Microchip Identification for Your Pet

Article Series for Dunes Living Magazine – June 2019

Dr. Amanda Thomas

One of the most important things you can do for your pets is to provide them with proper identification should they ever become lost or separated from you for any reason. Your pet is a member of your family, and like a small child, they are incapable of telling another person where they came from and who they are.

This is why several forms of pet identification are important, including:

  • Microchip ID (a permanent form of identification)
  • Collar with a Name Tag and
  • Additional Tag with Owner’s phone number
  • Rabies Tag with Veterinarian’s phone number
  • Owner Identification on leashes, harnesses, and travel carriers

Microchips are easy to implant and exponentially increase the chances of your pet being found and returned to you. They are placed under the skin in the area of the shoulders with a sterile needle. This is recommended for both dogs and cats. A microchip can be implanted during a routine visit to your vet’s office, or under anesthesia. Microchips are always implanted under the supervision of a veterinarian trained on the proper method of placing a microchip.

Microchips are about the size of a long grain piece of rice and contain an ID number. At the time the chip is implanted, the owner gives the veterinary team their contact information which is entered into a worldwide microchip database online. When a (really expensive) piece of equipment called a universal scanner is used, like a wand over your pet’s shoulders, a radio-wave is detected and the microchip is read. Your pet’s permanent ID number is displayed on the screen.

The microchip does not contain medical information and it is not a GPS, therefore it cannot track your pet’s location.  If your pet is lost or separated from you and the pet is taken by a Good Samaritan to a shelter or veterinary clinic, the staff will scan her for a microchip and the owner’s contact information is found. Owners can be located quickly when their contact information is kept up to date.

In one major study of over 7000 pets, 52% of dogs with microchips were returned to their owners after being lost, and 38% of cats were returned to their proper homes. Many pet owners did not keep their contact information up to date, and therefore the owners were never found.  The chances of your pet finding his or her way home without a microchip are slim.

Every time you seek medical care from your veterinary hospital, your pet’s microchip ID should be scanned to ensure that it is easily found and displays her permanent ID number. Your veterinary team should always offer to provide you with the name and phone number of the microchip company that stores your contact information so you can call them to keep your phone number(s) current. You may also provide them with alternate contact information if you can’t be reached.

Living in a community susceptible to hurricanes and evacuations, traveling with your pet, allowing your pets outdoors, and for hundreds of other reasons, microchipping your pet is a valuable and lifesaving gift.

The cost of this service at your veterinary clinic is in the range of $40-$60 and is a one time expense for the life of your pet.

Please have your pets microchipped this year!

Microchips Save Lives!

(Visit the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website if you would like more information on microchipping your pets:  www.avma.org)