May is Chip Your Pet Month!
With May just a week away, the team at Barkworthies thought we should get a head start and begin talking about “Chip Your Pet Month” sooner rather than later. As proud pet owners, we believe basic pet safety starts with identification tags and ends with microchipping.
Giving your pet an additional form of identification besides a simple tagged collar can be instrumental in identifying your pet if he/she is lost or stolen — and unlike a collar, microchips can’t fall off or be taken off. Sadly, lost or missing pets rarely make it home. According to the American Humane Association (AHA):
Over 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen every year in the U.S.
1 in 3 pets will become lost at some point during their life
What’s in the Chip?
While a lot of pet owners know what microchipping is, not too many are familiar with how they work. All of the necessary electronic components of these gadgets are stuffed into a biocompatible glass cylinder slightly larger than a grain of rice (11mm). This non-allergenic glass casing contains a microchip, capacitor and antenna coil which together comprise a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag.
Don’t let the name confuse you, though. These RFID chips do not actively transmit information nor do they function like GPS devices to broadcast a location. RFID chips have no battery nor do they require an outside power source. Instead, these tags are activated by a tag reader (technically called an interrogator) when scanned. The radio waves emitted from the RFID chip are then transmitted to the reader displaying the previously programmed information.
Should I Microchip My Pet?
Without a doubt! This cheap and readily available technology — now costing $45 dollars on average — is the absolute best step you can take as a pet owner to ensure the return of a lost or stolen pet. To get an idea of how effective this cheap technology is, here are some statistics from a study compiled by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association with the help of 53 shelters:
Only 22% of unchipped dogs were reunited with an owner versus 52% for microchipped dogs
Less than 2% of unchipped cats were reunited with an owner versus 38% for microchipped cats
Only 58% of animals who were microchipped had been registered into a database
Getting the procedure done is only half of the equation. If you as an owner fail to register your pet, the implanted tag will fail to do its job!
Will it Hurt My Pet?
No. Microchipping is a relatively painless procedure. Inserted under the skin with a hypodermic needle, the RFID tag is generally implanted between the shoulder blades with little to no discomfort relative to a vaccination shot. The low cost of the implantation procedure won’t hurt your wallet either. Implantation and registration costs are far less than putting up posters and having to pony up on a reward for someone finding your dog.
RFID tags are also non-allergenic so there are no potential issues for pets with sensitive allergies. The RFID tag does not “migrate” through the body, either. There are many misconceptions regarding microchipping — for a more fact based summary of the practice, Barkworthies recommends concerned owners read the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) list of frequently asked questions.
Microchipping Limitations and Concerns
Overall a fantastic solution, RFID microchipping does have some limitations. While there are universal readers available, not all veterinarians and shelters have them. Because of this shortcoming, pets who are microchipped and even registered into databases are still able to pass through shelters unnoticed. Furthermore, RFID tag operating frequencies vary by country so there is no guarantee your pet’s tag will be remain valid if taken abroad.
And while there have been reports of microchipping to cause cancer — only in lab rats, though! — we at Barkworthies, along with the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA), a conglomeration of veterinary organizations, still endorse the use of RFID microchips for pet identification. According to the WSAVA, microchipping is sufficiently safe as compared to rates of complications which are very low.
With so many pets lost and stolen every year, there is no reason to skip the chip. Not only can you contest ownership of your pet if lost or stolen, microchipping will drastically increase the probability your pet will find it way home. Opting in favor of RFID tags far outweigh the potential health issues as well as the off-chance your local shelter may not have the correct chip reader. With a lifespan of up to 25 years, implantable microchips are guaranteed to last a lifetime. Additionally, the low one-time cost of implantation and registration makes it accessible to nearly everyone. They’re even updateable! If you ever move or have to give up your pet, you can rest assured the tag will reflect any information you or a future owner chooses.
Dedicated to providing your pet with safe, nutritious and environmentally sound treats, Barkworthies offers a wide range of premium dog treats. Be sure to follow Barkworthies on Facebook & Twitter to catch the latest news and product specials!