Only about 4% of dogs in the United States are microchipped. With today’s technology, it is easy for dog owners to microchip their dogs. Maybe you’ve heard stories about lost dogs being reunited with family, or perhaps your vet recommended it to you. People will often ask, will microchipping hurt my dog? Can microchipping cause my dog pain? But there’s a question that is rarely asked. Can a microchip be removed from a dog?

Essentially… no. A microchip cannot be removed from a dog. The reason I say “essentially” is because a microchip actually can be removed, but it can be a very difficult and risky surgical process. Therefore, a microchip can in fact be removed from a dog, but most veterinarians will not perform the procedure. A microchip poses little risk or threat to your dog, but removing it requires anesthesia and surgical microchip removal. A pet microchip is easily inserted, yet hard to remove.

Why Your Vet Won’t Remove Your Dog’s Microchip?

Your dog’s microchip is meant to be permanent. The purpose of microchipping is to help protect your pet from getting lost or stolen. To be honest, one of the greatest protection features of a microchip is that it is practically impossible to remove. Your vet won’t remove your dog’s microchip because it is incredibly difficult and can be very dangerous for the dog.

Any animal doctor with good sense will tell you that your dog’s microchip is reasonably safe. Yet, removing it is very difficult and high risk. Especially compared to leaving it. Your dog’s microchip would have to be surgically removed and would require the dog to be put under anesthesia, which is very serious and dangerous with dogs.

Removing a Microchip is Difficult and Dangerous

Anesthesia is always very dangerous and often unpredictable for dogs. Anesthesia can cause blood pressure issues, breathing problems, heart complications, and even death. Although dog anesthesia has become safer in the last decade, the surgical risks are not worth it to remove your dog’s microchip.

However, let’s say that the anesthesia is completely safe. You cannot just make an incision and remove the microchip from your dog. Microchips were also meant to prevent dog theft. So a thief can’t just make an incision to remove the microchip. Any vet would need a really good reason to try to remove a microchip.

A microchip is inserted under the skin, typically between the shoulder blades of your dog. Keep in mind, it is inserted with a NEEDLE and syringe. It is very small. Also, microchips often have a tendency to migrate. A microchip can move over time from the dog’s back, to as far as into one of their legs. After a couple years of the microchip settling, tissues have grown around the microchip and it has, essentially, become part of your dog. Not only could it be difficult to find precisely where it is located, but it could require a large incision, and extensive tissue dissection to locate and remove. This could cause irreparable damage to your dog.

Could a Microchip Cause Problems with My Dog’s Health?

If you try to remove it, yes… A microchip could cause problems with your dog’s health. However, getting your dog microchipped is considered fairly safe. Although, there are a few rare complications that having a microchip could cause.

The Evidence

Research suggests that a microchip could cause a cancerous growth or tumor in your dog. Even though it’s rare, it is a complication that can apparently occur as the result of microchipping any animal. Although there is much debate about microchips causing cancer, there is much research in general about any foreign objects in the body of a mammal causing cancer. Therefore, it is a health risk to your dog.

There are other accounts of microchipping gone wrong. Among the complications were death from loss of blood, progressive tetraparesis, and neurological damage. There was even an instance where the microchip was inserted into the pet’s brain stem, therefore killing the pet.

With that said, there are risks. However, keep in mind that dogs die from choking on dog food pellets all the time. Are you going to take away their food because they can choke? Probably not.

Where I Stand on Microchipping

I’m not trying to promote or support microchips. I’m trying to just state the facts and research. This is a completely unbiased opinion. In fact, none of my dogs are currently microchipped. The reason for that doesn’t necessarily have to do with the risks. My dogs are well trained and stay inside. I take really good care of my dogs and take other safety precautions.

To be honest with you, for me, it’s mostly about something completely different. I wouldn’t microchip a child. I don’t support microchipping humans. I know dogs aren’t humans. But I really don’t support microchipping getting out of control. If we support microchipping our pets, next it will be prisoners, sex offenders, then our children.

On top of that, if I have other safety measures that work for me, there’s no reason for me to put my dogs at any health risk. And if I did, I would probably wait until they were adults so that the chances of complications would be lower. Inserting foreign objects into a growing or developing mammal always has higher chances of tumor growth and cancer.

You should make your own decisions about microchipping. Just do your research and be informed. Microchipping a 3 pound puppy might be different than putting a microchip in a 70 pound adult dog. Educate yourself!

Will Microchipping Hurt My Dog?

Yes… it will. Some microchip brands or vets will say that microchipping doesn’t hurt the dog. But it does. Typically, it only hurts a little bit. Remember, the microchip is inserted with a needle and syringe.

It hurts about the same as having your blood taken or getting a shot. So there’s a pin prick, followed by the uncomfortable feeling of something going in or out of a syringe to or from your dog’s body.

It’s like when a pediatrician tells a child, “You won’t feel a thing.” Then takes a vial of blood, or gives the child a shot. So, it does hurt at least a little.

What are the Benefits of Microchipping My Dog?

There are some benefits to microchipping your dog. For example, if your dog somehow ends up at a dog shelter, they will check to see if she has a microchip. That means they can quickly get your dog back to you.

