Everything You Need To Know About Microchips In Pets

Microchips are small devices implanted underneath a pet’s skin to provide unique and reliable identification. You’ve probably heard some dramatic stories about how microchips have helped reunite pets with their owners, like this dog who was found on Christmas Eve near Kansas City and this New York Police officer’s cat who had been missing for two years.  Stories like these help emphasize the importance of microchips for pets, but many pet owners aren’t aware of the maintenance required for these devices. Our experts at BluePearl answer the frequently asked questions about microchips in pets.

Why should I microchip my pet? 

Checking for Microchip implant for cat by Veterinarian

Microchip scanners are are incredibly accurate and dependable.

Microchips are the most dependable form of identification for your pet. If lost, your pet’s collar and tags could be removed or damaged, significantly reducing your chances of being reunited. A microchip never gets lost and can be identified at almost any shelter or veterinary office.  Simple and inexpensive, microchips reunite thousands of pet families every year.

What is the implant process like?

The implant process is simple and causes no more pain or discomfort than a routine vaccine. A long needle is used to place the microchip, which is no larger than a grain of rice, underneath your pet’s skin. In cats and dogs, the microchip is typically implanted between the shoulder blades. The microchip implant process is not a surgery and requires no anesthesia. In fact, the process is so simple that it can typically be done during your regular veterinary exam.

What type of pets can be microchipped?

While most common in cats and dogs, a wide variety of pets are eligible for microchipping. It is not unusual for pet owners to microchip reptiles, birds and horses.

Where do I go to get my pet microchipped?

A microchip can be implanted at most primary veterinary offices and animal shelters. Most pet rescue shelters microchip their cats and dogs before they are placed for adoption. If you are unsure whether your pet already has a microchip, bring your pet to a veterinarian or animal shelter to be scanned.

What is the maintenance required for a microchip?

Microchip maintenance is extremely important, but often neglected. Each microchip is registered to a company that maintains your contact information and provides it to the veterinarian. Registration is generally low in cost, and it is typically required once a year unless a lifetime plan is purchased. If your microchip registration is not up-to-date, your contact information is no longer available. At BluePearl hospitals, only about 25 percent of microchipped pets that are brought to us have valid, up-to-date registration. Microchip registration is essential to ensure that veterinarians and animal shelters can receive the contact information they need to reunite you with your pet.

The microchip device is designed to last a lifetime and never deteriorate in your pet’s body.

What information is stored in a microchip?

A microchip only stores an identification number. If your pet is found, the veterinarian would retrieve the identification number via scan, then use that number to determine which company maintains your microchip in a private online database. The veterinarian will then contact the microchip company for your contact information and reach out to you immediately. Because the chip does not contain your contact information and address directly, privacy concerns with microchips are basically nonexistent.

Does my microchip need to be a certain frequency?

To identify the microchip number, the scanner reads the radio frequency of the chip. The most common frequencies are 125-kHz and 134.2-kHz. Most veterinarians either have two scanners or one universal scanner to accommodate both popular frequencies. Ask your veterinarian about the microchip’s frequency before it is implanted.

Can a microchip be removed? Damaged?

Microchips are tiny, internal and durable, making them nearly impossible to damage or remove. They are designed to last and function during any circumstances.  In very rare cases, severe trauma to the pet can damage the pet’s microchip or your pet’s body may reject the microchip after implanted.

Do microchips really increase the chances of pets returning home after they are lost?

Yes! When kept up-to-date, microchips significantly improve your chances of finding a lost pet. Our veterinarians at BluePearl reunite pets with owners all the time because of microchips alone.

For more information on microchips, please contact your primary veterinarian.

If you find a lost pet, please bring the pet to a veterinary establishment or animal shelter to scan for a microchip.