The nauseating realization moment of a beloved dog or cat’s disappearance is as terrifying for many pet owners as parents’ panic when a preschooler yanks his or her hand away at the mall, dashing into the crowd. Reconnecting pet to owner can be no less traumatic or important.
- 1 Too Many Pets Lost with Too Little ID
- 2 Getting Started with Pet Microchip Identification
- 3 If a Pet is Lost
- 4 Microchip Identification Details
- 5 How are Microchips Used in Pets?
- 6 How do Microchips Identify Individual Pets?
- 7 Registering the Microchip for the Pet
- 8 Myths and Concerns About Microchips and Pets
Too Many Pets Lost with Too Little ID
According to the Humane Society of the United States, over 20 million pets are euthanized each year because rescue shelters rescue many more lost and feral dogs and cats than they can connect with original owners or new homes. Shelters cannot kennel and feed them all indefinitely.
Collars and tags can fall off, but a microchip stays in place throughout the animal’s life. There are several different manufacturers and monitor companies offering permanent microchip pet identification options to pet owners. Animals with microchip identification implants are reunited much more often with their owners than pets wearing just collars and tags alone.
Getting Started with Pet Microchip Identification
Many local societies across America use and recommend microchip identification for pets. The chip is about the size of a grain of rice and is injected by using a sterile syringe into the shoulder area just under the scruff of the skin. It is often done at the time of adoption, or can easily be added to any of the annual vaccination visits.
This can be done at veterinary clinics and cost varies depending upon the facility, ranging from about $20 to $40. The fee includes the injection, the microchip, a plastic collar tag with the microchip ID number embedded on it, initial scanning to ensure microchip is activated, and registration with the microchip manufacturer.
If a Pet is Lost
The microchip manufacturers’ individual chip code number for each pet’s tag is recorded and stored at the clinic or shelter where the injection was done, as well as with the microchip manufacturers’ websites. The pet owner’s contact information is with the recorded information.
Newly captured and found animals at shelters, pounds, and Humane Society sites are scanned across the shoulder area with microchip scanners. When a microchip is detected, the pet’s information is checked against the recorded and stored information in the manufacturers’ systems, so the pet can be reunited with the owner.
Microchip Identification Details
Microchip identification manufacturers allow a pet owner to register pet information online and access customer service 24 hours a day. The company also offers various forms of pet health care insurance.
Shelters, vet clinics, and rescue sites should have scanners on-hand, capable of reading the microchip manufacturers’ identification codes, all across the United States. Scanning a pet for a microchip is a free service to anyone, whether that person is the owner of the pet or just found the pet and is trying to reconnect a family.
It is not common for microchips to deactivate. Microchips have an average activity span of 25 years. However, if the pet will be traveling or there is a family move coming up, having the microchip checked and updating contact information in the microchip manufacturers’ records is advised.
Pets with microchips are more likely to be identified and returned to their owners than pets only wearing collars and tags, or having no identification on them at all. Before getting a pet micro-chipped, check with the local shelter and veterinarian to make sure their scanners can read the microchip. Get the microchip brand injected that is the same brand as the scanners the local shelters and veterinarian have. Microchip manufacturers’ scanners only read the chip numbers of their own brand. Shelters and clinics do not have all scanner brands on hand.
How are Microchips Used in Pets?
Microchips are implanted under the skin between the shoulder blades of a dog, cat or other pet using a large needle. The implantation process is very similar to what occurs when a pet receives a vaccination or any other injection.
Before the implantation procedure, the area where the implantation is to be performed is cleaned with alcohol or another form of disinfectant. A specially designed sterile needle is used to implant the microchip.
The microchip itself is a tiny device which is about the size of a grain of rice. Implantation is quick and painless, with only a slight momentary sting being experienced when the microchip is actually implanted.
Microchipping a dog, cat or other pet does not usually require anesthesia or sedation. The procedure is normally completed within a matter of moments.
How do Microchips Identify Individual Pets?
Microchips are imbedded with specific combinations of numbers and letters which are unique to each microchip. The code on the microchip is read with a scanner, a hand-held piece of equipment which is passed over the skin of the pet. As the scanner is passed over the area where the microchip is located, it reads and displays the microchip code.
When a pet is implanted with a microchip, the microchip is permanent and remains with the animal in a functional state for the remainder of the pet’s life. Any time the pet is lost or missing, animal control personnel can use a scanner to identify the animal and contact the pet’s owner.
Registering the Microchip for the Pet
Microchips must be registered with a database which records the pet owner’s personal information, such as name, contact numbers and address. The database then connects the owner’s information to the code embedded into the microchip which has been implanted in the pet.
It is important for pet owners to remember to update the information provided to the microchip database in the event that their information changes. Without current contact information on record for the owner, microchips are useless and cannot be used to contact the pet owner.
Myths and Concerns About Microchips and Pets
There has been some concern about cancer risks associated with microchip implants in pets. At the current time, there is no scientific evidence which connects microchips with an increased cancer risk. There have been some anectdotal reports, however. Most experts feel that the cancer risk associated with microchips is quite small. It is generally accepted that the risk of a pet never returning home in the event he becomes lost or escapes from the house far outweighs the risk of implanting a microchip to facilitate recovery of the pet.
Infections are another concern which many pet owners worry about, but the risk of infection is negligible if the microchip is implanted by a professional using recommended techniques (preparing the implantation prior to implantation, using sterile procedure during the implantation process).
Excess bleeding is another concern which some pet owners express. However, when a microchip is implanted correctly in a healthy dog, cat or other pet, there is very little if any bleeding associated. The risk of bleeding during the implantation procedure is no higher than the risk of a pet bleeding while receiving a vaccination or other type of injection.
Those who oppose microchipping pets also express fears of the microchip migrating from the original implantation site. While migration of a microchip can occur, this is rare and generally not dangerous or painful for the pet.