We’ve all heard about how important it is to microchip our pets, but what exactly is a microchip? And what do they do? We’ve asked an expert to help explain the science behind microchipping and how they help find our pets, below.
What are Microchips?
A microchip is very small chip, equivalent in size to a grain of rice, that stores critical information about a pet’s owner to help reunite them in case their animal is stolen or lost, said Cindi Cox, DVM at the MAPCA-Angell Shalit-Glazer clinic in Boston. The technology works the same way as a bar code scanner in your local grocery store does, with your information stored on the chip as a barcode number that can be scanned and read by veterinary hospitals and animal shelters equipped with scanners.
The chip is inserted underneath your pet’s skin using a sterile needle. Dogs and cats usually have the chip inserted between their shoulder blades so that vets can easily read the information stored on them and feel very little during the insertion process. “They typically react no more than they would with a vaccination,” Cox says. As with any injection, inflammation around the injection site may happen, causing a bit of a bulge around the area where the chip is inserted. Infections as a result of microchipping are very rare, Cox says.
Microchips are used to reunite lost pets that are brought to shelters, veterinarian hospitals or any facility that has a scanner and can read the information stored with your pet.
“Dozens of lost pets are reunited with their owners every year after these animals come to the MSPCA’s shelters,” Cox says. “We can scan them and find out who owns them.”
Why Microchip Your Pet
Unlike a collar, tag or leash, microchips can never fall off your pet. As long as you keep your contact information updated, you can feel confident that you’re utilizing the microchip properly to do everything you can to prevent your pet from ever becoming lost, Cox says. While collars and identification tags are still recommended as a visible, easy form of identification for your pet, stray animals are routinely scanned by animal control facilities and shelters with the hopes of reuniting lost pets with missing identification tags.
“Microchips have reunited animals with their owners that wouldn’t have happened without the chip,” Cox says.
Tell us: have you been reunited with your pet by a microchip? Has your pet been microchipped?
Learn more about microchips here.
AntonioGravante via Shutterstock