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The Danger of Microchips
Can implanted identification cause cancer?
Featured on Chipmenot.com, Seamus developed a malignant tumor around the area of his microchips.

Last week, the tragic story of Target the war dog hero sparked a discussion among our readers about microchips and the possible risks. A couple of people asked about the research behind the risk claims, so I decided to explore the topic. This discussion is particularly timely because Merck was recently served with a lawsuit over claims that its HomeAgain microchip caused cancer in a Massachusetts cat named Bulkin.

Unfortunately there are no large-scale, statistically valid experimental studies involving microchip implants in dogs, so we don’t know their long-term safety for sure. However, there have been a handful of studies with laboratory rodents, which is a start.

In six different studies with mice and rats, ranging from 1996 to 2006, it was reported that 0.8 and 10.2 percent of the animals developed malignant tumors around or adjacent to implanted microchips. It’s a wide range, though the majority of studies had a 1-2 percent tumor rate. The studies also had a wide range of sample sizes, which may help account for the variation in findings.

Nonetheless, based on the rodent studies, it does seem like there is a small chance that microchips are linked to malignant tumors. Considering that millions of dogs have microchips, the fact we haven’t seen an epidemic of microchip-related cancer confirms that the percentage is probably very small.   

However, as any dog lover knows, statistics mean nothing when your pet is the one affected. The cancer risk has been particularly interesting to me since I'll be adding a new puppy to the family soon and will have to make the microchip decision. Both of my current dogs are micrchipped and it's always given me peace of mind, particularly since they are not allowed to run at USDAA agility trials with their collars on. Knowing the possible risk, I will be sure to monitor the shoulder blade area (where my pups have their microchips) for any changes to the skin.

No form of identification is flawless and none of them is guaranteed to bring your pup home. It’s up to you to weigh the risks and the benefits and decide what is best for your pet.

 

 

 

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

Photo from Chipmenot.com.

CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by Pamela | November 29 2010 |

It doesn't seem unlikely that microchips could cause an increased risk of tumors in some dogs. Just like so many other things in our environments appear to be causing cancer in dogs.

The bigger issue to me is whether a microchip is useful. I understand there is still no uniform standard and that your dog could be found but her chip might be unreadable in a particular location.

We're getting ready to travel by boat with our dog but I'm delaying microchipping as long as possible in hopes I can figure out which chip can be read in the most places.

Perhaps you could do a follow up on this?

Submitted by Anonymous | December 6 2010 |

Any ISO-compliant microchip, also called "eurochip" (operating at 134mHz) will be the most widely read microchip available. Both Home Again and AVID make these chips, but not all vet clinics will have them. In the case of Home Again, you can tell its ISO-compliant if the number is 15 digits long.

Submitted by Anonymous | October 1 2011 |

Yeah well they don't mention that the microchip was at the center of the tumor removed from the cat. Does not get any more plain as day that the chips cause cancerous tumors. These type of tumors can mutate an spread to the rest of the body which has been the case many times with these chips. I think if there is any known case of cancer that blatantly obvious that these chips should not be used until they can determine what is going on. There are very few materials that are compatible with human bodies and that can be used for prosthesis. I really can't understand why these materials are not being used in these chips?

Submitted by Anonymous | October 1 2011 |

Yeah well they don't mention that the microchip was at the center of the tumor removed from the cat. Does not get any more plain as day that the chips cause cancerous tumors. These type of tumors can mutate an spread to the rest of the body which has been the case many times with these chips. I think if there is any known case of cancer that blatantly obvious that these chips should not be used until they can determine what is going on. There are very few materials that are compatible with human bodies and that can be used for prosthesis. I really can't understand why these materials are not being used in these chips?

Submitted by wombat | December 6 2010 |

To me, the important question seems to be, how many dogs have died of this kind of cancer compared to how many lost dogs are euthanized in shelters because their owners can't be found?

Submitted by Anonymous | November 4 2011 |

Our dog jack just had a tumor removed that was right by his microchip. His type of breed is not the type of breed to get this type of tumor frequently. I don't think it is a coincidence that he got an incredibly fast-growing tumor right by his chip. I wish I had known other dogs had experienced the same thing, or I would have had it removed years ago. As it stands now I am immediately getting our other dog de-chipped as soon as possible.

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