Being a responsible pet owner means taking the necessary steps to protect your dog from the unknown. Many pet owners take the initiative of getting their dog a collar with an ID tag that has the name and phone number of the owner printed or engraved.
Many tech-savvy pet owners have taken it one step further by getting their dog a digital ID tag that contains a unique QR code that can be scanned by any modern cell phone, allowing whoever finds the lost dog to promptly return him.
While having a collar with an ID tag is important, an ID tag does not replace a microchip.
What Is a Microchip and Why Is It Important?
Microchip technology is commonly used today in a wide range of industries. From cell phones and computers to medical equipment and cars, these radio frequency identification (RFID) tags are useful for storing information in a small package. Microchips used for pets are approximately the size of a grain of rice. The small computer chip is enclosed in a special type of glass and inserted under your pet’s skin.
You may be thinking, “Why does my pet need a microchip if he already has a collar with an ID tag?” You may also think that you don’t need a microchip because your pet rarely leaves the home or always comes when he is called. Some pet owners refuse microchips as they believe they are cruel and painful for the dog. In reality, microchips are a safe, reliable, and cost-effective way to protect your dog.
While every dog should wear a collar with an ID tag, there is always a risk that the tag could become lost or removed. If this happens, there is no way for the person who finds your dog to contact you. With a microchip, your dog has permanent identification that cannot be removed or lost. If a stranger finds your pet, a local veterinarian, animal shelter, or other organization with a microchip scanner could quickly find you via a microchip database and contact you by phone, physical address, or email address.
What Does the Microchipping Process Consist of?
Microchipping is a process that can be done at nearly any time in a dog’s life, starting from puppyhood. Microchips are compatible with living tissue and will not cause harm to your pet. The process of inserting a microchip is similar to getting any type of injection, except that the needle is larger. However, most dogs experience little to no discomfort during the implantation of the microchip.
If you are concerned about your dog experiencing pain during the microchipping process, consider having it done when your dog is under anesthesia for another service, such as a spay or neuter. You can even get your dog microchipped during a professional dental cleaning service in which most dogs require anesthesia to remain calm and relaxed.
During the procedure, your vet will grasp a piece of loose skin and pull it up to create a clean area to inject the chip. Microchips are usually placed along the spine, directly between the shoulder blades. Once your pet is put into the proper position, your vet will use an applicator to inject the microchip under the skin. Your vet will then use a microchip scanner to ensure that the microchip can be detected and that it displays the proper ID number.
When your pet is microchipped, pet owners are required to register with the microchip manufacturer. This will allow the pet owner to create a file that directly corresponds with the microchip’s unique identification number. If your dog is lost, scanning the microchip will display a unique ID number on the handheld device. Putting this number into a computer will bring up results from a database, typically the owner’s contact information.
During registration, you’ll have the option to put a variety of information about your pet into the database. At a minimum, you’ll want to enter the dog’s name, your name, your phone number, and your physical address. You’ll also want to keep this information updated, meaning if you move or get a new phone number, you’ll want to immediately contact your vet and/or microchip manufacturer to update the information.
What are the Benefits of Microchipping Your Dog?
If you are considering microchipping your pet, you may be wondering what the benefits are and if they outweigh the risks. The benefits include:
- Increase your odds of finding your lost dog. If someone finds your pet and brings him to the vet or a shelter where your dog is scanned, they will be able to easily contact you.
- Have a permanent ID that can’t be tampered with. Dog ID tags can be lost, damaged, or removed but a microchip is permanent.
- Pet microchips never need to be replaced. Your dog’s microchip should last the entirety of his life.
- Prove that your dog belongs to you. If your dog is ever stolen and you must prove that he belongs to you, a microchip is a great way to provide proof to the authorities.
- Your personal information remains safe. Any personal information that you place on the microchip database is safe and no data other than the unique ID number is stored directly on the chip.
Contact Your Vet and Ask About Microchipping
No pet owner ever wants to be separated from their dog but accidents happen. If your dog is ever lost or stolen, having a clear ID tag and microchip can help ensure that he is safely returned to you.