Microchips are small transponders – no bigger than a grain of rice – that are implanted just under the skin of a pet’s shoulder blades. This tiny form of technology is an inexpensive way to help permanently identify a pet. While simple collar IDs can help a lost canine reunite with her family, she can potentially lose her collar and tags. Additionally, some pet tags have unreadable information and outdated phone numbers, making them useless forms of identification.
Microchips – when properly registered and scanned – offer information about an animal. For example, my dogs are implanted with microchips from 24PetWatch and HomeAgain. Should Moose or Roscoe get lost, a handheld scanner (standard devices at veterinary offices and animal shelters) can read the information on the chip via radio waves to help ensure that I am contacted immediately.
Microchips and implantation cost a nominal fee, usually less than fifty dollars. This common procedure can be easily taken care of at vet clinics and animal shelters. Although a large needle is used, vets report that dogs feel minimal pain during the quick implantation process (and no anesthesia is needed). Microchip implantation is often compared with the simplicity of a vaccination.
After your furry friend is implanted with a microchip, you must complete required registration paperwork (online or via snail mail). Depending on the microchip company, there may be a one-time fee involved or an annual service charge. Once this process is complete, simply call your registry directly or access your dog’s profile online to update information on your pet, such as your current address, cell phone number and veterinarian. Additionally, each microchip purchase includes a small tag that needs to be secured to your dog’s collar – this tag has her microchip number and registry contact number as an additional layer of recovery protection.
While each microchip is equipped with a registration number and contact information for the designated company, updating your dog’s microchip information is an essential step to the identification process and will boost the chances of your pooch returning safely home if she gets lost.
Although microchips are efficient and useful technological devices, they aren’t foolproof and can potentially cause complications (such as a chance of infection and tumors). Competing companies may require different scanners or frequencies to read microchip information. And shelters and veterinary office employees may be unsuccessful in detecting a chip when scanning the back of a lost pet.
While a microchip should never replace your dog’s collar and tags, they offer an extra layer of protection – one designed to last for 25 years – should your pet somehow slip out the back door.