Millions of animals are rescued in the streets and brought to shelters each year. Animal shelters share that about 15 to 20% of dogs are found by their owners. However, the rest are either adopted or stay in the shelter until they are old.

That said, an innovative way to prevent pets from getting lost is through microchipping. According to statistics, more than 50% of lost microchipped dogs are easily found by owners. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions that may help you understand Microchipping better:

What is microchipping?

Microchipping is the process of implanting a microchip under the skin of an animal, such as a dog. A microchip is a tiny electronic circuit that contains certain information encoded through a number specifically assigned to your pet. It uses an RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology wherein information can be obtained through a specially designed scanner. It does NOT contain any movable parts or a battery that needs to be charged.

Dr. Louise Murray, DVM of the ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York, stated that microchipping is done by using a needle to put the microchip under the animal’s skin. Commonly, the microchip is placed between the animal’s shoulder blades. The procedure usually takes about 1 to 2 minutes to complete.

Moreover, even though a non-veterinarian can do the procedure, it is still recommended to get it done with a licensed veterinarian or a licensed animal clinic. While microchipping is commonly done in dogs, it may also be done to cats, horses, ferrets, and other mammals.

Microchipping is quite helpful to keep pets safer. For example, if your microchipped dog got lost and was found by an animal welfare group, they may get in touch with the national database to look for the owner’s details. The information can be known once the microchip has been scanned. The group may then proceed to contact the owner for him to reclaim his dog.

Is it painful?

Microchipping has the same feeling of blood drawing for a laboratory procedure or a routine vaccination. While it will not cause so much pain to your dog, it will give him a pinching feeling that is still uncomfortable for your pet since the insertion of a microchip requires the need for a large bore needle to properly place it.

How much does it cost?

Microchipping usually costs about $45 to $50 for a procedure done by a veterinarian. This already includes the professional fee and the fee for the animal registration in the national database.

However, if your dog came from an animal shelter or from a pet breeder, he might have been microchipped beforehand. If a microchip has already been put in place, check with the shelter or breeder if the microchip has already been registered to the database.

Can microchipping harm your dog?

A microchip is implanted to a dog through injection. Just like other procedures that involve the use of a needle, the common risks include contamination, infection, and blood vessel puncture. Contamination and infection can be prevented through the use of proper protective equipment and good hygiene. Blood vessel puncture, however, doesn’t pose any danger to your pet as it will just result in a small drop of blood trickling from his skin.

There have also been reports of animals developing small bumps or tumor on the microchip implantation site. Since it is a rare occurrence, most owners said that they are more concerned about their pet getting lost than the minimal risks from microchipping.

Can the microchip help track your lost dog?

The answer is no. A microchip contains information about the information of the owner. It is not a tracking device and does not have a GPS capability.

Can the microchip contain medical information about your dog?

Unfortunately, no. Even if a microchip can contain the basic information about you as the owner and your dog, it does not typically have the information of your dog’s past medical history, rabies shots information, and vaccination history.

How many times should your dog be implanted with a microchip?

A microchip typically lasts during the whole lifespan of a dog. It is made of a biocompatible material that does not corrode or decompose even after a long period of time. Nevertheless, it is best to let your dog’s microchip placement be check every now and then by your veterinarian.

Will the owner’s information be easily shared to outside parties?

Usually, the only information provided to the animal shelters or animal welfare groups is the owner’s name and contact details. The privacy of the owner is protected by the law.

Does your dog still need a collar and a tag even if he is already microchipped?

A dog tag is still an essential identification item that can help you and others easily identify your dog without the need for scanning. On the other hand, a dog collar can prevent your dog from being lost. A microchip will be vital if in case your dog gets lost in a place where no one can identify him even though he has a dog tag or collar.

Other helpful tips:

  • If you changed any of the contact information you provided to the national database during your pet registration, you must get in touch with them and get your contact details updated. However, take note that some databases will charge a minimal fee to get your details updated. It is, therefore, best to clarify this concern with your database provider beforehand.
  • Before choosing the microchip brand, it is best to speak with your vet and ask which is the most common microchip used within the area. This will make sure that a scanner compatible with your dog’s microchip is easily available in case your dog got lost.

Final Thoughts

A microchip is not a replacement for dog tags and collars, but it can give you peace of mind knowing that if your dog got lost, he can still reunite with you. On top of that, it is a safe and inexpensive procedure for your dogs which can deliver added protection to your beloved pet.