Microchipping Your Dog or Cat
WebMD veterinary expert answers commonly asked questions about microchipping your dog or cat.
People have to weigh that small risk against what can happen to their lost pet.
Q: How will it help me get my pet back if he is lost?
A: It’s only going to help if someone picks up your pet and takes him to a shelter or veterinarian’s office to be scanned for a chip. Some people think chips are like a tracker or a GPS device, but a microchip only works if someone scans the chip.
Once they get the chip’s number, and the company that made the chip, they’ll contact that company to find the owner. And that’s one of the most important things people need to remember - the chip is only as good as the registration. A lot of people think, “OK, I’ve got this in. I’m done.” But if your registration isn’t submitted and then kept current, it’s useless. That’s been a big gap. Many more pets are microchipped than are properly registered. You have to get the paperwork and make sure that chip is registered to you, with your phone numbers. And if you move or you change your phone numbers, you have to update that information.
Q: Do all shelters scan for microchips when they find a pet?
A: All shelters should scan any pet that comes in for microchips and they should do so with a universal scanner. But I can’t guarantee that all shelters do that.
Q: Do all scanners used by shelters pick up all microchips?
A: Not all scanners pick up all microchips. There are more universal scanners now, but some work better than others. In an ideal world, all shelters would be using a universal scanner that works well to check every animal they find. But in reality, not all shelters have universal scanners that work well. Sometimes they’ll have more than one scanner so they can find different chips. Of course, that assumes they have the time and manpower to scan every animal more than once.
And scanners also depend on using the right technique to know how and where to scan. And chips can migrate, so if they’re scanning over the back and it’s migrated to the side, they may not find it.
A really good thing owners can do is that at every check-up ask your vet to scan the chip to make sure it’s still reading and it’s still where it should be, on the back near the shoulder blades.
Q: There are several different brands available. Which is the best, and how can I be sure my shelter will be able to read that chip if she is lost?