Dog Microchip FAQ: Cost, Where to Go and, How It Works

Sarah Wooten, DVM
By Sarah Wooten, DVM on Apr. 14, 2020

Reviewed and updated for accuracy on April 14, 2020, by Dr. Lindsey Naimoli, DVM

Pet microchips save lives.

A microchip provides permanent identification for your pet that links them to you, no matter where they end up. If your dog is lost, any shelter or veterinarian can scan your pet’s microchip to find out your contact information so they can reunite you as soon as possible.

Here are some common questions and answers about microchips for dogs.

Microchip FAQs

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How Do Pet Microchips Work?

Microchips are tiny implants about the size of a grain of rice that are placed under your dog’s skin. 

The microchip contains a unique identification number that becomes your dog’s permanent ID. Once the chip has been implanted in your dog, it will link your contact information to your pet. 

All veterinary clinics and animal shelters have handheld scanners that can detect your dog’s microchip, read the number, and identify the associated microchip company. 

After scanning your dog, the vet or shelter can contact the microchip company. The microchip number is verified, and your contact information is given to the vet. 

It’s crucial that once you microchip your pet, you go to the microchip company’s website and enter your contact info right away. You can also do this over the phone, and your vet will provide the phone number or website.

How Big Is the Needle?

The size of the microchip needle depends on the microchip company. For dogs and cats, most microchip needles are very small and are 12 gauge to 15 gauge. 

How Are Pet Microchips Implanted?

Microchips are implanted the same way a vaccine or shot is administered. A needle punctures the skin, and a syringe with an embedded microchip is inserted. 

The microchip is then scanned to ensure appropriate administration of the microchip.

Where Are They Implanted?

For dogs, the microchip is implanted under the skin, in between the shoulder blades.

Can You Feel a Microchip Under the Skin?

The microchip can occasionally be felt in animals with thin skin or poor body condition.

Is Pet Microchipping Painful?

Microchipping is not painful. It takes seconds to administer a microchip.

Can It Cause Side Effects?

Millions of microchips are implanted every year, and the side effects reported are minimal. Overall, research has demonstrated that the benefit of a microchip greatly outweighs the risk of any side effect. 

That said, reported side effects can range from minor problems such as tenderness at the site of injection for 24 hours to major problems such as abscess formation or tumor encapsulation.

How Much Does It Cost?

A microchip can range in price from $15 to $50. 

Can You Track a Pet With a Microchip?

Microchips do not have any tracking capabilities like GPS. 

Microchips use RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Device) technology that enables a scanner to emit an electrical field to activate the microchip.

Once the microchip is activated by the scanner, the scanner displays the permanent ID number associated with the microchip. 

Do Pet Microchips Need Batteries?

Microchips do not need batteries. They are implants that emit a radio frequency when activated by a scanner.

What Kind of Animals Can Be Microchipped?

All animals can be microchipped. However, the most common species regularly microchipped are dogs, cats, birds, and horses. 

How Do I Connect My Information to the Microchip Number?

Once your pet is microchipped, you will be informed of the microchip permanent ID number and its associated microchip company. 

You should then contact the microchip company via website or phone to register your pet’s new microchip with your contact information. 

Keeping up-to-date contact information with your associated microchip company is very important. If your information is outdated in the company’s database, then it will be even more difficult for a veterinarian or shelter to track you down to return your dog to you.

How Long Does a Microchip Last?

Microchips last for the duration of an animal’s lifetime.

Featured Image:

Sarah Wooten, DVM


Sarah Wooten, DVM


Dr. Sarah Wooten graduated from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 2002. A member of the American Society of Veterinary Journalists,...

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