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Microchipping, is there any risks?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
My cats cant stand collars, so except our vet bills have no i.d they are even owned.

I want to get them both microchipped soon now that i know it wasnt as expensive as I thought it was.

I just wanted to know if anyone heard of bad reactions from being microchipped. The vet said worst case scenario is a bad skin reaction, she didnt say if a microchip has to be removed if this occured?
post #2 of 8
Complications are rare, and I'd rather have it done than not. Mine all came to me chipped as it's law in the state they are from.
post #3 of 8
Cancer around the chip area is becoming much more common///
post #4 of 8
Microchipping, is there any risks?
Do Microchips Cause Cancer?

Chip Implants Linked to Animal Tumors


Fibrosarcoma adjacent to the site of microchip implantation in a cat

Fibrosarcoma with Typical Features of Postinjection Sarcoma at Site of Microchip Implant in a Dog

Léon's Memorial Website

Are the concerns about microchips and cancer valid? (a Vet clinic site)
"The American Veterinary Medical Association, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, and groups such as the Coalition for Reuniting Pets and Families currently endorse microchip technology for pet identification..."
Would it be in these groups' interest to do anything else?

Microchip Safety and Efficacy- World Small Animal Veterinary Association
Note: While WSMVA has a very respected reputation and is often quoted, most of the references are of actual scientific studies it has published. In this case, the item is a simple statement without substantiation.

So - what's one to do? Make a personal decision...ask if the actual risk of your cat's getting lost outweigh the risk of the cat developing an implant-related sarcoma. What are the chances of the latter occurring? Quite frankly, we don't know, because
1. There is no mandatory reporting of such incidents
2. Veterinarians (who profit from implantations), who may have suggested/recommended microchipping, should an implant-related cancer occur, are logically unlikely to point out the correlation to the cat owner. (if they could be expected to, then be assured,"the word" would spread.)
3. Shelter and rescue groups promote microchipping (is it any wonder?) and downplay any risk, citing "no reports" of problems. DUH, excuse me, why are there no reports of any problems?

There may be an alternative - tatooing. I have had "rescue-involved" people retort that tatoos "wear off". Frankly I don't know if that's the case. (My Vet clinic offered the option of tatooing a few years ago...)

I have 5 cats - all indoor-only, with secure measures in place to enforce that. But, as each cat came to me, each was microchipped. Since then, I have become aware of these alerts. It looks like there's a 6th cat on my doorstep. Will he be microchipped? NO. Will I tatoo? Probably.

(On a related note...all 5 cats were fully vaccinated and received "annual boosters"....no more...no need...ever again.)
post #5 of 8
The problem with tattoos is where is the number registered? If you have more than one vet in your area, is there a central database for the number and your contact information? With the chips, most are readable by most types of scanners, and there are places that can be called to get the owner's name and contact information (assuming it is kept up-to-date). I think the risks of microchipping are minimal. Everything has a risk, but it should be compared with the potential benefit. The studies mentioned in those articles were not done on cats--most were done on mice. My experience with rodents as pets is that tumor development is common over their lifespan (both my boyfriend and I had childhood pet rats that developed tumors). I don't think the risk of tumor development in cats is great enough to outweigh the peace of mind in having proof of ownership and a means for the cat to be returned to the rightful owner. All of my cats have been microchipped, and unless a better study comes out showing that there is a larger risk of cancer, future cats will be microchipped too.
post #6 of 8
Exactly Cloud Shade! Pet rats and ferrets are very prone to tumors and often die from them. Also the longer a creature's lifespan, the more likely tumors are to develop.

post #7 of 8
Originally Posted by BLAISE View Post
There may be an alternative - tatooing. I have had "rescue-involved" people retort that tatoos "wear off". Frankly I don't know if that's the case. (My Vet clinic offered the option of tatooing a few years ago...)
The ear tattoos do wear off, usually within 5 or 6 years.

One thing some people who have pets should take into consideration is traveling or moving with the pets. Anyone traveling to or within Europe must have the pet microchipped now (and pet passports are required by the EU and Switzerland).

