Microchip Implants

Microchips are tiny devices that are implanted under the skin to help identify the pet, should they become lost. The chip, about the size of a large grain of rice, uses passive RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology to provide permanent identification such as the pet's breed, sex, age and owner's name and address, along with a special code number. Since approximately half of all lost animals are found at shelters without a collar, the microchip implant provides peace of mind for the pet owner.

Reasons for Microchip Implants

Microchips are now used by kennels, breeders, rescue groups, humane societies, farms, stables, and pet stores.

Microchips are implanted in animals for a number of reasons. Many shelters implant microchips in all outplaced animals, to ensure the welfare of the pet. Certain types of exotic imported animals must also be microchipped.

Most animal shelters, animal control officers and veterinarians routinely look for microchips to return lost pets quickly to their owners, avoiding expenses for food, medical care, housing, outplacing and euthanasia.

Some pet doors can be programmed to recognize specific animals and prevent others from passing through.

The Microchip Implant Procedure

The implanting procedure is much like receiving a routine vaccination, and animals can't feel it afterward. No anesthetic is required.

The pet owner first completes an enrollment form with chip ID, owner contact information, pet name and description, shelter or veterinarian contact information, and an alternate emergency contact. The form is then sent to a registry. For a fee, the registry typically provides location service for the life of the pet (or 25 years).

The microchip is inserted through injection under loose skin. Cats and dogs are implanted on the back of the neck; birds are implanted in the breast muscles; and horses are implanted in the left neck. The chip also has an anti-migration cap that prevents movement within the body. The information on the chip can be read with the use of a hand-held scanner that is available at most veterinary practices or animal shelters. A test scan ensures correct operation. While similar information is found on a microchip on the collar, a microchip implant provides a permanent and more secure form of identification.

Thanks to this new technology, retrieving missing and lost pets can be much easier than ever before. If your pet is picked up as a stray, it can easily be returned to you.

Considerations of Microchip Implantation

There is a very rare risk of the microchips migrating within the animal. Typically, the microchip will attach itself to subcutaneous tissue within 24 hours of implantation.

Currently, there is not a national registry or network of registries for pets. Universal scanners can detect a competing company's chip, but they may not be able to read the data. Additionally, if animal clinic personnel don't use the scanner properly, they may fail to detect a chip.

Currently, some chip companies will register pets with any brand of chip; it may be recommended to register the pet with several companies.

It is necessary to update address and contact information any time there is a move; otherwise, the chip will be useless. It is also necessary to update the registry contact information for a change of ownership. A small fee may also be charged to process the update.

Additional Resources