The Benefits of Microchipping Your Pet

Microchip implantation is something most pet owners are aware of and is just one of multiple identification methods we have available to us and our pets. The benefits of microchipping your pet are unmatched when compared to the other methods, such as ID tags, collars with engraved names, and even air tags attached to the collar of your pet.

How Do Pet Microchips Work?

Before we discuss the benefits of microchip implantation, it’s important to understand what microchipping is. A microchip is a small rice grain sized radio frequency identification transponder (RFID transponder) that has a unique code attached to it.

Microchips aren’t electronic, rather, they have codes that can be scanned to identify pets.

The microchip does not have any electrical power and does not transmit any radio frequencies on its own. Rather, the “code” on the microchip is read by a special scanner that can interpret the code. That code is ideally associated with your contact information in a nationwide database – think of it as braille. This code cannot be viewed without a microchip reader. So, unless you are a veterinary professional who is associated with a pet shelter or your local animal control department, you will not be able to “read” the microchip. Since microchips don’t have power, they do not ever need to be replaced. Furthermore, the microchip is not GPS enabled. You cannot track your pet via a “find my phone” type app.

Why should I Microchip My Pet?

Why do we recommend a microchip implantation to identify your pet over a collar with a tag that has contact information on it? You should not look at these different identification methods as “opponents” but rather modalities that can be used in conjunction with each other. Many times, when pets get away from their owners, their collars are often torn away in the process. Sure, the collar with their name, your name and contact information is great, but if it’s hanging on the outside of your fence because your pet dug a hole and squeezed out of the yard…it’s not really doing much good.

What About GPS Locating Collars?

A common misconception is the idea that your microchip has a GPS locator.

That is not true. As previously mentioned, there is no power supply in the RFID microchips applied to our pets. That means that there is nothing to transmit a signal to any distant place. That capability is available, though, in the form of collars. GPS locator collars are rather bulky, especially for a pet that is less than 20 lbs., predominantly because they do need to have a power supply. There are some substantial limitations to them. Most of them require that you are within a specific range of your pet to even get a signal from them, usually within 800 yards.

Suffice it to say, GPS locating collars are not at all a substitute for a microchip.

Woman on her phone holding a chihuahua in her car.

Note: Microchips can be read across languages and countries! Get your fur baby chipped before traveling with them.

Pet Microchip Travel Requirements

Our pets are undeniably part of our families. They live indoors with us. Often sleep inside with us. And in many cases our pets even go on vacation with us. If you travel with your pet out of the country, having a microchip is often required. Even traveling to Hawaii requires a pet microchip. Having a microchip will not only function to identify that pet, for regulation purposes, but it also gives you a safety net. For instance, if your pet gets loose in Tokyo, Japan, the microchip your pet would have could still be read and linked to you. Microchips transcend languages and countries!

Does Microchipping Hurt Pets?

Perhaps best of all, the microchip is not at all bothersome to your pet. Sure, it is a relatively large needle that is required for the implantation, but that is short-lived. Once the microchip is in, that’s it! There is no more discomfort and nothing else that will bother your pet. There is also no way for the microchip to fall off! It can migrate, which mean that if you implant the microchip between the shoulder blades in the back, it can move to other areas slowly, like the lower shoulder. However, a migrated microchip will always maintain its signature. As long as it is in the pet, it will be linked to that pet.

Pet Microchip Registration

Finally, an important note regarding pet microchip registration. After the chip is implanted, and your veterinarian has given you the number and shown you where it is on your pet, your job is not done. You must then register that pet to your name. If your pet has a microchip, but you never register it w/ your contact information, then it will not be linked to anything, which renders the chip useless. Some companies do require a registration fee, but it is minimal…typically in the $30-75 price range for a lifetime registration. It is also important to make sure you keep that information accurate.

There are multiple microchip companies available nowadays. And all work very well. The good news is that AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) has a universal microchip registry that automatically searches all the microchip company databases. Even as recently as 10 years ago, you need the first three characters of a number to identify the company the microchip was connected with to search that database. Now, AAHA does that for you. So, if your veterinarian or animal control personnel scans a found pet, finds the number, they simply must go to the AAHA site to find out who the found pet is linked to. This means there is one less step to reunite a pet with their family.

Does your pet still need a microchip? Schedule a pet microchip appointment with our team today!