Q: After years of us believing my dog Angel had a microchip under her skin between the shoulder blades, our veterinarian couldn’t find one when I asked her to check. Could you let people know that some microchips can fail?
A: Though microchips are a great addition to any pet’s traditional ID tags, and I’ve yet to meet a veterinarian who disagrees, I’m not about to claim they’re perfect. Like all great new technologies, they’re best backed up by traditional Old World solutions like those tinkly metal ID tags we’ve all come to know and love.
First up, the basics:
Microchips are identification devices implanted between your dog or cat’s shoulder blades via hypodermic needle (no anesthesia necessary). These tiny bioglass-coated cylinders use radio frequency technology to safely (and usually permanently) connect your pets to their owner’s information.
Here’s what it’s not:
A microchip is not a GPS device that can be used to track your pet’s location, nor does it contain all your pet’s information in its tiny brain. Instead, a microchip encodes a unique series of numbers that can be detected when activated by a scanning device.
Best of all, a microchip will never go bad. It needs no batteries and never needs to be replaced. That is, if it stays where it’s supposed to be. Here’s where the trouble comes in:
Though it’s designed to remain in one location, microchips have been known to migrate. That is to say, they may “roam” underneath a pet’s skin, finding an anatomical home somewhere else. In other cases, they might even work their way out of the skin. While considered uncommon, that it happens at all is cause for some concern.
Enter National Check the Chip Day. On this day each mid-August, veterinarians and pet owners are urged to observe some basic dos and don’ts:
Do have your pet’s chip scanned at his or her annual vet visit to be sure it’s in its correct location. If your vet doesn’t check, just ask!
Don’t fail to microchip all your pets, including the ones that “never go outside.” (These are the ones most likely to get lost if they do find themselves loose by accident.)
Do make sure your pet’s chip is registered to you and that your contact and emergency information is up to date. Your veterinarian’s team can help you make this happen if you have any concerns about how this is done.
Dr. Patty Khuly has a veterinary practice at Sunset Animal Clinic in South Miami. Her website is drpattykhuly.com. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.