What is a microchip?
Microchips are tiny transponders, not much larger than a grain of rice, that are permanently implanted under a pet’s skin. Click here to learn about microchips 101.
How does a microchip work?
Microchips contain a unique identification number that identifies your pet when read with a compatible scanner. The veterinarian or shelter worker then calls the microchip’s database registry to retrieve guardian contact information. Of course, for microchips to work as intended, you have to register the microchip and keep your contact information up-to-date.
Who has a microchip scanner?
All animal shelters and veterinary hospitals have microchip scanners. When an animal is brought to a shelter, he is immediately scanned to check for a microchip and determine if he's someone’s pet.
Does a microchip hurt?
Microchips are placed under your pet’s skin with a needle and syringe, it’s a lot like getting a routine vaccine. Most animals tolerate having a microchip implanted extremely well. No anesthetic is required.
Do microchips cause cancer?
There is currently no evidence that microchips cause cancer in dogs or cats.
My animal has a collar and ID tag. Does he still need a microchip?
While collars and ID tags are essential and can help ensure a speedy reunion if your pet gets lost, they are not a guarantee your pet will be found and brought back home. Collars and ID tags can fall off or break when a cat climbs a tree or a dog plays in a bush. Microchips can never break or fall-off.
If my cat is strictly indoors, does he really need a microchip?
YES!!! I strongly believe that every animal should wear a collar with ID tags AND have a microchip — this includes indoor-only cats. All it takes is an open door or window for an indoor-only cat to sneak out and then become lost. Why risk losing your beloved pet? Take advantage of this technology and microchip all of your animals.
What if I move and my pet has a microchip?
If you move or your phone number changes, it’s important to notify the microchip company so that your information remains up to date in the database registry. Remember, a microchip is essentially useless unless your contact information is current and accurate.
Is there a fee to register the chip?
Some microchip registries charge a one-time database fee; others charge an annual fee and some have no fee at all. BUT remember, this is a small price to pay to help insure your lost pet is returned to you.
Where do I get a microchip?
Microchips are available at veterinary offices and shelters. Most shelters place a microchip in all of their animals when they get adopted, so if you got your pet from a shelter, chances are he already has a microchip.
What if your pet is re-homed?
If you re-home your pet, you will need to call the chip registry and notify them of the change. The new guardian will then need to update the contact information.
Prevent your pet from becoming one of the many unidentified pets at shelters by ensuring they all wear a collar, an ID tag and have a microchip. No matter how careful you are, you can never be completely sure that your animal won’t escape and get lost. Take every precaution to insure that if your pet gets lost, he has the best chance of coming home to you.
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian -- they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
If you have found a lost pet in the City and County of Denver, you are welcome to bring the animal to the Denver Animal Shelter during business hours. After regular business hours, the Denver Animal Shelter provides 10 night drop-off boxes for found pets. The night drop-off boxes are located to the left of the shelter's Lost and Found entrance.
If you have found a lost pet in the City and County of Denver and would like the animal picked up by an animal protection officer, contact theВ Denver 311 Help CenterВ at 720-913-1311. You must be of 18 years of age and home for approximately two hours for an officer to respond. Animal protection offiers will not be dispatched to pick up strays or stray holds after 9 p.m.
If you have found a pet with identification tags and would like to try and contact the pet owner, contact the City and County of Denver 311 Help CenterВ at 720-913-1311. An animal protection staff member will return your call to assist in the tag trace.
If you have found a pet with a microchip tag that indicated the dog or cat has been microchipped, you can use theВ Universal Microchip Lookup Tool to trace the microchip number.
Microchipping – FAQs
We at Big Lick Vet know how much you care about your pet and recommend they be microchipped in case the unexpected occurs. Don’t know much about microchipping but would like to learn more? The following are frequently asked questions regarding microchipping that we think will help you better understand the process and why your pet should be microchipped.
What is a microchip? How does it work?
A microchip is a computer chip enclosed in a small glass cylinder (about the size of a grain of rice) that is injected under your pet’s skin as a means of identification. Each microchip is connected to an online registry of owner contact information. In the event that your pet is lost and taken to a shelter or veterinary hospital, he will be scanned for a microchip. Here at Big Lick Vet, we scan each patient that comes through our doors. If the contact information on file is up to date, you can be quickly notified and reunited with your pet.
How is the microchip implanted? Will it hurt my pet?
Implanting a microchip is quick, easy, and painless. Your veterinarian will inject the microchip under your pet’s skin between the shoulder blades. The injection is performed with a hypodermic needle that is slightly larger than those used for vaccinations. No anesthesia is required, though animals that are already anesthetized for procedures such as a neuter or spay might be microchipped at the same time.
