Is Microchipping Your Dog Safe?
Some people advocate always microchipping your dog. Some say that it is painful and they would never do it to their dog(s). What do you think? I went to the experts to get answers.
What is a microchip?
A microchip is a small computer chip the size of a grain of rice that is implanted in the dog with a hypodermic needle near the shoulder blades. A microchip contains four components: a capacitor, antenna, connecting wire and a covering. They have no battery and are sealed in a biocompatible glass covered by a sheath to prevent migration. They are activated by a low-power radio frequency signal when a scanner is passed over the site where it is implanted. It can remain in place for the rest of the dog’s life.
If someone finds a lost pet and takes them to a shelter or a veterinarian that has a scanner, the scanner will detect the chip and they can call the registry to find the owner’s information. Lost pets have been reunited with their owners after being lost for years and at great distances. Read about Dash the Chihuahua that had been lost for 8 years and found: here
Microchipping your dog will not guarantee that you will find them should they get lost. It is not foolproof, however, the chances of finding them are greater than finding a lost dog that is not microchipped. There are several brands of chips and scanners and all are not compatible as of yet.
Is it painful?
Some say that it may sting, but it goes away quickly. Others say it can be quite painful and that it should be done under a local anesthetic. I have had all three of my Chis micro chipped without anesthetic and none of them made a sound as if it were painful. However, after having done this research, I will not take the chance with another dog. I will insist on an anesthetic from now on. Whether you do or not is up to you and your veterinarian.
Is it necessary to microchip your dog?
Most humane societies and rescue organizations require that adopted pets be microchipped. So, if your dog came from a shelter, they probably have been microchipped. There are some things to consider before having yours microchipped. Weighing the risks with the benefits.
Millions of pets are lost every year and less than 10 percent are ever found and returned. Questions to ask yourself are:
- Is my dog an escape artist?
- Does my dog look for ways to get out of the fenced in backyard?
- Does he try to bolt every time I open the door?
- Does he come to me EVERY time I call him?
If you answered yes to the first three and no to the last one, the benefits of microchipping your dog probably out-weigh the risks.
What are the risks?
Any time you implant a foreign body into your pet, whether it’s a metal plate for a fracture or a microchip, there are risks.
According to Dr. Karen Becker, 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. But, Dr. Becker believes there are likely many more cases that have not been documented.
There are also risks of an autoimmune reaction or a degenerative reaction where your pet’s immune system becomes aggravated or chronically inflamed which can lead to tissue degeneration and abnormal cell growth or cancer at the site of the implant. Also, it is very important to remember to keep your information is complete and up to date with the registry.
As with any medical procedure, you have to weigh the risks versus the benefits and whether to microchip your dog or not is a highly individual decision.
If it is not possible for some reason to train your dog to come when called and he is at great risk of getting lost, it may be best to have him microchipped.
For more information about microchipping animals, see the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website.