When you think about your family, if you have a dog, you probably think of your dog as a member of your family and not “just a dog”. There is no scarier feeling than a family member missing and not being able to locate them. But, what if we told you that if your dog goes missing, there is way to double your chances of being reunited with your furry bff! According to Petfinder.com, roughly only 22% of lost dogs that are turned into shelters are reunited with their owners. However, when a dog is microchipped the reunited percentage rate jumps to over 52%! A quick, minor procedure could help reunite you and your dog should your dog ever go missing.
What is a Microchip?
A microchip is exactly what it sounds like. It is a small, tiny transponder about the size of a grain of rice that is encoded with a unique code for your dog and your dog only. No two codes on a microchip are ever the same. This assures dog parents that there will never be any mixups when it comes to your dog. This code is then used to help identify your dog should they ever go missing, stolen or any other unfortunate event.
Veterinarians, shelters and animal organizations have a “scanner” device, which varies in size and shape, that can be waived over any dog to retrieve the unique code. Once the code is retrieved, the Veterinarian or staff member can then contact the microchip company that in turn contacts the registered dog parent.
How is the Microchip Inserted?
A microchip should only ever be inserted by a Veterinarian. Ideally, you should have your regular Veterinarian insert your dog’s microchip. Having your Veterinarian implant your dog’s microchip assures your dog’s safety and you have peace of mind knowing that the microchip being inserted is trustworthy and legit. Another added benefit is that your dog’s microchip number is in your dog’s vet file and it is one less step you have to manage to keep your dog’s records up to date.
Most dogs are usually microchipped at the time of they are spayed or neutered, while the dog is already under anesthesia. However, a dog does not need to be under anesthesia to have a microchip implanted. This is a relatively quick and simple process that at most, can cause some mild discomfort. Having a dog microchipped is much like having your dog vaccinated. Microchips are inserted underneath your dog’s skin between your dog’s shoulder blades with a syringe. Once your Veterinarian has located the desired injection spot, your Veterinarian will then pinch your dog’s skin to help minimize any discomfort and inject the microchip.
While the majority of dogs that receive a microchip have no side effects or experience any downtime, should your dog’s skin or injection site become red or irritated, it is important to contact your Veterinarian immediately.
Once your Veterinarian has implanted your dog’s microchip, you will receive paperwork regarding the company that your dog’s microchip belongs to. Completing this paperwork is of utmost importance and the information it contains is the how you are notified if your dog goes missing and someone finds your dog. If your Veterinarian’s office does not give you a form to complete with your contact information, be sure to ask the front desk staff before you leave the office. Some Veterinarian offices will complete your microchip registration for you, while some may give you a website to visit to complete your microchip registration. It is important to clarify whether you or your Veterinarian’s office will complete the registration so that your contact information is accurate.
What is the Price for a Microchip?
The current average price for your dog to be microchipped is $45.00. This is a one-time fee for the service of inserting the microchip and registering your information with the microchip company. Often, you can also have your dog microchipped at local government vaccine clinics or even at your local shelter for a discounted price. However, don’t forget to copy all the information and give it to your Veterinarian’s office to put into your dog’s file. For $45.00, should your dog ever go missing, you could potentially double your chances of being reunited!
How to Maintain Your Dog’s Microchip
Once your dog has been microchipped, you are set for the dog’s life. Your dog will never need another microchip and this is a lifelong service. However, it is the dog parent’s responsibility to keep his or her contact information up to date. A good idea is to bookmark the website of your dog’s microchipping company. Should your dog go missing, it can often be hard to remember the company of your dog’s microchip during that stressful situation. This will also make it easier for your to keep your contact information current should you move or change your phone number.
If you rescued your dog from a shelter or rescue organization, many times part of the adoption price includes a microchip. In some cases, a dog that has been surrendered may have a microchip that is linked to the previous owner. In these circumstances, call the company that the microchip is registered to and have your current contact information put in place of the previous owner’s.
At your dog’s yearly health exam, ask your Veterinarian to scan your dog’s microchip to make sure everything is working as it should be. A quick scan can help deter any problems that may have risen since your pet was microchipped. For instance, microchips can often migrate through your dog’s body. Most commonly, a microchip will “fall and migrate” around your dog’s underarm. If your dog is small, less than 20 pounds, this shouldn’t be a cause for concern, as the microchip scanner will still be able to pickup and read the electric scan. However, if you have a large dog, this could result in someone missing your dog’s microchip when scanned. Having your Veterinarian scan the back shoulder blades of your dog will tell you if your dog’s migrated microchip is still in working use or if you need to take other action. If further action is required, your Veterinarian will discuss your options with you.
What to Do if You Find a Missing Pet!
If you find a lost dog without any identifying tags and are able to approach the dog, take the dog to your local Veterinarian or nearby shelter. Any incoming dogs that are not being surrendered by the actual owner are always scanned for a microchip. If you happen to find a dog during non-business hours, pet emergency hospitals are also equipped with a microchip scanner and can even keep the dog overnight in most circumstances. Regardless if you take a stray dog to your regular Veterinarian or emergency pet hospital, there is never a charge to you to perform a microchip scan.