Does your dog have a microchip? If not, it's time to consider microchipping your dog. Thousands, if not millions of dogs get lost every year. A tragic few of these missing pets are reunited with their owners. Unfortunately, many lost dogs end up in shelters where they are adopted out to new homes or even euthanized.
Microchip or not, it is important that your dog has identification at all times. Although collars and tags are essential, but they can fall off or become damaged.
Fortunately, technology has made it possible to equip your pet with a microchip for permanent identification.
How a Microchip Works
A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice. It consists of a tiny computer chip housed in a special type of glass. The material is made to be compatible with living tissue. The microchip is implanted between the dog's shoulder blades under the skin with a needle and special syringe. The process is similar to getting a shot (except with a larger needle). In most cases, little to no pain is experienced. Many dogs do not even seem to notice it being implanted. Despite the larger needle, most pets react the same as they would to a routine vaccination. If you are concerned about the size of the needle, you can have your pet microchipped during anesthesia for a spay or neuter. If your dog is already fixed, you can have it placed during a professional dental cleaning.
Once in place, the microchip can be detected immediately with a handheld device that uses radio waves to read the chip. This device scans the microchip and then displays a unique alphanumeric code.
After the microchip is placed, the dog must be registered with the microchip company, often for a one-time fee.
This way, the dog can be traced back to the owner if found.
What You Need to Know About Microchips
- Microchips are designed to last for the life of a dog. They do not need to be charged or replaced. There are no batteries.
- It's important that you remember to keep your contact information updated with the microchip registration company. This is so you can be quickly contacted in the event your dog goes missing and the chip is scanned.
- Some microchips have been known to migrate from the area between the shoulder blades. The instructions for scanning emphasize the need to scan the dog’s entire body, including the limbs.
- A microchipped dog can be easily identified if found by a shelter or veterinary office in possession of a universal scanner. However, some shelters and veterinary offices do not have these or any scanners.
- Depending on the brand of microchip and the year it was implanted, even so-called universal scanners may not be able to detect the microchip.
- Microchip manufacturers, veterinarians, and animal shelters have been working on solutions to the imperfections, and technology continues to improve over time. Fortunately, newer microchips have better readability.
- Microchips do not have GPS or other locating capabilities. A lost pet must be scanned by a chip reader in order to begin the process of finding the owner.
No method of identification is perfect. The best thing you can do to protect your dog is to be a responsible owner. Keep current identification tags on your dog at all times, whether or not your pet has a microchip. Consider microchipping as reinforcement. Most importantly, never allow your dog to roam free. If your dog does become lost, more identification can increase the odds of finding your beloved companion.