April 23 is Lost Dog Awareness Day. It's every pet parent's worst fear: your cat or dog has gone missing. How can you give your pet the best chance of making it home? Pet microchipping is a simple, inexpensive, and potentially life-saving tool to help your pet find his way home. But first, it’s important to have all the facts to make the best decision for your pet. So, we've answered some of the most common questions about microchipping cats and dogs:
What is a microchip?
Microchips are tiny transponders, about the size of a grain of rice, that use radio frequency waves to transmit information about your pet. They're implanted just under the skin, usually right between the shoulder blades, and are designed to work for 25 years.
How does pet microchipping work?
Pet microchips are not tracking devices and do not work like global positioning devices (GPS). They are radio-frequency identification (RFID) implants that provide permanent ID for your pet. Each microchip contains a registration number and the phone number of the registry for the particular brand of chip. A handheld scanner reads the radio frequency of the chip and displays this information. The animal shelter or vet clinic that finds your pet can scan the chip and contact the registry to get your name and phone number.
Why should I microchip my pet?
A microchip provides an extra level of security in the event your pet gets lost. Unlike a collar, a microchip cannot fall off, be removed, or wear away and become impossible to read.
Can a microchip get lost inside my pet?
No. Your pet's tissue usually bonds to the chip within 24 hours, preventing it from moving. While the chip cannot get lost inside your pet, it can migrate from its original placement position. As a precaution, ask your vet to scan for the chip during your regular vet visits, just to ensure that it can be easily found should your pet be lost.
Does pet microchipping have to be done by a veterinarian?
Not necessarily. Both veterinarians and some animal shelters implant microchips in cats and dogs. The procedure is similar to that of a vaccination; it is done with a large-bore needle and doesn't require anesthesia.
Can pet microchipping cause cancer?
Though rare, some animals have developed tumors at the site of the microchip, compared to the millions of animals that have had microchips implanted in them without issue. It’s an incredibly low risk, but it can happen. As a precaution, take note of where the vet implants your pet's microchip. On an annual basis, feel the area for any unusual lumps.
Is pet microchipping expensive?
Contact your vet for exact pricing, but cost is typically around $20. You also can check with local animal shelters or rescue groups, which often do it for less. Here in the Austin area, Emancipet offers pet microchipping for only $19. Or, you can search for other vets in your area who offer the service.
My pet is microchipped, now what?
The next step is to register your pet’s microchip. Complete the paperwork that comes with the chip and send it to the registry, or do it online if that option is available. Some companies charge a one-time registration fee while others charge an annual fee. You’ll also receive a tag for your pet’s collar with the chip number and registry phone number. If you change addresses or phone numbers, be sure to update your contact information in the pet microchipping registry. Pet microchipping is just one way to keep your pet from getting lost. Collars with accurate, up-to-date tags should be worn at all times, unless for medical reasons. If your furry friend goes outside, periodically check fences to ensure they are properly enclosed. Any other questions or comments about microchipping? Leave them in the comments below! Sources: PetFinder, PetMD and The Humane Society of the United States