How do you plan on recovering your lost pet? Searching for it through the name at the collar or putting up posters everywhere? Guess that’s not always enough. To make sure that you get back your pet friend, microchipping is important.
According to America Humane, each year about 10 million pets go missing. Out of them, only a few make it to the shelter and about 7% of these pets that are not microchipped, reunite with their family.
Now the question arises, what is microchipping? It is a small procedure done by vets which involves inserting a chip underneath the skin of the pet. This is an effective way as the chip can be scanned easily to identify one’s lost pet.
Importance of Microchipping in Dogs
Some countries have made it a rule for owners to microchip their dogs. Generally, the chip should be implanted in dogs and cats before they are adopted. This way, the origin of these animals can be traced easily. Also, it works as a backup plan as it increases the identification of one’s beloved pet.
There are also other important reasons for microchipping your dog. These include:
- Finding my dog if it gets lost: According to AKC (American Kennel Club), one out of three dogs gets lost during their life. The collar they wear with your name on it might stay good for some time. But, there are also chances of it falling off, or breaking. Thus, with the chip present inside the body, there are barely any chances of it getting damaged. Also, there is always a 99% chance of your dog returning to you, despite getting lost.
- If something happens to the owner: Dogs are our constant companions and love to spend time with us. In a recent newspaper article, there was news about an elderly woman who met with an accident while walking her dog. Now, unlike dogs, we don’t always carry identification cards. But, the dog not only had its collar but was also microchipped. Therefore, it became much easier for the authorities to contact the woman’s family and inform them about the incident.
- Finding the dog if it got stolen: The chip implanted in the dog not only gives information about its owner but also has details about it.For example, In Waffles, once a Cairn terrier was stolen by a homeless woman and she dyed him black to conceal his identity. She also demanded it to be her own. Fortunately, just scanning the chip said it all.
An owner must keep himself updated with the microchip registration company. Any event relating to the change in the email address or the phone number should be done immediately.
A microchip is not what you take it to be
After reading about microchips and their usage, people might start thinking that the microchip is a GPS tracker. Well, we can assure you, it’s not. Microchips are not used to determine the location of a pet. Unlike the different GPS trackers, the microchip is used only to carry the unique ID number. Once scanned, the chip’s code, which is linked to the owner’s contact, becomes visible on the system. Shelters can then contact their owners and inform them about their lost pets.
Microchips are no replacement for collars. Every belonging that a pet has is just another way of finding them. Before searching for missing pets at shelters, owners generally start with their neighbourhood. Thus, making the pet wear a collar with your contact name can sometimes be enough.
The microchip that is implanted in pets contains a 15-digit unique id that is revealed once the chip is scanned. It also includes the owner’s name, the address, ownership’s history and details of the dog’s breed.
The process of Microchipping
A microchip is a permanent identification tool that is recommended by vets to help track lost pets. It is a very small chip that acts as a small-scale radio transponder and carries a unique identification number. This ID number has to be registered in the national pet recovery database or else the chip is worthless.
This chip is not bigger than the size of a rice grain. Veterinarians use a syringe to eject this chip under the loose skin of the animal, typically between the shoulder blades. Owners might think this to be a surgery, but this implantation process is nothing more than a regular veterinary exam.
The implantation process and its aftermath
A set of steps should be followed during the implantation of the chip. They are:
- Pet microchipping should be done only by animal doctors at their clinics. While putting the final pinch, the veterinarian should ensure that the chip stays in its place.
- Every animal has a different way of getting implanted. Cats and dogs are strictly injected with the microchip at the shoulder blades. But, other animals like horses are implanted with the chip towards the left of their neck, an inch below mane and midway and between the poll and withers.
- The microchips once inserted last for 25 years. Therefore, before implanting a new chip, the older chip must be scanned. This step involves a minimum of 20-30 seconds.
- Anaesthesia is unnecessary in this process. Injecting a chip is similar to taking a vaccine.
- The pet must be kept at rest for 24 hours so that the anti-migration coating bonds with the pet’s skin.
Frequency of a microchip
These passive devices have different frequencies. When under the skin, they do not receive any external energy and are active only after they are scanned. Throughout the world, different microchips have been used for this process.
