The importance of microchipping dogs

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Dogs are man's best friend - they provide so much love, happiness and companionship. The only problem is that humans often don't have a way to identify their dog if it gets lost or stolen.

This can be especially problematic if the dog has medical issues, as vets need to know what medication your pet needs, which you won't know without its name or microchip number.

The new trend in pet care is microchipping dogs, which will allow you to find your furry friend with ease should he ever go missing!



What is a microchip for dogs


If you didn't know, a microchip is a small rice-sized chip implanted under your dog's skin, usually behind the ears or in the scruff of the neck.

The chip stores an identification number that is linked to your contact information.

This way, if your dog ever gets lost and is brought to a shelter or vet clinic, they will be able to scan the chip and get in touch with you immediately.



How do pet microchips work?


The microchip systems in your dog has two main parts: the microchip itself, and the database where it's records are stored.


Microchip


The scanner sends out a radio frequency that activates the chip.

The chip then transmits its unique ID number back to the scanner, which displays the owner's contact information on the screen.

Don't worry - it doesn't require a power source, and it only activates when your dog is scanned with a special scanner.

So, there also isn't a radiation risk to your dog - it's very safe.

Also, you only need to microchip your dog once. This procedure only needs to be done once, and will last your dog's entire lifetime.


Database


The data is also saved to a database where these records are maintained.

Unfortunately, there isn't a unified database worldwide (or even countrywide) - some databases are government owned, while others are privately owned.

To know which database your vet clinic uses, you'll have to ask them.

The real downside is that if the database they use is for a localized state or region, you'll need to register your dog in the other regions as well, if you're planning on moving.

For example, if I'm from California, and I want to move to Texas, the databases may be different, and the Texas vets may find it difficult to get your dog's previous medical histories from the microchip.

However, recently there have been attempts made for a search tool that can search across the different databases in the United States for your pet's data.

You can find that tool here.


How much does it cost to microchip a dog?


Most veterinary clinics offer this service for around $40-$60, with the average being about $45.

The microchip stores important data, such as your contact information and the chip's unique ID, so that it can be traced back to you.



Is microchipping my dog safe?


It is very safe.

In fact, the procedure takes about five minutes to perform, and no anesthesia is required at all - the vet simply injects the tiny microchip into the scruff of your dog's neck.


What is important to note is that there is no GPS system embedded into the chip, which means your dog is NOT tracked.


Where can I get my dog microchipped?


Usually, vet clinics offer this service, as well as some animal shelters - you'll have to ask the staff if the shelter you're adopting your dog from has that service though.

It's quick, easy and relatively painless - most dogs hardly feel the pain when they get the implant.

Essentially, it's a procedure that uses an injection needle to insert it into your dog, and can even be done on routine vet visits.


If you're adopting from a dog shelter, you might not even need to microchip your new dog - it might already have had one previously!


What data is stored in a microchip


The standard ones usually store your dog's identification number that is linked to you, and your contact information (your address, phone number etc).

There are also more advanced types of microchip implants for dogs that store their medical histories, drug allergies and whatever important information a vet may need to assess your dog, at any clinic.

It's very useful if you don't want to carry around a lot of paper of your dog's medical health to different vets, if you cross states, or migrate to different countries.


However, that technology is currently being developed by companies, and is not ready for universal use yet.



Lost pet statistics


  • More than 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the U.S. every year (a rough estimation from the American Humane Association).
  • One in three pets will become lost at some point during its lifetime.
  • About 22 percent of lost dogs that enter animal shelters are reunited with their families, but the rate of return for microchipped dogs is more than 52 percent, which is a 238 percent increase (according to a study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association).
  • Less than 2 percent of lost cats that enter animal shelters are reunited with their families, but the rate of return for microchipped cats is more than 38 percent, which is a 2,000 percent increase (the same study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association).


The statistics are not great news for a lot of pet owners, which leads us to the most important point in this article...


Why you should microchip your dog


After all that is said above, we're obviously advocating for your dogs to be microchipped.

Yes, some dogs are definitely capable of finding their way home, but not every dog is able to. 

If you happen to find a lost dog, one of the fastest ways of getting the dog back to it's owner is for a vet to scan it's microchip for the owner's contact details, if the collar does not have that information.


It's a painless, easy and quick process that could potentially save your furry friend's life one day.

Most importantly, it gives you peace of mind when you're out and about with your dog - something all pet owners deserve.



Conclusion


So there you have it!

The many reasons why you should microchip your dog, and probably the most important is that you can find your dog if they ever get lost.

And if you're still on the fence about this procedure, we suggest talking to your vet clinic or animal shelter about the benefits of doing so.


It may just be the best decision you ever make for your beloved pup.





about the author

Frank Harrigan

Frank loves tacos and dogs - the good, bad and ugly sides of dog ownership.


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