Microchips are fast becoming the popular method for pet owners to permanently identify their dogs. The chips are considered reliable and an effective way to identify lost pets. The chip is small, compact and easily inserted under the skin. But once inserted, there are two other equally important components of the microchip system that must be in place in order to properly identify and return lost pets to their owners; the microchip scanner and an accessible and accurate database. Most modern pet hospitals and veterinary clinics will have both.
August 15th is Check the Chip Day to create awareness for the importance of microchipping pets, as well as to remind pet owners to ensure their microchip’s registration information is up-to-date.
To honor Check the Chip Day and to keep you informed on how important it is to chip your dog, we’re putting together a quick overview of pet microchipping so you’ll have all the information you need ahead of your pet dog microchipped.
Pet microchips use radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. RFID was created as a Soviet-era espionage tool, but is used today in a variety of ways, most popularly in pets. How does the tag transmit information about your dog? RFID uses radio waves to send data between two devices, a tag and a receiver. An RFID tag stores data and, using electromagnetic force for power, communicates that data to a receiving device that can interpret its data. The tag is what is inserted into your dog, and the receivers is the tool that vets have to access the information your dog’s tag stores.
RFID tags are manufactured in a variety of ways and sizes. Microchips that are used in animals don’t need to actively transmit information; they just store information. The type of RFID tags that are used in pets are called passive RFID’s, as they have no battery or internal power source as a safety precaution for the animal — the chip is biocompatible and poses no threat to your dog’s safety.
The RFID microchip that is used in dogs is very small, about the size of a single grain of rice. Some versions of the microchip include a casing made of polypropylene polymer to keep the chip from moving around once it’s inside the animal. The microchip will not wear down or ever require replacement. Although surgical removal of the device is difficult, microchips don’t expire or wear down. They’re good for the lifespan of your dog.
Now that we know how the microchip works, we’ll learn how this chip is implanted in a pet. Is it painful for the animal?
The Procedure of Microchipping Your Dog
It’s pretty common for your dog to dread a visit to the vet. Being surrounded by a variety of unfamiliar dogs, in an unknown place that has strange smells can cause your dog some anxiety. It’s no surprise that most pet owners don’t like taking their pets into the vet, let alone having a surgical procedure done to their pup. But, inserting a microchip into your dog is a very quick and easy procedure that won’t cause your dog much pain. In fact, vets don’t even use anesthesia during the procedure. Your dog will feel a quick poke, very similar to a routine shot, as a vet uses a hypodermic needle to insert the implant.
Just like that, the procedure is done and you and your dog on on you way home. However, there’s still one more essential step of the microchip process. Registration. Having the microchip inserted without registering it is like buying a state-of-the-art sound system without any music to play on it.
Each microchip carries is administered a unique ID number, and that identification number is paired with a corresponding name, address and phone number. The registration process is how you give the microchip your contact information and the contact information of your veterinarian. If a shelter finds your dog, they will look in the database for your dog’s ID number, which will give the shelter all of your information. In the event that you change addresses or phone numbers, make sure you update your contact information so that shelters and vets will be able to contact you if they need to.
In the Event Your Dog is Lost
Now that you know the science behind microchips, how the procedure works, and why registration is essential, it’s time to go through how a microchip can lead to you and your dog quickly reuniting in the event that she gets lost.
The primary benefit to microchipping your dog is that in the event that Rufus strays too far away from home and a shelter or animal control finds him they’ll be able to quickly ID him and contact you right away. As dog owners know all too well, dogs are adventurous creatures that are prone to escape. From darting through an open fence door, to testing their long-distance running skills when unleashed at a dog park, there is a variety of situations where you can misplace your dog. With a microchip, you these situations are must less scary.
It is important to make the distinction between an RFID microchip and a gps tracker. A common misconception about a microchip is that they’re GPS capable. This is not true. If your dog gets out and you can’t find her, you won’t be able to track her movements on your phone of computer in the way that you can a missing phone. There are, however, technologies that can track your dog.
Learn More at PetPlace
Getting your dog microchipped is a painless, easy precaution that will pay dividends if your dog is lost. A microchip will quickly inform a shelter, vet or animal control who your dog is, and how to best get in contact with you. It can also store important medical information about your dog, unlike the old fangled monogrammed collar that simply features your dog’s name and maybe a contact number. Want to learn more about dogs? Check out 12 general rules for training your dog.