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Microchipping Your Dog or Cat

WebMD veterinary expert answers commonly asked questions about microchipping your dog or cat.


A: Talk to your vet and your shelter to find out what is the common chip used in your area. There are different companies and they are in competition with each other. So find out what chips the scanners at your local shelter can read so you can be sure they can read the chip you’re having implanted. Some chips can be more universally read than others. So talk to your vet and see what he recommends. And if people get their pets microchipped at their vet, the vet can often find the owners, even if they haven’t kept up their registration with the chip company. A lot of pets are reunited with their owners, not because the owners did a good job with registration, but because the chip is traced back to the vet that placed it and then the vet finds the owners.


Q: If my pet is microchipped, does he need a tag, too?

A: Pet owners also need to understand that a microchip is only one part of your pet’s identification system. Your pet also should have a collar with tags on it. With cats you want to use breakaway collars so they don’t get caught when they’re climbing.

You can’t just assume the person who finds your pet will know anything about microchips. They might just keep your pet or give away your pet. But if your phone number is right there, everyone knows what to do with that. And honestly, that’s the most important thing you need to have on there. They don’t need to know your pet’s name. They don’t need your address. They just need to know how to contact you if they’ve got your pet. And make it a number with a voicemail or answering machine.

It’s also important for people to realize there’s no identification system that will help if your animal is lost where no one can find him. So it’s important not to let your pet run loose. And no microchip can stop your animal from being hit by a car or being stolen by someone who has bad intentions.


Q: Does the U.S. use a different frequency chip than other countries? Does that mean if I take my pet to another country, their scanners won’t read his chip?

A: Yes, Europe uses a 134.2 kilohertz chip. In this country we’ve used 125 and 128 kilohertz chips, although some companies now are implanting the European frequency chips as well. And there are scanners now that can pick up all three. But it’s so important to be sure your shelters can read whatever chip you have implanted.

And if you take your pet abroad, you need to check each country’s requirements. Many have regulations about not just the type of chip, but when it’s implanted.

Reviewed on March 02, 2011

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