footpads

Severely affected dogs may display:

  • Generalized lymph node enlargement
  • Lack of appetite (anorexia)
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Stunted growth in puppies
  • Increased incidence of infection such as pneumonia or infections around the eyes and mouth

Diagnosis of Zinc Deficiency in Dogs

Diagnosis of zinc deficiency is often made based on the clinical signs and history. Other diagnostic possibilities may include:

  • Zinc levels can be measured but are often unreliable based on various laboratory procedures. Zinc blood levels less than 0.8 ppm is suggestive of zinc deficiency although Zinc blood levels can be affected by age and other illnesses making them difficult to interpret.
  • A skin biopsy submitted for histopathology may reveal classing signs of zinc deficiency including skin changes suggestive of zinc deficiency but is not considered diagnostic.
  • Response to therapy with zinc supplementation is one informal way zinc deficiency is sometimes confirmed.

Treatment of Zinc Deficiency in Dogs

  • Treatment is focused on daily zinc supplementation. Normal growing puppies require approximately 60 mg to 150 mg of zinc per pound of body weight (120 mg to 300 mg of zinc per kilogram) depending on the activity level of the dog. Working dogs require higher levels of supplementation. Supplementation should include up to 500 mg/pound (1000 mg/kg) of zinc for zinc deficient dogs. Breeds at risk should be supplemented with zinc.
  • Normal sources of zinc include meat and fish products. Grains are low in zinc such as corn and soybean. For example, a meal of rice has only 10 to 12 mg/lb of zinc while a meat meal contains 50 mg/lb and a fish meal contains approximately 75 mg/lb of zinc.
  • Zinc is available in many forms including an injectable version that can be given intravenously (IV) and oral supplements. Forms may include zinc sulfate (oral and IV), zinc methionine (oral), and zinc gluconate (oral). Common dosage recommendations for dogs may include:
  • Zinc sulfate oral: 5 mg/pound once daily (10 mg/kg)
  • Zinc methionine oral: 0.8 mg/pound daily (2 mg/kg)
  • Zinc gluconate: 0.75 mg/pound daily (1.7 mg/kg)
  • Some veterinarians recommend crushing tablets and mixing with food to encourage dogs to eat it well and minimize stomach upset which can occur with zinc administration.
  • Treats supplemented with zinc are also available such as dog treat by Zinpro (by Lincoln Biotech) which contains zinc methionine.
  • In addition to zinc supplementation, some dogs with infections may require antibiotic.
  • Therapeutic baths with shampoos to help remove crusts may be recommended. Examples of keratolytic shampoos include those with ingredients of sulfur and/or salicylic acid.
  • Some cases that do not respond to initial supplementation and above treatments may also need oral steroid therapy which can help increase absorption of zinc.

References for Zinc Deficiency in Dogs

  • Bloomberg, M.; Taylor, R.; Dee, J. Canine Sports Medicine, and Surgery. W. B. Saunders. Philadelphia, PA; 1998.
  • Campbell GA & Crow D (2010) Severe zinc responsive dermatosis in a litter of Pharaoh Hounds. J Vet Diagn Invest 22(4):663-666
  • Colombini S (1999) Canine zinc-responsive dermatosis. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 29(6):1373-1383
  • Colombini S & Dunstan RW (1997) Zinc-responsive dermatosis in northern-breed dogs: 17 cases (1990-1996). J Am Vet Med Assoc 211(4):451-453
  • Griffin, C.; Kwochka, K.; Macdonald, J. Current Veterinary Dermatology. Mosby Publications. Linn, MO; 1993.
  • Hall J (2005) Diagnostic dermatology. Zinc responsive dermatosis. Can Vet J 46(6):555-557
  • Kearns K et al (2000) Zinc-responsive dermatosis in a red wolf (canis rufus). J Zoo Wildl Med 31(2):255-258
  • Kunkle GA (1980) Zinc in veterinary medicine. Int J Dermatol 19:30–31
  • Lewis, L.; Morris, M. Small Animal Clinical Nutrition. Mark Morris Assoc. Topeka, KS; 1984.
  • Peters J et al (2003) Hereditary nasal parakeratosis in Labrador retrievers: 11 new cases and a retrospective study on the presence of accumulations of serum (‘serum lakes’) in the epidermis of parakeratotic dermatoses and inflamed nasal plana of dogs. Vet Dermatol 14(4):197-203
  • Senter DA et al (2002) Intracorneal vacuoles in skin diseases with parakeratotic hyperkeratosis in the dog: a retrospective light-microscopy study of 111 cases (1973-2000). Vet Dermatol 13(1):43-47
  • Sousa CA et al (1988) Dermatosis associated with feeding generic dog food: 13 cases (1981-1982). J Am Vet Med Assoc 192(5):676-680
  • van den Broek AH & Stafford WL (1988) Diagnostic value of zinc concentrations in serum, leucocytes and hair of dogs with zinc-responsive dermatosis. Res Vet Sci 44(1):41-44
  • White SD et al (2001) Zinc-responsive dermatosis in dogs: 41 cases and literature review. Vet Dermatol 12(2):101-109

