January 1, 2010 "Ask Seth"

My vet recommends microchipping. What are the advantages. Is it safe?


Hi Seth,

My vet recommends that I have my cat microchipped.  What are the advantages of a microchip over a tag on the collar?  How does it work and is it safe?

I strongly recommend that you have your dogs and cats implanted with a microchip.  Millions of dogs are lost each year and end up in shelters where they are either adopted out or unfortunately euthanized.  It is important that all animals, even indoor-only cats, have identification at all times.  Collars and tags are commonly used, but they can fall off or become unreadable.  Microchips are used as a permanent form of identification.  It has become very common for veterinary staff to scan for a microchip of lost and/or abandoned animals.

A microchip is the size of a piece of rice and is usually placed under the skin between the shoulder blades using a syringe.  This is similar to receiving a shot.  Once placed the animal must register with the microchip company and pay a small one time fee.  The microchip itself contains a computer chip that can be read by a microchip reader. The reader is waved above the animal’s back, and will display your pet’s unique alphanumeric code.  The code is then linked to the microchip company’s information on file and can be accessed if the animal is lost.  

Being a responsible pet owner is the only way to protect your pets.  Keep ID tags and check them periodically for wear and replace as needed.  If your animal does become lost, your chances of being reunited increase if you have your pet microchipped.    

Seth Mayersohn, CVT


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