Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Microchips 101

Does the thought of microchipping your dog bother you or does it give you a sense of assurance?  Believe it or not, feelings on the subject are mixed.  So why not learn about microchips for yourself and make your own decision on what is best for your dog.

5 Things to know about Microchips

1.       What is a microchip and how long does it last?
A microchip is a tiny computer chip that has an identification number programmed into it.  The whole device is small enough to be injected under the skin through a hypodermic needle.  The microchip is enveloped in a thin layer of protein which anchors it in place for the rest of your pet’s life.  The microchip does not pass through the body, has no power supply to replace, or any moving parts that will wear down.  Microchips are expected to last for decades.

2.       Are microchips safe?
Microchips are safe in that they can be given at any age.  In fact, they can be given to puppies and kittens with their first series of vaccinations.   It is implanted through injection just like any other injection or vaccination and does not require anesthesia.  The injection creates only a slight discomfort but most pets don’t even react to it.  AVID describes their microchips as, “encapsulated in a specially formulated biocompatible material created specifically for this kind of application.” In other words, the microchip is in a shell designed to co-exist with a dog’s body so the microchip won’t cause an allergic reaction or be rejected (as long as it is injected properly).  Unfortunately, about 1 in every 1,000 does have a reaction to the foreign object and it usually results in the growth of a malignant tumor.  The tumor could be aggressive and show up after only a few weeks, or it could take ten years to develop.  It can be removed surgically, but there is no guarantee that another tumor won’t grow in its place.

3.       How do I know my pet will be returned if he is lost?
A microchip is only useful if a dog is found by someone who truly wants to find his original owner and knows how to go about it.  Many veterinarian offices and animal shelters now have microchip scanners, so as long as the contact information registered with the microchip is current then they will be able to contact you and return your dog.   If the microchip isn’t registered they might call the veterinary who injected the microchip and get current owner information that way (which is only helpful if you are the original owner or you know the original owner).

4.       How much does it cost to microchip a dog?
Microchip injection can cost anywhere from $25 - $40.  If you have an AVID microchip you would register your information with their global tracking system, PETrac.  To register for the first time or to update new owner information it costs $19.95 for 1 pet up to $50.00 for every 3 pets.  If you don’t have an AVID chip or would like another option, USA Microchip Database registers any and all microchips.  The cost is $21 (per pet) to register for the first time or to update new owner information.

5.       How do I re-register my newly adopted dog’s microchip?
Write down your dog’s microchip ID number on a piece of paper.  If it isn’t on any of the papers given to you by the previous owner you can take your dog to be scanned at a local veterinarian.  Next, call AVID’s PETrac toll free number 800-336-2843, tell them you would like to re-register your new dog.  Give them the microchip ID number and your mailing address.  Once you receive the paperwork in the mail, fill out a new registration form.  You will include a check for the appropriate amount ($19.95 for each pet or $50.00 for every 3 pets).  Make the check to AVID ID Systems, Inc.
The AVID office is right here in the Inland Empire, in Norco, so the paperwork should reach their office quickly.
Mail to: AVID ID Systems, Inc.
                3185 Hamner Ave.
                Norco, Ca 92860-1983

There is a bit of controversy surrounding microchips due to the tumors that affect .01% of pets injected with a microchip.  Some owners choose to get their dog tattooed instead or simply ensure that their dog’s tags are current.  Of course, nothing can protect your dog against thieves.  If he should be stolen he will not likely be returned to you regardless of any form of ID.  Microchips really only protect against dogs getting out of the yard and accidentally running away.  But they have to be found by either animal control or someone who truly wants to find the original owner and knows to check for all forms of ID.  Take all of these things into consideration before making your decision on whether a microchip is right for your dog.              

No comments:

Post a Comment