Should I Microchip my Pet?

Diana Bocco

Up until a few years ago, the idea of implanting a microchip in your pet sounded like something out of a science fiction movie. Right now, more and more owners are using microchips to keep their animals safe. While chips are more often used in dogs and cats, parrots, rabbits, and other small animals can also be safely microchipped.

Veterinarians can microchip a pet.
Veterinarians can microchip a pet.

A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice, and can be injected under the skin in just a matter of minutes. The process is quick and painless. Once the chip has been inserted, it's impossible to feel, both to the animal and the owner. Almost all veterinarians have the equipment needed to microchip your pet, although some may need a few days notice to get a new supply of chips into the office. While you probably don't have a say on the type of device to microchip your pet, insist on one of two brands: HomeAgain or AVID. Both of them are standard issue, and can be read by all scanners. Other brands are available, but they might be incompatible with standard scanners.

Rabbits can be microchipped.
Rabbits can be microchipped.

A basic chip contains information about the owner, including name and address, along with important data about the animal's health. To microchip your pet, you first need to find a place to do it. Veterinarians, clinics, and humane societies all do the procedure for a fee ranging from $25 to $50.

Implanting a microchip in a pet helps reunite the animal with its owner in case it gets lost.
Implanting a microchip in a pet helps reunite the animal with its owner in case it gets lost.

The most important reason to microchip your pet is protection. If your dog or cat gets lost and it's picked up by a stranger, a shelter or veterinarian should be able to scan the chip and find the owner. While tags and tattoos are also popular means of identification, a microchip has many advantages: it can't get lost or stolen, and it doesn't disfigure your pet like a tattoo does. Another reason to microchip your pet is travel. Many European countries require a chip for animals traveling in and out of their territory. England, for example, has now a system which makes it possible to avoid quarantine by bringing in microchipped animals.

Kittens may be microchipped.
Kittens may be microchipped.

Once you have decided to microchip your pet, the whole process should only take a quick visit to your vet. While a microchip is not a guarantee that your pet will be safe, it certainly increases the chances of him finding his way home.

Almost all vets have the equipment necessary to scan a pet's microchip.
Almost all vets have the equipment necessary to scan a pet's microchip.

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Discussion Comments

anon97698

Microchipping is one of the stupidest things, along with vaccines. If you travel with your pet, you have to do it, but if you don't, just leave it. Nobody would like to be microchipped just because there are a few stupid people who did it.

anon54154

I'm worried about the effect microchipping might have on my (very sensitive) cat. He's a neutered one-and-a-half year old male; and although he's very big, he's easily frightened.

He's being bullied by neighboring cats who use his cat flap to get into the house when no one is home. My vet has recommended getting a microchip-operated cat flap and having him microchipped. Can anyone tell me what their experiences with this are?

The alternative would be to attach the chip to a collar, but he hates collars and climbs trees. Any suggestions? Help! Hobbs

peterpet

Do any readers have experience with pets, especially cats, developing sarcomas at the site of microchip implantation? Also, do the microchips "migrate?" Our cat's chip is below and behind her left shoulder blade; we thought they were implanted between the shoulder blades, at the base of the neck.

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