vet scanning dog for a microchip

As a pet owner, you’ve likely heard about microchips before, but you might be on the fence about getting one for your cat or dog. 

While ID tags and collars are crucial for your furry friends, a microchip can take safety and security to the next level. We never want our pets to get lost, but accidents happen. 

To ensure you are reunited with your pet, let’s examine why you should microchip your pet and what you need to know about the process and maintenance.   

What Is a Pet Microchip?

Think of a microchip, also known as a transponder, as a form of identification for your cat or dog. It is a small electronic chip enclosed in a glass cylinder, about the size of a single grain of rice. It does not require batteries or charging. Instead, it is activated by a scanner that passes over the implantation area. Radio waves put out by the scanner activate the chip. Then, it transmits a preassigned identification number that a vet clinic or shelter can use to contact you. 

Is a Pet Microchip Like a GPS?

Short answer, no. A pet microchip is not a GPS. There is no way to locate your animal with a microchip. Instead, the animal must be somewhere the microchip can be read. 

If you are looking to double up on security measures, you can purchase a GPS device for your animal. Most GPS devices on the market attach to collars or are embedded in the collar itself. While these can guide you to your pet’s location, they are not foolproof, as they can get lost or damaged and likely require batteries.  

Should I Microchip My Pet?

In most scenarios, yes, you should microchip your pet. Microchips significantly increase the chance of you being reunited with your pet if they get lost. If your pet gets lost and someone takes them to a vet or shelter, and they are chipped, the implant will let the provider know who to call so you can bring your pet home as soon as possible. 

We can never plan for the day our furry friend accidentally gets let out by a family member or friend who doesn’t know the routine or when a camping trip goes wrong, and your dog runs off faster than you can keep up. Fortunately, microchip technology significantly increases the chances that you will be able to return home with your pet safe and sound. 

If you are worried about the disadvantages of microchipping, know that they often are viewed as minor in relation to the advantages. While some animals have an adverse reaction to the initial procedure, like inflammation, most reactions are mild and temporary. If you have specific concerns, talk with your vet before moving forward with the procedure. 

Microchipping Your Pet: What to Expect 

The process for microchipping your dog or cat is relatively simple. While your vet will provide guidance specific to your pet, microchips are often implanted in puppies and kittens around the same time they receive their first Rabies vaccine. If you have an older animal who is not microchipped, know that it’s never too late. 

Microchip Implantation 

To start the process, you will make an appointment with your veterinarian. At the appointment, the microchip is injected under the skin, typically near the shoulder blades, using a hypodermic needle. While the needle is slightly larger than a standard vaccination needle, it is not more painful than a standard injection. While cost varies, most microchips, including implantation, run from $50 to $100. Contact your vet for an accurate estimate. 

Your pet will not have to undergo surgery or anesthesia to get microchipped. However, you may choose to have the microchip implanted during a procedure like spaying or neutering. 

The microchips veterinarians use should be approved and recommended by the International Standards Organization (ISO). The global standards set for microchips ensure the identification systems used are consistent worldwide. That means that if you are a resident of the United States and you travel to Canada, and your dog goes missing, a Canadian veterinary clinic or shelter would be able to scan your dog’s chip if they were found and brought in. 

Registering Your Pet’s Microchip 

The information contained on the chip will vary depending on the maker. When you have the chip implanted in your cat or dog, you will be given information to fill out a profile and register the number. In most cases, you will include your contact information as well as your pet’s name, breed, age, and coloring. 

While microchips do not contain medical information, some registries allow you to store that information for your own quick reference. It is important to know that the information you provide to the manufacturer’s microchip registry is only used to contact you in the event your pet’s chip is scanned. You do not need to worry about your or your pet’s privacy or security. 

Updating Your Pet’s Microchip Record 

Microchips are designed to last your pet’s entire lifetime. However, it’s unlikely that your contact information will stay the same for that long. 

Updating your dog or cat’s microchip record is crucial. If you move or your phone number changes, log in to your pet’s profile via the manufacturer, and update the information. If your pet is lost and their microchip is scanned, and your information is not correct, the chances of being reunited decline drastically. 

If you are ever uncertain of your pet’s microchip registration status, you can use the American Animal Hospital Association’s Universal Pet Microchip Lookup. This tool provides information on where you’ve registered your pet’s chip and when it was last updated. 

Know Your Pet Is Safe at Greenlin Pet Resorts 

If there are times when you can’t be with your pet, and you are worried about their safety, Greenlin Pet Resorts is here to help. We offer a full range of pet boarding, daycare, and grooming services at five convenient locations in the Harrisburg, PA, area. Contact us today to learn more about our home-away-from-home offerings.