how do pet microchips work

How Do Pet Microchips Work?

The benefit of pet microchips is that they may ensure that you are reunited with your dog or cat if they get lost. Most pet owners that experience the loss of a pet believed that it would never happen to them. That is… until it does happen. Dogs and cats are adventurous creatures that may escape and run through an open door if the opportunity presents itself.

A common question asked by pet owners is, “How do pet microchips work?” We will review their functionality, range, and what to do when a pet gets lost.

How Do Pet Microchips Work?

A microchip is a radio-frequency identification (RFID) implant that stores information, such as a unique registration number. RFID was originally created as a Soviet-era espionage tool. Today, RFID technology is commonly used to identify pets.

RFID uses radio waves to send data between two devices: the chip and the scanner. The chip stores data only, and it does not transmit data. This is important, as microchips are commonly confused with chips that transmit data, such as GPS information.

The size of a chip is approximately the same size as a grain of rice. When a chip is implanted under the skin, a handheld scanner is waved over the location, which reads the radio frequency of the chip and displays this information on a screen (typically a registration code or number). Once this number or code is recorded, the chip company is contacted and given the registration number. The company will look up that number and share the contact information associated with that number, such as the name and phone number of the owner, so they can be contacted about their lost pet.

Want to learn more about microchips? Check out Should You Use a Dog Microchip? and Microchipping for Your Cat’s Safety.

How Big a Range Do Pet Microchips Have?

Commonly, there is some owner confusion about the function of a microchip. A microchip is not the same thing as a GPS chip. A pet microchip is not a tracking device. It does not allow you to see where your pet is or track your pet and does not have a range.

On the other hand, GPS tracking devices that do allow you to track your pet are totally different from a microchip. GPS uses the Global Navigation Satellite System to provide tracking through a grid of satellites by exercising microwave signals that are transmitted to GPS devices. The GPS tracking provides information on location, time, direction, and speed.

It is important to make this distinction between an RFID microchip and a GPS tracker.

What Kind of Pets Can Get Microchips?

All kinds of pets can get microchips, including dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, exotic animals, and many more. The most common pets to get microchipped are cats and dogs.

What Happens When a Pet Gets Lost?

If your dog or cat escapes the yard or your home and is found, this is generally what happens:

Recommendations for Pet Microchips

Have you wondered how much it costs to have a microchip placed in your dog or cat? Click here to learn more: All About the Pet Microchip: Is it Worth it?

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