When it’s good to be chippy!

Photo courtesy of Abiah Brown

Photo courtesy of Abiah Brown

At least once or twice a week we get calls about people who have lost their pets and our lost pet board is always full.  It’s crucial to try and reunite owner and pet in a timely manner. One of the easiest ways to do this is by having your pet microchipped.

What does microchipping entail?

Any of our veterinarians are able to implant a microchip. A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice (12mm) and is placed in between your pet’s shoulder blades. The reason for this placement is that it is universally done by all animal hospitals and facilities; if your pet were to be lost and brought in to a place with a microchip scanner, the chip would immediately be discovered. While the needle to place the microchip is very large, your pet most likely will experience a pinch similar to when they get their blood drawn. Often times owners opt to get the chip when their pet is getting spayed or neutered to avoid any discomfort.

How does it work?

Once the microchip is implanted in your pet, you will need to register with the company. This is very important because if your pet were to become lost, this is the way for the company to contact you. With the majority of the microchip companies, there is a one-time registration fee. For example, with the one-time charge with Home Again, for the first year owners have access to rapid lost pet alerts, travel assistance for found pets, lost pet specialists and 24/7 pet medical emergency hotline. After the initial year has passed, owners have the option to renew these “extra” benefits. If owners decide not to renew, their pet’s microchip number will still be active and help reunite you with your lost pet.

Microchips do not require a battery. When the scanner passes over the microchip, the radiowaves activate the chip. Then your pet’s microchip number pops up on the scanner’s screen. Depending on which microchip your pet has, the appropriate company can be called if your pet is ever lost.  

What company is the best for my pet?

The three major microchip companies are 24PetWatch, Avid and HomeAgain. Here at Blum Animal Hospital, we use HomeAgain because they are up to ISO standard, which means the International Standards Organization has approved this microchip and it is valid for international travel. If you travel with your pet to another country and your pet was lost, the ISO standard scanners overseas would be able to read your furry family member’s microchip.

Any microchip company that you chose is great! It means if your pet is lost you have a greater chance of reuniting since your information can be accessed via the microchip. According to a 2009 American Veterinary Medical Association study, of the 7,700 lost animals that showed up at animal shelters, 21.9% of dogs and 1.8% of cats that did not have microchips were returned to their owners. On the other hand, 52.2% of dogs and 38.5% of cats with microchips were successfully reunited with their owners. Microchipping definitely can make a difference!

If your pet is currently microchipped, and you cannot remember which chip you have, you can go to:  http://www.petmicrochiplookup.org/, which will give you the name of the company.

Written for Blum Animal Hospital by Jackie Sheppard.