Despite our best efforts to keep our beloved pets safe and secure, indoor pets slip away, outdoor pets wander off and our pets, particularly pricey purebreds, can be the target of thieves. An up-to-date identification tag worn on your pet’s collar greatly increases your chances of recovering your pet, but they aren't pet-proof! Collars with tags are often slipped during your pet's great escape or are disregarded when pets are stolen. In these cases, microchips offer an excellent additional level of security.
According to the AVMA, a study of almost 8,000 stray pets at shelters showed that dogs with microchips were returned to their owners at twice the rate as those without microchips. The chances increase even more dramatically for cats: microchipped cats were returned to their owners almost 40% of the time compared to less than 2% of cats without microchips. When microchipped pets weren't returned to their owners, it was often due to missing or incorrect owner information in the microchip registry database – it's critical to keep your information updated for microchips to work
Does CAH recommend microchipping patients? Absolutely! Home Again estimates that 1 in 3 dogs will go missing in their lifetime and a microchip is a safe and cost-effective way to dramatically increase the chances of recovering your pet. Most countries also require a microchip for jet-setting pets - check the USDA website and contact our office for questions about microchipping and other requirements for international pet travel.
How is a microchip implanted? A microchip is a small electronic chip about the size of a grain of rice that is implanted under the skin with a hypodermic needle. "Despite being given with a larger needle, chip implantation is similar to giving your pet a vaccine and can be done during a routine visit to your vet," says Dr. Stephen Wilson . No anesthesia or surgery is required, though implantation can be done while your pet is under anesthesia for a spay, neuter, dental or other procedure.
Is a microchip safe? Yes! Implantation is about as painful as a typical injection and adverse reactions to implanted microchips are extremely rare. A microchip can be implanted during a routine vet appointment.
How does a microchip work? Microchips are activated by a scanner's radio waves - there is no battery in the microchip. A veterinarian or shelter employee will scan your pet for a microchip. If a chip is found, the chip manufacturer is contacted with the chip ID number and they will reach out to you - your information is not provided to the person who found your pet! If your contact information is missing or incorrect, your chances of getting your pet take a nose dive, so make sure to keep your information current with your microchip manufacturer!
What are the limitations of a microchip? A microchip should not replace an identification tag. Typically, lost pets are found within a few hours by a good Samaritan or local dog officer and an ID tag is a quick and easy way for someone to coordinate the return of your little wanderer. A microchip doesn't replace a rabies tag, which is necessary for your pet's safety and required by Uncle Sam. A microchip is also not a tracking device - the chip is only activated when a veterinarian or other professional scans your pet.
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