Microchipping Your Pet

Microchipping Your Pet: How it Works

Microchipping your pet tremendously boosts the chances of reuniting if he or she ever gets lost. It does not matter if you have a dog, a cat, a rabbit, or a horse, microchipping works! But for it to be effective, you have to do it right, keep updating your details, and purge your mind of all the rumors and falsehoods about it. 

Microchipping does not monitor or track your pet. But we will help you learn how it works so that you can make this crucial decision and protect your fur baby. 

Photo by Werzk Luuu on Unsplash

Microchipping Works – Here Are The Statistics

The American Humane Organization estimates that each year, 10 million pets are lost in the United States. Many don’t stray too far from their homes and are recovered by their owners. However, many more end up in animal shelters. 


According to the ASPCA, 93% of dogs and 74% of cats in shelters are reunited with their owners. However, many pets have to wait in shelters because they are unidentified. They neither have an ID tag nor microchips. Of these, only 15% of dogs and 2% of cats are reunited with their owners. 


The situation changes when you consider microchipped pets.


A study conducted by the Ohio State University found that the owner-reunion rate for microchipped cats was 20 times higher than the owner-reunion rate for all lost cats. On the other hand, the return-to-owner rate for microchipped dogs was 2.5 times higher than the reunion rate for all lost dogs.

But what are pet microchips, and how do they work?

Pet Microchip – What It Is

The pet experts at The Vets explained to us that a pet microchip “Is a small electronic device inserted into the body of your pet. It is as small as a single grain of rice. It is often inserted underneath the skin between the shoulder blades. Contrary to the myths, pet microchips do not require batteries, can last a lifetime, and the insertion process is painless.”

How it works

The microchip carries a unique code that is identifiable by a microchip scanner. The scanner emits a specific radio frequency that activates the chip. The chip then transmits its unique identification code to the scanner. The scanning shelter or vet can then compare the code against a database to reveal the lost pet owner’s contact information.


Therefore, for a pet microchip to work effectively, these three conditions should be fulfilled:


  • The chip should be in the correct place and in working condition. 
  • The person scanning should use the proper scanner and proper technique. 
  • The name and contact information of the pet owner (in the database) should be up to date. 


Why A Pet Microchip Could Fail

Not fulfilling any of the three conditions above means that microchipping your pet may not be effective. There are several reasons why there could be such a breakdown. 


First, the microchip could be faulty. A faulty microchip means that the entire process does not work. But according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, it is rare. 


Second, the person scanning could be applying an incorrect technique. Sometimes the vet or shelter staff can scan for a microchip while the pet is wearing a collar with metallic parts. The metal could distort the microchip or scanner signal. One could also use the incorrect type of scanner that emits radio frequencies above or below the range of the microchip and fails to activate it. To minimize the chances of this error, scanner manufacturers worldwide have adopted uniform international standards. Plus, many are developing wide-range scanners that can detect a variety of chips.


The third and most common reason why pet microchipping might not be effective is a result of errors in the database. When your contact information is not up to date or is incorrect, the shelter cannot contact you. Worse still, there is no central database with information about microchipped pet owners in the US. However, pet microchipping companies are progressively addressing that gap. Today, there are websites providing links to the registries of microchip companies to vets and shelters.


Pet microchips will also fail to work if you believe the following myths:

  • You can use a microchip to track the location of your pet. Although some microchipping companies often sell pet monitoring and tracking systems, microchipping is primarily an identification device.
  • A microchip can replace the ID tag on your pet. 
  • Pet microchip companies do not protect your personal information. Therefore you could give false information or deliberately fail to update it.

Photo by Zach Lucero on Unsplash

A Final Word, Be A Proactive Pet Owner

Microchipping significantly enhances the chances of a reunion with your pet if he or she ever gets lost. Be a proactive pet owner and have your pet microchipped. 


But do not stop there. 


Ensure your pet always has an ID tag. Go a step further and get a collar with a tracking system. It could save you a lot of trouble since many pets don’t stray too far from home. Contact the microchip company and confirm your details are correct and up-to-date. Also, ask your vet to scan the microchip and check that it is working correctly every time you visit. 


Guest Author: Emila is a freelance journalist and blogger with a love for those with four legs! She has grown up around animals and pets and wants to use her knowledge on pet behavior, training and lifestyle tips to help other pet parents live the best possible life with their furry friends.