Microchipping Your Dog

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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 Additionally, some pet tags have unreadable information and outdated phone numbers, making them useless forms of identification.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.

Learn more about microchip technology at the Humane Society of the United States website and get tips on how to prevent losing your pet.

And while microchipping your dog is not mandatory in the United States, it may be soon be law in the U.K. Do you think that this law should be carried over to the U.S.? Head over to the National Geographic DOGS forum and let your voice be heard.


  1. HN
    Texas, USA
    August 3, 2014, 5:55 pm

    I am totally against microchipping because I chipped three animals. The first one got very ill the day after the chip. The Vet was not able to determine why, but treated anyhow. After 3 years of struggling, my dog died. The Vet was not able to determine anything specific other than immune system collapse.

    The second animal was a 9-month old cat. He was calm and gentle. After the chip, he became hyper and aggressive.

    I had another cat chipped who was picked up by animal control and destroyed. They never looked for his chip. My opinion is that they are medically harmful, and don’t help with identification except in rare occasions when someone has a machine and feels like checking.

    Sadly, animal control requires chips if you adopt from them. Therefore, I will no longer adopt from them. Sad, sad, sad.