No one wants to be separated from their pet—for their cherished family member to become stressed and alone. But despite our best efforts, many pets become lost. A 2016 survey found that 77% of missing dogs were never returned to their homes. The percentage was higher for cats, at 96%. Don’t you wish we could wave a magic wand, and help more lost pets make it home? The truth is, we can.

Pet microchipping is a wonderful technology that prevents a heart-breaking problem. And best of all—microchipping is simple. Implanting a microchip is as simple as giving an injection, and scanning a pet for a microchip is as simple as waving a “magic” wand. And, despite being “high tech,” microchipping your pet is affordable.

Your pet always needs a tag and collar, but tags can fall off, or become worn and illegible,  whereas a lost pet who is microchipped has a greater chance of making it home to you. Microchipped dogs are twice as likely to be reunited with their owners, and microchipped cats are 20 times more likely. Microchips do not replace other safety precautions—they add an effective layer of security for your precious pet.

How microchipping works

The first step is to set up an appointment with our Livingston Animal Hospital team, because microchipping should always be performed by a veterinary professional. When your pet arrives, we may first scan them, to ensure they are not already microchipped. If the scan is negative, we will designate a unique microchip and number exclusively for your pet. We will implant the microchip, which is the size of a grain of rice, by injection, under the skin near the shoulder blades. Then, we will scan your pet again, to check that the chip is securely in place, and to ensure the paperwork record and chip identification numbers match. Although the needle is slightly larger than a typical injection needle, most pets do not react negatively to the procedure, and sedation or surgery is not required.

Registering your microchip

For your pet to reap the benefits of microchipping, you must take the next crucial step in the process. Four out of 10 microchipped pets are never registered and, since the only information the microchip holds is the identification number, it does not work if the registry information is missing or incorrect. If your pet becomes lost, and is scanned at an animal hospital or shelter, the identification number appears on the scanner, a staff member checks with the registry, and if the identification number is registered with your current contact information, they contact you about your lost pet. A pet microchip is not a GPS or tracking device, and contains no medical or personal information, so ensure you register your chip number, and keep your contact information updated.

Maintaining your microchip

Remember to “check the chip” every year. The American Veterinary Medical Association, and the American Animal Hospital Association, have designated August 15 as “Check the Chip Day,” to remind pet owners about microchip maintenance. If you have moved, or your phone number has changed, update this information with the registry. When you bring your pet to our hospital, ask us to scan your pet, to ensure the chip is detectable and functioning normally—preferably at their annual wellness visit. A microchip lasts for your pet’s lifetime, and doesn’t need replacing or removal. Once your pet is microchipped, maintenance is simple:

  • Register your chip
  • Keep your contact information updated
  • Check your chip yearly

Microchipping: a “magic” safeguard for your pet

Most lost pets never make it home. Life-changing decisions often have to be made when an injured or lost pet is brought to a hospital or animal shelter, and an owner cannot be reached. Microchips are small, but they can make a huge difference in our pets’ lives.

Schedule an appointment at Livingston Animal Hospital to microchip your pet, “check the chip,” or update your registration information. We will happily get out our magic microchip kit, because anytime we wave this magic wand, we pull more than a rabbit out of the hat—we pull out a precious family pet who has a greater chance of always making it home, because they were lovingly microchipped.