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8 Things You Need To Know About Microchipping Your Dog

Written by: Dina Fantegrossi
Dina Fantegrossi is the Assistant Editor and Head Writer for HomeLife Media. Before her career in writing, Dina was a veterinary technician for more than 15 years.Read more
| Published on August 30, 2023

One in three pets will get lost in their lifetime. A dog or cat goes missing every 7 seconds. The statistics can be frightening, but the good news is that lost dogs with microchips are two and a half times more likely to find their way home again.

Stories of missing pets being reunited with their humans years after going missing show that microchips really do just what they claim – keep pets home where they belong!

As wonderful as these tiny devices are, they do have their limitations and require a certain level of maintenance on the part of the owner. Below are 8 facts you really need to know in order to ensure that your dog’s microchip functions correctly and keeps your pup safe and sound!

1. Don’t Be Scared – Microchipping Is Easy!

Microchips are implanted using a large enough needle to allow the rice-sized chip to pass through. For your dog it’s basically like getting a vaccine with a wider gauge needle. There is certainly a little pinch as with any injection, but it’s over in a snap! If your pooch is particularly sensitive, ask your vet to apply a topical anesthetic to ease the sting.

2. The Registration Should Be Filled Out COMPLETELY

A microchip registration is very detailed and some people neglect to fill in every line. Providing your work phone number may seem unnecessary when your cell is never far from your hand, but what if your dog goes missing on a day when you forgot your charger? Be sure to provide every single method of contact that you have including email, full address, family members and emergency contacts who could pick up your pup if you are unreachable.

3. It’s Important To Update Any Info That Has Changed

Planning a move? Got a new phone number? Be sure to contact the microchip company and update your information! Also, it may seem like a no brainer, but some folks forget to send in their initial registration after the chip is implanted. Without that registration the chip is useless, so be sure to send in the registration and update the info as needed.

4. Microchips Can Migrate

Microchips are typically implanted between your dog’s shoulder blades and stay there because of the large muscle groups surrounding the area. As dogs age their muscles tend to shrink and the skin becomes looser – meaning the chip can travel under the skin and end up lower on the back or on your dog’s side. Migration can also be caused by a pup being too wiggly during the implantation.

5. Microchips Must Be Scanned Correctly

In order to be read correctly, a microchip must be scanned correctly. Animal hospitals and shelters should have up-to-date universal scanners on hand and train their entire staff to use them – this includes running the scanner along the entire back and sides of the dog in search of a chip that may have migrated.

6. Not All Scanners Pick Up All Chips

Universal scanners are expensive (usually $300 – $600) and not all shelters have the funding to ensure that they have the latest model to keep up with microchip technology. Some microchips operate on different wavelengths and may not be read by all scanners – meaning it could appear that your dog isn’t chipped when he actually is!

Make a few calls to the animal hospitals and shelters in your area to ensure that they have the right equipment to locate your dog’s chip. If not, consider holding a fundraiser to get your shelter a new scanner – pup lovers in your community should be happy to get involved! 

7. Your Dog Should Still Wear A Collar & Tags

A microchip is not a replacement for a collar and identification tags, it is an added tool to be used in addition to these items. A dog wearing a collar is more likely to be recognized as a missing pet instead of mistaken for a stray. Also most chips come with a tag to place on your pet’s collar that carries their microchip number. If you are not comfortable having the chip number on display, try a simple name tag like the one below. The back can be personalized with your contact info, medical alerts, etc.

8. Your Pup’s Chip Should Be Checked Regularly

To ensure that your dog’s microchip always stays functional, ask your vet to check it at each visit. Most animal shelters are happy to do a quick check as well. Regular scans not only ensure that the chip is reading easily and correctly, they also help locate chips that have migrated. It’s always better safe than sorry when it comes to your BFF!

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