Neurosurgeons at the RVC Queen Mother Hospital for Animals (QMHA) have warned of the potential complications of microchipping very small dogs after a Chihuahua puppy was referred with a chip implanted in its brain.

A CT image of the microchip in the puppy’s brain. Image: The RVC QMHA.
A CT image of the microchip in the puppy’s brain. Image: The RVC QMHA.

Scans showed the seven-week-old female, which weighed 750g, had accidental microchip placement through the caudal aspect of the skull and into the rostral brainstem.

The deep location of the microchip – which was implanted by a trained and legally authorised implanter who was not a vet – has meant the dangers in trying to remove it outweigh the potential danger of leaving it in situ.

RVC neurosurgeons say, had the microchip been placed a few millimetres in any other direction, it would have been fatal. The puppy is “a bit wobbly”, but “happy, bright and playful”.

Certificate of exemption

The case was highlighted in a letter to Veterinary Times signed by Frances Taylor-Brown, senior clinical training scholar in veterinary neurology and neurosurgery; Patrick Kenny, senior lecturer in veterinary neurology and neurosurgery; and Martin Whiting, lecturer in veterinary ethics and law.

They wrote: “We would like this case to highlight potential complications associated with microchipping very small dogs. In addition, we would like to raise awareness of the Certificate of Exemption [available from Defra], which can be provided by a veterinary surgeon in a situation where, in their professional opinion, implantation could adversely affect the dog’s health.

“In a situation where a trained implanter is unsure of the suitability of a dog for microchip implantation, we would encourage them to seek the advice of a veterinary surgeon.”

    • Read the full story in the 15 August issue of Veterinary Times.

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5 Comments on "Microchip in puppy’s brain prompts RVC warning"

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Diane Daniels
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10 months 11 days ago
Why in God’said name would you go to a person, who has no idea what or how to do an implant of a microchip? There are many Veterinary Practices, and I would have thought the owner of the pup in question would have their own vet and would have had them chip the little dog? Cannot understand why some people have pets, and work to achieve the cheapest way to look after them. I have 3 dogs 2 with their own medical problems, even though I’m a pensioner my dogs have the best of everything, I cut back on MYSELF… Read more »
Carol Powell
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Carol Powell
10 months 10 days ago

I breed Chihuahua’s and have said many times it’s dangerous to chip tiny puppies, my husband is a registered implanted and won’t let him do my pups till they leave at 12 weeks but I also got him to purchase mini microchips which are much smaller but still not ideal.

rosa bood
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rosa bood
10 months 9 days ago

How is this physically possible for a chip to reach a dog’s brain? Please explain. Thank you very much in advance.

Christopher Duggan
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Christopher Duggan
10 months 8 days ago

The story seems to imply that, because the pup was so small, the chip was incorrectly injected either into or in close proximity to the brain…

Dr E
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Dr E
10 months 8 days ago

Chihuahuas, with their large domed heads can have an opening in their skull, a fontanelle, early in life or throughout their lives if the bones do not fuse. Most other puppies do NOT have this “feature”. Besides the fact it was placed in the dog’s head and not scruff, penetration into the brain would be easier in this breed than others.

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