How much of my information is accessible via microchip? Do I need to be concerned about my privacy?
The only information that will be accessible from your pet’s microchip is the contact information you provide to the manufacturer’s microchip registry. This information will be used to contact you in the event that your pet is found and his microchip is scanned. Any other personal information, including your pet’s health record or other medical information, will not be included.
My pet wears a collar with ID tags. Do I really need to microchip? Does my pet’s microchip replace his tags?
Collars and current tags are still the quickest and easiest way to identify a pet’s owner. Additionally, most cities also require pets to have both rabies tags and a city license—information that is not provided by a microchip.
However, collars and tags can become lost or damaged, making it difficult for animal control or shelter personnel to identify a pet’s owner. Using tags and a microchip together—and ensuring both are regularly updated—is the best way to ensure your pet’s safe return.
Is microchipping expensive?
While prices vary depending on veterinary hospital, here at Big Lick Vet, we charge $45. This includes the cost of microchip implantation as well as registration to enter your pet’s ID number in the microchip database, or to change your contact information. Feel free to reach out to Big Lick Vet for more information.
Does microchipping really help lost pets get home?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), “A study of more than 7,700 stray animals at animal shelters showed that dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 21.9 percent of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were returned to their owners 52.2 percent of the time. Cats without microchips were reunited with their owners only 1.8 percent of the time, whereas microchipped cats went back home 38.5 percent of the time.”
In the cases of those animals who were microchipped but weren’t returned to their owners, the AVMA states that this was primarily due to missing or incorrect owner information in the microchip databases.
Do microchips cause side effects?
According to a database maintained by the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA), over 4 million animals have been microchipped since 1996. Of those 4 million animals, only 391 have had adverse reactions. The most common problem reported is migration of the microchip from its original implantation site.
We offer microchipping here at Big Lick Veterinary Services! Come visit us today!
Microchipping FAQs - pets
Some (but not all) excerpts from: AMERICAN VETERINARY MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (AVMA) [emphases added]
Q: What is a microchip?
A: A microchip is a small, electronic chip enclosed in a glass cylinder that is about the same size as a grain of rice. The microchip itself does not have a battery—it is activated by a scanner that is passed over the area, and the radiowaves put out by the scanner activate the chip. The chip transmits the identification number to the scanner, which displays the number on the screen.
Q: How is a microchip implanted into an animal? Is it painful? Does it require surgery or anesthesia?
A: It is injected under the skin using a hypodermic needle. It is no more painful than a typical injection, although the needle is slightly larger than those used for injection. [Not much worse than when you mother pinched you in church for misbehaving. Although some pets, as we all know, have a little more "Drama Queen" in them than others.]
Q: What kind of information is contained in the microchip? Is there a tracking device in it? Will it store my pet's medical information?
A: The microchips presently used in pets only contain identification numbers. No, the microchip cannot track your animal if it gets lost it is NOT a GPS. Although the present technology microchip itself does not contain your pet's medical information, some microchip registration databases will allow you to store that information in the database for quick reference. There are, however, "bio-thermal" microchips which measure temperature, etc. We do not implant these.
Q: What do they mean by "microchip frequency?"
A: The frequency of a microchip actually refers to the frequency of the radiowave given off by the scanner that activates and reads the microchip. Examples of microchip frequencies used in the U.S. include 125 kiloHertz (kHz), 128 kHz, and 134.2 kHz.
Q: I've heard about something called "ISO standard." What does that mean?
A: The International Standards Organization, or ISO, has approved and recommended a global standard for microchips. The global standard is intended to create an identification system that is consistent worldwide. For example, if a dog was implanted with an ISO standard microchip in the U.S. travels to Europe with its owners and becomes lost, the ISO standard scanners in Europe would be able to read the dog's microchip. If the dog was implanted with a non-ISO microchip and the ISO scanner was not forward- and backward-reading (universal), the dog's microchip might not be detected or be read by the scanner.
The ISO standard frequency is 134.2 kHz. [Mobile Pet Microchipping uses the ISO standard frequency which allows you to take your pet overseas. We will also obtain a scanner for you if you are traveling to a country that requires you to bring your own scanner/reader however, we need a LOT of advance notice and a deposit of $320.00. The scanner/readers are available for rental at a cost of $10.00 per day. If the scanner is returned in its original condition, the deposit is refundable LESSthe daily rental fee of $10.00/daily. If the scanner is damaged or lost by renter, the deposit is non-refundable and no rental fees are assessed.]