Cytopoint (Lokivetmab or CADI) for Dogs

Overview of Cytopoint for Dogs

  • Cytopoint®, also known by the names Lokivetmab and Canine Atopic Dermatitis Immunotherapeutic (commonly abbreviated as CADI), is a monoclonal antibody treatment that targets and deactivates canine IL-31.
  • Canine IL-31 is a cytokine involved in sending the itch signal to the brain. Therefore, Cytopoint® is effective at controlling pruritus (itching) in dogs with allergies. Because this drug focuses on canine IL-31 – it is a dog only product. Cytopoint® not effective in cats.
  • Cytopoint® is not considered a corticosteroid or an antihistamine but has effects that can be similar and has been shown to be a great drug alternative to antihistamine drugs and steroids such as prednisone, dexamethasone, depomedtrol, and triamcinolone. Cytopoint® has been very effective in controlling itching without the side effects.
  • Cytopoint® is a prescription drug and can only be obtained from a veterinarian or by prescription from a veterinarian.
    Studies have shown that CYTOPOINT started controlling itch within 1 day of the injection and can keep the itching controlled for 4 to 8 weeks.
  • Cytopoint® has been specifically approved and labeled for use in dogs by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Brand Names and Other Names of Cytopoint®

  • This drug is registered for use in dogs only.
  • Veterinary formulations: Cytopoint®. Cytopoint® is also known as Lokivetmab and Canine Atopic Dermatitis Immunotherapeutic and commonly abbreviated as CADI).

Uses of Cytopoint® for Dogs

  • Cytopoint® has been used in the treatment of allergies such as atopy (Allergic Dermatitis in Dogs) and those allergies caused by fleas, food or other contact substances.

Precautions and Side Effects of Cytopoint for Dogs

  • While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, Cytopoint® may cause side effects in some dogs.
  • Cytopoint® should not be used in dogs with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
  • Cytopoint has been shown to be safe if given with antibiotics, vaccines, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and/or allergen immunotherapy.
  • There have been limited long-term studies to identify side effects. The most common side effect from Cytopoint® noted to date has been lethargy for the first 1 -2 days following an injection.
  • There is some evidence that some dogs may show a diminished response to Cytopoint® over time suggesting that they are developing antibodies to Cytopoint®.

How Cytopoint® Is Supplied

  • Cypoint® is available in in single-use 1-mL vials in four concentrations: 10, 20, 30 or 40 mg/vials. This drug is dosed by weight with some dogs getting a combination of vials to active the appropriate amount of medication.

Dosing Information of Cytopoint® for Dogs

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
  • In dogs for an anti-itching effect, Cytopoint® is generally given once every 4 to 8 weeks as a subcutaneous injection.
  • Some dogs will need year-round continuous treatment and others seasonally and only during flare-ups.
  • Cytopoint® is most commonly dosed at 2 mg/kg body weight (0.9 mg/pound). For convenience, the manufacturer provides a dosing table by weight to be used as a guideline.
  • The duration of administration depends on the condition being treated, response to the medication, and the development of any adverse effects. Be certain to complete the prescription unless specifically directed otherwise by your veterinarian. Even if your pet appears to be feeling better, the entire treatment plan should be completed to prevent relapse.

