Thinking of getting a microchip for your pet, but haven’t weighed the pros and cons yet? Here’s the basics of what’s good—and not so good—about microchips.
Pro: A microchip’s primary use is to detect your pet if he or she runs away or gets lost and other forms of identification fall off (like collars and tags). It provides a stronger sense of security for your pet than other traditional forms of identification.
Con: It doesn’t work like a GPS. Microchips are created using RFID technology, which means they can only be detected my special RFID scanners. Usually, the only people who have RFID scanners are veterinarians and animal shelters.
Pro: The microchip emits a signal that can be picked up by anyone who has the correct microchip reader. Depending on which type of microchip your dog has and which type of microchip reader the veterinarian or dog shelter has, the microchip can be scanned at any time.
Con: Not all microchips can be detected by all microchip readers. Microchips emit different frequencies depending on the chip, and some don’t register on some readers. There are some universal microchip readers, but there’s no guarantee the shelter or veterinarian that picks up your pet will have one.
Pro: It’s a very simple procedure involving an easy injection that your pet doesn’t even need to be anesthetized for. It can be administered in seconds. The injection site is usually right between the shoulder blades. It won’t hurt, and they won’t be able to feel it once it goes in.
Con: It can cause cancer in the injection site. Not to worry too much, though, because incidences of cancer from microchips is very rare. It’s still something worth keeping in mind, though.
Pro: You only need to get the injection once. There’s no maintenance or follow-up visits, and your veterinarian will walk you through the entire process.
Con: Sometimes, chips can malfunction or stop working, but this happens very rarely. A malfunctioning chip can be detected by your veterinarian when he or she goes to scan the chip and the chip isn’t emitting its signal correctly.
Pro: Once they’re implanted, most microchips don’t need to be tended to. They work up to the amount of time they’re designed to work, which is 25 years.
Con: Sometimes, a microchip can slip out of its injection site, especially if it’s been injected into the wrong place. When getting the injection, you should talk to your veterinarian about what the best place for an injection site is.
Pro: It’s pretty cheap, costing around $50, depending on your veterinarian, and you only have to pay for it in one installment.
Con: Getting the microchip isn’t a one-step process. Before you get the microchip implanted in your pet, you have to register the chip with a national pet recovery database, like HomeAgain.
Pro: Once you register the chip, the database you register with will keep you on file for the rest of your pet’s life. It’s a one-time registration that doesn’t require any additional fees.
Con: Each time you plan on moving, you have to update your information with the recovery database so that in the event your pet does go missing, he or she isn’t returned to the wrong house!
Pro: It doesn’t die. Instead of needing an external battery source or some kind of remote charger, the microchip gets enough charge from the microchip reader to be able to send out its information to the reader.
Con: Like any piece of technology, the microchip can become damaged. Damage is unlikely, though, because it’s so small and buried under the skin.
Pro: Any kind of mammalian pet can be microchipped. Dogs and cats are the obvious choices, because of their tendency and ability to run away, but other kinds of warm and furry pets can be microchipped as well.
Con: It’s not necessarily possible or advisable to microchip other kinds of pets. Check with your doctor if it’s right for any other kind of pet besides a cat or dog.
Pro: If you got your dog from a shelter, he or she might already be microchipped. A previous owner or shelter might have installed a microchip already.
Con: If you got your dog from a shelter and he or she already has a microchip, you have to find out if the microchip is still operational and whether its registered already.
If you think getting a microchip is right for your pet, talk to your veterinarian about it. Make sure the chip is injected into the correct spot. Ask about what types of microchips other dogs in the neighborhood have, and what kinds of microchip readers local shelters use.