What is a microchip? How does it work?
A microchip is a computer chip enclosed in a small glass cylinder (about the size of a grain of rice) that is injected under your pet’s skin as a means of identification. Each microchip is connected to an online registry of owner contact information. In the event that your pet is lost and taken to a shelter or veterinary hospital, he will be scanned for a microchip. If the contact information on file is up to date, you can be quickly notified and reunited with your pet.
How is the microchip implanted? Will it hurt my pet?
Implanting a microchip is quick, easy, and painless. Your veterinarian will inject the microchip under your pet’s skin between the shoulder blades. The injection is performed with a hypodermic needle that is slightly larger than those used for vaccinations. No anesthesia is required, though animals that are already anesthetized for procedures such as a neuter or spay might be microchipped at the same time.
How much of my information is accessible via microchip? Do I need to be concerned about my privacy?
The only information that will be accessible from your pet’s microchip is the contact information you provide to the manufacturer’s microchip registry. This information will be used to contact you in the event that your pet is found and his microchip is scanned. Any other personal information, including your pet’s health record or other medical information, will not be included.
My pet wears a collar with ID tags. Do I really need to microchip? Does my pet’s microchip replace his tags?
Collars and current tags are still the quickest and easiest way to identify a pet’s owner. Additionally, most cities also require pets to have both rabies tags and a city license—information that is not provided by a microchip. However, collars and tags can become lost or damaged, making it difficult for animal control or shelter personnel to identify a pet’s owner. Using tags and a microchip together—and ensuring both are regularly updated—is the best way to ensure your pet’s safe return.
My cat never goes outside. Do I need to get him microchipped?
Cats are excellent escape artists. While it’s great that you’re keeping your cat safe indoors, there’s always a chance that he could escape through a door left ajar by a guest or repair person, or through a window with a loose screen. Since there’s always a chance your cat could get out, it’s best to make sure he is microchipped.
Does microchipping really help lost pets get home?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), “A study of more than 7,700 stray animals at animal shelters showed that dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 21.9 percent of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were returned to their owners 52.2 percent of the time. Cats without microchips were reunited with their owners only 1.8 percent of the time, whereas microchipped cats went back home 38.5 percent of the time.” In the cases of those animals who were microchipped but weren’t returned to their owners, the AVMA states that this was primarily due to missing or incorrect owner information in the microchip databases.
Is microchipping expensive?
While prices vary depending on the veterinary hospital, the cost of microchip implantation is usually a one-time fee of $25-$40. There may also be a fee, generally under $20, to enter your pet’s ID number in the microchip database, or to change your contact information. Ask your veterinarian for more information.
I just adopted a pet from a shelter. How can I tell if he is microchipped?
Many shelters microchip animals before they adopt them out. Make sure to ask if this is the case with your new pet. Your veterinarian can also scan for a microchip and help you update your contact information in the microchip database.
Do microchips wear out?
Microchips do not wear out, as they do not have batteries or moving parts. The chip is activated by radio waves emitted by the scanner as it is passed over the implantation site.
Do microchips cause side effects?
According to a database maintained by the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA), over 4 million animals have been microchipped since 1996. Of those 4 million animals, only 391 have had adverse reactions. The most common problem reported is the migration of the microchip from its original implantation site.