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Microchipping Your Pets

Traditional forms of pet identification have been joined by high-tech microchips to provide beneficial and feasible ways to identify your pet.

Microchips are tiny transmitters that can be implanted in pets. They are the size of a grain of rice and serve as permanent identification.

When read by a scanner, an identification number is transmitted by the microchip. The pet owner’s information can be looked up using the identification number, states Chris Gensler, DVM of Tyranena Veterinary Clinic, Lake Mills, Wis.

“The microchip is a permanent identification in case a pet is lost or stolen. Collars and tags can easily come off or be removed, where as a microchip cannot,” Dr. Gensler says.

“The microchip, when scanned, only contains an identification number linked to an account. The microchip company handles all the contacting so personal information is secure,” Dr. Gensler continues.

Pet owners should have microchips inserted by a licensed veterinary professional during a veterinary visit, says Dr. Gensler. The procedure is no more painful than a typical injection, although a slightly larger needle is used for insertion.

“A microchip is implanted using a large needle beneath the skin between the shoulder blades,” Dr. Gensler explains. A local anesthetic can be used to reduce any discomfort.

It is important for a licensed veterinary professional to insert the microchip to ensure it is placed properly with good technique and without accidental injury.

According to Dr. Gensler, in addition to reuniting lost pets with their owners, several microchipping companies offer resources such as free access to poison control hotlines with licensed veterinarians.

Pet owners should always keep their contact information up to date with the microchip company when moving, changing phone numbers, or updating email addresses.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the benefits of microchipping animals definitely outweigh the risks. Although we can't guarantee a shelter or veterinary clinic will always be able to read every microchip, the risk that this will happen is very low, especially with ongoing technological improvements.

The WVMA now offers a pet microchip lookup tool on their website, powered by the American Animal Hospital Association.

To discuss microchipping in pets, contact your local WVMA veterinarian. Find one online at www.wvma.org!

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