By: Dr. Alicia Simoneau, Chief Veterinary Officer
Should you have your pet microchipped? Absolutely yes, no bones about it.
Microchips save lives! The majority of reunions that animal shelters facilitate between pets and their owners happen because the pets are microchipped and registered with up-to-date contact information.
You may not think your pet is at risk of becoming a stray, but what might happen if someone visiting your home would leave a window or door unsecured? There’s also a chance that a weather event or other accident could damage your home and cause a pet to stray.
Accidents happen. Microchipping is kind of an insurance policy
Also, you can save money by getting a lifetime license when a dog is microchipped and spayed or neutered.
What Is a Microchip?
A microchip is a transponder that works using radio waves when activated by a scanner that is waved over the animal. A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice. It is implanted under the skin, above muscle, in the subcutaneous layer. It is implanted by medical professionals using a sterile hypodermic needle, similar to a vaccination. Once implanted, the microchip remains active for the rest of the animal’s life.
In dogs and cats, the microchip is usually placed in the area between the shoulder blades or on the animal’s upper back. It’s a good idea to have the pet scanned by a vet or animal hospital a month or two after implantation to ensure that the chip is still in and hasn’t migrated out of the implantation site.
How Does a Microchip Work?
Each microchip has a unique number, an ID number of sorts, that needs to be registered with the pet owner’s name, address, and phone number. It is important to ensure a chip is registered and information is kept up to date.
When a microchip scanner is hovered above an animal with a microchip, the unique microchip number appears on the scanner’s screen. A facility staff member can then contact the appropriate microchip company and get the pet owner’s contact information. Every animal hospital and animal shelter has the ability to scan an animal to see if they have a microchip.
There are also tags that can be placed on pet collars to identify that an animal has a microchip. This is helpful if a dog or cat is found, as it indicates the pet has a home and a family that is eager for a reunion. The finder can call the microchip company and get the pet owner’s contact information, and then get that reunion started!
Misconceptions About Microchips
A microchip is a GPS tracking device. This is not true. A microchip is not a GPS tracking device and will not provide any type of tracking whatsoever. A microchip provides a pet owner’s self-reported contact information.
Microchips are dangerous for animals. Microchips are, in fact, very safe. Millions upon millions of microchips have been implanted worldwide, with virtually no adverse reactions.
Microchipping your pet is expensive. There are no ongoing or recurring fees required for a microchip. Once a microchip is implanted and registered, it’s good for the animal’s life.
It typically it costs between $20 and $75 for microchip implantation and registration. However, at Humane Pennsylvania we think microchips are so important we will microchip and register any cat or dog for FREE!
How You Can Get Your Pet Microchipped
Our Humane Veterinary Hospitals in Reading and Lancaster can scan and implant a microchip at any regular appointment.
Or you can bring a pet to one of our Healthy Pets Initiative Clinics for a free microchip, needed vaccines (Rabies, DA2PP or FVRCP) and deworming, also at no cost to you.
For more information about our microchip and vaccination clinics, please visit https://humanepa.org/healthypets/upcomingclinicdates/.