It is recommended that you identify your pet even if you don’t plan to let him or her go outside. Even “indoor” pets can get out by accident, and many lost pets are never returned to their owners because they have no identification. Collars and tags are popular, effective methods of identification, but they can come off. Microchips, which are implanted just under the pet’s skin, are one way to permanently identify pets.
What Is a Microchip?
A microchip is a tiny electronic device—about the size of a grain of rice—that uses radio waves to transmit stored information when it is read by the right kind of scanner. Microchips for pets generally store a unique identification number. They do not need a power source, and they have no moving parts, so they do not wear out. Microchips are made of a material that is compatible with body tissues, so rejection and infection at the site are rare.
After injection, the microchip becomes encased in the tissue at the injection site. It may move slightly, but it usually stays at or near the place it was injected. To read the chip, a compatible scanner must be passed over it. Different microchip companies use different chips; however, there are scanners that can read all kinds of chips.
The Microchipping Procedure
Many veterinary offices have the equipment to implant and scan for microchips. Each microchip comes preloaded in a sterile syringe. To implant the chip, the veterinarian inserts the needle just under the pet’s skin between the shoulder blades and pushes the syringe plunger. The entire procedure, like a regular injection, is very quick and does not require pain medication or anesthesia.
How the System Works
When a lost or injured pet is taken to an emergency room or shelter, he or she can be scanned for the presence of a microchip. If the pet has a chip, the scanner reads the pet’s identification number. If the chip has been properly registered, the shelter or hospital can provide the number to the microchip company, which maintains the owner's contact information. The microchip company then contacts the owner, and the pet can go home.
Microchip Registration and Maintenance
Dr. Carlson is an avid contributor to her blog, make sure you check out her articles!