Dog Care 101 Tip #213: May is Chip your Pet Month
As concerned pet owners ourselves, the BestBullySticks team believes pet safety is paramount. Identification can go a long way ensuring your furry friend’s safety — tags alone aren’t enough, though! Microchipping is a foolproof way to avoid the heartache of losing your loved ones and providing them with an easy way to get home if they run off.
Unlike a collar and tags, microchips can’t be removed and they can’t fall off. According to the American Humane Association (AHA), pets who become lost rarely find their way home:
1 in 3 pets will become lost at some point during their life
Over 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen every year in the U.S.
How Does Microchipping Work?
The electronic components of these electronic ID tags are packed into a biocompatible glass tube only a bit larger than a grain of rice (11mm). Non-allergenic, this glass casing contains the microchip, capacitor and antenna coil which together form a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag.
RFID chips don’t actively transmit information and they don’t work like GPS devices to broadcast a location. With no battery or requirements for an outside power source, RFID chips are activated by a tag reader (an interrogator for you tech savvy folks) when scanned. The radio waves emitted from the RFID chip are then transmitted to the reader and show the information contained on the chip.
Is Microchipping Right for Me?
It isn't only right for you, it’s right for everyone! Widely available and cheap — costing merely $45 dollars on average — microchipping is the best way you can take charge of your pet’s safety if they are lost or stolen. The numbers don’t lie, either! Based on a study by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association:
52% of microchipped dogs were reunited with an owner versus 22% of unchipped dogs
38% of microchipped cats were reunited with an owner versus 2% of unchipped cats
Of animals who were microchipped, only 58% had been registered into a database
Getting the chip is only half of the equation. If an owner fails to register their pet into a state or national database, the chip is not nearly as effective as it could be.
No. Microchipping is a near painless procedure. Inserted under the skin between the shoulder blades with a hypodermic needle, the RFID tag is causes little no discomfort — in terms of pain it’s close to a vaccination shot. The low cost of the procedure certainly won’t hurt your wallet either. The total cost of implantation and registration is more reliable and less expensive than putting up posters around town and paying a hefty reward for someone to return your dog.
The RFID tag doesn’t migrate inside the body as some people would have you think. With so many misconceptions regarding microchipping — BestBullySticks recommends concerned owners read the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) list of frequently asked questions for a more authoritative and fact based summary of the practice.
A Close 2nd to Perfect
A fantastic solution overall, RFID microchipping does have some limitations. Universal readers while available, are not on hand at every veterinarian clinic or shelter. As such, pets who are microchipped and even registered into databases may still pass through shelters unnoticed. Furthermore, an RFID tag’s frequency varies by country and there is no guarantee your pet’s tag will remain valid if taken abroad.
There have been reports of microchipping causing cancer — however only in lab rats and with largely inconclusive data — BestBullySticks and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA), continue to endorse the use of RFID microchips for identification.
The Bottom Line
So many pets are lost and stolen every year. There is no reason to skip the chip. Not only can you contest ownership of your pet if lost or stolen, microchipping drastically increases the chance of your pet finding its way home. Opting in favor of RFID tags far outweighs any potential health issues and the slim chance a local shelter may not have a universal chip reader. Implantable microchips are guaranteed to last a lifetime — up to 25 years. If you ever move or have to give up your pet, you can rest assured as tags are updateable and will reflect any information you or a future owner chooses.
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