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National Microchipping Day is August 15

August 10, 2020

The what, why, and how. Make sure your pet is safe!

When I was small, we moved from one neighborhood to another pretty far away. During the move, our Boston Terrier, Chippy, got lost. We searched high and low for her until finally she was found in the trunk with some of the things we were moving! If Chippy had been lost in the new neighborhood, chances are highly unlikely that we would have gotten her back.

Today, your pet is much more likely to be returned to you if it has a microchip implanted. (Yes, I get the irony of my Boston’s name being Chippy!) In fact, the American Veterinary Medical Association says that after a study of 7,700 shelter animals was undertaken, they discovered that cats with microchips were returned to their owners 38.5% of the time compared with the dismal rate of only 1.8% of those without microchips. Dogs without microchips fared better, being returned 21.9% of the time, but not even close to the return rate of 52.2% for microchipped pups (Lord et al, JAVMA, July 15, 2009).

What about those with microchips that weren’t returned? Usually, it was because the owners didn’t keep the information on their registration updated, or they had never registered the microchip in the first place. When the lost or strayed animal is picked up and taken to a shelter or vet, the first thing they do is scan to see if there is a microchip. If the information the database has is accurate, it is usually pretty simple to get the pet and owner reunited.

The good news is that all Petland puppies are microchipped and entered into a national database at petkey.org. If your pet doesn’t have a microchip, you should definitely consider getting one. Let’s dispel some myths that might make you hesitant.

  1. A microchip can allow others to access my private information. FALSE. The only information available is what you choose to share with the database. The chip carries no other information at all.
  2. Microchipping causes cancer. Mostly FALSE.  While it is true that microchips have been associated with cancer in mice and rats, these were in laboratories that raised cancer-prone animals for study on treating cancer. Cancer was found in two dogs and two cats, but in one dog and one cat, the microchip could not be directly linked to the tumor.
  3. Removing a microchip will keep your pet from getting cancer. FALSE. Inserting a microchip is an easy procedure but removing one requires anesthesia. Since no proof has been found that microchips cause cancer, removing a chip is much more dangerous than leaving it in.
  4. Microchipping does not help pets be returned to their owners. FALSE. As we talked about above, the chances of a microchipped pet being returned to its owner are much higher than for those without microchips.

Are all microchips the same? Actually, no. Microchips are manufactured by different companies that can choose to make chips that respond to scanners that detect 125, 128, or 134.2 kHz (kilo Hertz frequencies). The ISO (International Standards Organization) recommends 134.2 kHz chips because that is the largest database. However, the other frequencies are also widely used, so shelters and veterinarians that use universal scanners can detect both kinds of chips. Since the information is stored in the manufacturer’s database, the scanners actually read the name of the manufacturer and not the information stored in the database. Then the search of the manufacturer’s database will contain the information available for locating the owner. That’s why it is so important to keep your information current.

If your pet isn’t chipped, call your vet for deals on microchipping. Sometimes, they can be free or deeply discounted. Don’t lose your pet, get her chipped!

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