Dog Microchips: Pros & Cons
What is a dog microchip and how does it work?
A microchip is a tiny transponder, a radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip. Your veterinarian implants the chip using a needle-like injector, under the dog’s skin in the shoulder area. The process is quick and relatively painless- it feels the same as getting a vaccination.
If your pet is found, the rescuing organization will scan him with a microchip reader. If a chip is present, the ID number for the chip will display on the scanner. Using the ID number, the rescuer can look up the pet’s registration in the national database. This process works brilliantly- providing the owner has actually registered the chip.
The advantages of embedding a microchip in your pet are numerous!
- The embedding process is quick
- The microchip can’t get lost
- Each microchip number is unique
- Unlike a tattoo, your dog doesn’t have to be wrestled to the ground or shaved to identify him
- Because the database is national, microchip identification makes reunion possible, even if your pet has crossed state lines.
- All you need is internet access and your pet’s ID number
Like all technologies, there are a few disadvantages. On rare occasions, the chip can travel, so it’s important that the full length and width of the shoulder area be scanned.
Some microchips, such as the Avid chip, cannot be read unless an Avid scanner is used. The technology in the chip prevents it from being read by other scanners. There is a universal scanner that detects most chips, but it is not compatible with technology used in older microchips. For rescue staff, this requires access to several scanners and the ability to scan the dog multiple times. Additionally, most veterinary offices only have one type of scanner so it’s possible that your dog may have a chip that goes undetected.
Microchips do not replace the need for pet ID tags. It only takes two seconds to become separated from your pet so his collar, with ID tags, should always be worn.
Register and update your dog’s microchip
Registering your dog’s microchip is fast and easy. With a nominal charge for the registration, your pet’s personal information and owner information are stored in the national database. Pet information typically consists of: name, photo, rabies and chip ID number and veterinarian contact. Not only does this help rescuers, it is enormously helpful if you’re ever in a position where you have to prove that the dog belongs to you. The registration captures owner information so rescuers know whom the pet belongs to and how to reach them. You can even add out of state emergency contacts for your dog for extra protection. For the microchips to do their job, you must keep the registration current. If you move or change phone numbers, be sure to update your profile.
Does your dog already have a microchip? How to check
Often, breeders insert a microchip before sending pups to their new home. They do not register the chip however, so the proud parents of the pup will need to do that when they bring him home. Note that if you are the pet’s second owner, he may have been chipped previously.
Take your pet to your veterinarian and have him scanned for a microchip.
Ask if they use multiple scanners such as a Universal Scanner and the Avid Scanner. If they don’t use both types and no chip is detected, go to an additional office and have the scan repeated, using the scanner that was missed. This process takes minutes and typically, there is no charge. If the pet scans positively for a chip, use the ID number you are given to check his registration. If he was registered to a prior owner, you can update the information. In most cases though, the chip was never registered so you’ll want to do that now.
If you’d like more information on microchips or registration companies, Home Again and Avid are worth checking out.
If your pet is lost
If your pet is lost, contact your registration company immediately with the pet’s ID number. This will trigger regional fax or email alerts to area veterinarians and rescue groups.
Even neighbors in your area will receive the alerts, if they’ve signed up for this feature. If your pet returns home on his own, don’t forget to call the company back to advise them.
The goal of all dog training is to provide peaceable solutions to everyday problems so that pets and their owners live harmoniously. Paws in Training provides dog and cat training services in Raleigh, Apex, Holly Springs, Cary, Fuquay Varina and Garner, N.C.