Resources & References for Cytopoint

  • Plumb’s Veterinary Handbook by Donald C. Plumb, 9th Edition
  • ASPCA Pet Poison Hotline
  • Current Veterinary Therapy XV, Bonagura and Twedt
  • Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. Mometamax gentamicin sulfate, mometasone furoate monohydrate, and clotrimazole suspension [product information]. Madison, NJ, USA.
  • Pet Poison Helpline
  • Muller and Kirk’s Small Animal Dermatology, Miller WH, Griffin CE, Campbell KL. 7th edition

What is a Pet Microchip Scanner?

What is a Microchip?

The microchip is a tiny computer chip or transponder about the size of a grain of rice. It stores an identification number and transmits that information through radio waves to the appropriate scanner.

Typically, the microchip number contains 10 characters, making available 275 billion separate codes. This makes it highly unlikely that the same identifying code will be used more than once. Rest assured that your pet will have a unique microchip code. Learn more about How Pet Microchips Work here.

Microchips are composed of a silicon chip and tiny antenna encased in biocompatible glass. The microchips come pre-loaded in a syringe, and the needle is inserted just under the skin between the shoulder blades where the microchip is implanted. The entire procedure takes less than 10 seconds and is only as painful as a vaccination injection.

After injection, the tissue surrounding the microchip reacts to this new substance and forms a casing. This helps prevent migration of the microchip. Since the microchip is made of biocompatible material, rejection is uncommon and infection at the site is very rare.

Learn more about pet microchips, how much they cost and how they work – go to All About the Pet Microchip: Is it Worth it? 

What is a Pet Microchip Scanner?

The microchip scanner is used as a power source for the microchip to receive the message encoded in the chip. The scanner uses electromagnetic energy to empower the chip to transmit its message through radio waves, which are normally at specific frequencies for each manufacturer of microchips. For this reason, in the past, not all scanners could read all brands of microchips.

In an effort to address this potential problem, in 1996, the International Standards Organization published that universal readers must be produced. That has allowed for the scanners to identify chips from various manufacturers.

Scanners are often provided to animal control, humane shelters and other rescue organizations at no cost in an effort to ensure that every stray dog or cat is scanned and those with chips are reunited with their owners. Veterinarians can also purchase scanners for use in their hospital.

What are the Types of Pet Microchip Scanners?

Companies that make and sell microchips generally also have a scanner. The most common are the AVID and HomeAgain scanners. There are also independent companies that make universal scanners that will read the various types of microchips.

The Controversy Over Chips and Pet Scanners

Several years ago, there were multiple types of chips and scanners that read them. A problem was created when one company (Banfield) introduced a chip incompatible with other readers. Since then, the chip is not being made. Learn more about it this article: Confused about Microchips?

The current companies that produce microchips are good and compatible with other scanners. AVID and HomeAgain are great options. Some areas of the country seem to have more of one brand of chips than others. Ask your vet for advice what chip is used most commonly in your area and which they recommend.

Below is information about the two microchip companies mentioned above:

  • AVID® – For more information on AVID® microchips, visit them here or call 1-800-336-AVID.
  • HomeAgain® – For more information on HomeAgain® microchips, visit them here or call the HomeAgain Pet Recovery Service at 1-866-PET-ID24 (1-866-738-4324).

Should You Have a Microchip Scanner In Your Home?

Most pet owners that have a pet with a microchip do not have a scanner. You don’t need one at home. The only time you need a scanner is if you find a lost pet and at which time you can take them to your local vet clinic or shelter where they have a scanner.

Registering Your Pet

Even if your dog or cat has a microchip and is properly scanned, without an accessible and accurate database, this information will not return your pet to you.

