• David Truchalski

The Benefits of Microchipping Your Pet

Losing your pet can be a traumatic and even a tragic experience for families. Responsible pet owners protect their pets with collars and ID tags. Unfortunately, collars and ID tags are not guaranteed, and dogs and cats can still get lost. Collars can break or fall-off, leaving your beloved pet among many, unidentified lost strays at animal shelters. One of the most effective means of protecting your dog or cat from being lost or stolen is microchipping them.

Let’s take a closer look at what a “microchip” is and how the process of microchipping your pet works.

What Is Microchipping?

A microchip is a tiny device about the size of one grain of rice that is inserted under a pet's skin. The procedure involves the use of a needle that is a bit bigger than the one used to give vaccines. Most pets don't react to the insertion. A microchip consists of a computer chip, some electronics, and a capsule to hold them. Once it's under the skin, if a handheld scanner using radio frequency activates it, the chip emits a code that is then displayed on the scanner. The code is linked to the pet's owner in the microchip company's system, and contact information can then be given to the finder of the pet. Most shelters and veterinarians have these readers and can scan the pet and contact the owner if the pet is lost.

Benefits of Microchipping

Most pet owners buy their dogs and cats collars and add a name tag with the pet’s name and their phone number. These are great, but outdated. They can easily break, fall off, or even the name or phone number can wear off of the tag over time. The microchip is permanent and can’t be separated from the pet.

Microchipping also helps protect your pet from being stolen and possibly sold. It is a way to identify your pet as your own in a way that cannot be tampered with by other humans. This keeps your pet safe and also puts your own mind at ease.

If your dog or cat is lost or stolen, the chip and its registration is definitive proof of ownership. This is particularly helpful in the case of stolen pets when ownership might be in dispute. A chip greatly increases the probability that your pet will be returned to you if they are lost. Several recent studies show that cats with microchips are 20 times more likely to be returned to their owner and chipped dogs are returned 2.5 more than unchipped dogs. That’s a pretty significant difference and with over 10 million pets being lost each year, you want to do everything you can to ensure your pet finds its way back to your home.

Some chip manufacturers are enhancing the chips capabilities and adding functionality. Innovations we have seen is the ability to program the chip to open your dog door only when your dog approaches. This can be helpful in keeping out stray critters that may find their way into your home. Some manufacturers also offer lost pet alerting services and even travel assistance for folks who like to take their pets along on their holiday. Finally, microchips last a lifetime. Once implanted, you don’t have to worry about them, although it is a good idea to have your vet scan your pet each year to guard against any malfunction.

As the saying says, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Even if you plan to take every possible precaution to keep your furry companion from getting lost, there are just too many ways things can go wrong. You definitely don’t want to add to the stress of a missing pet by wishing you had gotten your animal companion chipped!

Hopefully your pet will never get lost, but in case it happens, by making sure your pet has a microchip, you are giving yourself and your pet the best chance of a speedy, happy reunion.