Millions of pets go missing each year, and while we hope it never happens to your furry friend a microchip can significantly improve the chance of their safe return.
That’s why we’re inviting you to celebrate ‘Check the Chip Day’ on Monday, August 15. This is the perfect time to update your pets microchip registration or get your pet microchipped if they are not already.
Keep reading below as we address the many misconceptions about microchips.
What is a pet microchip?
The purpose of the microchip is to provide a form of permanent identification. These microchip implants are called RFID tags, (Radio Frequency Identification). They are tiny, about the size of a grain of rice, and are passive. This means that they passively store a unique identification number and do not actively transmit any information. The microchip implanted in your pet has no battery and no internal power source, so it sits inertly in the pet until it is read by a special microchip scanner.
How will the microchip help my pet get home?
Most, if not all, humane societies and animal shelters now have universal microchip readers, and scan all animals that come into their care. If a lost pet is brought to a veterinary clinic, the veterinary staff will use their reader to check for a microchip. The reader will detect the electronic code embedded in the chip and display the identification number on its screen. The registration database is then checked for this identification number (either online or by telephone), and the pet owner’s contact information is retrieved.
Once my pet has been microchipped, is there anything else I need to do?
Yes, you must register the number with the appropriate agency. Your veterinarian will provide you with the documents and contact information and will tell you if any fees are required.
Although the implanted microchip will continue to function over your pet’s lifetime without any need for maintenance, the system won’t work unless you keep your contact information current. If you move or change your telephone number, make sure you update the information with the registration agency. Remember to also get new ID tags for your pet at the same time.
You can search the AAHA’s Universal Pet Microchip database using your pets microchip number
How is the microchip put into my pet?
Before insertion, the sterile microchip is scanned in the package to confirm that the identification code of the transponder is the same as that shown on the package bar code label. Next, the needle containing the microchip is loaded into the application gun or syringe. For pets, the standard site for microchip placement is in the subcutaneous tissue between the shoulder blades. The loose skin between the shoulder blades is gently pulled up, and the needle is quickly inserted. After insertion, the pet is scanned to make sure that the chip is reading properly.
How long does it take?
The procedure is fast, taking about the same amount of time it takes to give any other injection. It takes more time to do the registration paperwork than it does to implant the microchip.
Is it painful to my pet?
It hurts about as much as having blood drawn. The chips are usually inserted without incident in awake animals, even in the tiniest kitten. Some clients choose to have the microchip implanted when their pet is spayed or neutered so that the pet can be anesthetized for the injection, but this is not necessary; the microchip can be implanted at any time that is convenient.
My pet never goes outdoors. Does he need a microchip?
Even the most responsible pet owners cannot ensure that their pet won’t get lost. Although most indoor pets tend to stay indoors, there is always a possibility that they can escape if somebody opens a door at the wrong time, if they manage to push through loose window screen if something petches their attention outside, or if there is an emergency situation where the home has to be evacuated. Indoor pets that are not familiar with the great outdoors can become very frightened in these situations and may not be able to figure out how to get back home.
My pet already wears a collar with a tag on it. Does she need a microchip?
If your pet gets lost or picked up by animal control, the more types of identification that she has the better. Although collars are a very visible form of identification, they can accidentally fall off or be intentionally removed. Furthermore, if you have a collar on your pet, it should be a breakaway type so that it doesn’t get caught on anything and cause an injury. In addition, the information on the tag is legible when the tag is new, but as it gets old and worn it may become unreadable. This means that your pet’s collar is not a permanent form of identification.
My pet has a tattoo. Does he need a microchip?
While tattoos are permanent, in reality they aren’t always that helpful as a form of identification. The first problem with tattoos is that they become faded over time, making them difficult to read correctly. The second, more important problem is that there are no common databases for tattoo information, so any information about the pet and its owner can be difficult to trace.
The benefits of microchips are that they cannot be misread, and the identification number is tamper-proof. The information about the pet and owner is usually readily retrievable from the database.
Is there anything else I should know?
Millions of pets get lost every year, and pets that do not have microchips have less than a 5% chance of being reunited with their families. Pets with microchips were found to be more than twenty times as likely to be reunited with their families. The main reasons that owners weren’t found if the pet was microchipped were that the telephone number was incorrect or disconnected, or the owners did not return the phone call or letter from the finder.
The Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando offers free or reduced microchipping at both our Orlando and Sanford clinics for just $30.