It's a question most pet owners encounter soon after bringing your furry friend home for the first time. And as with any major decision, you should do your research.
We certainly did soon after getting our vizsla, Forrest, and this is what we found.
According to The American Humane Association:
- An estimated 10 million+ dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the U.S. every year.
- And one in three pets will become lost at some point during their life.
Additional data published by The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association found that:
- ~22 percent of lost dogs that entered the animal shelters were reunited with their families vs. 52 percent for microchipped dogs (a 238% increase).
- Less than 2 percent of lost cats that entered the animal shelters were reunited with their families. vs 38% for microchipped cats (a 2000%+ increase).
OK, so the data says microchip. But is it safe? And the consensus is: mostly.
There have been two documented cases in veterinary medicine where sarcoma or fibrosarcoma, two types of soft tissue tumors, occurred at the site of the injection of a microchip. But that's out of millions of microchips. At the end of the day, you're injecting a foreign object into your pet, so there is some inherent risk at this. But it's the same story for a pacemaker. The pros far outweigh the risks.
How much does it cost?
It will run you between $25-$50 depending on where you live. But many vet offices will provide a discount if you have it done at the same place they are neutered, so be sure to ask your local office.
Is Microchipping Enough?
Equipping your best friend with a microchip, at least for us, was worth it. But is it enough? It's tough to say, but there are enough limitations of microchips that lead us to always keeping a collar and dog tags on our little guys as well.
- There are four types of microchips used in the United States, and unfortunately most facilities do not have a universal scanner that can read all the different chips.
- Microchips can migrate over time. They are almost always placed initially between the shoulder blades, but they can move throughout the body, and if the vet does not check for this, he can miss it even if he has the correct scanner.
- They can become unreadable. While most microchips made today are very durable, it's still an electronic mechanism, and some can become faulty and sputter out over time.
- Microchips can get outdated if you forget to update your contact info. We always try to update our info when we move, but it does provide a small window where your contact information can be incorrect if you change addresses, get married and change your last name, or get a new phone number.
If you love your dog as much as we love ours, do all you can to protect them. For us, that meant microchipping AND always having a collar on with dog tag that has our contact information. Hopefully they'll never be needed, but if they are, you'll be glad they're there. And so will your pup.