One of the most effective means of protecting your dog or cat from being lost or stolen is microchipping them. The month of May is “Chip Your Pet Month” so we wanted to write about the benefits of protecting your pet by microchipping them.
The American Humane Society estimates over 10 million dogs or cats are reported lost each year. Unfortunately, a large percentage of those lost pets are never returned to their owner. There could be a number of reasons for the failure to reunite, but top of the list is the inability to identify and contact the owner.
Let’s take a closer look at what a “microchip” is and how the process of microchipping your pet works.
Microchips are tiny computer chips, about the size of a grain of rice. They are implanted under your pet’s skin by a veterinarian using a large bore needle without anesthesia, similar to a simple vaccination. Each microchip carries a registration number that is associated with the owner’s name and contact information. This information is added to a pet registry service offered by the chip manufacturer.
The registry information on the chips can be read using a handheld reader that displays the information so that the owner can be identified. Most shelters and veterinarians have these readers and can scan the pet and contact the owner if the pet is lost. One limitation is that the readers are not universal, so it’s best to get your pet chipped with a common brand so the likelihood that the chip can be read is increased.
Benefits of Microchipping:
- Most pet owners buy their dogs and cats collars and add a name tag with the pet’s name and their phone number. These are great, but outdated. They can easily break, fall off, or even the name or phone number can wear off of the tag over time. The microchip is permanent and can’t be separated from the pet.
- If your dog or cat is lost or stolen, the chip and it’s registration is definitive proof of ownership. This is particularly helpful in the case of stolen pets when ownership might be in dispute.
- A chip greatly increases the likelihood that your pet will be returned to you if they are lost. Several recent studies show that cats with microchips are 20 times more likely to be returned to their owner and chipped dogs are returned 2.5 more than unchipped dogs. That’s a pretty significant difference and with over 10 million pets being lost each year, you want to do everything you can to ensure your pet finds its way back to your home.
- Some chip manufacturers are enhancing the chips capabilities and adding functionality. Innovations we have seen is the ability to program the chip to open your dog door only when your dog approaches. This can be helpful in keeping out stray critters that may find their way into your home. Some manufacturers also offer lost pet alerting services and even travel assistance for folks who like to take their pets along on their holiday.
- Finally, microchips last a lifetime. Once implanted, you don’t have to worry about them, although it is a good idea to have your vet scan your pet each year to guard against any malfunction.
Since May is Microchip your Pet Month, many veterinarians are offering special pricing for this service. Microchipping is fairly inexpensive ($40-$50), especially when you consider the cost of losing your family pet.