Should You Microchip Your Pet?

Pet owners who are concerned that their furry companion may go missing often choose to have their pets microchipped – but what is it and is it right for you?

By Reader's Digest Editors
Dog at the Vet© Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock

Pet owners who are concerned that their furry companion may go missing often choose to have their pets microchipped – but what is it and is it right for you? Microchipping provides an extra level of security that goes beyond your pet’s identification collar. Conducted in the veterinarian’s office, microchipping is a simple procedure with no anesthesia required. Veterinarians consider it to be the same pain as a small injection to the pet.

Microchipping works by providing your information such as name, address, and phone number to a vet’s or other qualified office, so that they may notify you directly if your pet is found. The office will use a scanner, much like a price checker in a grocery store, to gather this information from the microchip. Regardless of the brand of microchip that you use, it’s important to register your most updated information directly with the company.

Owners that have chosen to have their pets microchipped can enjoy peace of mind that their animal is more likely to be returned to them should they go missing. According to the Journal of American Veterinarian Medical Association, “7,700 stray animals at animal shelters showed that dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 21.9% of the time… microchipped dogs were returned to their owners 52.2% of the time. Cats without microchips were reunited with their owners only 1.8% of the time …microchipped cats went back home 38.5% of the time.”

There are some reports of cancer risks associated with the use of microchips; however, most medical professionals agree that the benefits of microchipping outweigh any risks associated with the microchip.

The cost of microchipping your pet can be very affordable, with many local pet shelters and humane societies providing reduced costs and programs available to pet owners. Contact your local shelter or humane society and ask if they have drop-in microchipping clinics or reduced costs.

Microchipping does not, however, replace the need for an identification tag and collar on your pet. Collars and ID tags provide the first line of defense should a pet go missing.

Plus: What to Do If Your Pet Is Missing

Sources: The Humane Society, American Veterinary Medical Association

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