Microchips for Pets

Pet MicrochipsIt hasn’t exactly been easy keeping up with your pet’s collar. There was that unexpected waterfall on the canoe trip. Staffing issues at your groomer. The playful, frisky terrier down the street. Consider a microchip for your pet. Tiny, accurate, and inexpensive, according to one study, dogs with microchips were reunited with their owners over 50% of the time, compared to just 22% of dogs without microchip identification.

How Does a Microchip Work?

About the size of a grain of rice, a microchip is a tiny electronic transponder encased inside a glass cylinder. When a scanner passes nearby, it detects the radio frequency transmitted by the chip, and the scanner’s display shows the pet’s identification number. With this number, stored information including owner contact info and sometimes even your pet’s medical information can be accessed. Have you been in town long enough to have a nickname at the local Irish pub, but still haven’t updated the contact info on your dog’s microchip? Animal Control will only call your old Seattle phone number so many times before they give up and send your dog to a shelter. Make sure your pet’s microchip information is always up to date.

Is a Microchip Painful for My Pet?

Your doctor’s office already knows to have smelling salts on hand when you come in for your annual flu shot. Dogs don’t usually mind the injection of a microchip from a veterinarian. Your pet’s microchip can be implanted during a biannual preventative care visit, and while no anesthesia is required to implant a microchip, if your pet is already under anesthesia for another procedure, the microchip can usually be implanted at that time.

Is My Privacy at Risk?

Are you a Russian Expat, concerned about KGB agents finding your new address? Worried that if your dog is abducted by aliens, the chip will lead them right to you? Afraid that weird guy with the pink mohawk might scan your dog at the park and start sending you mushy text messages. Relax. The only information about you contained in the database is what you choose to provide when you register the chip or update your information. There are safeguards in place so that an unauthorized person can’t access your information.

Are Microchips Dangerous to My Pet?

A small fraction of pets implanted with microchips have reported problems- most of which involved migration of the chip to another part of the body. In other rare cases, infection and hair loss have been reported. And while some recent studies have indicated that tumors may have developed in rats and mice as a result of microchips, the evidence is far from conclusive. There have been just a few cases of tumors in dogs and cats that appear to be the result of a microchip. Considering that your dog is more likely to cover ‘Yellow Submarine” on piano than develop cancer or another ailment from a microchip, the benefit of finding your lost pet far outweighs any health risks.

How do I Maintain My Pet’s Microchip?

With maintenance requirements just slightly more complicated than a toaster, your pet’s microchip won’t be one of your most pressing concerns. All you really have to do is register the chip, keep the information up to date, and have your veterinarian scan your pet’s microchip during biannual preventative care visits to make sure the chip is still functioning and can be detected. For those memory challenged pet owners who still fumble with your kids’ birthdays, the AAHA and the AVMA have created “Check the Chip Day.” Every year on August 15th, the world pauses to check the accuracy of our pets’ microchips, and dramatically increase the likelihood of slobbery reunions in many languages.