Should I have My Pet Microchipped?
Veterinarians agree that microchipping is the most effective way to ensure that a pet that gets lost will be returned to its owners. And they certainly want you and your pet to be joyfully reunited!
As many as one in three pets get separated from their owners at some point in their lives. Even the most responsible pet owners can get separated from their furry companions.
- Indoor cats can slip out when service providers come to your home.
- Dogs can escape from the groomers or pet sitters.
- If there is a fire, the pet will be scared and may run away.
- Pets involved in car accidents can escape.
- Pets get scared off because of fireworks, etc.
Why Microchips Instead of Tags?
Collars with tags can break or slip off. Microchips are permanent, can’t be tampered with, and have proven to be safe. Tags can only provide limited information, while microchips are connected to a database that maintains your information. If you move, you can easily update the information with no need to reorder tags.
What Don’t Microchips Do?
The microchips do not act like GPS trackers. You will not be able to track your pet’s location.
The microchip also does not replace rabies tags, which may be required where you live.
How Is the Microchip Implanted?
A needle is used to insert the chip right under the skin. It’s smaller than a grain of rice.
In dogs and cats, it is usually placed between the shoulder blades. The chip is coated in a substance that will cause the animal’s body to bind with it, so it stays where it is implanted.
If your veterinarian wants to put your pet under anesthesia to implant the chip, you will have to drop him or her off in the morning. If they are awake for the procedure, they will feel a pinch. If they struggle, they could cause themselves more pain. If you expect your pet will struggle, you may want to consider anesthesia.
Don’t worry–our compassionate staff will provide gentle, loving care for your pet, before, during, and after the procedure.
When Can My Pet Get a Microchip?
Depending upon the size of the animal, you need to wait until they are at least six to eight weeks old. The smaller the breed, the older they will need to be to get chipped. Adults can be done at any time.
You can have the microchip inserted the same day they are spayed or neutered, or need another surgery. It can be done while your animal is still under anesthesia. It will save you an extra trip to the office and therefore time and money.
If you want the microchip implanted but don’t have any other procedures planned, discuss with your vet if your animal will needs be put under anesthesia or not.
Does It Hurt?
The needle is larger than needles used to inject vaccines or medications, so yes, they’ll feel the pinch of the needle, but only for a moment. If the animal is under anesthesia when it is done, they won’t feel anything.
Registering Your Pet’s Chip
Once the chip is implanted, you will be given information on how to register it. You must provide your contact information to the company that manufactured the chip. Your information will be kept safe and secure. Registration can usually be done online and only takes a few minutes.
It is essential that you complete the registration form, or the company will not be able to identify your pet.
If You Adopted a Pet From a Shelter
Many rescues and shelters are routinely chipping the animals before they adopt them out. Professional breeders may also microchip the animals they sell. If you are not sure, your vet can scan your new arrival to see a chip. The process will cause no discomfort to your pet.
If there is a chip, you will need to transfer the registration so your pet can be traced back to you, rather than the rescue or breeder. You will need proof that you now own your pet to transfer the registration.
Keep Your Information Up To Date
If you move, remember to change the information on your microchip registration. It can usually be done online and only takes a short time. Not doing so can mean delays in getting your pet back to you.
What if My Pet Gets Lost and then Found?
Veterinarians, animal control, shelters, and animal rescues are usually equipped with scanners so they can identify lost pets. The scanner is a handheld device that reads the chip when placed near the implant area.
When the chip is scanned, the reader will see the company name and a unique number. The finder can then call the company, which in turn will contact you to let you know where your pet is. The person who finds your lost pet will not be given your personal information.
Tags, on the other hand, advertise your phone number to everyone.
Are There Risks?
Yes, there are some risks, but the chances of the microchip causing a problem are very, very small.
- Infection — The veterinarian will insert a properly sterilized needle in the site. That means chances of infection are extremely slim.
- Migration — There have been reports of chips migrating to other parts of the body. That won’t hurt your animal, but the scanner may not find the chip unless they scan the whole body.
- Cancer — In extremely rare cases (a one in a million chance, according to one study), develop cancer at the implant site.
- Allergic Reactions — Rare complications include allergic reactions to the coating on the chip.
The Benefits Outweigh The Risks
According To The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), studies have shown that the benefits of microchipping far outweigh the risks. Pets that are chipped have a much better chance of being returned home.
One study showed:
- Less than 2% of lost cats that were not chipped, found their way home. Likewise, cats that were chipped were reunited with their owners 38.5% of the time.
- For dogs, 21.9% of non-chipped dogs got home compared to 52.2% of chipped pooches.
Losing a pet is a heartbreaking experience, one no veterinarian wants to see their clients go through.
Would you like to discuss microchipping with a vet? Give us a call.