Despite the best precautions, sometimes the proverbial call of the wild coaxes a dog right through an open gate, side door, or under a loose section of fencing. Particularly mischievous dogs may even make their “Houdini” routine a regular occurrence, leading to worry and anxiety for their owners. Microchips, tiny pieces of tech placed harmlessly under the skin, can help alleviate fears of wandering dogs, but only if they’re correctly registered.
Getting Your Dog Microchipped
Microchips are a common “must-have” for responsible dog owners, right alongside neutering/spaying or canine as well as vaccinations. A dog microchip is so small that it can be implanted with a hypodermic needle, allowing the procedure to happen in mere minutes during a normal vet appointment.
Most dog owners prefer to microchip their dogs during other medical procedures, such as spaying or neutering, as their pup is already under anesthesia and won’t struggle or protest to a needle stick. The microchip itself is roughly the size of a grain of rice and safely tucked inside a small, sturdy glass shell built to withstand placement under your dog’s skin. In fact, it’s so unobtrusive that once it’s injected, there’s no way to detect he’s been microchipped without a scanner.
How Does Dog Microchipping Work?
Don’t know how dog microchips work? The process is really quite simple. Whenever a lost, tag-less dog ends up at a vet’s office or a shelter through the work of a good samaritan or animal control, the first thing the staff will do is scan for a microchip. They’ll use a small handheld scanner and run it over the body of the dog in question, not unlike the wand metal detectors used in security at an airport. The microchip implant does not have a power source to read, but rather a radio frequency that corresponds to the identity number of the chip. The scanner will “read” the number and present it to the staff member, enabling them to look it up online.
Because the chip is implanted and the exact manufacturer isn’t necessarily a given, vet offices and shelters use database tools to enable them to search many manufacturers at once. When a match is found, they can then contact the owner to come and retrieve their wayward canine.
What To Know Post-Microchipping
The microchip implanted in a canine companion will have 9, 10, or 15 digits, depending on the manufacturer of the chip. A common myth is that the chip itself has the owner’s information stored on it – this is incorrect. The only thing “stored” on the chip is this number, and the real effort behind reuniting lost pets with their owners actually comes from diligent registration.
Once pet parents have established the microchip’s identity number, they must go online to the manufacturer’s website and enter in pertinent information. The vet or clinic providing the microchipping service will be able to offer both the website and chip ID number immediately after implantation to ensure speedy registry. If the owner fails to register the microchip, the only information a well-meaning neighbor, vet, or shelter will have is an identity number that leads to nothing – no name, address, phone number, or even a pet name. This is the reason why registration is so important for reuniting with one’s pup in the event of an “unscheduled walk.”
Tips on How to Register a Dog’s Microchip
Modern convenience has made it easier than ever to keep things the same, no matter where a family or individuals (and their pets) may move – cell phone numbers, email addresses, and so on. Microchip registries have a way of falling through the cracks, however, and updates may slip an owner’s mind in the midst of moving. If a microchip registry isn’t updated, the vet office or clinic with a lost dog may not be able to get ahold of his owners in a timely fashion. To prevent forgetting this important step, leave a brightly-colored reminder post-it note on whatever object that’s likely to move last – in between a mattress and box spring, for example. If the brand of microchip allows for it, pet parents may also want to add information that’s unlikely to change, such as an email address.
Additionally, if the family dog needs to be rehomed or relocated for any reason (even if he’s just staying with a relative or friend for a while), be sure to update the registry information. Whether fur-baby folks are overseas, serving with the military, or otherwise unavailable, the chip registry should lead to someone available to retrieve the owner’s dog immediately.
Ensuring Your Dog’s Whereabouts & Safety
A microchip is a pet parent’s best defense against accidentally losing a cherished pup to a shelter or a mistaken “good samaritan” adoption. Finally, if a dog is a particularly in-demand breed, that tiny little chip can also be crucial to proving legal ownership of one’s pooch, ensuring canine companions and their loving owners are truly inseparable.
“The Importance Of Microchipping | Learn all about microchips and why they are essential to protecting your pet.” AKC Reunite.org, (no publish date), http://www.akcreunite.org/importance//. Accessed June 23, 2019.
“Registering your pet’s microchip.” Animal Human Society.org, (no publish date), https://www.animalhumanesociety.org/adoption/registering-your-pets-microchip. Accessed June 23, 2019.
“FAQs for AAHA Universal Microchip Lookup Tool.” Pet Microchip Lookup.org, (no publish date), http://www.petmicrochiplookup.org/faqs.aspx. Accessed June 23, 2019.
“The Tiny Microchip Has a Big Job.” Microchip Registration Center.com, (no publish date), https://microchipregistrationcenter.com/learn-more/. Accessed June 23, 2019.