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Should I Microchip?

Posted 08.26.15 by Emily Lindsey

Here is a scary statistic:

Of the approximately 8 million animals that go to shelters each year, only about 15-20% of dogs and only 2% of cats are reunited with their owners. For cats, this number is 10 to 20 times higher for those who have a microchip implanted. Dogs are 2 1/2 times more likely to get home if they have a microchip implanted.

cat microchipA microchip is a tiny device (about the size of a grain of rice) that is implanted under the skin to allow a pet to be identified. This helps an owner to be located.

A microchip is not like a GPS device. You cannot locate your pet with it. Rather, it is a form of radiofrequency identification (RFID). If someone finds your pet and scans the microchip, they can find you. Animal shelters and veterinary clinics have scanners to search for microchips. If the owner has up-to-date information with the microchip company’s database, there is a very good chance that pet is going home (soon!).

Many people are concerned that implanting the chip is painful, but it is no more painful than receiving a vaccine or having blood drawn. Many pets don’t even react to the procedure, which can be done while your pet is awake. Some people prefer to have the chip implanted at the time of spay or neuter, and this is a possibility, too.

No matter when the chip is implanted, that is just the first part of the procedure. An unregistered microchip is completely useless. You must register your information with the chip’s manufacturer, and be sure that if you move or your phone number changes, remember to contact them to update your information.

Microchips do not replace collars with ID tags. Not everyone knows about microchips, and might not take a found pet to be scanned. Therefore, it is important that your pet wear a collar with a tag stating your phone number. This is still the best form of ID, but since collars can fall off or be removed, and tags can become unreadable, a microchip is a wonderful secondary ID system.

dog microchip

Next time you take your pet to the vet, ask to have your pet scanned for a microchip. This is good to have done periodically to be sure the chip is still in the proper position. They are designed not to migrate under the skin (but some still do), and they last for the entire lifetime of the pet. Some pets from breeders and shelters come with a chip already implanted.

If your pet does not have a chip, get one. No one plans to have their pet get lost. But for those pets who do have a microchip that is registered properly, their chances for getting home are drastically increased.

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