Microchips greatly increase the chances that pets will be reunited with their families if they are lost or stolen…but a microchip only works if its registration information is accurate. So not only you need to get your pet microchipped you also need to ensure registration is up to date.

A study of more than 7,700 stray animals at animal shelters showed that dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 21.9% of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were returned to their owners 52.2% of the time. Cats without microchips were reunited with their owners only 1.8% of the time, whereas microchipped cats went back home 38.5% of the time. (Lord et al, JAVMA, July 15, 2009) For microchipped animals that weren’t returned to their owners, most of the time it was due to incorrect owner information (or no owner information) in the microchip registry database – so don’t forget to register and keep your information updated.

What is a Microchip
A microchip is a small, electronic chip enclosed in a glass cylinder that is implantable. Its about the same size as a grain of rice. In response to a radio signal from the scanner, Chip transmits the encoded chip identification number back to the scanner, which then displays the number on the screen. The microchip itself is also called a transponder.

How is Microchip implanted
Microchip is injected under the skin using a hypodermic needle (a needle and syringe). Although the needle is slightly larger than a usual injection it is no more painful than a typical injection. A microchip can be implanted during a routine veterinary office visit and no special procedure or anesthesia is needed.

How does a Microchip help reunite pet with the owner
When an animal is found and taken to a shelter or veterinary clinic, one of the first things they do is scan the animal for a microchip. If they find a microchip and microchip is registered with accurate information, they can quickly find the owner.

Does my pet need identification tags and rabies tags even with a Microchip
Nothing replaces a collar with up-to-date identification tags that are human readable. In an event if a pet is lost, if a pet is wearing a collar with tags, it’s often a very quick process to read the tag and contact the owner. But if a pet is not wearing a collar or tags, then microchip might be the only way for them to get back home.

Rabies tags serve a very different purpose and should always be on your pet’s collar for people to see that your pet has been vaccinated for this deadly disease. Rabies tag numbers also allow tracing of animals and identification of a lost animal’s owner given it has the veterinary clinic name but it can be hard to have a rabies number traced. The microchip databases are online or telephone-accessed databases, and are available 24/7/365.

Wait, we got our pet microchipped but it can’t be found
Although it’s very rare but microchips can become unable to be detected by a scanner. Problems with the scanners are also not common, but can occur. Human error, such as improper scanning technique or incomplete scanning of an animal, can also lead to failure to detect a microchip.

Some other animal-related factors include the following: animals won’t stay still or struggle too much during scan; long, matted hair at or near the microchip implantation site; and a metal collar. These are few examples of what can interfere with the detection of the microchip.

If you really want to give your pet a chance to come back to you then you should:

  1. Get your pet microchipped.
  2. Make sure the microchip is registered.
  3. Scan your pet’s microchip at least once per year at your veterinarian to make sure the microchip is functioning and can be detected.
  4. Keep your registration information up-to-date.

It only works if they know how to reach you based on the Microchip registration information!