Thursday, July 20, 2017



A microchip is a form of permanent identification. It is not a GPS tracking device. It is a tiny electronic chip enclosed in a glass cylinder that is about the size of a grain of rice. The chip is injected under the skin between the shoulder blades of a dog or cat. The chip is activated by the radio waves of a scanner that is passed over the area. The chip will then transmit the identification number to the scanner which displays the number on its screen.


The microchip is injected under the skin using a hypodermic needle that is larger than the needles used for vaccinations but it can be given quickly with only a momentary (if any) ouch. The chip can be implanted during a regular office visit or while a pet is under anesthesia for a procedure such as a spay, neuter, or a dental cleaning.


A microchip can help reunite a lost pet with its owner. If a pet is found and taken to an animal hospital or a shelter, one of the first things done is scanning to check for a microchip. If a chip is found, the number is looked up to see if it is in the database at that facility. If it isn’t, then a national registry can be contacted and the number will be looked up. If the registry has accurate and current information on the owner, the owner can be contacted. A recent study showed that in shelters, dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 21.9% of the time while dogs with chips were reunited with their owners 52.2% of the time. The statistics for cats were 1.8% vs 38.5%.


There is not a central database in the U.S. for registering microchips. Each manufacturer maintains its own database. This is not a problem though because the scanners display the name of the manufacturer and the identification number when the microchip is read.


Your veterinarian can gladly implant your pet’s microchip. Make sure that you notify the microchip registry of any change in your owner information (especially phone numbers and address). Also, remind your vet to scan for your pet’s microchip at its yearly visit to make sure it is reading properly.


Microchipping is a smart way to greatly increase the likelihood that you will be reunited with your lost pet. Do it because you love them as part of your family.


Karen Miller, DVM

Veterinarian and owner of Lincolnton Animal Hospital