- 125 kHz chip – Can be scanned by all scanners.
- 128 kHz chip – Can be scanned by most scanners, but not all.
- 134 kHz chip – Introduced by the International Standard Organisation (ISO) in 2004. The ID code format for this chip includes a 15-digit numeric code from 0-9. The first three digits include the country code. Currently, this chip is used globally as a pet microchip.
In most cases, the frequency of the chip does not matter. But in some cases, there can be a problem. While travelling, the ISO chip being globally accepted will be scanned in any country. But, if you have a chip with a different frequency implanted onto your pet, you might need to carry your scanner.
Registering for microchips
Registering your pet’s microchip number is very important. Make sure you register yourself every year so that the database is always updated. If you are unaware of how to register, try taking help from your veterinarian. Presently, there are about 5 private companies and 2 state government companies that deal with microchip registering.
- Australasian Animal Registry
- Central Animal Records
- Global Micro
- NSW Government registry – the NSW Companion Animal Registry
- SA Government registry – Dogs and Cats Online (DACO)
Cost of a microchip
Microchipping is a cost-effective procedure. Most of them cost $25-$75 and also include registration under a worldwide database. In a few cases, the pet that is adopted from the shelter is already implanted with a microchip. While adopting, ask your shelter about these microchipping documents as a part of your responsibility.
Is microchipping harmful?
There are very rare chances for your pet to have side effects of microchipping. To date, 4 million animals have been implanted with this chip, but only 341 of them have faced adverse effects. Sometimes, the chips cannot be scanned since older technology may not always be compatible with modernised scanners. In very few cases, it has been observed that pets are affected with tumours, right at the site of the insertion. But, this factor outweighs the positivity of this process.
However, there are harmful consequences for the inappropriate placing of the chips. One such problem is migration of microchips. These chips are specifically placed in the shoulder blades. Occasionally, they slide down under the belly. In such cases, the chip has to be removed through surgery. If pets are found with problems like hair loss, mild infections or swelling after microchipping, it is suggested to take them to a vet.
Considerations to be made for microchipping
Before selecting a microchip for your pet, make sure you have considered these points.
- Is it long-lasting? Fortunately for pets, the microchip can be used for a maximum of 25 years without being replaced or recharged.
- Will the chip migrate? While there are chances for the chip to migrate to other parts of the body, the ratio is minimal. To find out the position of the chip, all parts of the pet, especially the limbs should be scanned properly.
- Will it require a universal scanner? People who own pets mostly use the ISO chip for the process. This chip can be scanned globally and does not require a personal scanner.
- Can old chips be detectable? In certain cases, the universal scanner is also unable to detect some chips mainly due to their brand and old technology. This situation arises only in foreign countries. But, with the new microchip, this is no longer a problem.
Importance of microchipping in dogs shows
Most kennel clubs consider microchipping to be an important criterion for taking part in dog shows. By scanning the chip of every dog breed, they can be confirmed as a registered participant. This process also contributes to bringing together the decency of a show. It also shows the owner’s name, the address, ownership’s history and details of the dog’s breed which is essential for the verification process during dog shows.
Having your pet microchipped confirms your chance of getting your lost pet back to you. But, you must register yourself first as an act of caution. But sometimes, people tend to forget their pet’s microchip number. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry. Getting yourself registered makes the problem easier.
You can call the microchip customer service and learn about all the details of your pet and its chip. Another way to revive this information is by taking help from the AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Tool. This tool has all the information about different microchip brands. Thus, you can easily scan your pet’s neck portion and all its information will be revealed to you.
Q. Is microchipping for all pets?
Microchipping is done mostly for cats and dogs. Other pets like birds and reptiles are kept out of such an implantation process.
Q. Can a microchip be removed?
Majority of owners whose pets are implanted with a microchip do not ask for its removal for it is unnecessary and involves a surgical procedure. Even veterinarians won’t be willing to remove the chip as a concern for your pet’s health. Although there are chances of removing the chip, it is better not to.
Q. Can microchipping be performed at home?
Microchips should always be implanted under the proper supervision of a veterinarian. Not everyone is well aware of the proper location of implanting it. Thus, it is better to take help from a vet who has professional experience in such technical things.