Q&A: Fight veterinary clients' fears with microchip facts


Sometimes clients are afraid to have their pets microchipped. What can I say to calm their fears?

"I recently met a client who was terrified of the idea of microchipping her kitten," says Oriana Scislowicz, LVT, VDT. "This client was really bothered by the Big Brother-ness of it, and she felt her pet was now becoming an arbitrary number versus an individual. I explained the benefits of the procedure. The microchip improves the chances the cat will get back to her owner, where she has food, love, and shelter. And it could even save her life if she were brought to an overcrowded shelter as an anonymous stray."

Scislowicz says a personal story helps. For example, she explained to this client that when microchips first started becoming popular, she was taken aback by the idea. "I told her I thought about how devastating it would be for my indoor-only cat to run out the door one day and be gone forever with no chance of returning home," she says. "Our assistant also shared a success story she'd seen of a microchipped dog that was returned to its owner. The client was sold."

Some common reasons clients give for resisting microchipping include fears that the needle is too large, worry about the microchip causing an infection, or concerns that it will possibly fall out, Scislowicz says.

"I don't shy away from actually showing them the needle," she says. "If the client is interested in seeing it and not squeamish, I will show them and explain that although it's a larger gauge, it's very sharp and not as painful as it may look. I add that most pets don't even flinch. And we will often play with the skin where we place the chip for a few seconds before and after to help desensitize the area."

Another advantage is that, unlike some people, pets don't suffer from needle phobia. "It may be incomprehensible to an owner who is needle-phobic, but our pets feel a quick pinch and it's over in a matter of seconds," Scislowicz says. "If we were getting microchipped, half the battle would be the anxiety before the event and then our bodies having a harder time recovering from the built-up tension."

When clients express concerns about infection, Scislowicz explains that the needle is sterile and that the microchip is placed in a sterile capsule. Infection is extremely unlikely.

If clients are afraid the microchip will fall out, she explains that they inject the microchip at an angle, further away from the actual puncture site. She also adds that the puncture left by the microchip needle is small and closes quickly, so it's highly unlikely that a chip could maneuver its way over to the puncture site and wobble its way out.

"Explaining that the microchip will help clients protect their pets by ensuring their safe return to their loving family should outweigh any worries over temporary discomfort," she says.

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