When contacted with the identification code of a missing pet, the database personnel can retrieve the pet’s information. Each microchip that is sold is registered to the veterinary hospital or shelter that purchased it. It is the responsibility of the veterinary hospital and you to record your pet’s unique microchip identification number in his record and notify the microchip database.

In addition, you can register your pet in your own name for faster notification when your lost pet has been found. There is a charge for this service. These microchip databases are usually available 24 hours a day and are even accessible via the Internet. But remember, the database, as with computers, is only as good as the data it contains. Annual confirmation of your pet’s microchip information is strongly recommended.

How Pet Microchips Can Help You Find Your Missing Pet

Does your pet need a microchip? Learn more in these articles – go to Microchipping for Your Cat’s Safety or Should You Use a Dog Microchip?

Additional Articles that May Be of Interest About Pet Microchip Scanners

All About the Pet Microchip: Is it Worth it?
How Do Pet Microchips Work?
Should You Use a Dog Microchip?
How Much Should You Expect For Dog Vet Costs?
Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Clinics vs. Your Local Vet
What is Pet Insurance?
How Does Pet Insurance Work?
Questions To Ask When Choosing A New Vet
One Dog, Three Vet Visits – Pet Insurance Helps!
Pet Insurance: What It Covers & What It Doesn’t
A Major Investment: The Costs Associated with Dog Ownership

How Do Pet Microchips Work?

The benefit of having your pet microchipped is to ensure that you are reunited with your dog or cat in the case your pet is lost. Most pet owners that experience the loss of a pet believe that would never happen to them. That is…until it does happen. Dogs and cats are adventurous creatures that will often escape and run through an open door if the opportunity exists.

Some pet owners consider microchips for their pet and want to know more. A common question is “how do pet microchips work?” We will review how pet microchips work and how they can help you find your pet.

How Do Pet Microchips Work To Help You Find Your Pet?

A microchip is a radio-frequency identification (RFID) implant that stores information such as a unique registration number. RFID was originally created as a Soviet-era espionage tool. Today, RFID technology is used commonly to identify pets.

RFID uses radio waves to send data between two devices, the chip, and the scanner. The chip stores data only. The chip does not transmit data. This is important as microchips are commonly confused with chips that transmit data such as GPS information.

The size of a chip is approximately the size of a grain of rice. When a chip is implanted under the skin, a handheld scanner is waved over the skin which reads the radio frequency of the chip and displays this information on a screen which is often a registration code or number. Once this number or code is recorded, the chip company is contacted and given the registration number. The company will look up that number and share the contact information associated with that number such as the name and phone number of the owner so they can be contacted about their lost pet.

Have you wondered if a pet microchip is right for you? Learn more – Should You Use a Dog Microchip? or Microchipping for Your Cat’s Safety.

How Big A Range Microchips Have?

There is confusion about the function of a microchip. A microchip is not the same thing as a GPS chip. A pet microchip is not a tracking device. It does not allow you to see where your pet is or track your pet and does not have a range.

On the other hand, GPS tracking devices that do allow you to track your pet but are totally different from a microchip. GPS uses the Global Navigation Satellite System to provide tracking using a grid of satellites by exercising microwave signals that are transmitted to GPS devices. The GPS tracking provides information on location, time, direction and speed.

It is important to make this distinction between an RFID microchip and a GPS tracker.

What Kind Of Pets Can Get Microchips

All kinds of pets can get microchips which include dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, exotic animals, and many more. The most common pets that get chips are dogs and cats.

What Happens When A Pet Gets Lost?

If your dog or cat escapes the yard or your home and is found, this is generally what happens:

  • The lost pet may be found by a Good Samaritan, police officer, or an animal control officer. They proceed to take the found pet to a local vet clinic, shelter, or humane society.
  • The pet is generally examined to determine if there is a collar or tag on the pet that identifies the pet and the owner. If there is a tag and identification, that owner is contacted.
  • If there is no tag on the pet, the pet is scanned with a handheld microchip scanner to determine if he or she has a chip. If a chip is found, the code or registration number is displayed on the scanner screen. Learn more about What is a Pet Microchip Scanner here.
  • At this point – two possible things will happen.
    the company that the chip is registered to is called to find out the owner’s contact information that often includes the name, address, and phone number. If the chip is registered to you, your information will be provided.
  • If the chip is not registered to you and only to the shelter that placed the chip or your veterinary clinic, they will be contacted. If it is a weekend or holiday, there may not be someone available to provide the owner information until the next business day.

