Avoiding the Pitfalls of Microchipping Your Dog or Cat

Written by Jan on December 17, 2014 – 10:30 am


Mary Wall, DVM, allowed us to post this valuable information on microchips and how to prevent, avoid and surpass many of the common issues that arise.  Two of my own dogs have had chip migration issues, with their chips traveling down their shoulders. I hope you’ll take the time to read this valuable post.  — Jan

scared-dog-editedFirst of all, there are many manufacturers of microchips (MC’s) and thus many different groups that register them and, also, ***IMPORTANT*****  many manufacturers of microchip scanners. Although there are some scanners that will READ all types of chips, there are also scanners that do not.  (I have made it a point to own a scanner that will read all types of chips—–I cannot vouch for either the SPCA, rescue groups, or other vet clinics).


1)  If you know they have a MC, ask your vet to scan and confirm that it is present, functioning and the number documented is correct.  Every time you go to vet, ask them to scan  (we do!!)  And sometimes, we find NO chip, extra chips, or the wrong number chip (disastrous).

2)  Ensure that all of your personal info is current with your own company of registration.  When we move, change email, change phone #, microchip registration may not always be on our “remember to notify” list.

3)  Try to keep a microchip tag on pet’s collar.  I realize this can be impossible, but it is very helpful to do so.

4)  Understand what a chip can and cannot do.  It can return pet to owner, IF:
-properly scanned
-scanned by a scanner that can read the type of chip you have
-all information with the registry is accurate  (or at least some of it)
-a MC is not a tracker, and if you have not registered the chip, the only info that is obtained is who purchased that chip;  if it was a breeder, a disorganized shelter, etc, there may be no way to find you.
-if you adopted a previously owned pet, you had better be sure that the contact registration is now for yourself.


1)  We scan and find multiple microchips.  (I found 3 on one dog once!!!)  One not uncommon cause of this is that pet was never scanned prior to chipping and there was already a chip there.  (another is that the scanner used by chip placer #2 and #3 was not able to even ID the other chips already there)

2)  I have scanned and found NO chip.  I had a recent experience, details below, and the clinic who did the chipping declared “chip gone dead”.  I was SO ANNOYED that I took radiographs and found NO CHIP present—-(yes, microchips show up on radiographs/X-rays).  I mean, the owner had microchip info on the paperwork, but no tag on the dog but there was no chip.
The common mistake here, IMHO, is that who ever inserted the chip did a poor job of doing it.  It fell out, or maybe was never placed.  There is a tiny bit of art to microchip placement (which is why only the vets do it in my office).

3)  I have scanned and found the wrong chip number, compared with the tag or adoption agency paper number.  Here, the cause is ignorance, chaos and people not caring enough to do the job properly.  (Again, IMHO)  Usually, these chips come from a shelter of some sort where they perhaps is an “assembly line” set up for spay/neuter/chip, in my experience.

BTW, one can surgically remove a microchip.  I am saying this not to encourage stealing a dog, but sometimes there can be problems with transfer of information.
Also, there are some companies (I met one in Florida) who sell chips and register chips in their registry  (these are chips they have marketed from another manufacturer, oftentimes to breeders in my experience).  This particular company sells someone else’s chip, charges to register and answer the lost/found pet line Monday through Friday from 9-5!!!
Be aware, if you have above situation you can also register with the AKC registry (nothing to do with pure-bred dogs, they make Trovan chips and will register anyone’s pet/chip).  So one can have a dual-registration and multiple tags from different registries with the same chip #.  I really like that the AKC does this!

So—microchips can be an incredible blessing, but if not dealt with properly, an incredible curse!  If one calls the wrong registry, has the wrong chip number, inaccurate owner info…….well, you get it!


What inspired this?  Lots of things but, in particular, a recent event where vet clinic claimed bad chip (BS-like NO chip) and they did not even have the  chip number (albeit not implanted in this dog) in their computer system.  “we changed software several years ago and I guess it wasn’t transferred ”  We KNOW that clinic bought that chip from that manufacturer.  I took radiographs to confirm no chip——there was no microchip—–so we put in a new one.

Then there is the dog from shelter that had NO chip.  (this shelter mailed a new chip to me to implant—-good for you Doc Williams Shelter!!!)

Then there was dog from SPCA who had a chip that did not match the number on his tag—–we got that straight for them, but for not scanning, we would never know.

Then there is the dog that has 2 chips.  She came from a rescue group who chipped her but already had a chip from Washington State.(we live in SC)  Dead end on the info for former owner in WA, and we helped owner to change the former registration, lest someone only find that chip, a dead end and then deem the pet as no longer owned.

Then there is the dog with a chip that needed me to place a 2nd chip, called an  “ISO” chip to leave the country, only to go elsewhere for insemination where this vet either did not scan or owned a scanner that did not read all chips, thus there are 3 chips in this dog.

OK, enough stories, I hope you get the message.

OH, and BTW, two of my patients have chips that have migrated to their elbows. (not done by me, but I am not saying that couldn’t happen)  So scan entire body!!!

Please use this information wisely to ensure the safety of your most beloved pets!

Dr. Mary Wall

Thanks again to Dr. Wall. I discuss additional problems with microchips, including what a world-renowned veterinary oncologist told me about microchips and cancer risks in the new e-book version of my book, Scared Poopless: The Straight Scoop on Dog Care. It debuted as a #2 Amazon Bestseller in Dog Care, thanks to many of you who purchased it. It’s still available at an unbelievably low price and makes a great gift.  You can read it on a computer, tablet or phone with the free Amazon app.  Or click here to read 10% of it free on Amazon.


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