Keep Calm and Microchip your Pet!
November 23, 2016
When I talk to clients about the benefits of microchipping their pets, I am sometimes met with confusion about what a chip is and is not, and what it can and can’t do.
First of all, microchipping is a permanent and affordable means of identification for your dog or cat. About the size of a grain of rice, it contains a 9, 10, or 15 digit number that will be unique to your pet. A handheld scanner reads the radio frequency of the chip and displays this information.
Second, the chip does not contain any of the owner’s personal information, is not a GPS tracking device, and it ideally should not be your pets only means of identification. A microchip can be implanted by any member of a veterinary or shelter team trained to do so. The needle is larger than those used to vaccinate our pets, but the procedure can be done on a patient who is awake just as safely as one who is anesthetized for a surgical or dental procedure.
Placing a microchip in an anesthetized patient.
Once the chip is placed under the skin between the pet’s shoulder blades, it should be scanned to ensure proper placement. If not done correctly, it is possible for them to pop back out. The next important step is registration with an online, 24 hour recovery service. We register the chips placed at our clinic, but some clinics and shelters leave this step for the owners to do. Basic information is registered along with an emergency contact person should the owners be unavailable to recover their pet if found. It is important to update any information with these services should you move. It is a quick and easy process that usually can be done online.
Unfortunately there is not one universal recovery service and they are not required to communicate with one another if a pet is reported as found. It is therefore recommended to register the microchip with the company who manufactured it. In conclusion, microchipping along with a collar and ID tags is the best chance your pet has for being reunited with you should it become lost. Collars can break off, but a chip remains forever. There are some amazing reunion stories about pets that ended up in shelters after many years only to be reunited with their owners because someone scanned their microchip and made a phone call. Over the years our clinic has helped reunite several (temporarily) lost dogs and cats with their owners simply because a kind stranger brought them in to see if they had a microchip present. And last but not least, in many cities if your pet is chipped and altered, you may qualify for a lifetime dog license for a onetime fee, as long as you can provide documentation of your pet’s current rabies vaccine.
Contributed by Nicole Norby, CVT at Grand Avenue Veterinary Center