What Is a Microchip for Dogs?
Whether this is your first time owning a dog or you’ve had your furry friend since you were a child, it’s important you keep them happy, healthy, and safe. One of the best ways to do that is by microchipping them! Microchipping is an easy, virtually harmless and inexpensive way to find your pet in the event they get lost or run away. Let’s talk a bit about microchipping and its benefits.
I Have a Dog Tag – Isn’t That Enough?
While it’s always a good idea to get your dog one of our personalized dog tags that includes important contact information, you shouldn’t just rely on that. A good pet owner will also invest in a break-away collar, which is a collar that will automatically break open in the event it gets caught on something—a branch, the corner of a door, etc.—or someone is pulling too hard on it. If the collar breaks away, the tag goes with it! It’s important you provide your dog with both a dog tag and a microchip to ensure they’re healthiest.
When Did Microchipping Start?
Before the 1980s, many pet owners were operating with the singular “just a dog tag” situation. There wasn’t a way to track an animal’s whereabouts using a chip or any other feature—those things were just seen in movies! In 1985, AVID received a patent to start microchipping animals, and, in 1989, they were able to start implanting microchips into companion animals. Since then, more and more pet owners have made the decision to get their furry friends microchipped to keep them safe.
Plus, it’s important to note a microchip isn’t a GPS. While technology is always evolving, and eventually some day there will be a combination of a GPS and microchip, microchips are just scannable devices that submit information. When the microchip is scanned, the person scanning the chip will be able to see the contact information of the registered owner of the pet! So, in order for the microchip to work, it has to be registered, and someone has to be scanning it using the proper equipment.
I Have a Pretty Good Security System at My House. Do I Still Need a Microchip?
Even the best fences can get holes. Sometimes, as humans, we make careless mistakes—we leave the door open while bringing in groceries, we forget to lock the gate outside … there are lots of ways we can accidentally give our pups the opportunity to venture outdoors. When that happens, we sometimes don’t even realize it until much later, especially if you’re the type of dog owner who lets them roam the backyard at their own free will. Having your pet microchipped is an extra level of protection for you and them!
Plus, even if you don’t accidentally leave the door open, your dog could run through an open gate at the dog park, someone could steal them from their doggy-day-care center, or a natural disaster, such as a fire, hurricane, or tornado, could cause them to roam away from your home. In most of those situations, they’re usually searching for you or a way to get back home, but, if they’re microchipped, then they can be more easily reunited with you when an emergency aid program uses a microchip scanner to contact you.
Does It Hurt?
Since microchips are implanted underneath the skin, typically between the shoulder blades and without anesthesia, the simple answer is yes. Just like when humans get vaccines, there’s some pain involved. However, your pet should not be in any lasting pain after the procedure.
It’s also important to note, while microchips don’t have to be implanted without anesthesia, many veterinarians will choose to implant the microchip while the animal is under during any other operation—a teeth cleaning, surgery, etc. This way, you can rest assured your precious baby isn’t in any pain at all while getting microchipped. If your pet suffers from anxiety, you should definitely discuss ways to calm them down before the procedure!
What Are the Benefits of Having My Pet Microchipped?
There are many benefits of having your pet microchipped! Here are some of our favorites:
- They’re cost-effective: Since microchips are so small and the procedure is relatively painless, they’re cost-effective! Even if you never have to use it, the peace of mind knowing it’s there more than makes up for any cost you might have to incur as a pet owner.
- They’re small: Microchips are very small—most are no larger than a grain of rice. They’re definitely smaller than even a gummy bear or a paperclip. Because of their size, you won’t even be able to feel them on your pet, and they shouldn’t poke out or move from their spot, either.
- They keep track of your information: Microchips hold onto your contact information so shelters or veterinary hospitals can get in touch with you to let you know they have your pet. It’s important you register your microchip with the provider your vet uses, and you should keep your contact info updated in the event you move or change phone numbers. This way, if your dog gets out in an unfamiliar area, whatever facility picks them up can still get in touch with you!
- They help decrease the number of animals that are lost every day: Some sources report that over 10 million pets get lost every year. That’s a huge number! By having your pet microchipped, in the event they get out or run away, you have a higher chance of getting them back. When a shelter or a veterinarian comes into contact with your animal, they can scan the microchip to get in touch with you.
Where Should I Go to Get My Dog Microchipped?
That’s a great question! When you get your dog microchipped, it’s important it’s done by professionals. You should take your dog to their vet, but you can also take them to an animal shelter. If you’re rescuing your pet, chances are the shelter has already microchipped them ahead of time so you don’t have to go back and do that!
