After all the controversy about Hoakie the lost dog at the animal shelter last week, I thought it would be timely to repeat the article I published last January. If Hoakie had been microchipped, his owners would have been contacted within minutes.
The receptionist at my veterinarian’s office offered to “microchip”my cat while he was there. Is it safe for my pet to have a microchip, which is basically a foreign object, inside his body? — Fox M.
Thanks for asking!
First, let’s make sure we all know what a microchip is. A microchip is a tiny electronic device that is about the size of a grain of rice. It serves as a permanent identification. It has no power source of it own, but is energized by a hand held scanner to retrieve its unique ID number. It can never be lost or removed.
The microchip is injected under the loose skin between the shoulder blades. The process takes only a few seconds, and your pet will not react any more than he would to any other injection. There is no anesthetic required. Many times we will place the chip at the time of spay or neuter so the pet feels absolutely nothing.
All pets should wear a collar with the owner’s name and address and phone number, but be honest, does your dog always wear a collar with this ID, and does your cat wear a collar at all? Probably not!
If your precious pet somehow escaped or was lost and was presented to an animal shelter or veterinary clinic, the scanner would provide the number which could be used to trace your pet back to you and safely home! Another benefit of this permanent ID is to prove ownership if your pet was ever stolen.
We will scan any stray pet at no charge. I suspect this is the case at most vet clinics in the area. I have checked with the animal shelter in Elizabethton and they have assured me that all animals are scanned upon arrival there. This is not for dogs and cats only! Nearly any pet — a rabbit, snake, bird, or horse — can receive a microchip.
Now back to your question. Veterinarians and researchers have been implanting microchips in animals for years. The microchip is made out of an inert, biocompatible material, which means it won’t cause an allergic reaction or degenerate over time. Extensive testing and long-term use have shown the microchip is a safe and permanent method of identification for pets. If it helps to assure you that it is safe, all of my personal pets have microchips!
There simply is no downside to this peace of mind for you and your pet. Policies vary by the manufacturer, so check in advance, but the chips we currently use at the Roan Mountain Animal Hospital have no additional registration or annual maintenance fee.
(Send your questions to: “Ask DocRic”, Roan Mountain Animal Hospital, P.O. Box 159, Roan Mountain, TN 37687, or email: email@example.com.
Visit us at: RMAH.org and “like” us on Facebook!)