Microchips: Are Pet Owners Being Misled?

If you have a pet, you’ve most likely had them implanted with a microchip. They are marketed as a safe and permanent form of ID for our fury family members, should we ever get separated. And, you can get your animal chipped just about anywhere, from your vet to a pop up booth at the mall. However, did we all just jump on the bandwagon without giving it any thought? Are there health risks associated with the implants?

We are told that they are safe, and the pharmaceutical giant Merial says scientific studies show them to be painless, and well tolerated with no risk of itchiness, allergic reactions or abscesses. Merial also claims that in Europe, not one chip has ever been rejected by the body. However, there are studies showing otherwise, as well as “adverse microchip” reports to the contrary, by the British Small Animal Veterinary Association.

From the Dogs Naturally Magazine article:

“Scientific studies involving mice and rats show that test animals have developed aggressive and lethal microchip-induced cancerous growths. Scientific reports also show that chipped zoo animals have developed microchip-associated cancerous growths.  Medical reports and scientific studies also reveal that dogs and cats have developed aggressive cancerous growths at the site of their microchip implants.”

But it’s not just cancer:

  • In 2009, a Yorkshire Terrier named Scotty developed epitheliotropic lymphoma at the site of his Schering-Plough Home Again microchip implant.
  • In October 2010, a lawsuit was filed in the US by Andrea Rutherford against Merck Sharp & Dohme and Digital Angel Inc. because her cat, Bulkin, developed cancer at the site of his Home Again microchip implant. The lawsuit is pending.
  • A 1.6 kg, six-week-old Tibetan Terrier was admitted with a 12 hour history of acute onset of progressive tetraparesis following insertion of a microchip to the dorsal cervical region, in the UK.
  • In 2004, the BSAVA reported that a kitten died suddenly when it was chipped, as the chip had migrated to the brain stem.
  • In 2009, a young Chihuahua named Charlie Brown died within hours of being chipped, from “an extreme amount of bleeding” from the little hole where the microchip was implanted.
  • An 8 month old American Pit Bull Terrier named Hadden was euthanized at the Stafford County, Virginia, Animal Shelter after the scanner used to read his chip could not detect the implant.

Still, many feel the risks are justified. However, as vets and animal shelters are not required to report adverse reactions, we can’t know just how rare it may or may not be; these issues are likely underreported.

The makers of the chips also feel that microchipping can reduce the number of pets in shelters, yet the claim has not been substantiated by accurate, long-term, independent studies.

More from the article:

“There have been concerns about the implanted chip causing problems; various Internet ‘urban legends’ have tried to link microchips and a rare form of cancer. To date, we are not aware of any scientific data confirming this. In our opinion, the risk is negligible to nonexistent.” Dr. Ellen Friedman DVM: Newburgh Veterinary Hospital; Newburgh, NY.

But pet owners know differently. Evidence has shown microchip implants to be unreliable and potentially dangerous. So, it’s important that we educate ourselves about the potential risks, share the information with others, with our vets, and with local animal shelters. And lastly, we must work to prevent restrictive legislation from being enacted. We must protect our pets.

Source: Dogs Naturally Magazine