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Healthy Pets

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Microchipping Your Dog or Cat

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


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?

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.

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