- According to The National Center for Biotechnology Information [2008 Animal Quarantine]: Some countries, such as Japan, require ISO compliant [International Standards Organization] microchips on dogs and cats being brought into the country, or for the person bringing the pet into the country to also bring a microchip reader that can read the non-ISO-compliant microchip." World Small Animal Veterinary Association states: "Microchips are not in universal use, but there are legal requirements in some jurisdictions, such as the state of New South Wales, Australia.
Q: How does a microchip help reunite a lost animal with its owner?
A: When an animal is found and taken to a shelter or veterinary clinic, one of the first things they do is scan the animal for a microchip. If they find a microchip, and if the microchip registry has accurate information, they can quickly find the animal's owner.
Q: Will a microchip really make it more likely for me to get my pet back if it is lost?
A: Definitely! A study of more than 7,700 stray animals at animal shelters showed that dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 21.9% of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were returned to their owners 52.2% of the time. Cats without microchips were reunited with their owners only 1.8% of the time, whereas microchipped cats went back home 38.5% of the time. (Lord et al, JAVMA, July 15, 2009) For microchipped animals that weren't returned to their owners, most of the time it was due to incorrect owner information (or no owner information) in the microchip registry database.
Q: Does a microchip replace identification tags and rabies tags?
A: Absolutely not. Microchips are great for permanent identification that is tamper-proof, but nothing replaces a collar with up-to-date identification tags. except another collar and tag and so on. The microchip databases are online or telephone-accessed databases, and are available 24/7/365. Mobile Pet Microchipping includes a FurCode tag with every full service visit. If you want to know more about FurCode tags, please visit https://www.furcode.com/learn-more/ .
Q: I just adopted a pet from the animal shelter. Is it microchipped? How can I find out?
A: If the shelter scanned the animal, they should be able to tell you if it is microchipped. Some shelters implant microchips into every animal they adopt out, so check with the shelter and find out your new pet's microchip number so you can get it registered in your name. [Mobile Pet Microchipping will register any previously chipped pet (regardless of chip manufacturer) with The American Kennel Club, for a one-time fee with free lifetime updates and you will receive an AKC tag in 3-4 weeks after registration. OFTEN pets have NOT been registered by the shelter. You will need to call the recovery program and ask them. If the pet has NOT been registered by the shelter it will cost you more to register the pet after you take it home from the shelter.
Q: Why should I have my animals microchipped?
A: The best reason to have your animals microchipped is the improved chance that you'll get your animal back if it becomes lost or stolen.
Q: Do the benefits of microchipping outweigh the risks? I know that you said I have a better chance of being reunited with my lost or stolen pet if it is microchipped, but I'm worried there is still a chance that the veterinary clinic or shelter won't be able to read the chip or my pet will have a reaction.
A: The benefits of microchipping animals definitely outweigh the risks. Certainly the fee is less than the cost of trying to locate a lost pet. The combined cost of printing, hanging flyers, , placing ads, paying rewards, calling shelters, and taking time off of work all add up. Not to mention the anxiety, worry, or worse. being too late to save your pet. Once injected under the skin of your pet, the chip, encased by a thin layer of protein and aided by an inert material (Paralyene C, which is also used in human heart-transplant patients) already covering the chip, secures it in place. The chip covering is biocompatible. There is virtually no chance of the body developing an allergy or trying to reject the microchip after being properly injected.
Our current campaign is to make veterinarians and other animal rescue groups/organizations understand that it is ESSENTIAL to use UP-TO-DATE scanners/readers and to train employees HOW to effectively scan for a microchip.
Q: What is the youngest age a pet can be chipped?
A: Mobile Pet Microchipping won't microchip puppies and kittens under six (6) weeks old. For tiny animals, having reached that age, we recommend you wait until they are at LEAST 12 weeks of age. Every puppy, dog, kitten, or cat is evaluated as to condition, health, weight and size before it is microchipped.
Q: When can I apply a topical flea treatment? What about bathing?
A. A topical flea treatment should NOT be applied to the pet ONE WEEK BEFORE or ONE WEEK AFTER microchipping. You may bathe your pet 24 hours after chipping. If you are a "vigorous" bather, wait a couple of days.
Q: My pets never leave my yard. Why should they be chipped?
It only takes one time for SOMEONE. ANYONE to leave a door or gate open. And if you have a pet that has not been spayed nor neutered you are just asking for trouble. Those pets are just out for lust and their brains are hard-wired for procreation. Here's another scenario: if you keep your pet tethered in the front yard, it just takes one thief with one knife to cut the tether on your pet's collar: Goodbye Fido. Pet theft is a daily occurrence. Most shelters destroy the majority of pets they impound. Destroyed because they are not identified.