Pet Microchip Recommendations

The following are recommended for microchipping:

  • It is recommended that all dogs and cats be microchipped. Even those pets that do not venture outside may escape one day. You never know when the guy fixing your furnace or plumbing will leave the door open!
  • Register your pet. This is critical to ensure the chip company has your name and phone number. This may require that you pay an additional fee but that is worth it!
  • Even if your dog or cat has a microchip, it is recommended that your pet also have a tag that has his name and your phone number as well as an identifier on the tag that indicates the type of chip.
  • Periodically test the chip. During your routine annual exams, ask your veterinarian to scan the chip to make sure it is still working.
  • On an annual basis, make sure the microchip company has your correct information. People move, change jobs, get different emails, and phone numbers. Make sure this information is up to date!

Have you wondered how much it costs to have a microchip placed in your dog or cat? All About the Pet Microchip: Is it Worth it?

What Kind of Pet Microchip You Should Choose

Several companies offer microchips with the two most common being AVID® and HomeAgain®. Ask your veterinarian for their recommendation.

Additional Articles that May Be of Interest About How Pet Microchips Work

All About the Pet Microchip: Is it Worth it?
Should You Use a Dog Microchip? 
Microchipping for Your Cat’s Safety
What is a Pet Microchip Scanner? 
What is Pet Insurance?
How Does Pet Insurance Work?
When is the Best Time to Get Pet Insurance for Your Cat?
Questions To Ask When Choosing A New Vet
How to Have a Trauma-Free Veterinary Visit for Your Cat

All About the Pet Microchip: Is it Worth it?

Pet identification is important. There are various ways you can identify your pet including a collar, tag, tattoo, and/or pet microchip. Pet microchips are especially useful because many lost pets can also lose their collars.

A pet microchip is a small implantable device that when scanned identifies a unique code that can identify the pet and the owner. They are permanent methods of identification that can reunite lost pets back with their owners.

How Pet Microchips Work

A microchip is small (about the size of a grain of rice), compact and easily inserted under the skin. When a microchip scanner is used to scan a dog or cat with a microchip, a unique number will come up which identifies your pet and ultimately you.

Here is a recent example of how a pet microchip works. Recently a dog in my community ran out of the house when the neighbor’s child left the front door open. The owner could not catch their dog. So about two hours later, the dog was picked up by a Good Samaritan and brought to the local veterinary clinic where I was working. Somewhere in this dogs adventure, he lost his collar. The dog was scanned and a microchip was found. We called the microchip company, gave them the microchip number, and the company gave us the owners name, address, and phone number. We called the owner and within 30 minutes, the dog “Buffy” was reunited with his very anxious and happy owner. Learn more about How Do Pet Microchips Work? 

How Much Does a Pet Microchip Cost?

The cost of placing a microchip in a dog or cat varies with the hospital or clinic, type of chip, and your location in the country. The cost range most often is $45 to $150. The microchip fee may be included in the adoption or purchase fee. Some pets are sold or adopted with microchips already in place such as from various humane societies, shelters, and/or breeders.

The cost associated with the microchip generally includes registration in the microchip recovery database and varies by company.

How Long Does a Microchip Last?

According to most sources, the microchip will last at least 20 years and most chip companies will guarantee the chip for the life of the animal.

Are Pet Microchips Worth It?

A pet microchip is worth it if there is ever a chance your dog or cat could be separated from you, lost or get out. Things do happen. Here is one example.

A client that I knew had their dog come up missing last year. They looked everywhere. They posted on social media, had signs up in the neighborhood, contacted shelters, and local vet clinics. They didn’t know what happen. They thought either the dog was injured and died or ran off and got lost.

