Microchipping your pet is important and is widely recommended by veterinarians, animal advocacy groups, and has even become a legal requirement in some countries. In this article we’ll cover some of the big parts of the topic.  Even if you believe that you’re the best pet owner in the world and you do everything you can to prevent them from getting loose, there are circumstances beyond your control.  Consider if you’re walking your dog and you’re hit by a car and your dog runs off – don’t you want to be reunited later?  It isn’t about your pet ownership skills – it is about making sure you see each other again if circumstances are less than optimal.

What is (and is not!) a microchip?

A microchip is a small RFID about the size of a grain of rice.  It carries a unique serial number.  It is installed on your pet between their shoulder blades and is painless once there.  The administration process is similar to receiving a vaccination.  The serial number can be read and paired to a database of animals and owners to help find out whose dog or cat has been lost.

A few things that are important to know – microchips are not GPSs.  They will not geolocate your pet.  Your pet will have to already be found and taken to a place where the microchip can be read.

Why microchip?

If your pet ever gets lost or stolen and they have a registered microchip there is an increased likelihood you’ll get to see them again.  When animals end up in shelters one of the first things done is to check for a microchip.  If your pet has one and it is registered, the shelter will attempt to reach out to you with the registration’s information. This prevents you from needing to check every shelter across the country (these creatures can really wander!) to see if a photo looks familiar. It can also prevent your dog or cat from being unnecessarily euthanized or adopted out to another family before you can find them.

Registration, registration, registration

A microchip doesn’t carry registration within it.  It is simply a serial number that can be used to look up an animal in a database which contains owner-submitted information.  Unfortunately, many pets get chipped and registration is never completed, rendering the chip useless for reunited the animal with their owner.  Other registrations fail to get updated with new information when an owner moves or changes phone number, making it difficult to track them down to reunite the animal with their owner.  Initial registration and regular updates are key for the system to work.