Thousands of dogs and cats go missing every year. Many of them end up in local shelters that attempt to find their original owners, often without any luck. In a recent study that included over 7,000 stray pets, less than 22% of lost dogs were returned to their owners, and less than 2% of cats made it home. Pets found by shelters are often rehomed, and in sad cases may even be euthanized.
What if there was something that you could do that would make your lost pet up to 20 times more likely to be returned to you? That something is microchipping. It is such a powerful tool that some municipalities have begun to require it by law. Here is our guide to why you should microchip your pet, how these tiny tools work, and what you need to do in order to ensure that they continue to help keep your pet safe.
If you pet has identification tags or a collar, you may think that a microchip is not needed. What if your pet runs off without their collar on, or the collar slips off or breaks? Or, if your pet is stolen or otherwise changes hands, their collar and tags can easily be removed, preventing identification.
A microchip cannot be removed, and can be used to definitively ID your pet. However, his does not mean that your pet does not need a collar and tags if they do have a microchip. The person who first finds your pet may not know that they have a microchip, and a quick and easy way to contact you will be helpful. Make sure that your pet (even if microchipped) always wears an ID that tag includes your current phone number.
How Do Pet Microchips Work?
Pet Microchips are contained in small glass cylinders about the size of a grain of rice. They contain a RFID radio transmitter and a tiny electronic device that holds your pet’s unique ID number. They provide a permanent ID, but are not tracking microchips that can be used to pinpoint your pet’s location like a global positioning service (GPS) can. Since they use RFID technology, pet microchips do not require a power source like a GPS. When a vet or shelter employee passes a scanner over your pet, the microchip gets enough power from the scanner to display the microchip’s ID number. There is no battery, no moving parts, and nothing that needs charging or replacing – one microchip will last for your pet’s entire life.
When your lost pet is brought into an animal shelter or vet’s office, they will scan the animal looking for a microchip. When the animal’s identification number is found, they will use that number to search ID databases to find your contact information. Still have questions about the microchipping process? Here are four important things to consider:
Cost: Nearly all veterinary practices offer microchipping services for around $50 or less. Most shelter animals come with a microchip included as a part of their adoption fee.
Process: Microchip insertion is similar to receiving a vaccination or other injection – your vet will insert it between your dog or cat’s shoulders using a needle. Microchips can also be inserted into horses, ferrets, rabbits, and most other mammals.
Dangers and Side Effects: Millions of pets have had microchips implanted, with only a very small handful of reported side effect s. They are considered safe by nearly all veterinarians. The most common issue is the microchip occasionally migrating from the original insertion area.
Other Uses: There are other pet products that can be programmed to work with your pet’s microchip, such as pet doors that will read your pet’s chip and allow them in – but not the neighborhood opossum.
If you are ready to get a microchip for your pet, start by talking to your vet and your local shelter to find out what is the common chip used in your area. There are several different microchip companies, and some are more universally read than others. Knowing what chips the scanners at your local shelter can read should be a factor in your choice.
Important Ongoing Maintenance For Your Pet’s Microchip
Your lost pet was lucky enough to be found and brought to a shelter where they will be safe. The shelter staff scans your pet, finds an ID number, and looks up your information in a database. What if the information they find is out of date?
One of the most important ways to keep your pet safe is to keep your microchip registration up to date: The chip is nearly useless if they information attached to it is incorrect. Make sure that you submit your pet’s initial microchip registration information right away. Many pets are microchipped, and then never properly registered. Keep the information in your registration current throughout their lifetime.
You should register your pet’s microchip information with the chip manufacturer, as well as your local shelters and animal control agencies. Here are a few other important places where you can register your pet’s microchip to ensure that they are safely returned to you:
Getting your pet microchipped at your vet or local shelter has another advantage: Many people neglect to update their microchip database registration when they move or get a new phone number. Having your pet’s chip also registered to someone else, like your veterinarian, offers another way to contact you if your pet is found.
A Quick and Easy Way to Help Pets Everywhere
Microchipping dogs and cats has many benefits, from reuniting lost pets with their loved one, to preventing crime and many forms of cruelty to animals. It has the power to reduce the number of lost and stray animals, which can in turn reduce euthanasia rates. For only $50, you can give your pet a lifetime of increased safety. Make an appointment today to talk with your vet about microchipping.