How Do Dog Microchips Work? | Canna-Pet®

Panic and fear. 

These are the two emotions everyone feels when a pet goes missing. The thought of your furry best friend wandering the streets alone leaves you terrified. While you may not be able to prevent your dog from performing the great escape, you can make returning him home a little bit easier. 

You’re terrified until you remember you took all the necessary steps to get him home safely. The first round of defense is your dog’s collar. Your dog should always be wearing tags with your phone number on it so if something happens, whoever finds him can call you. If your worst nightmare occurs and your dog runs off without a collar or it slips off while he’s on the run, a microchip could save you from never seeing your best friend again. As technology advances, the ability to ensure your dog’s safe return increases. Most pet owners and shelters will pay to have microchips implanted into their dogs. These tiny transponders can be scanned, your information relayed to the scanner and the crisis averted. This extra level of protection is key in keeping your dog safe. If you are wondering, “How do dog microchips work?”, this blog post is for you. 

What is a Pet Microchip and How Does it Work?

The microchip inserted into your pet’s skin is a radio-frequency identification transponder made to store your dog’s unique ID number. When a veterinarian or pet rescue worker uses the microchip scanner, the ID number is revealed and they must call the microchip registry to retrieve your contact information. Most shelters and veterinarian offices have these microchip scanners on premises for this reason.

These tiny transponders in your pet are incredibly small and held together in a bio glass capsule. They have anti-migration technology so the microchips never move, but stay in place under your pet’s skin once they bond within the first 24 hours of insertion. These microchips are not GPS trackers and work by emitting a frequency with the ID number. Multiple chips in one dog can cause them to malfunction. The microchips are designed to last for up to 25 years and require no battery source. 

Are There Different Types of Microchips?

Yes, there are two main types of microchips. There are the non-ISO standard, 125 kHz microchips and ISO standard, 134 kHz microchips. The difference between the two chips is the frequency they emit. Your pet can have both of these chips at once if you’d like, because a universal scanner will recognize both and their frequencies won’t cancel each other out like what would happen if two of the same frequency were implanted.  Since different companies use different frequencies, it is important that most businesses have the universal scanner.

Certain countries require a specific type of microchip for your pet. While the United States generally uses the ISO standard microchips, other countries require the non-ISO standard type. Recently, the ISO standard microchip has been recognized as the global standard. If you are moving to a new country, always call ahead to ensure you have the correct type implanted in your pet before you leave. It’s also important because some countries have different vaccines and quarantine periods required before entry to the country.

Where and How Do You Get Your Dog Microchipped? 

If you are thinking about getting your dog microchipped, it is a simple process. Take your dog to your veterinarian and they should be able to help you. Most vet offices have microchips they can insert for you. Some shelters in your area may also have the technology to assist you in microchipping your dog. Make sure you go to a professional for this procedure; while it looks easy, if implanted wrong, can cause problems such as health issues for your dog. After the dog microchip has been implanted under the skin, there is no recovery time and the only maintenance is having it checked every now and then during veterinarian visits to ensure the chip still scans correctly. Always keep an eye on the injection site for any unusual healing. 

The actual procedure of implanting the microchip is quite simple. It is similar to getting your dog vaccinated. The veterinarian has a supply of sterile applicators and chips and inject the microchip into the skin between your dog’s shoulder blades. He should not feel any more pain than a routine shot. The procedure does not require any anesthesia or pain medication. The entire process only takes a minute and even less if your dog is easy going at the veterinarian. 

Registering Your Microchip 

Getting your dog chipped is not enough! After your dog has the microchip implanted into his back, it is up to you to register your information to the ID number. You have to complete the paperwork your veterinarian gives you with all of your current contact information. After this is complete, you will send it into the registry or possibly fill it out online if you choose. When the paperwork is processed, the microchip company will send you a dog tag to attach to your dog’s collar, telling people he is chipped. This way, if he goes missing, whoever finds him will know to take him to a vet and have him scanned. This service is accompanied by an annual fee you must pay. Always be sure to update your information such as cell phone numbers and addresses in the case of a move.

Your information will always be stored in your company’s database. Unfortunately, every microchip company has a separate database. There is no universal database, but your veterinarian will run your ID number through as many different ones as possible if your dog is found. Competing companies also use different frequencies, which means there is no universal frequency. Luckily, a universal scanner was recently developed and almost all companies, clinics and shelters have one in case of emergency. If you do not know what brand your microchip is, contact your veterinarian and they will be able to look it up for you. In fact, most shelters will chip all of their dogs free of cost before they are adopted. If you do adopt a shelter dog, you’ll have to contact the company to update your new dog’s forever home information in their database. 

Don’t worry, only certain people can access the database, so your information is safe from prying eyes and cannot be used to track you or your movements.

Why Should You Microchip Your Dog?  

Having your dog chipped could be the difference between getting your dog back home and never seeing him again. While it may sound dramatic, if your dog goes missing without a collar or loses it while he’s gone, there is no way to identify him without one. According to a study done by the American Veterinary Medical Association, out of 7,700 stray animals, 52.2% of the time dogs with microchips were returned to their owners while the dogs without them were only returned 21.9% of the time. The dogs that were implanted with microchips that were not returned were due to the failure to register a dog’s microchip or if they did not update their information after a move. 

The microchip does not replace regular dog tags as identification. The classic collar and tags is the quickest and easiest way to get your dog identified and home safe to you. You also need to have your dog’s rabies tag on the collar as well, as the number can help track you down. If a vet office does not have a universal scanner or the chip is scanned incorrectly, the collar is the best way to let them know who your dog is and how to contact you.

Are There Health Concerns With Microchips?

Some pet owners may wonder if inserting a small computer into their dog comes along with health concerns but the risks are quite small. The microchips are made of biocompatible materials that do not degenerate over time and won’t break down in your dog’s system. Because they do not move from the insertion site, the microchip will last their whole lifetime and not disturb their systems. Other owners have concerns that the microchip could cause cancer, but the risks of this are extremely low and the process of removing a microchip has far worse long-term health complications. 

At the end of the day, your pet’s safety is king so be sure to get your dog chipped today and lower the risk of losing your best friend on four legs.


“Get the Facts About Microchipping | HomeAgain Pet Microchip.”,

“High Tech: Identifying Lost Pets with Microchips.” The Humane Society of the United States,

“How Do Pet Microchips Work?” Petfinder,

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