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Microchipping Your Dog or Cat

WebMD veterinary expert answers commonly asked questions about microchipping your dog or cat.


A: There have been some cases of complications. It’s rare, but it can happen. That’s why, even though there’s 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. It’s incredibly rare, compared to the millions and millions of animals that have had microchips implanted in them. It’s an incredibly low risk, but it can happen.

People have to weigh that small risk against what can happen to their lost pet.

Q: How will it help me get my pet back if he is lost?

A: It’s only going to help if someone picks up your pet and takes him to a shelter or veterinarian’s 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 chip’s number, and the company that made the chip, they’ll contact that company to find the owner. And that’s one of the most important things people need to remember - the chip is only as good as the registration. A lot of people think, “OK, I’ve got this in. I’m done.” But if your registration isn’t submitted and then kept current, it’s useless. That’s been a big gap. Many more pets are microchipped 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 microchips 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 can’t guarantee that all shelters do that.

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