Having a pet go missing isn’t one of the most pleasant things to consider, but an estimated one in three pets go missing in their lifetimes. The reasons for this are varied; some pets are prone to wandering (especially outdoor cats and dogs) while others may just see an opportunity when a gate is left open.

The point is that escapes happen even when you take all the right precautions. This is why microchipping your pet is so important. Microchipping is one of the most effective ways you can ensure a reunion with a pet who is lost or stolen. Even better, it’s a quick and cost effective procedure that is safe for all pets.

What is a Microchip?

Although it sounds techy, a microchip is simply a tiny transponder the size of a grain of rice. Unlike GPS, a microchip cannot track your pet’s whereabouts, and it only emits a signal when used in conjunction with a microchip scanner. The microchip itself is encased in a biocompatible capsule that is inserted in the dermal layer between the shoulder blades.

Most microchips are now designed to adhere to surrounding tissues, but even the older generation chips do not typically move or shift around and cannot become “lost” inside the body.

Roughly equivalent to receiving a vaccine, implanting a microchip using a hypodermic needle is a quick process that yields minimal (if any) pain. Once the chip is implanted, it will generally last for a lifetime, requiring no additional implants.

How Does Microchipping Work?

After the microchip is implanted, you will then be given a form to complete with the details about your pet, as well as your contact information. This is then sent to the manufacturer and included in a registry. As stated, a microchip does not emit signals unless it is scanned by a corresponding reader. This allows it to be effective without the use of a battery or power source. When scanned, the chip sends out a low wave radio signal telling the scanner your pet’s unique identification number.

It’s critical that you complete the information form and send it in right away to ensure the microchip’s purpose, which is to reunite you with your pet should he or she go missing. Sadly, an estimated 50% or more of pet owners do not submit or maintain their contact information, which makes the procedure ineffective. We definitely want to stress that the microchip is only as useful as the information you provide and keep up-to-date.

When a pet becomes lost, he or she will often be taken to an animal shelter or veterinary clinic to be scanned for the owner’s information. Most rescue facilities and veterinary clinics, including Dickinson Animal Hospital, have this scanner on hand.

Preventing a Missing Pet Scare

Along with having your pet microchipped, other ways to prevent a lost pet scenario include:

  • Keeping all pets indoors during loud events, which includes parties, fireworks, and thunderstorms
  • Ensuring all household cats and dogs have collars with current ID tags
  • Fixing any holes or gaps in backyard fencing
  • Installing escape-proof perimeter fencing for dogs who like to jump or dig
  • Having your pet spayed or neutered, since intact pets often try to roam

If you have any questions about microchipping or addressing behavioral issues that contribute to pet escape, please call us.