Seven months later, they received a call that a shelter had their dog. This shelter was 800 miles away! They came to find out a neighbor up the road, one they didn’t even know, took the dog with them when they moved 6 states away. The dog ran away from their house and ended up at the shelter, was scanned for a microchip, and the true owner found. The dog was reunited with its true owner back in Ohio. Unbelievable!

So are pet microchips worth it? I believe they are. Learn more in these two articles – Should You Use a Dog Microchip? and Microchipping for Your Cat’s Safety.

Can You Feel Your Pet’s Microchip?

Some clients ask if you can feel a microchip. The answer is that it depends. It is related to where the microchip is placed and the confirmation of your pet.

You can sometimes feel a microchip in some small dogs and cats that are thin with short hair coats. The pet microchip is generally placed over the shoulder blades and is about the size of a grain of rice. When the microchip is placed in slightly deeper tissues, you cannot feel it. When placed more superficial, you can feel it. Some pet microchips will migrate and move to areas over the chest wall. There can be less fat in these areas making them easier to feel on small dogs.

How and Where Are Pet Microchips Placed?

Pet microchips are most often placed using a large syringe over the shoulder blades. This is just behind the head, over the scruff of the neck. Placement generally causes very little pain and is very well tolerated by most pets. The procedure varies with the clinic but may include these steps:

  • The microchip packet is opened and the contents are evaluated. This generally includes a tag and clip that can go on your pet’s collar that indicates that your pet has a microchip and the kind of chip, several stickers that include the chip number, registration form, instructions for registration, and the syringe and chip.
  • The chip is scanned to confirm that it works and the number is accurate.
  • The area where the microchip is to be placed is disinfected with alcohol.
  • Some clinics use ice packs to cool the skin over the area where the microchip will be placed to help numb the skin to minimize discomfort.
  • A technician restrains the pet briefly while the chip is inserted. It is inserted like a routine vaccine injection in the subcutaneous area (an area between the skin and muscle). The needle on the syringe is bigger than a routine shot when the needle goes in, the plunger is pressed which pushes the microchip. Any discomfort is brief and just a little more than a routine vaccine shot.
  • After the procedure, the pet is scanned to ensure the chip is present and working. Learn more about the scanners in What is a Pet Microchip Scanner? In general, this is a very quick and easy procedure.
  • Once the microchip is injected, over time a thin layer of connective tissue will form around the chip, and anchor it in place.
  • The final step is getting the chip registered to you! The company needs to pair the chip number with your information so if your pet is found, they can also find you. Many veterinary clinics will help you with this process or even do it for you. It is critical to provide your name, address, and best contact number. A cell phone number works best, as you can be more easily reached 24/7. Note: If at any time your contact information or cell phone number changes, please be sure to contact the microchip company with the new contact information.

Even though placing a microchip in a dog or cat is easy and fairly painless, many pets get their microchip during spay or castration procedures. This is nice because your pet is already sedated and they feel no discomfort.

Who Implants Microchips?

Most veterinary clinics and shelters will provide microchip service. Call your local vet or shelter to determine if they do this procedure and the cost.

What Care Does a Microchip Require?

The pet microchip requires no care or maintenance.

What are the Side Effects of Getting a Pet Microchip?

Side effects are very uncommon. After implanting the microchip, there can be some bleeding at the site of injection (just as you would with any injection). It would be possible to have hair loss or an infection but these are very uncommon and this author has never seen a problem with a microchip implantation.

Which Companies Offer Microchips?

Several companies offer microchips with the two most common being AVID® and HomeAgain®.

Why is My Cat Licking Plastic?

Have you ever seen a cat or your cat licking plastic? The truth is that some cats love plastic! Many cat owners wonder why their cat may lick plastic but also wonder if it is dangerous. We will answer both of these questions in this article.

