A microchip is a small, electronic chip enclosed in a glass cylinder that is about the same size as a grain of rice. The microchip is activated by a scanner that is passed over the area, and the signal from the scanner activates the chip. The chip then transmits the identification number to the scanner, which displays the number on the screen.
The microchip is injected under the skin using a hypodermic needle. It is no more painful than a typical injection, although the needle is slightly larger than those used for injections.
No surgery or anaesthesia is required, but if your pet is under anaesthesia for a procedure, the microchip can be implanted while they’re still under anaesthesia.
The microchips only contains identification numbers. Therefore the microchip is not used as a GPS device to track your animal if it gets lost.
The International Standards Organization, or ISO, has approved and recommended a global standard for microchips. The global standard is intended to create an identification system that is consistent worldwide. If you move overseas, it is just very important to link your animal’s microchip number to a microchip company in that country.
When a lost animal is taken to a shelter or veterinary clinic, one of the first things they do is scan the animal for a microchip. If they find a microchip, and if the microchip registry has accurate information, they can quickly find the animal’s owner.
A study conducted on more than 7,700 stray animals at animal shelters indicated that dogs without microchips were reunited with their owners 21.9% of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were returned to their owners 52.2% of the time. Cats without microchips were only 1.8% of the time reunited with their owners, whereas microchipped cats were 38.5% of the time. In most cases where microchipped animals weren’t reunited with their owners, it was due to incorrect owner information (or no owner information) in the microchip registry database. It is very important to register and keep your information up to date!
Microchips are used for permanent, tamper-proof identification, but nothing replaces a collar with up-to-date identification tags. If a pet has a collar with tags on when it’s lost, it’s often a very quick process to read the tag and contact the owner. Remember, it only works if the information on the tags are accurate and up-to-date. If a pet is not wearing a collar and tags, or if the collar is lost or removed, then the presence of a microchip might be the only way the pet’s owner can be found.
The shelter should have scanned the animal and be able to tell you if it is microchipped or not. Some shelters implant microchips into every animal that gets adopted. Check with the shelter if the pet has a microchip, get the number and register it in your name. Most veterinary clinics have microchip scanners and can scan your new pet for a microchip when you take your new pet to the vet.
Although it’s very rare, microchips can fail and become undetectable by a scanner. Problems with the actual scanners are also possible. Human error can also lead to a microchip not being found, for instance: the microchip might have migrated a few centimeters down towards the leg and the person scanning for the microchip is only scanning between the shoulder-blades (where it gets implanted). Some of the animal-related factors include animals that won’t stay still or struggle too much while being scanned, the animal having long, matted hair near the microchip implantation site, excessive fat deposits in the region of implantation and a metal collar.
Your pet will need to be implanted with an ISO microchip before it will be allowed into that country. But countries differ widely on their importation rules, including various regulations about required vaccinations and quarantine periods once the animal enters that country. By doing research beforehand your pet’s relocation can go smoothly. Contact the country to determine their requirements regarding microchips as well as vaccinations, certificates, etc. When your animal is in the new country, remember to link the microchip number to a company there.
Once your pet is microchipped, there are three things you need to do:
1) make sure the microchip is registered.
2) ask your veterinarian to scan your pet’s microchip at least once per year to make sure the microchip is still functioning and can be detected.
3) keep your registration information up-to-date. If you’ve moved, or if any of your information (especially your phone number) has changed, make sure you update your microchip registration in the database as soon as possible.
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