Also, when people find a lost dog, many of them will take it straight to a veterinary clinic to see if it is microchipped. Again, then you get the phone call that someone found your dog.

Personally, I see lost dogs in my area all the time. Every week I see a dog that has been hit on the side of the highway near my house. In fact, the gas station by my house has a dog walking around the parking lot at least once per week. I see them all the time.

A Story of Finding a Microchipped Lost Dog

One time, there was a small, groomed dog wandering around the gym parking lot at the gym I go to. She was a very nice dog and obviously belonged to someone. However, the dog didn’t have a collar on. No collar, no tag. So, if the dog had a collar and tag on, it would have been a lot easier.

I checked with the gym, waited around the parking lot. Finally, I took it to the animal hospital by my house. Sure enough, the dog was microchipped. The dog was from out of state and didn’t know the area at all. Turns out, the owner was in town “visiting family” and brought their dog with them on a road trip in the car.

In fact, the dog had been missing for over 24 hours, and the owner was staying six miles away from where I found it. Also, the owner said that they were about to “leave town that day” to drive back out of state. They actually didn’t really sound that happy. The dog owner sounded like they were literally about to leave town without looking for their lost dog.

Read 3 Rules for Traveling with a Dog in the Car

So… How did this dog get lost?

This dog owner visiting from out of town, let’s their dog go out the front door to use the bathroom all the time. Without watching. Without going outside in the front yard with her. It sounded like she regularly just let her dog out in the front yard unsupervised for 30 minutes or so at a time.

Bottom line…

There are bad dog owners. I’m not saying that if your dog gets lost that you are a bad dog owner. There are just a lot of incidents like this that happen because of bad dog owners.

Worse than that, are the microchipped dogs that nobody wants. Yes… I’ve found lost dogs, microchipped, and the dog owners left them. Dog owners get evicted from their house, and just let their dogs outside in the front yard “to be free” and left. Wow…. Bad dog owners.

Just as bad, this dog is now microchipped from a former owner that doesn’t want them anymore. Which leads to my next point. This is important.

Can You Change Your Dog’s Microchip Information?

Yes… Your dog’s microchip information can be changed. So it can be updated with your new address when you move or your new phone number if you change phones. However, transfer of ownership is not as easy. In fact, if you adopt a dog that is already microchipped, you might have some real issues changing the microchip information.

Most of the pet registries want the “current owner” to fill out the forms to transfer the ownership of their pet to someone else. This works great if, for example, a family member is transferring the ownership of the pet to another family member. However, this typically isn’t the case.

When you adopt a rescued pet from a shelter, usually the previous owner doesn’t want to be found, contacted, or is just irresponsible anyway, therefore, the microchip information isn’t up to date. Typically, if you adopt a dog that is already microchipped, the previous owner is impossible to contact. Even if you could get a hold of them, the odds are very unlikely that they are willing to go through the awkward process of transferring ownership to you through the microchip registry.

So if you rescue or adopt a dog, can you change your new dog’s microchip information? Yes! Here’s what you need to know when you adopt a pet that already has a microchip.

Work with the shelter or pet rescue organization. Typically, they can request the transfer for you. Sometimes they will be required to send an official request by mail using letterhead. Also, be ready to pay a fee. If the shelter or rescue organization resists, tell them that it might be impossible for you to transfer ownership with the microchip registry without their direct involvement. Of course, always make sure you get all of the adoption papers for the animal.

What is the Microchipping Process?

The microchipping process is pretty simple. The microchip is injected with a large needle and syringe, just like giving a shot. The microchip itself is approximately the same size as a grain of rice. So it’s relatively small.

The microchip is injected under the skin in the subcutaneous layer. It is most commonly placed in the back of the dog between the shoulder blades. The skin is slightly pinched and pulled up, then the needle is inserted. Then, the microchip is injected. After that, the facility can help you register your dog’s information.

Do Microchips Require Any Maintenance or Care?

Not necessarily. The physical microchip itself needs no maintenance. However, it’s a good idea to periodically check and update your dog’s microchip information.

Be sure to research the company that is used for the microchip registry. Periodic fees are not necessary. Use a free registry for your pet to register the microchip information.

Do Magnets Affect or Erase Information from Microchips?

Magnets do not affect or erase your dog’s microchip information. The microchip is not magnetically encoded. Some people think that you can delete the microchip information with a magnet. This is not true.

The microchip essentially is just a barcode that can be read by a chip reading device. This unique barcode allows the facility that scans the dog to look up that dog’s information based on this unique barcode.

Final Thoughts: Can a Microchip be Removed from a Dog?

Unless there are severe complications requiring it, you should not consider removing a microchip from your dog. The microchip itself is the size of one grain of rice. It can easily relocate from its initial point of injection. Then over time, tissue grows around it further embedding it and making it become part of your dog’s body.

Even if an animal surgeon properly locates the microchip, it would require anesthesia for the microchip removal surgery to take place. During surgery, a damaging amount of tissue dissection could be required to remove the microchip.

The bottom line is, do not remove the microchip from your dog unless it’s putting your dog’s life in danger. If you need to update the microchip information, contact the pet registry and ask them how.

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