Did you know that 10 million pets are lost in the United States each year? It's an astonishing number, right? The sad reality is that millions of lost pets end up in animal shelters, with just 15% of dogs and 2% of cats without ID tags or microchips being reunited with their owners. So, today, let's learn more about pet microchips and why you should consider getting one.
What is a Pet Microchip and How does it Work?
A microchip is a small electronic device roughly the size of a grain of rice. It's usually implanted under your pet's skin between the shoulder blades, and it doesn't need a battery or power to work. It may be injected at your vet's office and typically costs between $40-50.
When the microchip is scanned, the device emits a radio frequency that shows the name of the microchipping agency and a unique ID number. Suppose a vet, an animal shelter, or an animal control officer finds your lost pet. In that case, they can scan the microchip to contact the agency and get your contact information to reunite you with your pet.
However, for the device to work, you have to register the microchip and your contact information with a national pet recovery database. Without it, there's no way to reach you even if somebody finds your lost pet.
The Benefits of Microchipping Your Pet: The benefits far outweigh the risks.
Besides helping you reunite with your pet, below are other benefits of microchipping:
Quick, Easy, and Painless: The chip is injected in a matter of seconds, and your pet will feel no more pain than a vaccine shot. Some pet owners tattoo an identification number on their pet, but it's a much more painful process for pets.
Long-lasting: Pet microchips can't be lost and last up to 25 years, which typically exceeds a pet's lifetime. In other words, you only have to get your pet microchipped once. Contrarily, ID tags or pet collars can be lost, broken off, or removed. Also, when tags become old and beaten up, they become hard to read.
Privacy and Proof of Ownership: ID tags contain your personal information that can be stolen if your pet is lost. On the contrary, microchips show a number that can only be deciphered by an agency. Moreover, if your pet gets stolen, the microchip becomes a way for you to prove ownership.
National Database: The database of microchips is national, so even if your pet crosses state lines, he/she can be found and returned home.
Risks of Microchipping: Nothing is perfect.
It's Not a GPS. Some pet owners equate the microchip to a GPS, but microchips lack GPS-like capabilities. You can locate your pet using a GPS tracker, but others won't be able to contact you to help you reunite with your pet. With a microchip, it's the other way around. You can't locate your pet, but others can help you reunite with your lost pet.
The Chip Can Move. Over time, the chip can move from its implanted location to somewhere else in your pet's body. However, this does not, in any way, affect your pet's health. It might just require the person scanning to perform a broad scan, which most people do anyway.
Few Chips are Not Universal. Few chips require the use of a special scanner to be read. It won't be a problem if the person scanning has a universal scanner, but this might not always be the case. So, before you get your pet microchipped, do some research on chip brands.
There is a Tiny Health Risk. Side effects are uncommon, but some pets may experience minor and temporary reactions to the injection. Often, inflammation at the insertion site is reported, but it is extremely rare for the inflammation to lead to another condition.
Some owners may be hesitant or even disturbed by the idea of implanting an electronic device in their pet. However, it's an easy, painless, and relatively inexpensive procedure with minimal health risks that can protect your pet’s life. According to AKC Reunite, pets with microchips are 20 times more likely to be reunited with their owners. So, if you haven’t already done so, we recommend you strongly consider getting your pet microchipped.