If you have a furry friend at home, you’ve likely heard the term “microchip.” Maybe your pet has one. These tiny, rice-sized identification chips are implanted under a pet’s skin and are widely popular for domestic animals across the world. Read on for important information regarding microchips, whether your pet is already chipped or not. 

Microchipping is safe, quick, and relatively pain-free for pets

Microchipping your pet is relatively simple. The tiny chip is inserted under the skin similarly to a vaccine, but with a larger-bore needle. Most veterinarians will place the microchip on the back between the shoulder blades, where there is typically a larger amount of skin for easy placement. Most pets will react only minimally to chip insertion. Particularly sensitive animals may be more resistant, while others will not flinch. Microchipping is easily done as an outpatient procedure, but if your pet has an anesthetic procedure scheduled, such as a spay, neuter, or dental prophylaxis, you may consider waiting and asking your veterinarian to perform both procedures at the same time.  

Many domestic animals can be microchipped

While dogs and cats are the most common recipients, virtually any domestic pet can be microchipped, including small mammals and reptiles. Horses and other large animals are also commonly microchipped. If your pet spends any time outside, a microchip is essential in case she escapes or becomes lost. Many people also choose to microchip their indoor pets as a precautionary measure. 

Microchips are for pets’ identification purposes only

Each microchip is assigned a unique identification number that, once registered, is associated with the pet owner’s contact information. Microchips do not currently have Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking, nor do they house your pet’s medical records or other information. If your lost pet is found, she must be brought to a veterinary facility or animal shelter to be scanned for a microchip. Scanning will reveal her identification number and information about the company holding the chip’s registration. Then, the company can be called to obtain your contact information, and you will be contacted and reunited with your pet. 

Microchips have different frequencies

Microchips emit radio waves that a scanner can detect. Currently in the U.S., there are two types of microchips that emit different frequencies. Unfortunately, some scanners will only detect microchips of a particular frequency, which reduces the chances of a reunion with your pet if her chip cannot be found. Universal scanners will detect both, but not every veterinary hospital or animal shelter has that type. However, the International Standards Organization (ISO) is leading a movement toward a global standard for microchips that are detectable by any scanner, anywhere in the world. 

Microchips can migrate in pets, but rarely cause problems

Microchipping is notoriously safe and effective. Occasionally, the chip may migrate under the skin to other areas of the body, which is generally harmless. Or, a pet’s body may reject the microchip, which is rare. Other, even more rare and unlikely problems include infection, hair loss, swelling, or tumor formation. 

Pet owners must keep information up-to-date

The most essential aspect of microchipping is registering your pet’s identification number with your contact information after the chip has been placed. Without proper registration, the microchip in your pet is virtually useless. Once the chip is registered, keeping your contact information current is crucial. In fact, August 15 is deemed “Check the Chip Day” to encourage pet owners to keep their pet’s registration information up-to-date. 

Microchipping is simple, safe, and effective. Contact us with your microchip questions, or to set up an appointment. We can guide you through the entire microchipping process.