Positive identification is the only way to ensure that you are reunited with your pet if it becomes lost or stolen. A secure collar with tags indicating the home address and phone numbers is a good start. The problem is that collars come off. A thief would simply remove one, and cat collars are designed to "break-away" in case the collar gets hung on a fence or tree limb. Fortunately, technology has been developed that addresses this concern. A tiny chip contained in surgical grade glass can be implanted beneath the skin and scanned at any time to provide a unique identification number. Veterinarians, shelters, and animal control departments have the hand held scanners to check lost pets for a chip.
The microchip is not powered and hardly ever wears out. It is about the size of a large grain of rice and contains electronics that contain a unique identification code. No personal information is held on the chip, and they cannot be reprogrammed. The code on the chip is registered with the manufacturer's recovery database along with the pet owner's emergency contact information. Pets with these microchips cannot be located on a GPS or other tracking device. The handheld scanner activates the chip when it is held in close proximity to the pet. There is no problem with taking a microchipped pet on an airplane, and some countries even require a microchip as part of the disease quarantine process.
Microchipping is a relatively painless procedure and implanting the chip can be performed without anesthesia. A modified syringe and large bore needle are used to place the glass tube beneath the skin, usually between the shoulder blades, and scar tissue forms around small barbs on the microchip to keep it from migrating out of place. Some pet owners will opt to have this procedure done at the time of spaying and neutering.
Microchipping is the most effective method of positively identifying your pet. Each year, thousands of dogs and cats are reunited with their owners thanks to this technology.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a microchip?
The microchip is a tiny computer chip, about the size of a grain of rice, programmed with an identification number. The chip is enclosed in biocompatible glass and is small enough to fit into a hypodermic needle. Once an animal is injected with a chip, it can be identified throughout its life with this one-of-a-kind number.
What's the benefit of microchipping my pet?
Microchips are permanent and can't be lost, altered, or destroyed. Pet owners have been reunited with chipped pets that have been missing for years or that have traveled thousands of miles.
How does microchip identification work?
A special scanner is used to send a radio signal to the chip to read the identification number. The pet feels nothing when the scanner is placed over it. Once the chip is read, the identification number is displayed on the scanner, and the person reading the scanner can contact a national registry to find out who the pet belongs to.
How is the microchip implanted?
Microchips are implanted with a needle beneath the skin between the shoulder blades. They can't be felt or seen.
How early can puppies or kittens be injected with a microchip?
Young pets can be microchipped as early as 6 to 8 weeks of age.
How long does the microchip last?
The microchip has no power supply, battery, or moving parts, and it's designed to last the life of the pet. Once injected, the microchip is anchored in place as a thin layer of connective tissue forms around it. It requires no care and will not pass through or out of the body.
Does implanting the microchip hurt my pet?
Most pets react the same way to this shot as they do to any other. The microchip contains nothing that will burn or irritate tissue and is completely biocompatible.
Does my pet have to be sedated to be implanted with a microchip?
No. Injecting a microchip is just like any other injection or vaccination. Anesthesia is not required.
Could my pet be allergic to the microchip?
The microchip is inert, smooth, nontoxic, and non-allergenic. Microchip companies state there is virtually no chance of the body developing an allergy or trying to reject then microchip.
If a veterinary clinic or animal shelter finds a microchip, how will they know who to call?
Animal shelters and veterinarians are finding chips in more and more pets. They are aware of the national registries and routinely
contact them to obtain owner information regarding the pet. They then contact owners to advise them their pet has been found.
I have tiny toy breeds-can I still have them implanted?
Absolutely. Puppies can be chipped as early as 6 weeks old. The same size microchip and needle are used in pets even smaller than
puppies and toy breeds, including mice, baby birds, and even fish!
How do I update information in the registration?
After your pet is chipped, you will be given information about how to contact the national registry to update your information. Remember to do this whenever you change your address or phone number.
Do shelters scan animals for microchips?
Yes. Scanning pets for microchips has become standard practice in animal shelters.