Pedigreed or Heinz 57, your new pup will quickly capture your heart and take up all of your attention. It’s easy to get caught up in house training, crate training, buying toys and introducing the new family member to all of your friends, but make sure you prioritize microchipping. It’s one of the easiest and most important things you can do for your own peace of mind.
What is a Microchip?
Lost pups are every pet owner’s nightmare. We’ve all heard the stories. Pups that have run out of the car at rest stops, or who broke the leash when a car backfired or a firecracker went off. No matter how well trained your dog is, if they’re out of your sight and care they have no way to communicate your name, phone number, or address. That’s where a microchip comes in.
A microchip is a tiny transmitter that your vet inserts under your pup’s skin, between their shoulder blades.
The process is non-invasive, with no surgery required. The chip is about the size of a single grain of rice and the needle that is used has a barrel that’s only slightly bigger than what’s used for standard vaccinations. Dogs don’t seem to realize that anything has happened, but the end result can’t be understated. Once a dog has been microchipped and you’ve registered their identifying information, you have a twenty times greater chance of being reunited with your pup if he goes missing.
How Does Dog Microchip Work?
Each microchip is contained within a tiny capsule and has its own identification number. Like a fingerprint, no two are alike, and as soon as it is implanted in their animal it is the owner’s responsibility to get registered with the microchip company and provide them with their contact information.
The microchip does NOT need to be charged. It is powered by RFID technology, which means that it remains dormant and inactive unless it is turned on by a handheld microchip scanner.
Most veterinarians, animal shelters and hospitals, rescue organizations, and even police have at least one of these scanners on hand.
When a lost dog is brought in, the scanner is waved over the dog’s back and, if a microchip is present it will turn on.
The scanner will display the unique identification number of the chip, as well as the telephone number for the chip’s registry, allowing whatever agency or professional has scanned the dog to quickly contact the registry, which will then contact the pet owner. As long as the identification number has been registered and the owner’s contact information is up to date, reuniting a pet with its person is a relatively easy thing to do.
Can I Track My Dog Using His Microchip?
A microchip is not a GPS tracking device. It is a tiny piece of computer circuitry that has been pre-assigned a unique identification number. It does not turn on until it is activated by a handheld scanner, and when it does turn on it simply displays the identification number and the contact information for its corresponding registry.
How Much Does Dog Microchipping Cost?
Microchipping is a one-time cost. Though each company and veterinarian has their own fee schedule, most microchipping services cost between $25 and $60. This includes the cost of the chip as well as a one-time registration fee with the monitoring company. The chip is non-biodegradable and, in most cases, will last throughout the dog’s lifetime. The cost of the chip covers the dog’s lifetime registration. Should you move, change phone numbers, or other contact information you will be able to update it at no additional charge.
Is One Pet Microchip Company Better than Any Other?
There are several different registries that offer microchips, and in most cases the selection of a particular brand or registry will be determined by the veterinarian, shelter, or whoever is microchipping the dog. Though each registry has its own unique service offerings and costs, the handheld scanners that activate them and read the chip’s identifying information are universal and will activate them all.
Registering Your Dog Microchip
Registration of your pet’s microchip is a process that will vary based on where and how you got your pet. Some breeders will provide pups that have already been microchipped, and the same is true of shelter or rescue organizations.
If your pup was microchipped before you took ownership then you will have been given their microchip information so that you can change the registry to your name.
If your veterinarian performed the microchip you will be given documents that provide all of the information needed to create a new registration.
Having a microchip will not help if your dog gets loose, even if he is recovered safely by a shelter, veterinarian, or anybody else armed with a scanner. Without your contact information, the organization’s attempt to reconnect you with your pet will be fruitless. It is also critical that once you’ve registered, you keep the information in the registry up to date. If you move or change your contact information and you do not update the registry, they will have no way of contacting you should your pet be found and scanned.
Is There A Way to Alert Shelters That A Microchipped Pet Is Missing?
In addition to the registry that corresponds to your dog’s microchip, you also have the option of enrolling in the AKC Reunite program. Offered through the American Kennel Club, it is free for those whose pet’s microchips were purchased with prepaid AKC registration, but is also available for all animals, whether pedigreed or mixed breed canines, cats, horses, and more. Any brand of microchip can be enrolled for a nominal one-time fee, and enrollment includes all of the contact information that your microchip’s registry does. But the AKC Reunite program can also include a photo of your pet, and provides a Lost Pet Alert that notifies all shelters, veterinarians, and affiliated programs in the area where the animal was lost that your pet is missing.
Additional Protections for Your Pets
Microchipping is the single most effective method of ensuring that your identifying information is permanently linked to your pet, and is the first thing that a rescuing organization, Animal Control, a veterinarian, or animal hospital will check when a lost dog is brought to them.
Unlike collars and tags, a microchip cannot be lost or removed from your animal by a bad actor.
Still, it is a good idea to make sure that your dog has some form of visible identification such as a collar with his name, as well as your contact information, contained on its surface, or a visible identification tag with your contact information. That is the fastest way for a non-professional to reach you should your unattended pet turn to them for help.