Expert Vet Advice: What’s the Deal with Microchips for Pets?
When it comes to our furry friends, few things cause us more anxiety than when our pet is lost or missing. The spiral hits and the thoughts come in full force. “Has my pet been attacked by a larger dog or predator like a coyote? Hit by a car? Taken by someone else thinking the pet is a stray?” We’ve all been there.
With no identification, many pets end up in city or county animal shelters and could be put down within 5 to 7 days if they aren’t claimed. If you’re lucky, your missing pet might be picked up by a caring person who would love to return them if they knew who they belonged to. I.D. collars and tags with your contact information on them are great, but these can easily fall off or be removed. And as Murphy’s law dictates, your pet is going to take off the one time you remove the collar for some reason. So, you need to rely on a backup plan, and it’s gotta be a permanent one. Enter: the microchip.
What is a microchip?
Microchips can turn tragedy into triumph by providing permanent and positive identification for your pet. Luckily, a microchip is only about the size of a grain of rice, and is placed in the loose skin between the shoulder blades, and it’s no more invasive than your regular, run-of-the-mill vaccination. Its sole purpose is to send radio-frequencies that carry your pet’s unique ID number. So, for instance, if a shelter or vet scans your doggo’s microchip, they are able to identify who they are because it transmits the I.D. number. Pretty cool, huh? Arguably the best part about microchips is that if a shelter or humane society identifies a microchip in a found pet, that pet will not be put down. So, in a sense, a microchip may just be the most important injection your pet will ever receive.
How do microchips work?
The tiny chip’s memory circuit contains a unique, pre-programmed, microchip number, which can be easily read by a scanner and is then input into a pet microchip lookup tool, which is a central data bank where the pet’s ownership records are kept. Even better, the microchip and your pet’s identification number last a lifetime.
The microchip implantation process is super easy and is usually done by your veterinarian, a vet clinic, or a qualified, trained, animal health technician. In most cases, animals are unaware that anything has even been injected, that’s how painless it is. So for your pet, it will seem like just a regular vet visit. Score!
Once it’s implanted, the microchip is registered into the microchip registry database, where your phone number and other contact information will be.
Does it matter what microchip I get?
Nowadays, it matters quite a bit. Recently, the United States has joined the rest of the world by providing ISO standard chips, which are now used all over the world. As new scanners are being developed that will only read ISO chips, it is important to note that older chips may no longer be read by the newer universal scanners. These chips run on a slightly different frequency than those that came before them, so definitely check with your vet to make sure your chip is up to date, especially if you are planning to travel outside of the U.S.
At the end of the day, a microchip is a great and important addition to a regular pet I.D. tag. Forget the days of having to tape reward posters to the nearest tree in a futile search for your lost pet, get a microchip and rest easy knowing your pet will always be safely identified.