FAQ: What You Need to Know About Microchipping Your Pet
By Amanda Epley
Although we all dread the very thought of our pets getting lost, a microchip can be a beacon of hope if the unthinkable happens. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, only 22% of lost dogs admitted to animal shelters were reunited with their owners. However, of the microchipped dogs entering shelters, the return-to-owner rate was over 52%, which is a 238% increase.
If properly registered and updated, microchips are an incredibly effective method of identifying your lost pet. We hope these frequently asked questions about microchips provide clarity on this important process.
Is a microchip the only identification method that my pet needs?
Short answer – no! A microchip is an excellent backup form of identification in the event that your pet gets lost. Your first line of defense should be a collar with an accurate identification tag. Chances are, the first person who sees your pet will not have a microchip scanner on hand. If for some reason your pet’s identification tag is removed or becomes illegible, then your pet can still be identified with a microchip if he is taken to a local animal shelter or veterinarian’s office.
How does a microchip actually work?
Every microchip has a unique registration number and the contact information for its particular registry. The chip can be read with a handheld scanner that detects its signature radio frequency. Once someone at a vet’s office or animal shelter reads the chip, he or she can contact the registry for your name and phone number.
Where does the microchip get placed?
Microchips are implanted between the shoulder blades, just under the surface of the skin. They remain embedded in your pet’s subcutaneous tissue.
Is the microchipping process painful?
The microchipping process will not hurt any more than a routine vaccination. Your pet will not even need anesthetic.
Where can I take my pet to get microchipped?
Most veterinarians and some animal shelters will microchip your pet for a small fee. It is considered a standard, routine procedure.
How do I make sure the microchip is linked with my contact information?
This is the most important step! A microchip is useless without proper registration. Once your pet is microchipped, you must register your pet with the microchip company. You will receive paperwork and/or a web address to submit your information to the microchip registry.
How long do microchips typically last?
Since microchips are designed with biocompatible materials and do not require a power source, they withstand the test of time. One microchip should last for the lifetime of your pet. You can verify the placement and functionality of your pet’s microchip by asking your veterinarian to scan it at each annual check-up.
What if I adopt a pet that has already been microchipped?
If the animal shelter knows your new pet’s microchip information, it should be included along with your adoption paperwork. If not, you may need to find a local vet’s office or animal shelter that can read the chip. Once the microchip is read, you must contact the corresponding registry to update your information.
What happens if I move?
Unfortunately, many people forget to update their pet’s microchip information when they move. Once you move, simply contact your microchip registry to update your contact information. Many microchip companies allow you to update your information online.
By microchipping your pet, you are taking an important step to ensure a successful reunion if he ever gets lost. Do you have a question about microchipping that is not on our list? Ask it in the comment form below, and we would be happy to answer it!