Hip to the Chip?

Controversy surrounds the practice of implanting microchips in pets.

Hip to the Chip?
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A microchip doubles the chances that a lost dog will return home, and for a lost cat, it increases the odds by 20 times, according to a recent Ohio University study. So why do less than 8 percent of pets have them? Franklin McMillan, D.V.M., the director of well-being studies at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah, dispels some of the misconceptions that could be preventing you from keeping tabs on your pets.

Myth: Implanting a microchip will hurt my pet and isn’t safe.
Truth: A needle, slightly larger than one used for vaccines, injects the microchip, anesthesia-free, under the skin between your pet’s shoulder blades. “I’ve implanted hundreds, if not thousands, of microchips and only rarely does an animal flinch,” says McMillan. “Usually, they sit more calmly than when they’re vaccinated.” And because microchips are made of a biocompatible substance, adverse reactions to them are rare.

Myth: My pet lives indoors, so he doesn’t need a microchip.
Truth: Always expect the unexpected. Pets sometimes escape through doors accidently left open or broken windows resulting from natural disasters, such as earthquakes, fires or burglaries.

Myth: If my local shelter doesn’t have a universal microchip scanner, my pet’s chip might be useless.
Truth: McMillan admits the system isn’t always perfect. Think of microchips as added protection, not a fail-safe.