Watch Tip: Microchip Pets

Posted on September 17th, 2011 by Trish Roman-Aquilino

Watch Tip LogoWatch tip for week of September 18

Aside from a collar and identification tags, having a microchip implanted is one of the most important methods one can employ to ensure the return of a pet, in the event a pet is lost. Set an example in your community and have your pets microchipped and communicate with your neighbors, family and friends about the benefits of doing so. A chip is the size of a grain of rice, and does not harm or hurt pets when injected. Once implanted, be sure to adhere to three rules – register, re-scan, and rechip.

Follow the Three Rules of Microchipping

Register…your pet’s chip with your current contact information. Chipping your pet alone does not ensure their safe return; you must register your pet’s chip along with your contact information. Be sure to add a second contact that will be available to pick up your pet for you, in the event you are out of town, or somehow unable to retrieve your lost pet from the shelter or individual that finds them. Most shelters will not release an animal to an individual that is not listed on the registration, and if you are unable to retrieve your pet prior to the shelter’s “hold” period, your pet runs the risk of being euthanized if it is a “kill” shelter. If you adopt a pet and do not know if the pet is chipped for certain, take him or her into your vet to have them scanned, so that you can register the chip with your contact information.

Re-scan…have your pet’s chip scanned and read from time to time, to ensure the chip is working, and to keep yourself informed on potential chip-reading issues. A woman in Phoenix, Arizona recently had her dog’s chip scanned at her vet, just to confirm its working condition, and found that her vet’s scanner did not pick up the chip’s information. Since she volunteers at the local shelter, she took her dog to the shelter that afternoon and asked them to try scanning. The shelter’s scanner indeed located the chip and was able to read it. Types of chips and chip readers can vary in use, but universal scanners are becoming more widespread and utilized to address this issue.

Rechip…find out what type of frequency your pet’s chip operates on, then find out if your local pound or shelters utilize scanners that only work with a particular frequency. Chips emit a frequency that scanners can read, and vary in frequency emitted from 125 kilohertz to 134.2 kilohertz, depending on manufacturer. If your pet is chipped with a 134.2 kilohertz chip, and your shelter’s scanner only reads 125 kilohertz chips, you should rechip your pet with a chip that is compatible with your shelter’s capabilities to avoid any potential problems. Be sure to update the contact information for both chips whenever necessary. Also, if you have moved here from abroad, chances are the chip your pet has will not be read by U.S. scanners, and you should rechip with one that is compatible.

Although no method of identifying your pet is fail-safe, microchipping raises the chances of your pet being returned to you. According to an American Veterinary Medical Association study in 2009:

“…more than 7,700 stray animals at animal shelters showed that dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 21.9% of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were returned to their owners 52.2% of the time. Cats without microchips were reunited with their owners only 1.8% of the time, whereas microchipped cats went back home 38.5% of the time.”

In cases where pets were not reunited with their owners, most often it was because the owner had not updated the contact information for their pet’s chip and were unreachable.

The benefits of chipping definitely outweigh any potential issues or problems that may be encountered by chipping, and when combined with a collar and current identification tags, practically ensures your lost pet’s return to you.  Remember—your pet, once lost from the safety of your home, has no way of getting back to you except for whatever identification you take the time to give them.  They cannot tell anyone where they live or who they belong to—that is your responsibility.

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    2 Responses to “Watch Tip: Microchip Pets”

    1. Anna Nirva says:

      Read about a soldier reunited with his dog because his dog was wearing a microchip, by the same author. Great story Trish!

    2. dieta says:

      Which microchip frequency (kHz) should I choose? When purchasing microchips, it is important to become familiar with the different microchip frequencies used in the United States. Microchips operate by radio frequency and are classified by kHz. Such as 125 kHz, 128 kHz, 134 kHz. Certain frequencies are more prominent than others and more widely read. If you are selling pets, it becomes important to learn the differences so you can choose which type of chip to install in puppies you sell.The most widely read frequency today is the 125 kHz. Most professional kennels and retailers use this type of chip. Please call if you have questions…(800) 434-2843.