Microchipping Your Pet

by Connie on March 16, 2012

Microchipping has increased in popularity over the past few years.  Although microchipping is quite common now, there are still people that are unaware of what a microchip is or how it works.  In fact, there is a common misconception that a microchip has the capability to identify where a pet is located.  Although this type of technology is available today, it has not yet been provided for the animal industry.

How does a microchip work?

A microchip is a tiny chip that contains various electronic components.  With the help of Radio Frequency Identification technology, microchips can be detected using a special scanner.  Any time a lost pet is taken into a veterinary clinic or animal shelter, the first thing that is done is to look for a microchip.  A microchip scanner is passed over the pet’s entire body, in the hopes that a microchip will be detected.

If a microchip is present, the scanner will usually make a beeping sound and display a number on its small screen.  This number is registered to the pet and can give access to the pet’s name, owner name, address, and phone number.  Some pets that are found are registered in their local animal shelter or veterinary clinics, but others are not.  If the pet’s information cannot be retrieved this way, the microchip company will have to be called.

If the owner paid to have the microchip registered directly with the company, all of the owner’s information will be available in the company’s database.  If not, the microchip company can still provide information on the veterinary clinic/shelter that inserted the microchip.  As long as the microchip number is handy, the owner’s information can be found so that they can be contacted immediately.

Microchip Placement

A large needle is necessary in order to insert a microchip in a dog/cat.  This is mainly due to the fact that a microchip is about the size of a large rice grain.  If your dog is going to be neutered or spayed, it is often times recommended that the microchip is inserted while the dog is under anesthesia.  It is easier and less painful to perform a microchip placement while the pet is asleep.  If your pet will not be going under anesthesia anytime soon, placing the microchip while he is awake is the only option.

Microchip placement is performed exactly like giving a vaccine; the needle is inserted under the skin (below the neck, in between the shoulder blades) and the chip is then pushed in.  The whole process only takes about two seconds!

Risks Involved

* Fibrosarcoma – Although rare, formation of a  fibrosarcoma (malignant tumor) near the placement site is possible.  Any unusual lumps on your  pet should always be examined by a vet.

* Microchip Movement – In some cases, microchips can travel to a different part of the body, making it harder to detect it.  During your pet’s yearly exam, it is also recommended that you have your pet scanned to assure that the chip is still in place.

Reputable Microchip Brands

Currently, the two most popular microchip brands in the U.S. are HomeAgain and Avid.  Both of these brands are reputable and work great, but there are some differences.  Whether or not a microchip brand offers additional services is something to consider before making a decision.  For example, some microchip companies offer free or low-cost insurance for your pet in the event that he was injured while lost.

While there are a few risks involved with microchipping your pet, I personally believe that the benefits greatly outweigh the disadvantages.  Making sure that your pet has a microchip gives you peace of mind, and best of all; it can save your pet’s life!

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