Why Cats Are Attracted to Plastic

There are many reasons why plastic may be attractive to cats. Some reasons have to do with how the bags hold odors, ingredients in the plastic bags that may attract, and the sound the plastic makes. Below are the most common causes of a cat licking plastic include:

  • Food wrappers. Some cats are attracted to plastic food wrappers and most commonly those that once wrapped lunchmeat. There may be residues of food in the plastic that they can lick. This is especially dangerous because if there is food in a crack, a cat can sometimes begin to eat the plastic.
  • Sound. Some cats love the little crackle sounds that come from plastic bags. The high pitched sounds may mimic the sounds of little prey such as birds or rodents. Cats love to mimic chasing prey and are commonly how they play.
  • Food smells. Most plastic bags are made of ethylene or ethene polymers with the most common grocery bag specifically made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE). This type of bag is very absorbent of odors and commonly takes on the odors of the products they hold. Cats have an amazing sense of smell that can attract them to many bags that held appealing items such as chicken, fish or steak.
  • Chemicals. Some plastic bags are treated with stearates which are derived from the saturated fatty acid that can be found in oils, vegetables, and animals. Stearates give bags the ability to float on water. They are not toxic but the taste can be appealing to some cats, leading to a cat licking plastic.
  • Animal Fat. Many types of plastic bags are made with “slip agents” which are used to reduce friction in the product. These agents are frequently made from beef tallow which is a beef fat. Some cats enjoy the subtle tastes in the product.
  • Corn Starch. Some plastic bags are made from environmentally friendly components made to be biodegradable. One of these ingredients used in plastic bags includes cornstarch. This ingredient can be appealing to some cats.
  • Pica. Some cats desire to eat non-food items such as plastic or metal. The medical term for this behavior is “Pica”. Some scientists believe Pica is from a nutritional deficiency and others believe it is a behavior created from cats that are weaned too early. Regardless of the cause, it can be dangerous if the plastic is ingested.

The Danger of Cat Licking Plastic

The biggest concern with a cat licking plastic is if the licking turns to eating. Plastic is not digestible and when ingested can become caught in the stomach and the intestines which can cause a life-threatening problem. This can require surgery. An article that might be helpful is Gastrointestinal Foreign Bodies in Cats.

How To Recognize if Something is Wrong

If your cat takes an occasional lick of a bag and doesn’t ingest it, then it probably isn’t a big problem. However, if your cat ingests any part of the bag or the licking plastic behavior is excessive or associated with other symptoms such as weight loss, lethargy, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea or any other abnormalities, then it is time to worry.

If you believe your cat licking plastic is excessive or you have concerns, the safest thing to do is to see your veterinarian. They will likely do a physical examination and possibly blood work on your cat to evaluate for any underlying medical problem.

Some cats may lick plastic because of boredom or nutritional deficiencies. If your cat is licking plastic, here are a couple more things you can do.

  1. Ensure you are feeding quality food. Ensure your cat is on a good quality AAFCO approved food for her life stage (adult, kitten or senior). This will ensure that your cat is getting all the protein and nutrients required for your cat’s health.
  2. Prevent boredom. Provide plenty of play time for your cat and know your cat’s toy preference. Make sure her environment is enriched with scratching posts, interesting windows to look out, potentially bird feeders to watch, and some cat trees. Cats love high cat trees or perches where they can feel safe and observe their environments.

Tips For Keeping Plastic Out Of Reach

The best way to prevent a problem with your cat is to keep plastic away from your cat. Things that can help include:

  • Request paper over plastic bags if you have a choice at your local store.
  • If you take home products in plastic bags, once you unpack them be diligent in safely storing them away after unpacking the bags.
  • Place all plastic bags, tape and other products made of plastic in a sealed secure trash can.
  • Communicate your concern over cat licking plastic with everyone in your home. This can help create consistency.

Additional Articles that May Be of Interest About Cat Licking

Why Do Cats Lick You? 
My Cat is Licking Her Fur Off, What Do I Do?
What it Means When Your Cat is Smacking Her Lips 
What is Pet Insurance?
How Does Pet Insurance Work?
When is the Best Time to Get Pet Insurance for Your Cat?
Questions To Ask When Choosing A New Vet
How to Have a Trauma-Free Veterinary Visit for Your Cat