Yesterday we covered how a microchip for dogs works. Today, we answer other common questions.
Can a microchip hurt my dog?
Getting a microchip injected may hurt your dog for a minute like any other injection. It does not contain a power source like commonly thought. Your dog will not feel anything from the chip again after the injection.
There has been some concern about microchips causing cancer, but these concerns are based on a faulty study. Research shows that microchips are safe for dogs.
Why not just use a collar with tags?
Dog collars and tags can disappear when the dog does. If a dog is stolen, its collar and tags will be removed by the thief. Dogs can slip out of too-loose collars and all their ID is gone. Essentially, dog collars and tags – while very important – are not fail-proof. But a microchip goes wherever your dog does.
How much does it cost?
It depends, but it’s usually lower than you might expect. Fees at a veterinary office can range from $30 to $100. Low-cost vaccination clinics will often do low-cost microchips as well, sometimes for as little as $10. Many shelters and rescue groups include a microchip as part of the adoption fee (yet another reason to adopt a rescue dog).
What is the best microchip?
The difference between microchips is in the scanners that read them and the databases that track them.
If your dog has a microchip that is not readable by the “universal” scanner that most shelters and vet offices have, then it does no good. In the past, competition between microchip makers made a truly universal scanner nearly impossible, but now the newest scanners can read microchips by Avid and HomeAgain (the major manufacturers). AKC microchips are readable by most (but not all) universal scanners. Each of these microchips also comes with a collar tag that lists the maker and your dog's microchip number. That way, even if a scanner can't read them, if the tags are still on your dog it will list the same information a scanner would get.
Scanners used abroad read a different type of microchip. If you plan to travel abroad with your big dog, talk to your vet about an internationally-readable microchip.
The Avid database, PetTrac, charges a small fee for each change of address. Home Again’s database has a one-time enrollment fee plus optional annual upgrades, but is not limited to dogs with their microchip. A dog with any brand of microchip can be registered with the AKC CAR (Companion Animal Recovery) database, which charges a one-time registration fee and allows an unlimited number of address updates. This is useful if you move or travel a lot.
What do I do if I forget my dog's microchip maker?
You have a few options to find your dog's microchip maker. Usually, your vet will give you a certificate that will list your dog's microchip number and maker. This should be kept in a safe place that is easily accessible when you need it. If you don't have the certificate, you can call your vet's office and ask. They'll either be able to tell you the one maker they use, or look up your dog's file to see what maker's chip your dog got. You can also take your dog in to a vet office and ask the front desk person to scan your dog; the scanner will tell them your dog's microchip number and maker. (For the last option, be sure to call them and ask if it's ok first.)
A microchip for dogs is a safe way to give your dog permanent identification. If your dog were ever to disappear, a microchip will help get your dog back home. I highly recommend them. My own dog Nala was microchipped as a puppy. If she ever gets lost, I know that the microchip will be our best chance at being reunited.
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Photo credits: Photo at top by abardwell and photo below by rachfog, both on Flickr and used with Creative Commons License.