Should You Microchip Your Dog?

Microchipping is one of the more controversial issues in dog ownership. Everyone wants the best thing for their dog safety and security, but it can be difficult to find a balanced view on whether microchipping helps or harms your dog.

That’s why in this video, I’ll be giving you some of the benefits of microchipping and also some of the reasons why it may not be the right choice for your dog. In case you decide not to microchip, I’ll also suggest some alternatives to microchips for your dog.

What are dog microchips and how do they work?

Microchips are small radio frequency devices about the size of a grain of rice that are implanted under your dog’s skin. Every microchip contains a transponder that can help find your dog if he gets lost. The microchip stores a unique ID number that comes up when it’s scanned by a microchip scanner.

As long as you’ve registered the microchip in your name, the microchip registry will share your contact info with whoever calls in the ID number. Microchips are implanted in dogs and cats by vets, shelters, and rescues and breeders.

Some retail stores also do microchipping. The cost ranges from $20 to $50, depending on where it’s done. In some countries like the UK and Australia, pet microchipping is required.

In the US, it’s still voluntary and in Canada, some places like Montreal require it. Of course, when you buy or adopt your dog, you may have been microchipped already by a shelter rescue or breeder. But in many cases, the decision to microchip your dog is up to you. So let’s talk about the pros and cons.

Let’s start with the benefits.

Peace of mind is the most important benefit of microchipping your dog. You know that if he does get lost, the microchip can help find him. One study of 7,700 stray animals showed dogs without microchips made it home twice as often as non microchip dogs.

There are a few more benefits. One is that shelters, vet clinics, and some police stations can notify owners when they find your dog’s microchip. The microchip can’t be tampered with or removed without surgery, which means it’s permanent and shouldn’t ever need replacing.

Your personal information isn’t visible and when you move or change your phone number, you can update the registration. Microchips are also harder to loose than your dog’s regular tags. Other pluses are that the cost is low and implanting the chip is a quick procedure.

Microchip dogs turned into shelters or vet clinics are scanned and returned to their owners faster. Even with all those benefits, there are plenty of reasons not to microchip your dog. Implanting the chip is a quick procedure, but like any injection, it’s still painful for your pup.

Some vets use a local anesthetic, but other places implanting microchips don’t do that. And there’s a chance the injection can be done incorrectly causing serious harm to your dog. Microchips can migrate and get lost in your dog’s body. Sometimes the person scanning your dog won’t find the usual spot and they’ll assume there’s no chip at all.

There’s also the chance of a bad microchip that stops working or gets expelled from your dog’s body entirely. That could be problems with scanners too. Many scanners are not universal and don’t read a wide variety of microchips.

In the worst case, your pet could get lost and found then scanned, but could be euthanized by mistake if the scanner comes up empty. Another drawback is that microchip don’t transmit. So you can’t track down your dog to be stolen or gets lost in the wild.

The microchip will only help if your dog is found and turned into a local vet or shelter. There’s one more reason not to microchip your dog-health risks. There have been many cases of tumors and several studies documenting them.

Research collected from 1996 to 2006 shows that up to 10% of microchip animals develop malignant tumors in the implant area. Vets and microchip manufacturers downplay the idea of tumor risk saying the adverse reactions are rare, but the problem is there’s no requirement to report these reactions

so nobody knows the true numbers.

There’s certainly anecdotal evidence of animals who developed cancer at the injection sites. In some cases, chips have been found embedded in tumors that were removed. Animals have had neurological damage due to microchips and a few have died from the microchip implant procedure.

One microchip was discovered in the brain stem of a kitten who died immediately. A young chihuahua died within hours from excessive bleeding at the injection site. If you decide not to microchip your dog, there are other simpler ways to find your dog that are as effective and perhaps safer.

A simple identification tag on your dog’s collar allows someone to pull out their cell phone and call you directly to tell you that they have your dog. Sure, this tag can still be pulled off or get damaged so always check your dog to make sure its collar and tag are secure.

Some companies now offer tags with scannable QR codes. When someone finds your dog, they can scan the code and get all his information. Even though a tag can get lost, microchips aren’t 100% either. So why not get a couple of spare tags if you’ve got a dog who tends to lose them?

Tattooing used to be the standard for identifying your dog. It involves tattooing a unique code or your phone number to your dog’s inner ear, his tummy or inner leg. It takes some time to shave the area and apply the tattoo so your dog will usually be sedated and given local anesthesia.

Tattooing is a permanent identification document for that can’t be removed or lost, but someone has to know how to look for it and be comfortable with handling your dog to look for it as well. You can use your phone number or a separate ID number and then register it with AKC Reunite or National Dog Registry.

A GPS tracker attaches to your dog’s collar. As long as it’s attached, its range is unlimited. If your dog is a few kilometers away or a few thousand, you can track him through an app on your smartphone. They’re also waterproof and battery life lasts anywhere from a few days to several weeks.

GPS trackers cost more than microchipping, but offer more features. The downfall is GPS trackers need a mobile signal and there could be interference, if your dog is indoors.

The tracker also puts out an electromagnetic signal that could be harmful. Most holistic vets agree that electromagnetic radiation makes your dogs susceptible to chronic diseases and a GPS tracker means constant exposure, but you may think this risk is worth it. if your dog’s an escape artist.

If you do, at least remove it at night, when your dog’s safe in your bedroom. A Bluetooth tracker can track your dog within 10 meters of your location using an app on your phone. It works if your dog dashes into the woods beyond the park or someone’s backyard, but its range is limited beyond that.

An Apple Air Tag will also send a signal to any iPhone near by so the phone owner can call to tell you where your dog is. Bluetooth devices also cause electromagnetic exposure, but it should be a lower dose than GPS. Crowdsource trackers use a Bluetooth long range transmitter.

They transmit a signal detected by any smartphone with the product app installed. You can send an alert to the app when your dog is missing and that alerts the community. Then you receive a notification when your dog is within range of a user who gets an alert.

It’s dependent on creating a substantial user network, but in smaller areas, it can also share your information with social media.The battery can last up to a year.

The simplest way to keep your dog safe

The simplest way to keep your dog safe and to help him fight his way home is to make sure he wears a collar with a well secured up-to-date ID tag. Any other technology-based identification is up to you, but in the end, a pet ID tag is the easiest, fastest way for someone to find you and get your dog back where he belongs.

If you have any more questions about microchips for your dogs, feel free to leave them in the comment section below.

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