Few things in life are as heartbreaking as when a pet goes missing and never gets found, leaving their owners always wondering what happened. You can save yourself from this unfortunate situation by having a tracking microchip implanted in your pet.
Millions of pets become lost every year, unfortunately only a few get reunited with their owners. Many lost pets end up in shelters where they may be adopted out to new homes or euthanized. It is important that your pet has identification at all times; collars and tags are important forms of identification but they can fall off or become damaged. Microchipping your pet provides permanent identification for when other methods fail.
How it Works
Microchips are very small, about the size of a grain of rice. It contains a tiny computer chip in a type of glass made to be compatible with living tissue. The microchip is implanted between the pet’s shoulder blades under the skin with a needle and special syringe in a process very similar to getting a vaccination. Little to no pain is experienced – most pets seem to not even feel it. Once in place, the microchip can be detected immediately with a handheld device which reads the chip. This device scans the microchip, and then displays a unique alphanumeric code. After the microchip has been placed it must be registered with the microchip company, usually for a one-time fee. Once registered, your pet can be traced back to you as the owner by scanning the microchip. All pets microchipped at our hospital have their unique ID number recorded in their record.
Things You Should Know
- Microchips are designed to last for the life of a pet. They do not need to be changed or replaced.
- Some microchips have been known to migrate from the area between the shoulder blades, but the instructions for scanning emphasize the need to scan the pet’s entire body.
- A microchipped pet can be easily identified if found by a shelter or veterinary office in possession of a scanner. However, some shelters and veterinary offices do not have 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.
No method of identification is perfect. The best thing you can do to protect your pet is to keep current identification tags on your pets at all times, consider microchipping as reinforcement, and never allow your pets to roam free. If your pet does become lost, more methods of identification can increase the chances of being reunited with your pet.
Registered microchips give lost pets the best chance of returning home.
- The American Humane Association estimates over 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the U.S. every year.
- One in three pets will become lost at some point during their life.
A study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, including 53 animal shelters across the U.S., confirmed the high rate of return of microchipped dogs and cats to their families, and the importance of microchip registration. From the study:
- Only about 22 percent of lost dogs that entered the animal shelters were reunited with their families. However, the return-to-owner rate for microchipped dogs was over 52 percent (a 238 percent increase).
- Less than 2 percent of lost cats that entered the animal shelters were reunited with their families. The return-to-owner rate for
microchipped cats was dramatically higher at over 38 percent (more than 2000 percent better).
- Only 58 percent of the microchipped animals’ microchips had been registered in a database with their pet parent’s contact information.