The Gift that Keeps on Giving: Microchips

Microchip technology is found everywhere these days, from computers and cell phones, to wild animals being tracked for their movements. It’s also used in pet microchips to provide permanent identification and means of reunification. If your pet is not yet microchipped, there is no better gift to give this holiday season! Unlike collars or tags, microchips cannot fall off or be lost. They also cannot be misread, the identification number is tamper-proof and information about the pet and owner is readily retrievable.

Microchip implants in pets are also called radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. They are tiny, about the size of a grain of rice, and are passive. This means that they passively store a unique identification number and do not actively transmit any information. The microchip implanted in your pet has no battery and no internal power source, so it sits inertly in the cat or dog until it is read by a special microchip scanner. Once the pet is scanned, the number is looked up in a database to retrieve the contact information for the pet’s owner.

Pain-Free, Safe-Keeping 

The insertion procedure is fast and can be done at any time, taking about the same amount of time it takes to give any other injection. In fact, it takes more time to do the registration paperwork than it does to implant the microchip! The chips are usually inserted without incident in awake animals, and hurt about as much as having blood drawn. Most animals do not even flinch when the chip is inserted. After insertion, the pet is scanned to make sure that the chip is reading properly.

The components of the microchip are encased in a biocompatible material, meaning that they are non-toxic and do not cause any sort of allergic reaction as long as the chip is implanted using a sterile injector needle and proper technique. Some microchips do contain a material that encourages connective tissue to form around the chip and hold it in place, but this is not harmful.

Keep Your Information Current

Although the implanted microchip will continue to function over your pet’s lifetime without any need for maintenance, the system will not work unless you keep your contact information current. If you move or change your telephone number, make sure you update the information with the registration agency.

Most, if not all, humane societies and animal shelters now have universal microchip readers, and scan all animals that come into their care. If a lost pet is brought to a veterinary clinic, the veterinary staff will also use their reader to check for a microchip. The reader will detect the electronic code embedded in the chip and display the identification number on its screen. 

Millions of pets get lost every year. Those with microchips are more than twenty times as likely to be reunited with their families as those without. This holiday, give your furry friend a gift that will keep them safe for a lifetime.