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June is Microchip Awareness Month

Why should I register my pet?

Like us, our pets are curious and like to explore their surroundings. Sometimes, this curiosity takes our pets somewhere we can't find them. That is why it is important that your pet is electronically identified with an implanted chip that contains a unique identification number of 15 digits long. This chip is compliant to the international ISO standard and is recognised in most countries around the world.

Even if your pet stays indoors, natural disasters, house fires and other unfortunate events often leave pets unprotected. Through chipping and registration in PetLink, you can ensure that if you are separated from your pet, the chance of being reunited increases dramatically.

A chip is as small as a grain of rice, and is easily implanted under the skin of your pet. If your pet's chip number is found, your contact information can be found thanks to the registration in PetLink. For more information about chipping, view our useful links or visit www.datamars.com.

PetLink.net
Copyright © 2011

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  What is a microchip?
A:  A microchip is a small, electronic chip enclosed in a glass cylinder that is about the same size as a grain of rice. The microchip itself does not have a battery—it is activated by a scanner that is passed over the area, and the radiowaves put out by the scanner activate the chip. The chip transmits the identification number to the scanner, which displays the number on the screen.

Q:  How is a microchip implanted into an animal? Is it painful? Does it require surgery or anesthesia?
A:  It is injected under the skin using a hypodermic needle. It is no more painful than a typical injection, although the needle is slightly larger than those used for injection. No surgery or anesthesia is required—a microchip can be implanted during a routine veterinary office visit. If your pet is already under anesthesia for a procedure, such as neutering or spaying, the microchip can often be implanted while they're still under anesthesia.

Q:  What kind of information is contained in the microchip? Is there a tracking device in it? Will it store my pet's medical information?
A:  The microchips presently used in pets only contain identification numbers. No, the microchip cannot track your animal if it gets lost. Although the present technology microchip itself does not contain your pet's medical information, some microchip registration databases will allow you to store that information in the database for quick reference. 

Q:  How does a microchip help reunite a lost animal with its owner?
A:  When an animal is found and taken to a shelter or veterinary clinic, one of the first things they do is scan the animal for a microchip. If they find a microchip, and if the microchip registry has accurate information, they can quickly find the animal's owner.

Q:  Will a microchip really make it more likely for me to get my pet back if it is lost?
A:  Definitely! A study of more than 7,700 stray animals at animal shelters showed that dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 21.9% of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were returned to their owners 52.2% of the time. Cats without microchips were reunited with their owners only 1.8% of the time, whereas microchipped cats went back home 38.5% of the time. (Lord et al, JAVMA, July 15, 2009) For microchipped animals that weren't returned to their owners, most of the time it was due to incorrect owner information (or no owner information) in the microchip registry database – so don't forget to register and keep your information updated.

Q:  Does a microchip replace identification tags and rabies tags?
A:  Absolutely not. Microchips are great for permanent identification that is tamper-proof, but nothing replaces a collar with up-to-date identification tags. Your pet's rabies tag should always be on its collar, so people can quickly see that your pet has been vaccinated for this deadly disease. Rabies tag numbers also allow tracing of animals and identification of a lost animal's owner, but it can be hard to have a rabies number traced after veterinary clinics or county offices are closed for the day. The microchip databases are online or telephone-accessed databases, and are available 24/7/365.

Q:  I've heard a lot lately that microchips cause cancer. Do they?
A:  There have been reports that mice and rats developed cancer associated with implanted microchips. However, the majority of these mice and rats were being used for cancer studies when the tumors were found, and the rat and mice strains used in the studies are known to be more likely to develop cancer. Tumors associated with microchips in two dogs were reported, but in at least one of these dogs the tumor could not be directly linked to the microchip itself (and may have been caused by something else). For more details on the studies, read the AVMA's backgrounder on Microchipping of Animals.

Q:  I don't want my pet to get cancer. Should I have my pet's microchip removed?
A:  We do not recommend that you have your pet's microchip removed, for two reasons. First, based on our review of the studies, the risk that your animal will develop cancer due to its microchip is very, very low, and is far outweighed by the improved likelihood that you will get your animal back if it becomes lost. Second, although implanting a microchip is a very simple and quick procedure, removing one is more involved and may require general anesthesia and surgery.

Q:  Do the benefits of microchipping outweigh the risks? I know that you said I have a better chance of being reunited with my lost or stolen pet if it is microchipped, but I'm worried there is still a chance that the veterinary clinic or shelter won't be able to read the chip or my pet will have a reaction.
A:  The benefits of microchipping animals definitely outweigh the risks. Although we can't guarantee that a shelter or veterinary clinic will always be able to read every microchip, the risk that this will happen is very low, and getting even lower. Animal shelters and veterinary clinics are very aware of the concerns about missing an implanted microchip, and take extra measures to determine if a microchip is present before a decision is made to euthanize or adopt out the animal. Universal scanners are becoming more available, and solve the challenge of detecting different microchip frequencies.

American Veterinary Medical Association
Copyright © 2011

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