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Microchipping Pets: Should I Have It Done?
Microchipping pets is one of the most important things you can do to ensure their safety and security. Figures from the Humane Society show that as many as eight million dogs and cats are taken in by animal shelters. And up to half of them are eventually euthanized because their owners do not claim them. You can avoid your pet suffering this fate by having a microchip implanted.
A pet microchip is a miniature computer chip housed in a capsule that is inserted underneath the dog or cat’s skin. When a lost pet is brought to a shelter, the chip is scanned to find the owner. These chips can last up to twenty-five years so you don’t need to replace them.
When a pet is chipped, a pet microchip registration number is implanted on the chip electronically. The number is recorded in a microchip dog database that also includes the owner’s contact details. When the chip is scanned, the number can be used to find the relevant details in the database so the pet can be returned home.
Microchip Dog GPS Misconception
One important misconception about these microchips is that they allow you to track your pets in real time. At present, there is no microchip dog GPS and the chip implanted in your dog or cat has no GPS functionality. There are dog and cat GPS trackers but these are devices that are worn externally. They provide continuous information on the exact coordinates of your pet, so you can track them if they get lost or stolen. These devices may also provide extra information about your pet’s health condition and activity levels, among others.
The main disadvantage of a pet tracker is that it is worn on the outside. Thus, the thieves can easily remove the device if your pet is stolen. In addition, your pet may also accidentally remove the device or chew it off depending on where it is worn because they feel uncomfortable. And, of course, these devices are expensive too.
On the other hand, pet microchip cost is relatively minimal, and the price of having it done at the vet includes both the chip and the procedure. There is no way that the chip can be accidentally removed, ensuring that it remains secure inside your pet. It is also easy to update the information in the database simply by contacting the manufacturer. Hence, there is no need to get a new chip if you move or change contact information.
Some Microchip for Pets Precautions
The implant procedure is painless and conducted on an outpatient basis. The chip is placed in a syringe and injected into the pet, usually in between their shoulder blades. The only thing the pet feels is a pinching sensation that lasts just a second.
However, there are some veterinarians who believe that the dog chipping procedure is not painless. This is due to the size of the needle being used, which is a 12-gauge. Thus, they recommend that you ask your vet to apply a local anesthetic to the area where the chip will be inserted.
Another potential problem is that the microchip may migrate after it has been implanted. This may cause problems if the chip moves to the back of the neck or even all the way to the pet’s belly. Henceforth, after the procedure, ask the vet to scan your pet to confirm the exact location of the chip. Once you know where it is, you can feel it under your pet’s skin. Check every week to see if it is still there and that it has not changed.
Types of Microchips
You should also consider that there are different types of microchips that are used, and there is no one standard model. There is also no universal scanner that can read all of these chips. For this reason, the shelter where your pet is brought in case they get lost, may not be able to read them. And if the chip should migrate, the shelter may not be able to locate it unless they decide to scan the pet’s entire body.
However, the most serious risk is that your pet’s body may reject the chip. If this happens, it may result in a tumor developing at the implantation site, called a fibrosarcoma. While the risk is believed to be minimal, it is still genuinely something to consider when making the decision to have a microchip implanted in your pet.
Should I Have a Microchip for Dogs Implanted in My Pet?
The decision as to whether or not you should have your pet undergo a microchip dog procedure should be based on your particular circumstances, as well as your assessment of the risks that your dog faces. Expense should not be a factor since a dog microchip cost is minimal compared to ensuring the security of your dog.
For example, if your dog mostly stays indoors and you only allow him to go out when on a leash, then a dog microchip would probably be unnecessary. On the other hand, if you have a dog that has a high risk of getting lost, i.e. one that is always running out the door, a microchip is probably a good idea.
If you are the type who moves around a lot, then you should have a chip implanted in your dog. But you should also make sure that you regularly update your contact details with the chip manufacturer’s database. If you forget to do this, then the chip is useless since there is no way you can be found if the contact information is outdated.
Alternatives to Microchip
Of course, there are more cost-effective alternatives to a microchip. For instance, you can have your contact number tattooed on the dog’s thigh when you are having them neutered. But if you choose this option, you have to commit to keeping this number active and not change it, since the tattoo is permanent. In addition, you should register your pet with a national registry such as the National Dog Registry or AKC Unite. The tattoo may also fade with time, so you may have to periodically have it renewed to ensure that it remains visible.
You can also avoid high-risk situations such as letting your dog roam around off-leash when they are outside the house. Most importantly, you can train your dog to recognize his name and to come when he is called. In these cases, you can probably forego a microchip.
Before you make your final decision, however, make sure to consult with your vet as to whether or not a microchip is appropriate for your dog.
Should I Have a Cat Microchip Implanted?
If you let your cat wander around outdoors, then a microchip for cats is definitely recommended. There are many risks that cats face when they are outside your home. In addition, a microchip is important if you move to a new location, since it is very easy for your cat to get lost. Even if your cat is accustomed to wearing a collar with an ID tag, it is very easy for them to lose it. Keep in mind that wearing a collar is not natural to cats and some of them may try to get rid of it when they have the opportunity.
What about if you don’t let your cat get out of the house? Again, the decision is a personal one. There is always the chance that your cat may bolt if the door is opened and then run out and get lost. If you want to secure their safety, then having a microchip implanted is a must. Indoor cats will have no experience with the outdoors and may not be able to find their way home.
Another benefit that most people don’t realize is that a microchip allows you to prove ownership of your cat. Many cats look identical, so what happens if you go to a shelter to claim your pet and another pet owner says that it is their cat. A microchip can definitively establish the identity of your cat so you can avoid these types of messy situations.
At What Age Can You Have a Microchip Cat Implanted?
On average, a kitten as young as five weeks old can undergo the procedure. However, you should discuss with your vet whether a microchip is appropriate for your cat based on their health condition. The safest age would probably be around eight weeks or when the cat has reached two pounds.
As with dogs, it is very important that you consult with your vet as to whether or not a microchip is appropriate for your cat.
If you are in any doubt about the security of your dog or cat, then you should have a pet microchip implanted. While there are some risks, these are probably minimal when weighed against the possibility that your pet may become lost. Of course, as a responsible pet owner, there are many things that you can do to ensure the safety of your pet. And you should include micro-chipping pets as one of these measures.