One in three pets goes missing in their lifetime. 

What if that one pet is yours?

While no pet owner wants to think about this possibility, knowing that a pet’s microchip will greatly improve the chances for a happy ending is priceless.

Pet microchips provide safe, effective, and permanent identification for dogs and cats—and give you priceless peace of mind. Livingston Veterinary Hospital recommends microchipping for all pets, and advises owners to register their pet’s chip as soon as possible. While many rescue or shelter pets are microchipped before adoption, all pet owners should understand how the chip works and how to confirm its registration, so you’ll know what to do if your pet goes missing.

Let’s break down the five reasons to microchip your pet.

#1: Microchipped pets get returned home

The return-to-owner rate for microchipped cats is 20 times higher than other stray cats entering the shelter, while microchipped dogs—who are more likely to be wearing a collar and tags—are two-and-a-half times more likely to be reunited with their owners.

Most animal control facilities, pet shelters, and veterinary facilities scan stray pets for a microchip during their admission process. If your pet has lost their collar, or is wearing outdated tags, the microchip can still connect to your current information through a universal microchip database or registry.

Pet owners often ask whether their well-trained, indoor-only and senior pets need microchips, presuming they are at a low risk for becoming lost. Our answer is always “Yes,” because running away is not the only way pets disappear. Other common reasons why pets are lost include:

  • Fear of fireworks or thunderstorms
  • Auto accidents
  • Natural disasters
  • Pet theft
  • Home break-ins
  • Cognitive dysfunction syndrome (i.e., senior pet dementia)
  • Vision loss

#2: Pet microchipping is a simple outpatient procedure

Microchipping does not require anesthesia or surgery, and can take place during your pet’s routine wellness appointment. The rice-grain-sized chip is injected under the loose skin over the shoulder blades with a large needle. While the needle’s size looks alarming, your pet will experience at a minimum only mild, temporary discomfort, and many pets do not react at all.

After implantation, we will scan your pet with the handheld microchip scanner to confirm the chip is in place. In response to the scanner’s frequency, the chip transmits its unique numerical sequence.

The last step is crucial—you must register your pet’s microchip with the manufacturer’s database, to link the chip number to your contact information. This is easily done online or by phone, and for a one-time fee—usually around $20 to $30—your pet receives lifetime registration in the database. Keeping your pet’s information current is also crucial.

#3: Pet microchips provide permanent peace of mind when collars and tags fail

Microchips are the only permanent, tamper-proof identification method for dogs and cats. While collars can break, tag engravings can rub off, and tattoos may fade, a microchip implanted under the skin and registered with your current contact information is permanent, and nearly maintenance-free.

Microchips do not contain a battery, and seldom, if ever, need replacement. Once a year, at your pet’s wellness visit, we will scan their microchip to confirm its readability and location, and remind you to update any contact information that may have changed in the past year.

#4: Microchipping pets is safe

Pets rarely react adversely to microchips, which are constructed with a bio-safe polymer or glass coating, to prevent the body from reacting or attacking the chip as a foreign object. While the initial injection site may be tender, that is usually temporary. After any initial inflammation, normal scar tissue forms, and fixes the microchip in place. 

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, no cases of microchips causing cancer have been proven. The most common adverse reaction is benign chip migration, where the microchip travels from its implantation site to other areas (e.g., the chest, neck, or back).

#5: Your pet’s microchip does not contain personal information

The only information contained on your pet’s microchip is their unique number. Microchips do not store your contact information, or your pet’s medical history, nor do they have GPS or tracking capability. All owner information is kept private in the microchip registration database, and is released only to the party who finds your pet, and takes them to a veterinarian or animal shelter.

As an extra safety measure, you decide how much information to include on your pet’s profile. We strongly suggest you include at least your phone number, and a secondary contact, in case you cannot be reached. 

Microchips offer incredible benefits, but should never replace your pet’s collar and identification tags, which will always be the fastest, most effective way to help ensure your pet’s return. For the greatest assurance, always use multiple identification forms on your pet, and ensure you keep them up-to-date. For additional information, or to schedule your pet’s microchip appointment, contact Livingston Veterinary Hospital.