Microchipping | Westchester Animal Hospital

Microchipping

What is a microchip?

A microchip is a small device, about the size of a grain of rice. It can be injected under your pet’s skin around the shoulder blades and cannot be removed without making it unreadable. A unique ID number is contained within the chip to allow your pet to be reunited with you should it get lost. A slightly larger needle than that used during a routine injection is used to implant the microchip. It does not have to be done by a veterinarian, but it is highly recommended to avoid medical complications.

The device does not work as a GPS locator. Your pet cannot be tracked. The purpose of the chip is to allow a pet that is picked up or turned into a shelter to be scanned using the radio transmitter inside the device. The ID is then matched to the owner information using a database. The chip manufacturer keeps the database and does not make it available to anyone without your authorization.

Cost

The estimated cost to do this is relatively low, ranging between 25 to 75 dollars depending on location.

Life Expectancy

Microchips have a 25 year lifetime expectancy. This should be enough to outlive any pet.

Maintenance

There are no maintenance requirements. However, you should keep any eye on it for abnormalities and make sure that it is working properly. We recommend you have it scanned by your veterinarian once a year to make sure it is working as intended.

Registration

After the chip is implanted, you must register the number with the manufacturer and provide them with whatever contact information you want. You must keep contact information current if you move or change numbers.

Advantages

  • Animals with microchips are approximately 30% more likely to be reunited with their owners than those without microchips implanted
  • Easy to implant
  • Products are made that work with the microchip like doggy doors that open and close
  • Isn’t easily removed as is the case with dog collars and tags
  • No maintenance required
  • Lasts your pet’s entire life span
  • Reduces pet theft
  • International standards exist for both chips and scanners if traveling overseas

Disadvantages

  • Though rare, medical complications can and do occur
  • Not all shelters scan correctly and may miss the chip
  • Chips can migrate to other parts of the body
  • Not all shelters use a universal scanner, also called forward- and backward-reading scanners. Universal scanners detect all microchip frequencies.
  • Chips can fail
  • Scanners can fail
  • Detection can be made difficult by excessive fat deposits, metal collars, and long matted hair
  • Owners must report changes in contact information

Final Thoughts

More and more communities are making it mandatory for pets to be microchipped. The reason is simple: there are more than 6 million animals admitted into shelters every year. Microchipping can make pet owners accountable for abandoning their pets, can help reunite pet owners to their pets, and can address pet theft. The combined efforts of shelters, veterinary facilities, rescue organization, and others make microchipping a viable option for pet owners to relocate their pets and for communities to reduce the stray population.
While many pet owners are happy with their decision to microchip their pets, some opt out. The decision to forgo the procedure includes affordability, associated medical risks, and denial. Pet owners have to weigh the risks with the benefits when making their decision. Whatever your decision, do not replace tagging with microchipping. Tags are still highly encouraged as they can help someone without a scanner locate you if your pet gets lost.