Microchipping & Your Pets

When lost pets are found, the first call should be to animal control in the town or city where they were found, so that the pet can be scanned for a microchip. Using the information on a microchip, animal care facilities are often able to reunite lost pets with their families quickly.

However, not all the lost dog and cat stories have such a happy ending. This is why it’s so important to have your dog or cat microchipped.

There are so many more people working from or just spending more time at home these days and more pets than ever are getting adopted. All new (and not so new!) pet parents should make sure their pet has a microchip and that the information connected with the chip, like their phone number and address, is up-to-date. It’s great to have your cat or dog microchipped but, that’s just the first step. You need to be sure that all your contact information is up to date so when some nice person takes your lost pet to a veterinarian or shelter, they can use their special scanner and your pet can find its way home!  This is especially important because the chip doesn’t have your name and phone number on it, it only has a code number on it and whoever scans that chip has to look up the number on a computer.

Now, if you still have some questions about microchipping, I’ll tell you what I’ve learned about it. First, it doesn’t hurt your pet to have a microchip placed.  It’s an injection, just like when he gets a vaccination. Okay, that might hurt a little bit, only for a second and they usually get a treat afterward. You might think it is expensive but many organizations and animal shelters hold low-cost microchipping events so you should check where you live to see what’s available.

You might think that your pet doesn’t need a microchip because he wears a collar with tags. Sometimes collars can fall off or the tags get scratched and the information is not readable. Microchips are permanent. They can’t fall off and they are always readable – if you have a scanner, that is!  Microchips are not tracking devices, so you won’t be able to see what adventures your pet has been on once they get home, but the chip will help ensure that they do get home to you!  Also, you only need to get your pet microchipped once in their life. The chips are permanent and that’s another reason it’s so important to keep all your contact information updated. So if you are planning to move, this is a good item to put on your moving checklist.

If you have a cat, you might be thinking, “My cat doesn’t go outside or go very far, so I don’t really need to get her a microchip.” Not necessarily true. Most cats don’t wear a collar (or have pockets) so they really don’t have much in the way of identification. A recent study showed that less than 2% of cats without a microchip were returned to their homes but a cat with a microchip is 20 times more likely to be returned to their family!*  Twenty times – I like that number much more – and I’m sure your cat will too! Even if your cat is an indoor cat, there are times when your cat could get outside – cats are curious and they can be pretty good at finding their way out if they see something they want to check out – they might even see a bird they want to chase (although I get nervous just thinking about that!)

There are many databases where you can register your pet’s microchip but, the one that is most important is the one from the manufacturer of your pet’s microchip. The American Animal Hospital Association’s (AAHA) Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool is linked to most of the microchip manufacturers, as well as Michelson Found Animals Registry, which is a free microchip registry, as well as many other public databases which makes reuniting you with your lost pet even easier.

By now, we think you will agree that getting a microchip for your dog or cat is a really good idea – and when you do, don’t forget to keep all your information up-to-date so your pet can find his way home if he or she gets lost or loose.

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