How Do You Remove a Pet Microchip? (Solved & Explained!)

Veterinarians make an incision using a surgical instrument after anesthetizing the dog. They then remove the chip the same way that they would take out any other lesion or growth.

Removal is usually relatively quick and shouldn’t cause the animal any significant amount of pain, since vets are usually careful to treat the area in order to prevent infections.

Can You Do it Yourself or Does a Vet Have to Do It?

You must take your dog to a vet to have the chip removed. There’s a real risk of injury when performing surgery on a dog, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing, so this is a procedure that’s best handled by trained medical professionals.

Some pet owners have tried to neutralize a chip by simply crushing it, but this is likely to cause serious trauma to a dog, so it’s also not a good idea to attempt it.

Can Anyone Else Other Than a Vet Remove a Pet Microchip?

No, you must take your dog to the vet’s office to have a pet microchip removed. While it’s a relatively simply procedure, it’s still a minor form of surgery and requires surgical instruments to carry out.

On top of this, it takes an extremely steady hand to pull such a small piece of semiconductor material out of a dog. Therefore, the person performing it should be experienced with performing other similar types of surgery before they try this one.

Can a Pets Microchip Be Removed?

A pet’s microchip can be removed in spite of the fact that it’s normally considered permanent. To remove a chip, the cat or dog in question would have to be anesthetized and an incision would be made that would provide a channel to where the chip is.

It’s then extracted using a pair of forceps, tweezers or another related tool. Assuming no complications, it can be done in a relatively short period of time, though your pet may have to wear a cone for a while so he or she doesn’t bite the affected area.

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Vets normally won’t want to remove a chip unless the have to, however, since all surgeries come with some risk of infection.

Can a Magnet Erase a Pet Microchip?

No, magnets can’t erase the contents of a pet microchip. They’re burned into actual circuits, which generate a radio signal when exposed to a certain type of electrical force.

Magnetic fields will erase the contents of magnetic storage media, like electromechanical hard disks, because these formats use little bits of metal to store information. Pet microchips don’t work this way, so they won’t be effected by things like the wireless security gates at retail centers.

Can You Reprogram a Microchip?

Pet microchips are rendered more or less permanent for security reasons, so it’s almost impossible to reprogram them. This is to prevent criminals from stealing a pet and reprogramming the chip to make it look like they own the animal in question.

Other types of microchips, like those used for UEFI systems in laptops, allow you to reprogram them with the right tools. As a result, medical supply companies have more or less disallowed their use as pet implants.

How Do You Kill an RFID Chip?

Crushing RFID chips, snapping them in half or putting them into a microwave oven is usually the only way to be absolutely certain they won’t work again. As a result, you should never attempt to kill RFID chips that are implanted in live animals since this is extremely dangerous and cruel.

You can, however, block the functioning of RFID chips by simply being far enough away from any local RFID readers. They have a pretty short range, and they won’t work inside of metal buildings.

In general, you don’t have to worry about a chip inside of a pet that isn’t migrating anyway, since nobody would be able to read the contents of it without taking your pet away from you.

Can a Vet Change Microchip Details?

Even a vet can’t normally change the contents of the RFID tag inside of a pet microchip. They’re made to be permanent on purpose, so that people who take an animal that doesn’t belong to them can’t change it.

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The best that a vet can do is simply to surgically remove the chip. You may also be able to have the old number assigned to the chip changed over to you legally, so the question of changing details is often unimportant.

What Happens to Microchip When Dog Dies?

Since the lifespan of the chip is usually so much longer than the lifespan of a dog, it just stays inside of them. It’s small enough that it’s not considered an environmental hazard, so few vets would actually remove one postmortem.

Dogs that are entombed simply get buried with the chip in them. If they’re cremated, then the chip would probably get reduced to ash along with everything else.

How Do You Change Ownership of a Microchip?

You’d normally file forms that state that you’re the valid holder of the serial number assigned to the chip. Normally, the chips themselves can’t be altered, but there’s also no need to have a dog or cat undergo a surgical procedure just to alter the registry of the chip.

Most authorities will require you to provide something proving that you have, indeed, acquired the animal in question legally. Adoption papers and other similar documents should suffice.

Are Chips Bad for Pets?

Microchips can have side-effects associated with them, especially if your dog rejects one. Sometimes, animals’ bodies will recognize that a chip isn’t part of their normal tissue and try to get rid of this.

Inflammation brought on by this phenomenon can lead to infections over time, which could necessitate corrective surgery. In many cases, vets will simply want to remove the offending chip in this case.

Ask a Vet

Dr. Taylor, VP of Veterinary Medicine at Petfolk

Do pet microchips ever get infected or cause an issue and need removal?

Microchips should be placed by veterinary professionals to ensure they are in the standard location, usually located between the shoulder blades of your dog or cat. This allows easy scanning with a microchip reader. Microchips are placed using a sterile, hypodermic needle. The area of the skin is cleaned by removing any debris or dirt, and is sometimes shaved or wiped before implanting the chip. The chip is within the hollow space of the needle, so once the needle goes through the skin, the plunger is pushed and the microchip is delivered in the subcutaneous space, or the space between the skin and the underlying muscles. This is a very quick procedure, and most pets don’t notice, especially if they are distracted with treats or food.  After placement, it is rare for a microchip to cause any changes such as infection. Removal of a microchip would be a much more invasive, and unnecessary procedure.

Do vets commonly take these out when requested and if so how much does it cost?

If a pet has a microchip, the chip stays in place for the life of the pet. If the pet goes to a new owner, there is no need to remove the chip. Instead, the registration can usually be transferred easily to the new owner. Removing the chip would require a surgical procedure and would result in a wound and pain. Most veterinarians do not recommend removing the chip and can discuss the reasons why. If a chip were to be removed, most veterinary professionals would want to investigate the reason, as we may consider theft or unethical behavior in regards to the requester.

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What are the dangers of someone trying to do this at home themselves?

Because the removal of a microchip requires a surgical exploration, this should absolutely not be performed by a non-veterinarian. Just like any puncture or wound, infection, drainage, skin damage, and potentially death from complications can result from non-professionals performing surgery. It is against the law to perform veterinary procedures if you are not a licensed veterinarian. 

Any other thoughts on removing a pet microchip that we should know about?

Microchips are incredibly safe. Knowing the facts about microchips is essential if you are concerned about them. Pet microchips do not store personal information, allow tracking of your pet, or transmit radiation or frequency. There have been some concerns about microchips causing cancer, but in reality, the incidence is extremely low. The British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) keeps a database of problems with microchips. From their data, over 4 million animals have received microchips and of those, only 391 adverse reactions have been reported, and most of these are just the microchip moving slightly under the skin. The benefits of having a microchip far outweigh the risks, and microchips are recommended for all pets.

Dr. Linda Simon, veterinary surgeon and consultant for FiveBarks

It is not common we have to remove microchips. Indeed, I have only removed
two in my last 10 years of clinical work. This was for two dogs who were
having persistent abscesses and medical issues directly caused by the chip.
This is very rare and these two dogs were quite unlucky.

To remove the chip, we must perform a sterile surgery under anaesthesia.
The skin is clipped and prepped and an incision is made over the chip.
Often we can feel the chip but, if not, we can detect it using the
microchip reader and/or an x-ray. There can be a firm capsule around the
chip, formed from scar tissue. This is incised and we ‘milk’ the microchip
out. Once removed, we flush the area with saline. We then suture the lesion
closed and may prescribe a course of anti inflammatories and antibiotics.
The patient is re-checked a few days later and sutures are removed after
about 10 days.