Debunking 12 Myths About Pet Microchipping [Vet Approved]

A cat that recently got pet microchipping

Is your pet microchipped? This technology has plenty to offer, but it's completely understandable that pet parents may, at first, feel hesitant about it since the chip is implanted. Pet microchipping involves the implantation of a small, electronic chip under a pet's skin, typically between the shoulder blades. This chip contains a unique identification number that can be scanned by veterinarians, shelters, or animal control officers.

Pet microchipping has gained widespread recognition for its numerous benefits such as: 

  • Placing a permanent ID on pets; 
  • Helping resolve disputed ownership issues; and
  • Aiding in finding lost pets; 

However, despite the pet microchip's proven benefits, some pet owners remain reluctant to have their furry companions microchipped due to damaging myths about this technology. 

On the other hand, other myths exaggerate the capacity of microchips, giving pet parents a false sense of security — specifically in terms of how these chips contribute to finding lost pets. 

In this article, we will debunk these myths and shed light on the actual value and significance of pet microchips in safeguarding our furry friends.

What’s in This Guide

Close-up of a pet microchip for dogs and cats

General Myths About Pet Microchipping

Myth 1: ALL microchips are internationally accepted

Fact: Microchips have to be ISO-certified to be internationally accepted. ISO-certified microchips have 15 digits. If a pet is traveling to another country, ISO-compliant microchips may be required, depending on the destination country.

Myth 2: Microchips have batteries that need replacement.

Fact: Microchips make use of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology, which makes use of two components: tags and scanners. Pet microchips are RFID tags — specifically, they fall under the category of ‘passive’ RFID tags. Thus, they remain inert until they are within the range of a scanner. Being passive tags, microchips in pets do not require batteries or maintenance. Pet microchips are designed to last for a pet’s entire lifetime. 

Myth 3: All microchip scanners can read all types of microchips

Fact: There are scanners out there that can only read certain frequencies of microchips.  However, the good news is that veterinary clinics, animal shelters, and the police typically use universal scanners, which can detect all frequencies of microchips.

A cat getting their microchip scanned with a universal scanner at a veterinary clinic 

Myths on How Pet Microchipping Helps Reunite Pets & Pet Owners

Myth 4: Microchips are tracking devices.

Fact: Microchips are not tracking devices. All a microchip does is store a unique identification number that can be read by a microchip scanner — and this identification number is then used to retrieve the owner's contact information from a database. 

Myth 5: Microchips have GPS technology.

Fact: Unfortunately, microchips do NOT have GPS technology; they are ‘passive’ RFID tags — with an emphasis on ‘passive’ because they do not do anything unless they’re in the range of a compatible scanner. 

Microchips cannot transmit signals or provide real-time location tracking for pets. This is a common microchip myth and the false sense of security can pose certain risks. We advise pet parents to get GPS collars if they need real-time tracking as a safety measure (e.g. while hiking off-leash).   

Myth 6: Microchips have a range to locate lost pets.

Fact: Microchips require a close-range scanner to read the unique ID number stored in them. Scanners do not have a broad enough range to search through an area in case a pet gets lost. 

A dog getting their microchip scanned at a dog shelter

Myths About The Effects of Pet Microchipping on a Pet’s Health 

Myth 7: Microchips can be used to track a pet's activities or health.

Fact: Microchips only contain a unique identification number that connects to contact information on a database. The information on pet microchips does not provide details about a pet's health or activities. 

Myth 8: Microchips can cause allergic reactions in pets.

Fact: Microchips are made from materials that are well-tolerated by pets and do not typically cause allergic reactions. According to Sploot’s veterinarian, Allison Kihn DVM, “Any reaction to a chip is likely more local inflammation or inflammation of the surrounding fat, which isn't classified as an allergic reaction.” 

In any case, for pet parents who notice an adverse reaction following microchip implantation, we recommend reaching out to a veterinarian.  

Myth 9: Microchips can cause cancer.

Fact: Microchips are made of biocompatible materials and have not been linked to cancer in pets. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Microchipping FAQ, there is no causal link between microchips and tumors in companion animals. 

Note: Rare reports of microchips that have tumors growing nearby have only been reported in mice and rats used in cancer research; these mice and rats are specifically used in cancer research because they are bred to have high rates of tumor growth.

Myth 10: Microchips can cause infections in pets.

Fact: Microchipping is a sterile procedure, and infections are rare when performed by a trained professional. This is why we always recommend pet parents have a pet microchip implanted by a licensed veterinarian. 

A Sploot Vets staff member holding a cat.

Myths About Data Privacy & Pet Microchipping

Myth 11: Microchips can be used to spy on pet owners.

Fact: Microchips are NOT spying devices. These devices are passive, battery-less RFID tags with no other function outside of transmitting a unique string of numbers when read by a microchip scanner. Microchips cannot gather information or spy on pet owners.

Myth 12: Microchips can be used to steal a pet parent’s identity.

Fact: Microchips only store a unique identification number associated with the pet's owner’s contact information, not personal information like social security numbers.

Final Thoughts About Pet Microchipping

We hope you enjoyed seeing these pet microchipping myths debunked! It’s always beneficial to have a clear understanding of what this technology can or cannot do, along with details about its safety. 

As always, if you have any questions, we’re here to help! Sploot Veterinary Care is a primary and urgent care provider with multiple convenient locations and daily appointment availability. 

If you have questions about the pet microchipping procedure, reach out to our team. You can also conveniently book your appointment online or through the Sploot Vets app. Our doors are open for extended hours across all locations! 

Till next time, we’re with you every pounce of the way!