Microchips are typically implanted when a dog is first given to an owner. Pets have been lost up to 1,000 miles away from home and, thanks to microchips, returned to their owners shortly after being found.
So how do dog microchips work? Below we get into specifics of how these tiny devices work and why they’re becoming so popular with dog owners. While there is no mandatory law requiring chips, they’re a good safety measure to make sure no matter how far your dog roams, they’ll eventually be homeward bound in no time.
HOW DOES A DOG MICROCHIP WORK?
Think of a dog microchip like a driver’s license. Each animal is given a unique I.D. When scanned, each chip gives information that would be found on a traditional dog collar — address, name, phone number to call and more.
It’s imperative to register your dog’s information after they are chipped so that he or she can be found on multiple databases. This is an easy process which is done post-chip implant. The exact process varies by microchip. Bottom line, Be sure to clarify with your vet if they did the entire registration process for you or if you need to do this yourself
There is no centralized, universal system in the United States for microchip identification, so registering your dog’s information to their respective I.D. number points shelters in the right direction if they find your dog.
Shelters scan your dog’s chip, find an I.D. number and then put the I.D. into a website that helps identify which microchip registry your pet may be associated with. From here, the pound or shelter is able to match the dog with you.
These microchips are not GPS tracking systems, unfortunately. The dog must be in extremely close proximity to a scanner for a signal to be read.
IS IT PAINFUL TO MICROCHIP A DOG?
A major benefit of microchipping compared to old-school identification systems (like branding or tattoos) is that it’s nearly painless for an animal.
Although vets use a large syringe to insert the chip, your dog will only feel a quick pinch. The sensation is essentially the same as one received when getting a vaccination.
Most of the time, your dog will be asleep while this process happens anyway. Many vets place a dog’s chip during a spay or neuter operation.
The chip itself is implanted in the skin between a dog’s shoulder blades. This area is less sensitive than other parts of the body, which also helps mitigate any pain that may be associated with a chip implant. And, for this reason, sedation or numbing is rarely used for the procedure.
HOW LONG DOES A MICROCHIP LAST?
Most dog microchips are meant to last for 25 years. These chips are made to endure normal wear-and-tear, however, the lifespan of the chip can be shortened if exposed to harsh conditions (think sled dogs). After 25 years, dog microchips start to lose signal, rendering them useless in identification efforts.
CAN ANYONE SCAN MY DOG’S MICROCHIP?
The information you use to register a microchip can only be seen by the manufacturer of the microchip. Vets and shelters can scan the chip, but they need to contact the chip’s manufacturer in order for you to be contacted.
When registering your dog’s chip, you decide what information is shared. In order to scan the chip itself, a scanner must be used (134.2 kHz is the typical standard frequency), and these are hard to come by as an individual.
When a dog is lost and found by a shelter, pound or veterinary clinic, one of the first things the organization will do is scan for a microchip and check its collar. If your dog has a microchip AND you’ve registered the chip with your information, there is a good chance you will be contacted and asked to come get your dog.
There is a 50 percent chance of your dog being returned to you if it has a microchip. Dogs that do not have a microchip are only returned to their owners about 20 percent of the time.
If a dog has a microchip and a shelter/pound is unable to find its owner, it’s almost always because of human error when entering information into the chip’s database or forgetting to register the chip in the first place.
Another strategy to use while looking for your dog is to call local pounds and shelters. If a dog comes in and a microchip is unreadable or there is no microchip and collar present, an establishment will have no way of knowing where the dog they found came from.
In recent years, shelters have been using social media and their websites to put out “found dog” alerts, so it’s advised to check online as well when searching for your furry friend.
WHY DOES MY DOG NEED A MICROCHIP IF THEY HAVE A COLLAR?
Collars can unfortunately be removed leaving your dog without any way to be identified. Dogs often lose collars or get them caught on things when out running free, such as when they are lost, leaving them without identification despite the owners best efforts.
If an individual finds your dog, there is a good chance they won’t have a scanner of their own, so a collar will give them immediate information about where your pup is supposed to be.
It’s in the instances where your dog loses its collar or runs away without one that a microchip becomes useful. Think of a microchip as a necessary backup to add insurance in case your dog happens to get loose unexpectedly.
WHEN SHOULD MY DOG GET MICROCHIPPED?
Your dog can get microchipped at any point in time! Similar to spaying and neutering, he or she should be in good physical condition before the procedure, just to be sure there are no complications with recovery.
Most shelters nowadays require their dogs to get microchipped before adoption. If a dog comes in with a microchip and is unclaimed by an owner, they will clear the information associated with the chip and you will need to re-register the dog under your name.
If a rescue or shelter has microchipped your dog, be sure you know if they expect you to contact the microchip company to change the pets contact info. Some rescues/breeders do not allow the company to change the contact info)
If a puppy is being adopted, it’s typical to have the dog go through a quick chipping procedure before it is brought home. Shelters will usually make this a part of the entire adoption process, so it’s streamlined and easy.
Getting a puppy may seem like a never-ending process. You’ve made the decision to have a new best friend, and it’s an intense process at first. We get it.
That said, for a lifetime of memories and happy days, it’s essential to make sure your first steps in puppy ownership are the right ones. Microchipping your dog is a responsible choice that can save your pet down the line should he or she scurried off on accident.
Ensuring your dog gets spayed and neutered is no different, not only are you curbing potential health problems, with Gallant you’re able to use cutting edge technology to improve your pet’s life later down the line.