If you have ever lost or even just thought you lost your dog or cat, then you know what a stressful and scary situation it can be.
Some pets have a tendency to wander off or even run after cars, wildlife, and other pets. Although we do the best to train our pets, keep gates and doors closed, and build tall fences, all too often our beloved pet can get out and become lost. Collars and tags are great and can lead to a quick return in many cases. However, collars are not always used, can come off rather easily, and are sometimes even ignored.
For these reasons we recommend your pets have a microchip performed by the friendly veterinarians at My Best Friend Veterinary Center! Microchips are one of the most reliable and effective ways to make sure your lost pet finds their way home.
Microchips are small, sterile medical implants that can help your pet be traced back to you. The microchip itself is about the size of a grain of rice and made of an outer layer of an inert glass. Inside the chip are the electronic components. The microchip itself doesn’t have a power source; instead it is energized by the electromagnetic energy of a specialized scanner.
The chip then emits a radiofrequency that encodes a unique identification number. It is that number that a veterinary office or shelter can use to alert the manufacturer of the microchip that the pet has been found. The manufacturer maintains a database with all the information about that pet and their owners.
We can then make contact with the owner so they can pick up their loved one. Scanning for a microchip is also routinely done at shelters or veterinary offices when a new pet first comes in, even if just there for vaccines or a health issue.
Recent studies have investigated the “return-to-owner” rate of animals that were picked up and turned into shelters. These studies showed lost dogs who have microchips have a return rate 238% higher than those without, and cats with microchips have an amazing 2000% higher return rate! The peace of mind that the microchip can provide, although not measurable, is certainly invaluable.
The microchip is implanted using a large gauge needle, which will place the chip in the subcutaneous space (the loose tissue space between the skin and muscle layers) in the area of the upper back. We use this this area of the back, also referred to as the “scruff,” because in this location the skin has fewer pain receptors.
Since the procedure isn’t entirely painless we often prefer to microchip puppies and kittens at the time that they are under anesthesia for their neuter or spay surgery. Although this is the most convenient time, we often will microchip pets that have already been spayed or neutered at a regular appointment without the need to sedate them. Although a little more intense, the pain from the implantation is much like a vaccination and is only momentary.
There are many misconceptions regarding microchips. For instance, contrary to what some people believe, these microchips are not tracking devices and cannot be used to locate a pet via GPS or other tracking technology. Those types of devices are available to add to a collar, but not as an implant. Although those collars can be useful in certain situations, we do not feel they are a replacement for the implanted ID microchip. Collar-based ID or GPS devices are expensive, easily forgotten, fall off, lose power, or are disregarded.
Another misconception about the microchip implants is that they require a paid membership to keep them active. This is not true. Many microchip manufacturers offer extra services as a part of an optional paid membership. However, once the chip is paid for, implanted, and registered, it will continue to work, and the manufacturer will continue to maintain the database even without the paid membership. Some, however, may charge you a small fee to update your contact information in their database, which should be done each time you move.
If we implant the chip here at My Best Friend Veterinary Center, our clinic will be linked to the chip in the database as well, providing a second point of contact so your pet can find their way home.
We use microchips made by HomeAgain®. These are high quality devices made by a good and reliable company. They do not charge a fee if you need to update your information in their database, and they are helpful with any issues. Their microchips are 134.2 kHz ISO certified, meaning that they meet the standard required for international travel to most countries.
If your pet doesn’t have a microchip, or if you are unsure if it does, we can easily help! We try to keep all of our patients’ microchip numbers on file in our system as well. Also, check with us if you are planning on traveling abroad with your pet or if your contact information has changed. We can help make sure that everything is taken care of.
At My Best Friend Veterinary Center, we want to make sure that your pet stays safe and happy in your home and we believe that microchipping is one important way to ensure that. Please contact us if you have any other questions.
For more information about microchips, try one of these sites: