The thought of a pet running away or getting lost is every pet owner’s greatest nightmare. Many owners microchip dogs or cats to increase the chances of reuniting with their lost pet.
However, the practice can be somewhat controversial among owners and animal medical professionals. It’s a crucial decision that you shouldn’t take lightly. So is microchipping your pet worth it? Let’s look and see.
What Does It Mean to Microchip a Dog or Cat?
When you microchip a dog or cat, the vet injects a small, radio-frequency identification transponder under the pet’s skin. The device is approximately the size of a grain of rice and contains a unique number.
A microchip allows a pet and its owner to reunite should they ever separate. This is especially beneficial if your dog or cat doesn’t have their collar or any other identification on them when they go missing. A microchip is always with them.
While microchips can be beneficial, there are some concerns among pet owners and medical professionals.
Do Vets Recommend Microchipping?
There are pros and cons to microchipping your pets. In general, vets recommend microchipping because it increases the odds of reuniting a pet with its owner. AKC Reunite states, “Pets with microchips are up to 20 times more likely to be reunited with their owners.” Any vet or shelter with a lost pet can scan the chip and contact the pet’s owner.
On the other hand, not all vets are excited about microchipping. There is a risk of the chips traveling under the skin, making them hard to find and easy to miss. Implanting the device takes a few seconds but can be painful for pets. Additionally, newer scanners might not read older chips, rendering them ineffective.
We personally advocate for microchips, as it is one of the best ways to reunite with your pet should you become separated. By returning to you quickly, you can ensure they are loved and cared for their whole life, instead of leaving their fate up to chance in a shelter. The decision to microchip your cat or dog is entirely up to the owner. It would be best if you spoke to your vet to make an informed decision. You should never make a significant medical decision solely on the information you’ve read on the internet.
How Does a Microchip Work?
When you microchip your pet, a medical professional inserts the microchip under your pet’s skin. The procedure takes a matter of seconds to complete, and the chip can be effective for the life of your pet. Once the vet inserts it, a scanning device uses radio waves to turn on the chip and send a signal. The signal contains the ID number, which people can use to check the registry for your contact information.
Where Is the Microchip Placed in a Dog and Cat?
Vets insert microchips between dogs’ and cats’ shoulder blades. After the initial procedure, your pet likely will not notice the chip. However, you may feel the chip when petting them, but it will not cause them any discomfort unless you really squeeze or mess with the chip under their skin.
Does My Pet Have to Be Put to Sleep for the Procedure?
Luckily, microchipping your pet is a relatively non-invasive procedure. It does not require surgery or anesthesia. A veterinarian could even complete the process during a routine office visit. However, if your pet is already undergoing a procedure, it can be an excellent time to insert the microchip.
Is Microchipping Painful?
The microchipping process is similar to when your pet receives shots or other immunizations. If there is any pain, it’s momentary, and your pet will be good to go as soon as the vet activates the chip. If your pet does experience some discomfort, give them a treat or two, and they’ll likely forget all about it.
The concern around the pain comes from the large gauge needle used to insert the chip. Dog and cat microchips are about the size of a grain of wild rice, so the needle needs to be big enough to insert it. As you may expect, the bigger the needle, the more painful it may be.
How Is a Lost Pet Located with a Microchip?
Lost pets typically end up at animal shelters or veterinary clinics. Luckily, these are two of the best places for them to go because they have the proper knowledge to care for them and the equipment to read microchips.
These professionals can locate the microchip on a dog or cat and use a microchip scanning device to read the chip. The scanning device will broadcast the microchip identification number, which they can check against the online registry. Then, the owner can be contacted as long as the information is up-to-date. This is why owners must keep their contact information as current as possible in the database.
Pro Tip: Microchips are great for indoor-outdoor cats who may slip their collars or not wear them.
Can I Track My Pet with a Microchip?
Unfortunately, microchips do not have GPS capabilities. The only way to know your pet’s location according to the microchip is if someone finds and scans it. If you want to track your pet’s location, you’ll need to invest in a GPS collar or attachment for its collar.
Registration is Required
One of the most crucial things a pet owner needs to do is register their pet’s microchip with the manufacturer’s database. If you have a pet with a microchip, you must update your information in the respective database. While you may not plan to lose your pet, accidents happen. All it takes is a door to open for a second or two too long, and your pet could be on the run.
Depending on the microchip manufacturer, they may offer various levels of membership for a subscription fee. These are optional fees to get more lost and found services if you want and are not required to have microchip work.
Why Are Microchips Sometimes Not Found?
There are multiple reasons why someone might be unable to find a microchip. This can result from human error or a problem with the scanner. Additionally, technology can fail, which could cause a microchip to falter.
In some rare instances, microchips can travel under a pet’s skin. While they may start between their shoulder blades, they could end up almost anywhere. We know of a dog whose microchip has migrated to her left elbow! However, this is generally rare and only occurs in approximately 1 in 10,000 cases.
How Much Does It Cost to Microchip Dogs and Cats?
The cost to microchip a dog or cat typically ranges from $20 to $75, depending on where you get the procedure done. If you’re adopting a pet from a shelter, there’s a chance that your new best friend will come pre-microchipped. There are also low-cost vaccination clinics that will do them for a minimal fee. For the benefits they provide, microchips are well worth the minimal cost.
At What Age Should You Microchip Your Cat or Dog?
The sooner you can microchip dogs and cats, the better. However, veterinarians typically recommend waiting until an animal is at least eight weeks old. While the procedure is non-invasive, it gives them plenty of time to adjust and strengthen.
Luckily, they’re much easier to contain at this age, and you don’t have to worry about them running away nearly as quickly as when they’re older. However, if you don’t feel comfortable microchipping at a young age, you can do it when you’re ready. Just don’t wait too long and leave your pet without protection.
Do Microchips Expire?
Thankfully, microchips don’t expire. There is no battery or internal power source for microchip dogs and cats are given. A scanner reads the microchip’s signal, and a professional can read the information. Once installed, they should last for the life of your pet as long it’s registered, and you keep the information updated.
Is It a Good Idea to Microchip Your Cat or Dog?
Microchipping your pet can give you hope that you and your pet can reunite if you separate. The process is highly cost-effective and worth every penny if it helps someone contact you after finding your pet. We are big fans of microchips, as many pets who enter shelters with them are swiftly returned to their worried owners.
In addition, you can utilize the microchip’s technology for things like feeding your cat. Microchip cat feeders are an excellent way to manage your cat’s diet and health.
Would you microchip your pet? Let us know why or why not.
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