It’s truly a nightmare for pet parents that their pet would become lost or stolen. So, what precautions can you take to make sure that your chances of reuniting with a lost pet are as high as possible? That’s where microchips come in. What is a microchip? It’s a tiny device that may mean the difference between losing your beloved companion forever and having a joyful reunion.
A lot of pet owners have questions when it comes to having a microchip implanted in their furry family members. Here’s some information that may help to answer those questions.
What Is A Microchip? How Does It Work To Keep Your Pet Safe?
A microchip is a radio-frequency identification, or RFID, device. It stores a number that is unique to your pet. It’s not a tracking device. A microchip won’t tell you where your pet has gone.1
When a missing cat, dog, or another type of pet shows up at a shelter or a veterinary clinic, a hand-held scanner is used across the pet’s body to see if a chip has been implanted. The chip transmits the number to the scanner so the owner can be notified. Microchips are designed to last for the lifetime of the pet.2
Will Microchip Implantation Hurt My Pet? How Reliable Is The Technology?
A veterinarian implants the microchip usually between the shoulder blades. It’s somewhat similar to administering a vaccination, so any discomfort will be minimal and very temporary.3
The vast majority of pets have no problems after chip implantation. Very few ever suffer any sort of adverse reaction. The biggest issue tends to be movement, or migration, of the chip. That can sometimes make it hard for the scanner to pick up the information from the chip. Other potential problems include swelling and infection. Again, though, these are very rare.4
Microchips offer the best chance of reuniting lost pets with their owners. Researchers conducted a study involving nearly 8,000 animals living at animal shelters. They found that dogs who had been chipped were returned home about 52 percent of the time. Dogs who didn’t have chips were returned only 22 percent of the time.5
According to the same study, cats without chips returned less than 2 percent of the time. The return rate for cats with chips was nearly 39 percent.6
Make Sure To Register Your Pet Once They’re Microchipped
You’ll need to register your pet once they’ve been implanted with a chip. There are several registries that have a database of chip identification numbers.
The American Animal Hospital Association, or AAHA, has a database tool where you can enter your pet’s microchip number (you can get it from your veterinarian). The tool then communicates with the database of each pet registry. It will let you know which registry to contact should your pet be lost.7
Registering your pet’s microchip is easy. One option is to use is a pet recovery service known as AKC Reunite, offered by the American Kennel Club. All you need to do is go online and enter the chip ID number and your contact information.
When you enroll, AKC personnel will send you texts, e-mails, and call to let you know once they’re contacted regarding the whereabouts of your pet.8
If you have a landline number and a cell phone number, enter both. Add the numbers of others in your home as well. That way, you’ll be certain that someone will get a call once your pet is found. If you move or change numbers, make sure you update that information with the registry.
What To Do If A Microchipped Pet Is Lost Or Stolen
If you find your pet is missing, it would be only natural to panic. Try to keep a calm head and take action. First, call all of the local animal shelters and veterinary clinics. Describe your pet and tell the shelters that they’re microchipped. Visit each shelter every day if you can.
Keep looking around the neighborhood. Talk to your neighbors and post flyers with a picture of your pet wherever you can. Go to your vet clinic and local merchants and ask if you can put a flyer in their front window. Put the following information on the flyer:
- Your pet’s age
- The color of your pet’s fur
- The sex of your pet
- Your pet’s name
- Your address and phone number
Don’t forget social media. It can be a powerful tool when it comes to finding a lost pet. Post your pet’s picture and the information listed above. There may be a lot of people in your neighborhood who may belong to a private social network, such as Nextdoor, that covers your immediate community.
Most importantly, don’t ever give up hope. There are many instances where pets are reunited with their owners months – or even years – after they go missing.
How Can You Prevent Your Pet From Getting Loose?
Getting your pet microchipped can be a great help if they ever get lost. But there are several things you can do to keep that from happening in the first place.
If your cat or dog stays in the yard a lot and likes to jump or climb, you might need to extend the height of your fence. The extension should be at an angle to make it harder for the pet to scale it.9
If your pet likes to dig, put some chicken wire near the bottom of the fence. Just make sure any sharp edges are facing away from where they like to dig.10
These are just a couple of precautions you can take to help keep your pet from escaping. Your veterinarian can give you other suggestions.