Q: Does my pet have to be sedated for the injection? Does it hurt?
A: No sedation is required. Microchipping is just like any other injection or vaccination. There is minimal discomfort with the procedure. Like an "owie" that's it. SOME (not all) horses, may require sedation or a lidocaine local.
Regarding FERRETS: European Union As of July 2004, dogs, cats, and ferrets can travel freely within the European Union under the Pet passport scheme. To cross a border within the EU, ferrets require at minimum an EU PETS passport and an identification microchip(though some countries will accept a tattoo instead). Vaccinations are required most countries require a rabies vaccine, and some require a distemper vaccine and treatment for ticks and fleas 24 to 48 hours before entry. Ferrets occasionally need to be quarantined before entering the country. PETS travel information is available from any EU veterinarian or on government websites.
United Kingdom The UK accepts ferrets under the EU's PETS travel scheme. Ferrets must be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies, and documented. They must be treated for ticks and tapeworms 24 to 48 hours before entry. They must also arrive via an authorized route. Ferrets arriving from outside the EU may be subject to a six-month quarantine.
El Paso, Texas requires ferrets to be microchipped.
Microchipping FAQs - pets
What would happen if the dog ever got out while we were at work? What if the backyard has a hole under the fence we didn’t know about? Is the fence tall enough that our pet could not jump over or climb out? What if we have them in the car and they manage to escape? As a pet owner, these questions and more have undoubtedly run through your mind, and all revolving around one big question mark. How do I find my pet if they are lost?
While every pet owner should have their dog or cat wear a collar with their pet license, rabies license, and ID tag, a micro-chip can be a vital asset to getting them home quickly and safely. Especially in the event your pet runs out without their collar or tags attached, or if your pet is ever stolen, a micro-chip is a guaranteed way to have their owner and home information with them at all times.
According to Pet WebMD, only 15-20% of dogs, and 2% of cats, are found and claimed by the owners every year. Micro-chipping can help raise those odds. A microchip for your pet is small, about the size of a grain of rice, and causes no harm to your pet. The chip is placed just under the skin in the neck, no deeper. All veterinarians and most animal clinics, like The Animal League Wellness Center, can implant one in a routine visit. It takes only seconds to implant the chip, and your fur-baby won’t feel anything more than the pinch they normally feel when getting a shot or having blood taken.
How does a pet microchip work?
Generalizing, the microchip will contain only the information that you, the owner, provide. No other information can be learned about you or your family, so there is no security risk. The microchip, which is connected to an online registry, is read with an RFID Scanner and the information displayed.
Who can scan my pet’s microchip?
Most veterinarians, pet clinics, animal control, and animal shelters can scan an animal for a microchip. If you’ve adopted a pet from an animal shelter, like The Animal League, your pet may already have a microchip. If your pet gets out and someone finds them and has the animal scanned, that microchip will inform them to get in touch with either you or the animal shelter they were adopted from. This provides an extra layer of security as the animal shelter will be able to contact you as well. When adopting, the shelter staff or animal control worker will be able to tell you if the animal has been chipped.
Remember earlier, when we mentioned that only 15-20% of lost dogs and 2% of lost cats are ever reclaimed by their pet owners? According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA):
“A study of more than 7,700 stray animals at animal shelters showed that dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 21.9 percent of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were returned to their owners 52.2 percent of the time. Cats without microchips were reunited with their owners only 1.8 percent of the time, whereas microchipped cats went back home 38.5 percent of the time.”
That is a 30-32% higher chance of recovery in your favor!
How can I keep my pet’s microchip information updated?
Please note that the information provided by the database is only as good as your last update to it. If you have moved, had a phone number changed, please talk to the organization that inserted the microchip about how to update the information associated with it. This could be the difference in helping a pet find their lost home or not.
To learn more about pet microchipping
We suggest talking to your vet, or come talk to a professional here at The Wellness Clinic (book appointment). If you would like to read more, the AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) website or WebMD Pet are accredited sources that will help you form the questions that you should ask your veterinarian. If you happen to find a lost animal and take them in, we highly suggest taking them to your nearest veterinarian or pet clinic and ask them to scan for a chip if they do not have an ID Tag on them. Most vets and pet clinics will do this for free. Call first, to ensure they’ve got a chip scanner.
Cover models: Valencia and Vinton, labrador retriever blend puppies who were rescued by The Animal League.
We hope this general information article has been helpful, and that we may have piqued your interest in the subject. If you are interested in learning more about pet microchips, their pros/cons, the differences in services for microchips out there, etc… please stay tuned. We will delve further into the world of pet micro-chipping in upcoming articles.