Should I Microchip My Chihuahua?

Is it necessary? More importantly, is it safe?

Microchipping is becoming more and more popular among pet owners. Many have asked, though; are they safe? It’s hard to think about injecting something foreign into your dog or cat — especially one as small as a chihuahua. You may wonder, does it hurt? Here are some things you should consider before making a decision to chip or not to chip your Chi.

What is a microchip?

A microchip is a small glass bead about the size of a grain of rice. It has a radio transmitter, an antenna, and a computer chip with a 10 digit code. The chip must be read by a scanner. What it is not is a GPS system for tracking your dog to find them.  It is injected under the skin between the shoulder blades.

Are they necessary?

Does he/she bolt out the door every chance they get? Does your Chi know the “come” command? Does he/she respond to it every time? If the answer to the first question is yes and the second question is no, then a microchip may be a good idea.

Here’s a sobering fact. Every year millions, yes that’s millions, either escape or get lost every year. Less than 10% are found or returned. Even if your dog (or cat) has a microchip the ability of it being beneficial depends on whether or not it can be scanned.

Another fact is that there are four different kinds of microchips in the United States and not all facilities have a scanner that can read all four types. That is something I didn’t know until recently.If your Chi is microchipped, make sure that it is registered and that your information is up to date. If not, even if your dog is scanned, they won’t be able to find you.

Are they safe?

Just as with any other procedure you have to weigh the risks versus the benefits. What are the risks? One concern is that any time a foreign object is injected into the body there is a chance that the body will reject it. According to Dr. Karen Becker DVM, “there have been two documented cases in veterinary medicine where sarcoma or fibrosarcoma, two types of soft tissue tumors, occurred at the site of the injection”.  Although two cases do not sound like much, Dr. Becker also believes that there likely are many cases that have not been documented.

There are other problems that could occur too. When the microchip is implanted under the skin it sometimes may move all the way up to the neck or even all the way down to the belly. If the dog is then scanned, not every person or facility will necessarily know to scan the whole body. For that reason, it’s a good idea to have your vet scan it every so often to make sure that it hasn’t moved.

microchip a chihuahua, small brown and whit dog having a microchip inserted, showing the needle close up
Close up of a microchip needle

Does it hurt? Most veterinarians and most anyone else you ask will tell you that it is painless. But, according to Dr. Becker, when inserted it is actually very painful and in her office, they always give them a local anesthetic. I have had all my Chihuahua’s microchipped.

Sadly, the veterinarian that I talked to said it was painless. They did it with no anesthesia while I was in the room and I will tell you that none of my dogs even flinched. But, I will also tell you that now that I know better, I would never have a dog microchipped without some kind of pain medication again!

Are their other options?

There is an alternative. Although Dr. Becker says that it continues to be highly debated in veterinary medicine. That is tattooing. Your phone number can be tattooed on your dog’s belly or on the thigh. A problem with that obviously is that you will have to make sure you have the same phone number for all of your dog’s life.

microchip a chihuahua, a veterinarian vaccinating or microchipping a chihuahua on white backgroundI can give you first-hand experience on this subject. Someone suggested this to me when one of my dogs was little. Not having much experience with dogs at that time, I decided that would be a good idea. I can tell you that I regret it to this day and will never do that again.

She was tattooed on her belly. Believe me a 10 digit phone number on a Chihuahua’s little belly is extremely noticeable and ugly. After a few years, you couldn’t even read the phone number! Sometimes when she sat, it looked like she had pubic hair! Again, it is a personal and individual decision to tattoo or not to tattoo.

Should you microchip a Chihuahua?

The decision whether or not to microchip your dog depends on your individual circumstances and your dog. But it is good and I believe necessary to be well informed before you make that decision.

So, let me know what you think. Do you believe every dog should be microchipped? Tell us would you do it? Why or why not? Do you have experience (good or bad) with having your pet microchipped?




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