What is a Pet Microchip Scanner?

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pet microchip scanner

What is a Microchip?

The microchip is a tiny computer chip or transponder about the size of a grain of rice. It stores an identification number and transmits that information through radio waves to the appropriate scanner.

Typically, the microchip number contains 10 characters, making available 275 billion separate codes. This makes it highly unlikely that the same identifying code will be used more than once. Rest assured that your pet will have a unique microchip code. Learn more about How Pet Microchips Work here.

Microchips are composed of a silicon chip and tiny antenna encased in biocompatible glass. The microchips come pre-loaded in a syringe, and the needle is inserted just under the skin between the shoulder blades where the microchip is implanted. The entire procedure takes less than 10 seconds and is only as painful as a vaccination injection.

After injection, the tissue surrounding the microchip reacts to this new substance and forms a casing. This helps prevent migration of the microchip. Since the microchip is made of biocompatible material, rejection is uncommon and infection at the site is very rare.

Learn more about pet microchips, how much they cost and how they work – go to All About the Pet Microchip: Is it Worth it? 

What is a Pet Microchip Scanner?

The microchip scanner is used as a power source for the microchip to receive the message encoded in the chip. The scanner uses electromagnetic energy to empower the chip to transmit its message through radio waves, which are normally at specific frequencies for each manufacturer of microchips. For this reason, in the past, not all scanners could read all brands of microchips.

In an effort to address this potential problem, in 1996, the International Standards Organization published that universal readers must be produced. That has allowed for the scanners to identify chips from various manufacturers.

Scanners are often provided to animal control, humane shelters and other rescue organizations at no cost in an effort to ensure that every stray dog or cat is scanned and those with chips are reunited with their owners. Veterinarians can also purchase scanners for use in their hospital.

What are the Types of Pet Microchip Scanners?

Companies that make and sell microchips generally also have a scanner. The most common are the AVID and HomeAgain scanners. There are also independent companies that make universal scanners that will read the various types of microchips.

The Controversy Over Chips and Pet Scanners

Several years ago, there were multiple types of chips and scanners that read them. A problem was created when one company (Banfield) introduced a chip incompatible with other readers. Since then, the chip is not being made. Learn more about it this article: Confused about Microchips?

The current companies that produce microchips are good and compatible with other scanners. AVID and HomeAgain are great options. Some areas of the country seem to have more of one brand of chips than others. Ask your vet for advice what chip is used most commonly in your area and which they recommend.

Below is information about the two microchip companies mentioned above:

  • AVID® – For more information on AVID® microchips, visit them here or call 1-800-336-AVID.
  • HomeAgain® – For more information on HomeAgain® microchips, visit them here or call the HomeAgain Pet Recovery Service at 1-866-PET-ID24 (1-866-738-4324).

Should You Have a Microchip Scanner In Your Home?

Most pet owners that have a pet with a microchip do not have a scanner. You don’t need one at home. The only time you need a scanner is if you find a lost pet and at which time you can take them to your local vet clinic or shelter where they have a scanner.

Registering Your Pet

Even if your dog or cat has a microchip and is properly scanned, without an accessible and accurate database, this information will not return your pet to you.

When contacted with the identification code of a missing pet, the database personnel can retrieve the pet’s information. Each microchip that is sold is registered to the veterinary hospital or shelter that purchased it. It is the responsibility of the veterinary hospital and you to record your pet’s unique microchip identification number in his record and notify the microchip database.

In addition, you can register your pet in your own name for faster notification when your lost pet has been found. There is a charge for this service. These microchip databases are usually available 24 hours a day and are even accessible via the Internet. But remember, the database, as with computers, is only as good as the data it contains. Annual confirmation of your pet’s microchip information is strongly recommended.

How Pet Microchips Can Help You Find Your Missing Pet

Does your pet need a microchip? Learn more in these articles – go to Microchipping for Your Cat’s Safety or Should You Use a Dog Microchip?

Additional Articles that May Be of Interest About Pet Microchip Scanners

All About the Pet Microchip: Is it Worth it?
How Do Pet Microchips Work?
Should You Use a Dog Microchip?
How Much Should You Expect For Dog Vet Costs?
Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Clinics vs. Your Local Vet
What is Pet Insurance?
How Does Pet Insurance Work?
Questions To Ask When Choosing A New Vet
One Dog, Three Vet Visits – Pet Insurance Helps!
Pet Insurance: What It Covers & What It Doesn’t
A Major Investment: The Costs Associated with Dog Ownership

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