Pet owners often ask us how old their pet needs to be to safely get a microchip. The answer is usually much younger than you might think. Puppies and kittens can be safely microchipped after 4 weeks of age, it is really the size of the pet that determines the safe placement of a microchip. To safely receive a microchip, a puppy or kitten should weigh over 1 lb.
A microchip is only 0.5” long and weighs only 0.0004 ounces. Microchips are made out of a safe, inert substance and pose little more health risk than routine vaccinations. The training and experience of the person implanting the microchip is much more important.
Some people have expressed fears that getting a microchip so young will hurt the kitten or puppy because of the needle size. In my experience, I have fostered many sick kittens and have had to give multiple injections of subcutaneous fluids to keep them hydrated. Because getting a microchip is very similar to getting a vaccination, there appears to be very little discomfort to a young pet when the microchip is properly implanted under the skin between the shoulder blades.
The reason why puppies and kittens get microchipped at such a young age is similar to why they get spayed and neutered at such a young age. Because Animal Care Professionals believe it is in the best interest of the pet. Once a puppy or kitten leaves their care, they have no control over whether or not pet owners will microchip or spay or neuter.
Progressive animal shelters routinely microchip kittens and puppies during pediatric spay or neuter surgery, right before adoption. Pediatric spay or neuter is a spay or neuter surgery that is performed on a kitten or puppy between the ages of 6 and 14 weeks. The reason why it is performed on animals so young is that many shelters are required by law to sterilize the animal before adoption. Adoption ideally occurs for a puppy or kitten as soon as they can be weaned, around 8-9 weeks old. The benefit of microchipping them before they leave the shelter is that extra safeguard of permanent identification, the last line of defense. A pet has a 30% chance of getting lost during it’s lifetime. With a registered microchip the chances of reunification are twice as high for dogs and over 20 times higher for cats.
With all of the resistance in the United States towards mandatory microchipping, most animal shelters agree that the best way to try and keep these animals from ending up back in the shelter with no identification is to microchip them before they leave the animal shelter. It may not be ideal, but it is safe.
What do you think about pediatric microchipping? Leave a comment below.