Microchipping Your Dog
April 19 to 25 is National Pet ID Week! Your dog may be a regular Houdini, or she may be the biggest homebody in the world, but you always want to make sure she has her identification because you just never know when she might become separated from you.
In many places, a rabies tag and a city license are required accessories for dogs. These are a great help in a lot of cases – the person who finds your dog can simply call the city or the veterinarian on the tag in order to start the process to find you. A custom ID tag with your direct contact information is also a great idea.
But there are times when a dog can become separated from her collar – and that’s why it’s important to consider a microchip for your dog. Microchips are permanent, and the number can’t wear off over time the way it can with a tag.
They’re not perfect, of course. The main drawback is that the person who finds your dog can’t read the microchip. The dog has to visit animal control, a veterinarian, or the city so she can be scanned. It’s also true that some brands of scanners can’t read some brands of chip – however, most humane societies and animal shelters now have universal microchip readers, so this is becoming less of an issue.
Even with the drawbacks, research shows that microchips are still your best bet! A study of 7,700 animals at shelters found that dogs with a microchip were able to go home 52.2% of the time, compared to only 21.9% for dogs without a microchip. The same study found that the majority of cases where they could not find the families of microchipped dogs were due to outdated information in the registry database.
So here’s the scoop on microchipping your dog:
- A microchip is tiny – about the size of a grain of rice – and is injected between the shoulder blades using a sharp needle or application gun. It is quick and nearly painless to do.
- The microchip is a transponder that is encoded with a unique identification number. Like a license plate, the number is registered in a database with your contact information.
- If your dog is scanned for a chip, the scanner reads the number that is coded on it. The person doing the scan contacts the registry with the number.
- Depending on how you filled out the registration, the chip company will either contact you directly in the ways that you specified, or release your contact information to the person who scanned your dog’s microchip.
As you can see, it is absolutely crucial that you check the information you provide when you or your veterinarian registers your dog’s microchip to make sure that it’s accurate. It’s also essential that you update it if you move, change telephone numbers, or any other information changes. Most microchip companies ask for an emergency back-up number in case you can’t be reached – it’s a great idea to make this person a friend or family member. Even if they don’t live nearby, they can get in touch with you if all else fails.
Microchipping your dog is a great way to make sure your dog can find her way home, even if she’s separated from her other ID. Even if the risk that you’ll be separated is low, the consequences if it were to happen are too awful to contemplate – if you’ve ever spent a moment panicking when you couldn’t find your furry best friend, you’ll know it’s totally worth