Dogs and cats are naturally inquisitive, and as a result the possibility that they could stray from their homes is real. Add in the chances of pets being separated from their owners during inclement weather and natural or man made disasters, and the risk of losing a pet increases. Although it is extremely important to have ID tags on each and every one of your pets, microchips provide another form of identification that will always be with your pet. A microchip could be the deciding factor that reunites a lost friend with their human.
What are microchips for pets?
Microchips are very small transmitters implanted under your pet’s skin. When a scanner passes over it, a signal is emitted indicating the unique identification number of the chip. These ID numbers can be accessed by the microchip company and contact information for the pet’s owner can be found.
It’s important to remember that microchips are not location devices. Someone must scan the chip to learn about the pet owner’s whereabouts. Most animal shelters will have microchip scanners on intake. Also in many animal shelters, implanting microchips is standard practice before adoption. Many veterinary hospitals also have scanners as well. So if you find a stray dog or cat it is often worth while to take this pet to your local vet or shelter to have it scanned.
How are they inserted?
The procedure to implant a microchip is very simple. A needle, a bit larger then those used to give vaccinations, is inserted under the skin which allows the small microchip to be deposited subcutaneously. The initial poke of the needle may be slightly uncomfortable, but this is a quick process and does not require sedation.
Your pet may experience slight discomfort at the injection site for a few days. A small amount of blood may also be noted. Microchips can migrate slightly in the subcutaneous space over time. This doesn’t typically pose a problem other than needing to broaden the scanning field. There have been reported growths associated with the microchip implant, though these are rare. If this is ever noted be sure to contact your veterinarian.
What are the responsibilities of the pet owner?
After the microchip in implanted, it is imperative to have it registered. If this is not done, the company will only be able to tell were the microchip was sold, but not the specific owner. This could lead to difficulties reuniting lost pets and owners. It’s also important to remember to update your pet’s microchip registration after a family move, or with any change in owner contact information.
My two dogs and two cats all have microchips. This is an added way to identify my dear friends if they ever find their way away from my home. In the instance they are ever separated from me and my wife, we have a better chance of finding them and returning them to where they belong. – Peter Olson, DVM
Peter Olson, DVM, is a 2007 graduate of The Ohio State University School of Veterinary Medicine. He and his wife Beth share their home with two dogs, two cats, four turtles and a Russian Tortoise.