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How Microchipping Can Help Keep Pets Safe

Veterinarian Microchipping Dog

Why Do Vets Recommend Microchipping Pets?

As a pet owner, you likely take every precaution to keep your cat or dog safe at home. Yet despite a pet owner’s best efforts, your pet can still escape.

Each year, there are roughly 8 million animals that wind up in shelters, many of them pets that have gotten loose. Of those 8 million, only 15-20% of dogs and less than 2% of cats are ever reclaimed by their owners. If they aren’t reclaimed, these animals are either put up for adoption or, sadly, euthanized. Microchipping is one way to help find your pet if it ever gets lost or runs away.

What Are Microchips?

Originally developed in the mid-1980s, microchips are very small, electronic chips that are encased in a hermetically sealed glass sleeve, no larger than a grain of rice.

Microchips (also known as a PIT (passive integrated transponder) operate as a radio-frequency identification (RFID) implant that serves as a permanent ID tag for your pet. With RFID technology, microchips don’t require batteries or a power source to work. The tiny chips are inserted into your pet (usually between the shoulder blades) by a hypodermic needle.

The procedure is painless to your animal, equivalent to a pin prick, and it can be done during a routine visit to your Austin veterinarian, without surgery or anesthesia.

If your pet is picked up by a shelter, they will scan your pet to check if it’s microchipped. The scanning process is simple. When the scanner is passed over the chip, it’s activated by the scanner’s radio waves. Your pet’s microchip will have an ID number which is transmitted to the scanner, allowing the number to be displayed on the scanner’s screen.

What’s actually in a Microchip?

It’s important to remember that a microchip is not a tracking device; the chip only contains an ID number for your pet. Whatever info you provide to the chip manufacturer about you and your pet will be included in the registry. Microchips don’t work like a GPS device; the chip is only meant to be physically scanned.

There are also different types of microchips, and some are better than others. Trust your veterinarian to council you on the best type of microchip for your animal.

If you have your pet microchipped, you can ask your Austin vet to scan the chip annually to ensure that it’s functioning and that it can be detected while scanned. You’ll also want to make sure you remember to keep your registration with the manufacturer up to date, especially if you move and change your address.

Be Sure to Keep Your Microchip Registration Info Updated

Many people who microchip their pets don’t realize that the pets registration needs to be current. If you chip your pet and don’t properly register them, you run the risk of your pet not being properly identified. At present there is no national microchip database in the US. Each manufacturer maintains their own lists of registered users. Once scanned, the chip’s manufacturer information is also displayed, along with the pets ID. Make sure all of your information is up to date.

What Happens When a Pet that Has Been Microchipped is Lost and then Found?

Should your pet get loose and be brought to a vet or shelter, the pet can most likely be scanned. Most vets and shelters have scanners, and they should be able to read every chip. The good thing is that if you’ve kept up to date on your pets registration, and should he or she get loose and is found, there is a greater likelihood of you being reconnected.

Are There Health Risks Involved with Microchipping Your Pet?

Once the chip is initially inserted, there may be some inflammation such as bruising sand swelling in your pet, until scar tissue delops around the chip; this is normal. However, there have been some reports of health issues related to microchips. For example, the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) has managed a database of adverse reactions to microchips, since 1996. Out of 4 million animals in the UK, 391 adverse reactions to the chips have been documented. Those reactions include microchip failure, the microchip moving around inside the pet, swelling, infections, hair loss, and tumors.

While incredibly rare, there have been some reports of animals developing cancerous tumors near where the microchip is implanted. Millions of animals in the US have these chips, so there’s nothing to really panic about, but there is a very low risk of this happening. If you’ve already had your pet chipped and are considering removing it, it will actually require anesthesia and surgery to take it out. So, there are some risks involved, but they are minimal.

How ATX Animal Clinic Can Help

If your pet should run away and is rescued and brought to a shelter, having a microchip will help identify your pet so that they can be returned to you. This is a perfect safety measure if your pets don’t wear collars with name tags. But, even if they do wear collars, microchipping is still not a bad idea as an extra safety precaution.

Microchipping has been invaluable in helping reconnect missing pets with their owners. At ATX Animal Clinic, we perform this procedure regularly, so we’re well-versed in everything you need to know. You can learn more about ATX Animal Clinic’s microchipping services here.