Scanning a dog to detect a microchip. Photo by ohmindyblog.
High technologies have affected many areas of our life. Nowadays, even pets can experience their influence. You have probably heard of microchipping pets. What is it, and how does it work? What benefits do microchipped pets have, and is there any risk? You can find many supporters of microchipping. Along with that, there are many opponents of this new thing. Without taking anyone's side, let's try to take an impartial look at the issue.

How does microchipping work?

A microchip is a tiny computer chip housed in a capsule; the latter is made of glass compatible with living tissue. It is almost as large as a rice grain. The microchip is implanted with a needle and a special syringe. The typical place of the implant is between the shoulder blades. During the procedure, the pet will feel nearly no pain. When the microchip is under your pet's skin, it can be detected with a handheld device by means of radio waves. The device reads the information stored in the chip, and then displays a unique alphanumeric code. Once the microchip is placed, the pet must be registered with a microchip company, usually for a one-time fee. Then, if your pet gets lost and someone finds it, the animal can be returned to the owners.

Votes for microchipping

• Microchips are usually designed to work for your pet's whole life (about 25 years),
• Microchips do not have to be charged or replaced,
• There is no way your pet loses or gets rid of the chip, while this can happen to collars and tags,
• A microchipped pet can be easily identified and returned to you if found by a shelter or veterinary office,
• Microchipping technology continues to improve over time.

Votes against microchipping

• Some studies show that malignant tumors (sarcomas) can develop at the place where the chip is implanted,
• Some microchips have been proved to migrate from the area between the shoulder blades, and scanning instructions highlight that the pet's entire body has to be scanned in any case,
• Some shelters and veterinary offices do not have scanners; even if they do, shelter or vet clinic personnel may fail to detect the chip if they do not use the scanner properly,
• Depending on the microchip brand and the year it was implanted, even so called "universal" scanners may fail to detect the microchip. Another situation is when scanners can detect a competing company's chip, but they may not be able to read the information from it,
• If you decide to move, you will have to ask the company that registered the chip to update your information. Otherwise, the chip becomes pretty useless. You may be charged some fee to process the update.

What animals can be microchipped?

A lot of species can be microchipped: cats, dogs, ferrets , frogs, snakes and lizzards, parrots, turtles, horses, mice, etc.
The decision whether to microchip your pet or not is entirely up to you. You should remember that even though microchips increase the chances of your pet to be found, they are not foolproof. You should not totally rely on them.