Pet Microchipping FAQ

4 min read


June is National Pet Microchipping Month, not to mention that July is National Lost Pet Prevention Month. Many veterinarians, vaccine clinics and shelters host special pet microchipping deals to celebrate. Pet microchips save lives. They are easy, quick, and don’t cost an arm and a leg. If your pet isn’t microchipped, this is a great time to get it done.


Here are some answers to the most common questions people have about microchipping pets.


Microchip FAQs


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How Do Pet Microchips Work?


Pet microchips are tiny chips that are the size of a grain of rice. A microchip uses radio frequency technology and contains a unique number that is associated solely with your pet. If your pet is ever lost or stolen and taken to a veterinarian or shelter, a staff member will scan your pet to see if the pet has a microchip. If the pet is microchipped, the scanner will beep and display a number. The staff member will then look up that number in an online registry that contains your name, phone number, address, email address and other pertinent information that is needed to get ahold of you so that you and your pet can be reunited. This is why it’s extremely important to add your contact info online (or by calling the microchip company) the same day your pet is chipped. Sometimes the vet’s office will do this for you. Be sure to update it if you move or change your email address or phone number.


How Big Is the Needle?


The size of a microchipping needle varies with the manufacturer. In general, needle sizes range from 15 gauge for the HomeAgain XS microchip to the more standard 12-gauge needle for other chips.


How Are Pet Microchips Implanted?


Microchipping dogs and microchipping cats is easy! Microchips are injected under the skin via a needle. Microchipping pets is a quick procedure that is done on an outpatient basis.


Where Are They Implanted?


The location of a microchip depends on the species. Pet microchips are almost always inserted under the skin, in between the shoulder blades on dogs and cats. Horses are typically microchipped on the left side of the neck, and birds are microchipped in the breast muscle.


Can You Feel a Microchip Under the Skin?


If your pet is very small or thin, you may be able to feel the microchip under the skin.


Is Pet Microchipping Painful?


Microchipping dogs and microchipping cats is no more painful than a typical injection, and the procedure happens so fast that many pets don’t even realize that it happened. Dogs and cats can also be distracted with a tasty treat while they are getting their microchip. Pet microchips are not considered to be painful once inserted.


Can It Cause Side Effects?


Pet microchips are sealed and encased in either biologically compatible soda lime or glass. After a microchip is implanted, the body forms a fibrous capsule around the device. In the thousands of microchips that are implanted every year in dogs and cats, rare side effects have been reported in very low numbers. The most common complaints include local infection or inflammation. Tumors at the site of injection have been reported in very few instances.


How Much Does It Cost?


Pet microchipping is relatively inexpensive and can range from 25 to 50 dollars.


Can You Track a Pet With a Microchip?


Microchips currently do not typically contain any GPS tracking technology and are not considered tracking devices. Think of pet microchips more like a permanent cat or dog ID tag. Although a dog ID can help by providing a way to reunite lost pets with owners, you should also have your pet microchipped in case pets lose their tags or collars.


Do Pet Microchips Need Batteries?


No. Pet microchips are inert until they are scanned and do not need any batteries because they  does not have an internal power source.


What Kind of Animals Can Be Microchipped?


Any kind of animal can be microchipped. The US Fish and Wildlife service uses microchips to track and research rare or endangered species, including grizzly bears and buffalo.


How Do I Connect My Information to the Microchip Number?


When you have your pet microchipped, your current information is entered into an online registry. Your vet will tell you how to access this and which site to go to. As long as your information stays the same, you do not need to do anything, and your information will stay safely stored in the online registry. If you move, change your address or change your phone number, then you will need to go online to the registry and update the information. Otherwise, if your pet is lost and the information is not current, the veterinary or shelter staff will have no way to contact you.


How Long Does a Microchip Last?


Most microchips are guaranteed to last the lifespan of the animal.


By: Dr. Sarah Wooten

Featured Image: Lucky Business/Shutterstock