The Lowdown on Microchipping Your Pets

– Posted in: Pet Safety

Microchipping your pets is so easy and important. Yet there still seem to be pet owners who just won’t or don’t do it.  It’s a little difficult to believe that in this age of technology that enables us to communicate with and track each other, that anyone would fail to take advantage of technology that enables us to locate our beloved pets when they are lost or stolen.  After giving this some thought, it occurred to me that perhaps some of the reasons for this are lack of education about what exactly this technology is and how it works; the costs involved; not knowing or understanding whether the implantation procedure is safe for their pets or concerns about how well these devices work and for how long.  Below are some facts for those who may be hesitant for the reasons stated above.  The main point of this blog post is—RELAX! It’s all good and there really is NO downside to this technology.

What is a microchip and how does is work?

A microchip is a tiny computer chip encased in a special type of glass that is designed to be compatible with living tissue.  It is about the size of a grain of rice and is implanted between your pet’s shoulder blades, under the skin with a needle and special syringe.  Once implanted, the microchip can be detected with a handheld scanning device that uses radio waves to read the chip and display an alphanumeric code.  This code enables a vet, rescue group or shelter to contact the microchip company so the registered owner can be contacted. 

Is the microchipping procedure safe for my pet?

Yes.  It really isn’t any different than your pet receiving their inoculations.  The vet sterilizes the injection site and uses a new, sterile syringe containing the microchip.  In most cases, pets don’t even notice.  Generally, what owners can expect is for their pets to have the same reaction to a microchip implantation as they would to any other injections.  If your pet takes his rabies injection in stride, he will likely also behave in the same way for his microchip implantation.  If your pet typically has a meltdown when receiving injections, expect the same with the microchip procedure.  If you do have a pet that has stressful meltdowns when receiving injections, please don’t let that be your reason not to microchip your pet.  You can ask your vet to microchip your pet during a routine dental cleaning or during the spay/neuter procedure while they are under general anesthesia. 

What are the costs involved in microchipping?

The cost for microchipping your pet is fairly nominal.  Generally speaking, you would need to pay for an office visit with your vet in order to have the microchip implanted.  I have found that in most cases, the veterinary costs for this procedure range from $50 to $100.  However, many local shelters sponsor “no cost” and “low cost” microchipping clinics frequently so this is an excellent resource to follow up on if you just can’t afford the procedure at your vet’s office.  Beyond the cost of the implantation, there is the fee that you pay to the microchip company to maintain your updated contact info in the database and pay call center employees to answer the phones when individuals, shelters, vets or rescues call to report a lost or found pet.  That fee tends to be between $50 and $80 depending on which microchip company you opt to use.  For most of these companies, this is a one-time fee that enables you to make as many changes as needed to your contact information for the life of your pet.  Some companies will offer two plans—the one-time, all inclusive plan that allows you to make as many changes as you want to your pet’s file and a slightly cheaper plan that enables you to register your pet’s contact info, but charges $10 to $20 each time you call to make changes.  I, personally, use a company called “24-Hour Pet Watch” and paid the $50 lifetime fee just so I didn’t have to worry about making additional payments in the future.   There are several microchip companies out there and you’d have to do your homework to find the one that you prefer.  Below is a list links to some of some of the better known companies for you to check into.

How well do microchips work and for how long?

Microchips work for the life of your pet!  They do not need to be charged or replaced.  There are no batteries.  The only thing you MUST be mindful about is keeping the contact info for you and your emergency contacts updated.  A microchip is only as useful as the information that is kept with the registration company.  If you move a lot, put updating of your pets’ microchip information on your list of “important things to accomplish prior to my move”.  Also, if you travel a lot and want your boarding kennel, pet sitter, friends, neighbors or family to be contacted in your absence…make sure THEIR INFO is also updated.

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