9 Things You Need to Know About Microchipping

What the heck is microchipping, and why is it important to your dog?

By | Posted: June 3, 2014, 12 p.m. PST

Found dog via theketchupwar.comYou see them everywhere: the "lost dog” signs stapled to telephone polls, the "missing pet” ads in the daily newspaper. The fact is, losing a pet -- even just for a short period -- happens to even the best of owners.

According to numbers from the ASPCA, approximately 36 percent of the 3.9 million dogs that enter animal care shelters in the United States enter as strays that were separated from their owners. That’s a lot of lost dogs!

Fortunately, technology exists to help you find your pet in the event that he ever becomes lost. Microchipping your dog, along with outfitting him with a collar and up-to-date ID tags, will go a very long way toward helping you reunite with your beloved pet.

Because microchipping is new to some people, and the technology hasn’t caught on everywhere, many people have questions when it comes to this topic. Here are some answers to the questions dog owners might have about microchipping.

1. What is a microchip?

A microchip is a small electronic chip enclosed in a glass cylinder -- so tiny that it’s about the size of a grain of rice. The microchip is inserted under your dog’s skin via a hypodermic needle and is activated by a scanner that is passed over the microchip. Once it’s activated, the microchip emits a radio frequency and displays information that can help recover your dog in the event that he becomes lost, including a registration number and the phone number for the registry of the particular brand of microchip.

2. Will a microchip hurt my dog or get lost in his body?

Microchip next to a grain of rice. Photo from Lightwarrior2Microchip next to a grain of rice. Photo from Lightwarrior2

Getting a microchip inserted via a hypodermic needle feels pretty similar to any kind of injection -- a quick pinch and it’s done. The microchip is inserted beneath the skin and begins to bond to the surrounding tissue within 24 hours, preventing it from moving, according to the Humane Society of the United States. There’s a small chance that the microchip can move slightly, but it won’t get lost in your dog’s body.

3. What kind of information does a microchip hold?

Microchips only contain identification numbers that are generated by the registry of the particular brand of chip.

4. Can a microchip replace a collar and ID tags?

No! Think of microchipping your dog as added protection. A collar and up-to-date ID tags are still a great bet for recovering your dog if your average person finds him wandering around, especially if that person doesn’t have access to or doesn’t know about microchips. Plus, like most technology, microchips aren’t foolproof. According to the HSUS, universal scanners can detect the presence of a microchip, but might not be able to read the information on it. And if an animal shelter volunteer or vet clinic staff doesn’t use the scanner properly, it might not detect the microchip.

5. Is there a central database that registers microchip information?

Microchip scanner.

Microchip Scanner. Photo by Oscar111

Not really. Each brand of microchip maintains its own database. Fortunately, though, microchip scanners display the name of the microchip’s manufacturer when the microchip is read.

To help users find out microchip information more easily, the American Animal Hospital Association launched the Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool in 2009. By visiting www.petmicrochiplookup.org and entering the microchip ID into the search bar, users can find out which manufacturer is associated with the ID, and can then contact the manufacturer to find out owner information. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the likelihood that an pet can’t be identified from his microchip is very low.

6. What happens to the information on my dog’s microchip if I move?

If you change addresses, you must contact the company that registers your dog’s microchip and update your information.

7. Where can I get my dog microchipped?

Most veterinary clinics provide microchipping services. Some pet-supply stores and animal shelters also provide microchipping events.

8. Are there any health concerns associated with microchips?

Some news reports have linked microchips with cancer; however, the AVMA states that the chance of a pet developing cancer because of a microchip is "very, very low.”

Vets Address Dog Microchip Questions, Concerns>>

9. Will a microchip really help to recover my dog if he gets lost?

Yes! According to the AVMA, a study of more than 7,700 stray animals at shelters showed that dogs with microchips were returned to their owners over 52 percent of the time; dogs without microchips were only returned to their owners 21 percent of the time. Of the dogs that weren’t returned, most of the time it was because the owner information in the registry database was incorrect, or the chip was never registered. So if your dog is microchipped, be sure to register his information, and keep it current!

Hopefully your dog will never get lost, but just in case, bookmark our: Lost Dog Flier Template>>



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tuppyluvr   Lac du Flambeau, WI

6/28/2014 9:20:44 AM

We have microchipped our dogs and cats since microchips first came out. None of them ever run loose, but escapes can happen. We would never skip it with any pet! And remember to put a tag on your pet to let others know he is microchipped, and where to call--or to take him to a vet or shelter to be "read." And let your vet know all his chip information as well as keeping the microchip company up to date with your phone number, address, etc. Its no good if they cannot find you.

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Melian and Tiny   Etna, CA

6/18/2014 11:39:49 PM

I microchipped my dog and it makes me feel a bit more secure about all the running free she does in the wilderness. I also did my horse and my friend's dog too. It's pretty easy to do yourself!

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Lorna - 277613   Cartwright, MB

6/10/2014 2:55:49 PM

Another good idea is a tracking device that they now have to find items! like the GPS type systems.

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Lorna - 277613   Cartwright, MB

6/10/2014 2:54:31 PM

Very good advice! For Border Collies in Canada, we microchip with the Canadian Livestock Registry Corporation Microchip technology, which does not actually have a data base for addresses...they are registered to a breeder who would have possibly 200 or more microchips registered back to them AND it is traced back to the registration of the Canadian Border Collie Association record system as a unique identifier.... Please let your Vet know that your dog is micro-chipped with this system if you have a Canadian Border Collie registered this way. Always have a visible ID tag on your dog with at least a phone # to help find their way home. : ) Lorna Wall 2 Wall Border Collies www.wall2wallsheep.com

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