WebMD states that there are as many as 8 million pets that end up in shelters every year and out of that amount less than 15% to 20% are ever returned to their families. Keep in mind that out of that 8 million the majority are abandoned animals. On the upside the National Microchip Database states that out of a study of 7,700 stray animals displaced 52.2% of the microchipped animals were reunited with their owners yet only 21.9% were returned that didn’t have a valid microchip.
So how does microchipping work? What happens when your dog ends up in the shelter? Most likely if your dog ends up at the shelter it has been picked up by your local animal control officer first. In the state of Massachusetts animal control is mandated to scan for a microchip. This results in easy and almost immediate placement of the animal back into your care. The chip is scanned and the officer contacts the establishment to which the scan provides. The owner is contacted and if all vaccines and licensing are up to date you can retrieve your furry family member right away. So the question is, is it in the best interest of you, the owner, and your dog to be microchipped?
Although it sounds like an invasive technique microchipping a dog is really a simple procedure and some owners even do it themselves and register their dog online. A kit can be purchased through the mail. Most pet owners opt to have the procedure done at the veterinarian’s office for a small fee of around $50. The procedure is done by inserting a needle into the dogs skin, usually between the shoulder blades, as this is the best place to put the microchip because it is less likely to be irritated by the physical activity of the dog. This keeps the chip in place and eliminates any irritation or shifting of the chip below the dogs skin surface. To see how simple the process is watch Dr. Mohlman preforming the procedure on YouTube.
There are unknowns to having Microchipping done to your dog as well. Most people don’t realize that there is a life span of approximately 12-20 years but the chips have been known to fail earlier. Most chips cannot be identified by touch because the chip can move into the muscle of the dog. You can test the strength and location of your dog’s microchip by purchasing a scanner online. Purchasing a home scanner is a simple way to check the strength and location of your dog’s microchip to insure its effective. If the microchip scanner does not locate the chip while searching your pet try scanning other parts of your dog to make sure that the microchip has not shifted locations. Most likely if it has it is not detrimental to your pets health but you can contact your veterinarian to make sure and also have them document the location of the microchip. Always scan to ensure your chip is working properly before taking your dog on vacation. This ensures that if your dog becomes lost at an unfamiliar location the animal control officer in that area has a head start at retrieving your dog. If you haven’t purchased a home device pop into your veterinarian or local shelter just to make sure your chip is working properly before heading off on vacation.
In some situations even deeper consideration must be taken before microchipping your dog. In a very low number of dogs that have been micro chipped there are set backs; aside form shifting and malfunctioning some dogs have gotten infections at the injection site, even more rarely tumors have developed at the location, and there have been a very rare few that have had a life threatening microchipping occurrence. There are newer studies released with concerns of cancers being linked to microchipping. I recommend researching this further and keeping in mind your breed of dog. Some breeds are more susceptible to cancers than others. If you feel your dog is at a higher risk of cancer genetically I would discuss the issue further with your veterinarian to make a well-educated decision before microchipping your dog.
Ask Your Veterinarian the Facts About Micro Chipping Your Dog
What is the life Span of this particular microchip?
Is my breed of dog a higher risk of cancer: if so how often have you seen cancers associated with my breed of dog that are linked to the microchip?
Have you seen any other dogs that have had life threating or multiple complications using a chip?
What are the risks your veterinarian has personably seen in his or her own practice?
When all is said and done it seems that the best scenario is to have your dog microchipped to ensure that if your dog is misplaced you can retrieve your dog back home to your family safe and sound. Check with your veterinarian or purchase an easy to use kit at home then register your dog online. Having a pet scanner at home for personal use is a smart way to keep track of your dog’s microchip by verifying location and to ensure that the chip is working properly. Also, don’t forget to check the microchip before heading off on vacation.