There's another alternative to collars and tattoos, but I think its fairly uncommon. Several weeks ago, my husband and I trapped a cat we thought might be a stray or feral. When I got a close look, it turned out that the cat had a "capsule earring". I unscrewed it, and the owner's name, address, and telephone number were on a tiny little piece of paper inside. I think it would be annoying to the cat, though, and could catch on things.

As for a possible link between chips and cancer, having had rodents, in particular rats, I agree they are very susceptible to tumors/cancer, so the studies aren't conclusive. Also, there are still a fair number of vets who give vaccinations in the same area the chip is implanted, so again any link hasn't been proven.

As to indoor cats not being able to get out - a fully escape-proof house or apartment doesn't exist. We have inside and outside doors, separated by vestibules, at both entrances to the house, and are careful, but Jamie has still gotten out a couple of times, primarily due to the carelessness of guests. He's tattooed, microchipped, and wears a collar with an ID tag.
post #8 of 8
I don't think it pays to be paranoid about the motivations of vets; yes, they are paid to take care of sick animals and do routine procedures like putting in microchips and vaccinating, but they got into the field because they like animals. Being skeptical that veterinary associations promote microchipping because their members get money from microchipping is like being skeptical that the American Heart Association promotes cholesterol testing and blood pressure because the clinics of their members get money from that. Yes, if all illnesses were cured, all medical professionals would be out of a job, but that doesn't mean they are all trying to make us ill.

Especially in human medicine there are serious problems with over-treatment, but those are cultural and expectation related, not because of greed on the part of medical practitioners and medical associations (sometimes because of greed on the part of device and pharmecudical companies, but I'm not asking you to believe what the chip manufacturing companies claim). It pays to be skeptical, but it does not pay to spend time looking for conspiracies. If there is a conspiracy, simple look-at-the-evidence skepticism will uncover it.

Pet "microchips" are passive Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID) chips encapsulated in glass. They don't emit any energy or do anything; they simply have a number encoded in them. When an animal is "scanned" for a microchip, the scanner emits radio waves, and the energy in the radio waves powers the RFID chip which transmits its number to the scanner.

Getting annual booster vaccines is much, much more dangerous to your cat than getting a microchip. The World Small Animal Veterinary Association says, in its 2007 vaccine guidelines "Vaccines should not be given needlessly. Core vaccines should not be given any more frequently than every three years after the 12 month booster injection following the puppy/kitten series." and has the take-home message about vaccines "We should aim to vaccinate every animal, and to vaccinate each individual less frequently." I promise you, annual vaccines is more of "profit motive" item than once-per-lifetime microchipping, and the WSAVA does not support annual vaccines while it does support microchipping.

From the WSAVA webpage that BLAISE linked
Many millions of companion animals have subsequently been implanted around the world with a tiny proportion reporting any type of problem. In the UK where there has been an informal reporting system for adverse reactions for over ten years only two of the 3.7 million implanted animals recorded on the Petlog database have been reported as developing a tumour at the site of implantation. In one of these cases the pathologist reported that the transponder was incidental to the tumour formation. Overall, the Committee is aware of less than ten reports of tumours forming in companion animals associated with an implanted microchip.
6) Millions of animals have carried their transponders for most of a natural life time without any adverse effects.
That's a reported incidence of 1 out of 3.7 million.

Animal Care & Use Review committees at universities which oversee animal research and try to prevent and mitigate animal harm, strongly advocate the use of RFID chips in animal research, because it doesn't hurt the animals. Researchers use RFID chips constantly, and apparently some cancer-prone strains of mice got cancers directly around the microchips. Researchers still use these chips because they are a really safe and animal friendly (less disruptive to the animals that ear tagging). If causing cancer was a serious risk, researchers wouldn't use this method of identification.

The AP story seems like it's more worried about one former FDA head and his apparent corruption (going into related private sector work directly after his work in the public sector) than about the science of cancer and implants, much less the science of cancer and implants in cats.

Just as an aside, having watched tattooing and done microchipping (the tattooing on a human friend, the microchipping on reptiles), even if vets use local anesthetic for tattooing (we don't for humans: do we for cats?), I think it's a much less pleasant experience for the animal than the quick in & out microchip insertion.

To conclude: microchipping is not a serious risk.
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