........... Micro-chipping Your Dog **

              Up to 8 million animals end up in shelters every year. Unfortunately, only 15-20% of dogs are ever reclaimed by their owners. One of the ways to increase the chances of finding your lost pet is having it micro-chipped. We asked Louise Murray, director of medicine for the ASPCAís Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City to explain micro-chipping.

Recommendations

  It is recommended that all pets are micro-chipped. Even those pets that do not venture outside may escape one day.

  Register your pet!!! It is recommended that you pay the additional fee and have your name and telephone number listed with the microchip code.

  It is recommended that you use an identifier on your pets collar indicating that he or she has a microchip and what kind.

  An annual visit to the veterinarian specifically to test the microchip is recommended. Have your veterinarian scan your pet to determine if the chip is still transmitting data.

  Annually confirm your pet's information with the microchip database and ensure that all contact information including your address, home and cell phone numbers, email address, and pager number, etc are all current.

Q: What is micro-chipping, and can it be done to any animal?

A: A needle is used to place a little chip under the animalís skin, usually between the shoulder blades. That chip has a unique number on it that can be picked up and read by a scanner.

It can be done to lots of different animals, including horses, dogs, cats, ferrets, and most other mammals.

Q: How long does it take, and does it have to be done by a veterinarian?

A: It takes the same amount of time it takes to give any injection. It takes seconds. It takes more time to do the paperwork than implant the microchip.No, it doesnít have to be done by a veterinarian, although itís recommended a veterinarian do it.

Q: Is it painful to my pet?

A: It hurts about as much as having blood drawn. Itís a large needle. Thereís a pinch. A lot of people have it done when their pets are being spayed or neutered for that reason. But Iíve seen a lot of animals not even flinch when it happens.

Q: What does it cost?

A: If youíre going to a vet just to get a microchip done, itís probably going to cost around $50. But if you have it done while your having other things done, like your regular check up, then it will probably be a bit less because youíve already paid for the office visit. People also can check with local animal shelters or rescue groups, which often do it for less.

Q: Iíve heard animals have died when a chip was implanted incorrectly. Is the procedure dangerous?

A: There have been some cases of complications. Itís rare, but it can happen. Thatís why, even though thereís no law that requires veterinarians implant the chips, we recommend it. Because it does matter where you put it and how you inject it.

Q: Have studies found an increased risk of cancer in pets with microchips?

A: There have been animals that have developed tumors at the site of the microchip. Itís incredibly rare, compared to the millions and millions of animals that have had microchips implanted in them. Itís an incredibly low risk, but it can happen
Q: How will it help me get my pet back if he is lost?

A: Itís only going to help if someone picks up your pet and takes him to a shelter or veterinarianís office to be scanned for a chip. Some people think chips are like a tracker or a GPS device, but a microchip only works if someone scans the chip.Once they get the chipís number, and the company that made the chip, theyíll contact that company to find the owner. And thatís one of the most important things people need to remember - the chip is only as good as the registration. A lot of people think, ďOK, Iíve got this in. Iím done.Ē But if your registration isnít submitted and then kept current, itís useless. Thatís been a big gap. Many more pets are micro-chipped than are properly registered. You have to get the paperwork and make sure that chip is registered to you, with your phone numbers. And if you move or you change your phone numbers, you have to update that information.

Q: Do all shelters scan for micro-chips when they find a pet?

A: All shelters should scan any pet that comes in for microchips and they should do so with a universal scanner. But I canít guarantee that all shelters do that.

Q: Do all scanners used by shelters pick up all micro-chips?

A: Not all scanners pick up all microchips. There are more universal scanners now, but some work better than others. In an ideal world, all shelters would be using a universal scanner that works well to check every animal they find. But in reality, not all shelters have universal scanners that work well. Sometimes theyíll have more than one scanner so they can find different chips. Of course, that assumes they have the time and manpower to scan every animal more than once.And scanners also depend on using the right technique to know how and where to scan. And chips can migrate, so if theyíre scanning over the back and itís migrated to the side, they may not find it.A really good thing owners can do is that at every check-up ask your vet to scan the chip to make sure itís still reading and itís still where it should be, on the back near the shoulder blades.

Q: If my pet is micro-chipped, does he need a tag, too?

A: Pet owners also need to understand that a microchip is only one part of your petís identification system. Your pet also should have a collar with tags on it. With cats you want to use breakaway collars so they donít get caught when theyíre climbing.You canít just assume the person who finds your pet will know anything about microchips. They might just keep your pet or give away your pet. But if your phone number is right there, everyone knows what to do with that. And honestly, thatís the most important thing you need to have on there. They donít need to know your petís name. They donít need your address. They just need to know how to contact you if theyíve got your pet. And make it a number with a voicemail or answering machine.

Itís also important for people to realize thereís no identification system that will help if your animal is lost where no one can find him. So itís important not to let your pet run loose. And no microchip can stop your animal from being hit by a car or being stolen by someone who has bad intentions.

Microchip Database

Even if your pet has a microchip and is properly scanned, without an accessible database, this information will not return your pet to you. When contacted with the identification code of a
missing pet, the database personnel can retrieve the pet's information. Each microchip that is sold is registered to the veterinary hospital or shelter that purchased it. It is the responsibility of the veterinary hospital to record your pet's unique microchip identification number in his record and notify the microchip database.
In addition, you can register your pet in your own name for faster notification when your lost pet has been found. There is a charge for this service. These microchip databases are usually available 24 hours a day and are even accessible via the
Internet. But remember, the database, as with computers, is only as good as the data it contains. Annual confirmation of your pet's microchip information is strongly recommended.

The credit for this information is given to: WebMD veterinary expert answers commonly asked questions about micro-chipping your dog or cat.  By Sandy Eckstein  WebMD Pet Health Feature  Reviewed by Audrey Cook, BVM&S