Have you ever wondered why animal care experts like veterinarians and shelters stress the importance of microchipping your pets? Sure, most of us love chips, but not those kind. Is it really so important that it was necessary to make May National Chip Your Pet Month? You may have legitimate questions about the process, like does it hurt my pet? Are there any risks involved? What does a microchip even do?
Because we offer public microchip services (yes, you can make an appointment to get your pet microchipped by us, plus we microchip all of our animals), we thought this was the perfect month to answer a few of those questions. So let’s dig in!
Does it hurt? A microchip is about the size of an uncooked grain of rice. It fits snugly beneath the skin in the subcutaneous layer. Like all injections, it does sting a little. It’s injected using a thick needle. Some vets implant the microchips during spays or neuters since the animal is already under anesthesia, but the microchipping procedure itself only takes a few moments and heals quickly on its own without the use of surgery or anesthetics.
What are problems associated with microchips? According to a study of over 4 million animals by the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA), only 391 adverse reactions have been reported – that is less than 1 in 10,000 animals! Most of those have been migration of the microchip from its original implantation site. Sometimes swelling, hair loss, infection, and failure of the microchip to work were reported as well in much smaller numbers.
What do microchips do? Microchips are not GPS tracking devices, nor do they contain personal information of yours that will make it easy to steal your identity. What they do offer is a current address and point of contact for someone who finds the animal in case it gets lost or stolen. It is like a permanently placed tag, but dog tags with current information are still recommended to use alongside microchips since those collars and ID are visible without a scanner. Veterinary clinics and animal shelters scan new animals at intake to see if there is any owner information, then if a microchip is found, they try to contact that person in an attempt to reunite the lost pet. Without microchips, only 21.9% of dogs make it back to their owners, while only 1.8% of cats are reported as returned to owners! On the other hand, when cats and dogs are microchipped, they have a 52% chance of being reunited with their owners. This statistic would be higher if more dogs and cats were microchipped and if those registrations were kept up-to-date with accurate contact information every year.
So there you have it, three simple facts about microchipping! We would be happy to answer any other questions you might have about it if you’re holding back from microchipping your pet.. We also suggest having your vet do a regular scan of the chip each year during the annual check-up, just to make sure the information contained on it is still accurate. Otherwise, feel free to call us for a quick microchip scan as well! Our goal is that every animal stays in a good home.