My Take On Microchips
I recently read an article that had me twitching trying to control my irritation. The article was titled something to the effects of “Research Shows Microchips Cause Cancer” and it was only slightly less inflammatory than the title suggested. The author of this article sited two different studies–1 study was looking at something completely different but after implanting microchips into mice, they noticed some of the mice ( .84%) formed tumors near the microchip and they sited another study that actually looked at microchipping in mice and found that “about 1%” [this says to me it was likely less than 1%] of the mice developed a tumor and they saw “occasional metastasis” but the mice were “sacrificed” mostly because the size of the tumor [this says to me that in larger mammals, the tumor would be relatively easy to remove and treat since it had not metastasized to other parts of the body].
Articles like this one are really concerning to me for a whole wide variety of reasons but mainly because of the inflammatory nature and the panic it can create in the general public (who are generally not going to read much beyond the headlines). One commenter asked if she should rush to the Emergency Vet to have them remove the chip–because that’s clearly not a panicked response. There are much greater risks involved, in my opinion, with not microchipping pets than there are risks involved from microchipping.
I’ve spent a good bit of time and energy talking with vets, reading various research articles and popular articles about microchipping. I have learned a lot and here are just some of my thoughts and what I’ve learned….
1. Tens of Millions of pets are microchipped across the U.S., even if .01% of dogs with microchips developed cancer around the chip, there would be thousands of dogs/cats with issues. There is absolutely zero evidence that this is the case, even as the pets who were chipped early on in the history of micrchipping start to age (think about it, there were “only” about 3,000 reports over the course of a few years to have the country in arms about chicken jerky, if there were thousands of dogs getting cancer from microchips we’d absolutely hear about it).
2. Not a single scientific study focusing on microchips published in a peer reviewed journal has found a causal relationship between cancer and microchips. At “best” there is mild correlation found in a very very small number of animals–and none of the studies I have read (if recall correctly) were actually done on dogs.
3. I have talked to more than a handful of vets (two of whom work in shelter clinics that chip thousands of dogs each year and who see thousands of dogs each year between shelter dogs and dogs from the public), quite a few other pet professionals, and friends/colleagues about microchipping–of the people I’ve asked ONE person had PERSONALLY encountered a dog who had cancer in the vicinity of the micro-chip (may not have been caused by the microchip, it was just in the same area) and there were only a handful of cases of migration of the chip–all had migrated either down the shoulder a few inches or down the back with no adverse effects.
4. In the last few years alone, I’ve known of 8 dogs (not news stories but through friends/colleagues) who were returned to their owners or rescues thanks to their microchip. Some were found by animal control facilities (who have 72 hour holds then they euthanize) and others by good citizens–they were lucky to find their way home thanks to the microchip.
5. Even in the case mentioned in the article that I read, they found LESS THAN 1% of the mice had issues ( .84%) and the study was actually not even looking at microchips, it’s just something they noticed in their lab mice after the study was over. A Bayer study also cited in the article I read showed “approximately” 1% rate of incidence… but only saw “occasional metastases.” They “sacrificed” the mice most often simply because the tumor was large–which says to me, they could have, on a larger mammal, simply removed the tumor without issues since it had not metastasized to any other areas of the body–so it probably was a treatable cancer.
The risk v.s. reward of microchip v.s. no microchip is, FOR ME, obvious. I will absolutely, with out hesitation, continue to microchip my animals (unless a serious study shows me the risk/reward has shifted). The risk of microchip causing a problem is extremely small compared to the reward of having permanent ID on the dog at all times and a way to get my dog back to me even years down the road. Collars fall off, QR code tags fade, tattoos have no central registration (so if someone finds a dog with a tattoo it’s hit or miss if they’ll be able to track down the owners), and the traditional metal engraved tags wear down (pretty quickly if you have multiple dangling tags).
To be safe, when Shayne and Rio are out and about they have their microchips (obviously) and either have a Collar Tag by Boomerang tags or they have embroidered collars with my phone number on them.