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How micro-chipping your pet works

Updated on December 29, 2008

Learn more about how dogs and cats are microchipped


In the years I have worked at an animal hospital I recall very well that the reception bulletin board was always full of pictures of helpless lost pets. At the end of my shift, as I wandered home walking, I used to notice several more posters of lost pets on telephone poles and at my grocery store's check out aisle. It was really sad that so many pets went missing but I wondered as well why owners of adopted pets never gave a thought about micro-chipping their pets.

Perhaps, I thought as I walked home, owners were not well informed about micro-chipping. Perhaps they were never given the option of micro-chipping, or perhaps ultimately they didn't even know what micro-chipping was all about.

Yet, a tiny almost invisible microchip could have been the perfect solution. A microchip is after all, is what may make the difference between a stray dog ending up unclaimed at an animal shelter or straight back to its owners even on the same day.

Micro-chipping is the insertion of a tiny grain sized chip under the pet's skin. All it takes is the quick injection of a microchip which can be done at the vet's office or at the shelter upon adoption. The injection takes place between the shoulder blades and even though it is done with a larger size needle compared to regular vaccine needles, it is most likely not painful. If you are concerned about the needle size consider that the microchip insertion may even be done while the pet is under anesthesia while being spayed or neutered.

Each microchip has a unique number embedded within which when scanned with a hand held scanner will bring it up. At this point the microchip company is provided with the number and the operator will be able to trace the owner's address and phone number from a large database. Avid and Home Again are the largest pet microchip companies.

What most owners do not realize is that micro-chipping a pet may be inexpensive, most microchips can be inserted for under 50$. There will be additional cost for registering the microchip but this will not be over $20.  Shelters, animal control and veterinarian hospitals always search for a microchip when a pet is found. Unlike a collar which may come off, a microchip will always stay in place and therefore it is the most reliable form of reuniting pets to owners.

Owners should consider the option of micro-chipping their pets, more and more family pets end up at animal shelters unclaimed and in worst cases sadly euthanized. All humane societies acros the country should offer the microchipping option to owners of newly adopted pets.

 A microchip can make the difference between a scared lonely pet surrendered at a humane society or a happy ending of a pet back to its home in it's family's loving hands.

 I am sure most owners would want the former happy ending to take place, so I would suggest giving microchips a good thought, it is fast, inexpensive and reliable and most of all a life saver.


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