Just make sure, after you get them microchipped or when you finalize the adoption paperwork, that you update your pet’s microchip registry. We can't stress enough how important it is to ensure registries, shelters, and veterinarians have updated contact information for you. It’s important you get reunited with your pet as quickly as possible, and the best way for that to happen is by getting your pup microchipped.
Are There Any Problems with Microchipping My Dog?
Nothing is perfect. While some critics have claimed microchipping dogs is harmful to them, there have been countless studies that have disputed those claims. However, one of the important things to note is how far microchipping has come.
Even as recently as a few years ago, private companies were unable to share data. This meant if a shelter or veterinarian used one company’s microchip and another shelter or vet used another, then the second location might not be able to reach the microchip implanted by the first.
Now, however, many scanners are universal. This way, locations can share data. Companies recognized the disadvantage this put pet owners in, and they readily fixed it. There were also different types of chips and scanners, so shelters and vets struggled to properly utilize microchipping unless they were scanning the chips of pets they had implanted themselves. Thankfully, things are a lot different today!
Can a Microchip Replace My Dog’s Need for a Collar?
Absolutely not! Like we mentioned earlier, a dog’s collar and microchip work together. While the microchip needs to be scanned in order to be useful, the collar doesn’t. This way, if someone finds your dog, they can easily check your pup’s collar for a dog tag. Here are some tips for what to write on dog tag:
- Your Dog’s Name: When others can see what your dog’s name is, they can use it! This way, your dog will be more likely to trust the person or go with them to the shelter.
- Your Name: Others are going to need to know who you are when they get in touch with you! Include your name on your dog’s tag.
- Your Phone Number: This is one of the most important things to include on your dog’s tag. This way, anyone can contact you to let you know they have your pet—a person on the street, a veterinarian, or a shelter volunteer. It’s the fastest way you can be reunited with your pup.
- Microchip Status: You should also include whether or not your pet is microchipped. That way, if a shelter or veterinarian has your pet, they can easily scan it to make arrangements with you to either drop your pet off or for you to come pick your furry friend up.
- Vaccinations: When your dog gets various vaccines—rabies, especially!—the vet either adds a separate tag onto your dog’s collar or they give you the information to include on their tag yourself. We recommend, if they don’t give a tag to put on your dog’s collar, you should definitely add one to their collar. This way, anyone will know what diseases your dog has been vaccinated against.
Will the Microchip Bother My Dog After It’s Implanted?
Nope! Since the microchip is so small, it won’t affect your dog. Within 24 hours after the procedure, your dog’s skin should have bonded to the microchip properly, so it should also stay in its implanted location. Your dog shouldn’t feel any discomfort after this time period, and they should be able to go about their day as usual. Feel free to give as many belly and back rubs as you wish!
Will the Microchip React to Anything on My Dog?
Also no. Whether you’re placing flea medicine or a harness or adding a silicone dog tag to your dog’s collar, nothing should react to the microchip in your dog’s skin. The only reaction that will occur is if you use a microchip scanner on your dog. Then, the scanner should pick up the microchip and display the data stored in the microchip.
If My Dog Is Lost, What Should I Do?
Like we said, a microchip isn’t a GPS tracking device. You can’t pull up your dog’s location, unless you have a tracker in their collar! However, you can call around to your local shelters and veterinarian’s to alert them that your dog is lost. Describe what your dog looks like, if it has any defining features, its name, and whether or not it’s been microchipped. This way, the shelters and vet offices can be on the lookout for your pup and know who to call if your furry friend is brought in.
You should also post on local social media groups to put neighborhoods on alert. Text your friends and family, and you can also make a report to animal control in case they get any reports of injured animals. Some animal control offices also have microchip scanners, so they can bring one with them whenever they respond to calls!
Locating a lost animal is truly a group effort. If you like to feel productive, you can also print out flyers with your contact information, identifying information about your dog and whether or not it’s microchipped. Post them to telephone poles and ask local business owners if there’s a community board or window you can place it in.
Microchips Are Good!
Microchips save dogs’ lives, reunite them with their owners, and keep the community safer overall. When dogs can be reunited with their families, those families are saved from any heartbreak and loss. If you’re wondering about whether you should get your dog microchipped, don’t wait any longer—visit your local shelter or veterinarian to have the procedure done. Your pet will thank you later, especially if they accidentally run away or a natural disaster forces them from your home.