Microchip – A Return Home Ticket!

Microchips save lives!  There, I’ve boldly said it!  Microchip insertions for pets have been a game changer in the lost and found department of pet care and shelter medicine.  Without them, the number of lost pets never returned to their loving families would be shattering.

What is a Microchip?  – A Microchip is a small transmitter about the size of a grain of rice.  The chip itself is encapsulated in a biocompatible polymer that doesn’t cause a body or immune system reaction.   Microchips have no battery and thus will not fail as time passes.  Microchips have no active, moving or working parts that can break or have the need to be replaced.  Microchipping has been around for over 20 years and has a proven efficacy and safety.

How are Microchips implanted?  – Basically, a shot with a big needle.  Microchips come in sterile, individualized packages.  In this package, there is usually a microchip tag with the name and code in a typed format for home records.  Based on the species of the animal being Microchipped, there are standardized locations of where the Microchips are to be placed.  Dogs (and cats) have their Microchip injected under the skin between the shoulder blades.  A common misconception is that surgery is needed to place a Microchip.  This is false.  A Microchip can be placed in a matter of seconds.

Does the implantation hurt?  – The discomfort associated with placement of a Microchip is about the same as that of getting an injection for vaccinations. The needle is a little larger, but the injections happen so quickly, that many pets don’t seem to notice.  Many Microchips are placed when pets are under anesthesia for their spay procedure, neuter, dental treatments, etc and are thus not even aware.

How does the Microchip work?  – When a Microchip scanner is passed over the region of the body where the implant resides, a signal is emitted indicating the unique identification number of the chip.  This is read on a view screen on the scanner.

What information is on the Microchip?  – The only information on the Microchip is the unique identification number that is encoded.  No personal information about the pet or the owner is on the microchip.  The microchip information is similar to that of a vehicle identification number (VIN number) on a car.

How does the Microchip information become registered?  It is very important that your Microchip information be registered.  Simply having the chip implanted will not bring your pet home.  If a Microchip is unregistered, the manufacturer can tract the Microchip to the facility (animal hospital, shelter, etc) that they sold it to, but unless that facility has records of each of the Microchip numbers, you are at a loss.  Many animal hospitals will register the information for you.  Other animal hospitals or facilities will give you the paperwork that you can fill out and mail in.  Some Microchip manufacturers allow you to complete the registration online.  No matter the means, REGISTER.

Do Microchips cause cancer?  – No, Microchips do not cause cancer.  There have been numerous studies that prove that Microchips do not cause cancer.  Since the material that coats the Microchip is a biocompatible element, the body’s immune system doesn’t even know it is there.

Can a Microchip be used to locate a lost pet?  No, a Microchip is not a location device.  GPS systems are small enough to fit on a dog’s collar, but still too large to be made inside a Microchip.  A lost pet is generally scanned at a veterinary hospital, shelter or rescue organization.  Once scanned, this number can then be checked with the manufacturer’s registration database or in a database run by the American Animal Hospital Association at www.petmicrochiplookup.org.  It is the database that holds the owner’s contact information.

How often do Microchips need to be registered?  – Once the Microchip is registered, that registration is indefinite.  The problem however, is that people move and their contact information changes, but the registration is never updated.  So, always remember that if you move, change your phone numbers or other registration information, please contact the manufacturer to update their database as well.  If the registrar allows for secondary contact information, provide that of a person who lives in a different location than yours.  If there is a natural disaster and your pet is found and identified, but you cannot be contacted and your secondary contact is your neighbor, who is also affected by the natural disaster, you are again at a loss.  However, if you give contact information for someone outside of your living area, the likelihood that they can be contacted is greater.  We learned a lot of this the hard way from hurricane Katrina.

Be a life saver – Microchip your pet today!