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All about dog microchipping 

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Microchipping is a popular method of identification for pets that involves inserting a tiny chip beneath the skin. Microchips contain unique identification numbers that can be scanned to quickly access a pet owner’s contact information. This process provides a safe and effective way to ensure that lost or stolen dogs can be reunited with their families. 

Why and when should pet parents microchip their furry friends? How do microchips work? 

Table of contents 

What is dog microchipping? 

Dog microchipping is a process of implanting a tiny electronic chip, which is about the size of a grain of rice, under a dog’s skin, typically between the shoulder blades. The microchip contains a unique identification number that can be read by a special scanner. The information linked to the microchip, such as the owner’s contact details, is stored in a database, which can be accessed by animal shelters, veterinarians, and animal control agencies.  

Why should you microchip your dog? 

Microchipping dogs is important for several reasons. Overall, microchipping your dog is a simple, safe, and effective way to ensure that you can be reunited with your dog if it ever goes missing, and to protect your ownership rights. Microchipping your dog has several benefits, including:  

  • Improved chances of finding lost dogs: If your dog gets lost, a microchip can help animal shelters, veterinarians, and animal control agencies identify your dog and contact you to arrange for its safe return. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, microchipped dogs are more than twice as likely to be reunited with their families than those not microchipped. 
  • Ability to prove ownership of a dog: If there is ever a dispute about ownership of your dog, such as cases involving custody or theft, a microchip can provide proof of ownership. 
  • Compliance with local and national laws: In some countries, microchipping is a legal requirement for owning a dog. Failing to comply with this requirement can result in fines and penalties. 
  • Peace of mind: Knowing that your dog has a reliable form of identification can provide peace of mind and ensure that you can always be contacted if your dog is found. Collars and identification tags can come loose, but an implanted microchip is permanent. 
  • Deterrent to dog theft: Microchipping can act as a deterrent to dog theft, as it makes it harder for thieves to sell or rehome a stolen dog.  

Microchipping process

Getting your dog microchipped is a quick and simple procedure that can be done by a veterinarian during a routine office visit. Here are the general steps involved in the process: 

Prep 

  1. Make an appointment with your veterinarian, letting them know that you would like to have your pet microchipped. 
  2. At your appointment, provide your dog’s information, including their name, breed, age, and any medical history, to your veterinarian. 
  3. Your veterinarian will scan your dog to ensure that they do not already have a microchip. This may be the case if your dog was adopted from a rescue or shelter that microchips all animals that come through their facility. 
  4. Your dog’s skin will be cleaned and disinfected to minimize risk of infection. A needle is used to insert the microchip under your dog’s skin, typically between the shoulder blades. 

After 

  1. Once the microchip is inserted, your veterinarian will scan your dog again to ensure that the chip is working properly, and that the unique identification number can be read accurately. 
  2. You will be provided with information about the microchip and instructions on how to keep your dog’s information up to date in the database. 

You may notice a small bump or lump at the site of the microchip for a few days after the procedure, but this should resolve on its own. Your dog may experience some mild discomfort at the site of the implantation for a few days. You should avoid touching or rubbing the area, and your dog should also be kept away from any rough play or activities that could dislodge the microchip. It’s also a good idea to monitor the implantation site for any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or discharge. 

In most cases, dogs can resume their normal activities immediately after the procedure, and there are no special aftercare instructions to follow. However, if your dog is experiencing any persistent discomfort or other symptoms, you should contact your veterinarian. 

Information stored on a dog’s microchip 

A dog’s microchip typically contains a unique identification number that is linked to their owner’s contact information in a database. The information stored on the microchip is intended to help reunite lost or stolen dogs with their owners by providing a way for animal shelters, veterinarians, and other organizations to contact the owner of a lost or found dog.  

Importance of updating your dog’s microchip information 

Keeping your dog’s microchip information up to date is crucial because it ensures that you can be quickly contacted if your dog is lost or stolen. If your contact information is outdated or incorrect, animal shelters, veterinarians, and other organizations may not be able to reach you to inform you that your dog has been found. This can result in a longer period of separation between you and your pet or even a failure to reunite at all. 

When should you microchip your dog? 

It’s a good idea to microchip your dog as soon as possible, ideally when the dog is still a puppy. Many breeders and animal shelters now routinely microchip puppies before they are adopted, but if your dog hasn’t been microchipped yet, you can still have it done at any age. 

Microchipping can also be done during other veterinary procedures, such as spaying or neutering, to minimize any discomfort your dog may feel. If your dog is already under anesthesia for another procedure, the microchip can be implanted at the same time, making the process even more convenient. Again, this can happen at any age, but the earlier, the better. 

Different types of microchips for pets 

There are two main types of microchips used for dogs: standard frequency and advanced or “smart” chips. Standard frequency microchips are the most common type and operate on a single frequency, usually 125 kHz. These microchips contain a unique identification number that can be scanned by a microchip reader, and the number is then used to search a database for the dog owner’s contact information. 

Advanced or “smart” microchips operate on multiple frequencies and contain additional features such as temperature monitoring, activity tracking, and remote health monitoring. These microchips are still relatively new and not yet widely available, but they offer exciting possibilities for dog owners and veterinarians in terms of health management and tracking. Your veterinarian can help you determine what type of microchip is best for your individual dog. 

Frequently asked questions about dog microchipping 

Is microchipping painful for my dog? 

Microchips are injected under the skin using a hypodermic needle. This is generally considered to be no more painful than a typical injection, although the needle is slightly larger than those used for injections. Your dog may flinch or yelp, and may be temporarily sore afterwards, but pain is minimal. No surgery or anesthesia is required—a microchip can be implanted during a routine veterinary office visit. 

Can I track my dog’s location with a microchip? 

A microchip does not have GPS capabilities, so it cannot be used to track your dog’s location in real-time. Instead, a microchip is a passive form of identification that can be scanned and used to contact you for reunification with your dog.  

There are other devices available that use GPS technology to track your dog’s location, such as GPS collars or tags. These devices typically require a subscription service and a smartphone app to access the tracking information. While GPS devices can be useful for keeping tabs on your dog’s whereabouts, it’s important to keep in mind that they have limitations and may not be effective in all situations, such as when your dog is out of range of a cellular or Wi-Fi signal. 

Is microchipping required by law? 

The requirements for microchipping dogs vary by country and region, so it’s important to check the regulations in your specific area. In many countries, including the United States, microchipping is not required by federal law, but may be required by state or local laws. 

Take home message 

Microchipping your dog is a simple and effective way to ensure that your furry friend can be easily identified and returned to you if they ever become lost. It is a quick and safe procedure that can be done at your veterinarian’s office. By taking this step, you are not only providing peace of mind for yourself, but you are also giving your dog the best chance at being reunited with you if they ever wander too far from home. Remember to keep your contact information up to date with the microchip registry to ensure that your dog’s identification is always accurate. Overall, microchipping is a small investment in your dog’s safety and well-being that can have a huge payoff in the event that they become lost. 

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