Odds are that you’ve heard about pet microchipping before—but you may not know how it works or why it’s so important. Today, we wanted to talk a bit about how pet microchipping works, some microchipping pros and cons, and why you should microchip your pets.
What is Pet Microchipping?
Pet microchipping is the practice of inserting a tiny radio frequency identification (RFID) tag under a pet’s skin. This RFID tag device is typically about the size of a grain of rice, and can be used to identify your pet by looking up the tag’s number in a pet microchip registry.
For the pet microchip lookup process to be effective, you have to make sure that you register your pet’s RFID tag in a national pet recovery database.
How Does Microchipping Pets Help Me Find Them?
There’s a common misconception that the microchip is some kind of GPS tracking device that lets you know where your pet is—it isn’t. The RFID tag itself doesn’t have any batteries, and does not actively transmit your pet’s location. All it does is allow pet shelters and veterinary clinics to look up the microchip’s ID number.
This pet microchip lookup can be vital for ensuring that your pet can be identified if they are lost. If your pet’s microchip is registered in a pet recovery database, the person looking up the chip number can find that information and reach out to you to let you know that they have found your pet.
Why Not Just Rely on a Collar Tag for Identification?
Pet collars with tags are a great way to identify your pets to others and let animal control organizations know that a particular animal has a loving home to go back to. The contact information on a pet tag can help others reach out to you more quickly as well. Additionally, some collar tags can be fitted with GPS or pet locating devices, which can help you find your lost pet yourself.
So, why shouldn’t you just rely on a pet collar to ID your pet?
While collars are a must-have for any pet that regularly goes outside, you should also microchip your four-legged friends because:
- Collars Can Slip off or Break. Not all of our fur babies like to wear collars, and will try to slip them off if they can. Also, a lost pet may get their collar caught on something and it may break off, leaving the pet unidentifiable.
- Microchips Can Thwart Pet Thieves. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), there are around 2 million dogs stolen every year. One of the first things that these pet thieves will do is remove the pet’s collar and try to resell the pet while posing as the pet’s owner. With a microchip, veterinary clinics can ID the dog’s real owner and notify them and the authorities.
Will Implanting a Microchip Hurt My Pet?
The process of implanting a microchip in a pet is relatively simple and should not cause any harm to your pet. As noted by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the microchip is “injected under the skin using a hypodermic needle. It is no more painful than a typical injection, although the needle is slightly larger than those used for injection.”
Remember: the typical pet microchip is roughly the size of a grain of rice. Also, the RFID tag is encased in a non-toxic, biocompatible casing that will not hurt your pet. Some pet microchipping companies use a casing that actively encourages your pet’s connective tissues to bond around the chip so it doesn’t move under their skin.
How Much Does Microchipping My Pet Cost?
Microchipping pets costs different amounts of money depending on the specific microchip being used and your veterinarian’s fees. According to sources like Petfinder.com, “The average cost to have a microchip implanted by a veterinarian is around $45, which is a one–time fee and often includes registration in a pet recovery database.”
Because pet microchips aren’t reliant on batteries to keep operating, they almost never need replacement, so you don’t have to worry about getting the microchip serviced or replaced. Microchips usually last for as long as your pet lives.
Microchipping Pros and Cons in a Nutshell
- It’s a relatively cheap, one-time expense with no maintenance to worry about.
- Helps ensure your pet can be identified by veterinary clinics and pet shelters.
- Hard to find and remove for most pet thieves.
- Microchips are a safe and non-toxic identifier for your pet.
- Because it’s non-obvious, the average person won’t be able to identify your pet using it.
- You have to submit the ID number to a pet microchip registry for it to work—though most veterinarian clinics will handle this for you as part of their microchipping service.
- Unlike GPS tags on collars, pet microchips won’t give you your pet’s exact location.
Is microchipping pets worth it? For the majority of pet owners, the answer is definitely “YES!” For the cost of a couple of large bags of dog food, you can protect your pet from getting lost in an animal shelter and make it much easier for you to recover your precious four-legged friend.