May is National Chip Your Pet Month and, although many shelter pets are adopted out after being microchipped, some rescued or purchased pets do not have these potentially life-saving chips. Since one in three pets becomes lost at some point in their lives, microchips are a handy way to find your missing furry pal. In honor of these essential devices, we’ve outlined a few facts to help underscore microchips’ importance. 

#1: Microchips can help decrease the number of lost pets in animal shelters

According to data gathered by the ASPCA, approximately 6.5 million pets enter animal shelters nationwide every year. About 710,000 animals who enter shelters as strays are returned to their owners. Of those, 620,000 are dogs, and only 90,000 are cats. Less than 2% of cats without microchips were returned home, but if a cat is microchipped, the return-to-owner rate is 20 times higher. These statistics highlight how incredibly important microchips are for reuniting lost pets—especially cats—with their family. 

#2: A microchip can be inserted at any age and lasts the life of your pet

Microchips are made of biocompatible materials that will not degrade after implantation, and will ensure your pet remains permanently identified for her entire life. Since microchips do not require power, and have no moving parts, they do not need to be removed for repair. However, in extremely rare cases, microchips can migrate away from their usual location between the shoulder blades, or stop functioning, so you should have your pet’s chip scanned at each appointment.

Since microchips are such an important tool for reuniting lost pets with families, a special day has been created to ensure your pet’s microchip is working properly. August 15 is Check the Chip Day, although we will check your pet’s chip at any time at the Pet Emergency Clinic and Referral Center

#3: Microchips do not offer GPS tracking services

At this time, microchips do not provide location-tracking services. This major misconception often harms a pet’s chances of returning home, because many people believe they can use a microchip’s GPS-tracking capabilities to locate their pet. Unfortunately, microchip technology has not yet developed tracking features, so if you are interested in GPS location devices, search for a GPS collar or tag, such as those used for pets or hunting dogs. 

#4: Pets do not require anesthesia for a microchip implant

Microchips do not require general anesthesia, or sedation, for implantation. While we prefer to insert a microchip while your pet is under anesthesia for another procedure, such as a spay or neuter, we can administer a microchip anytime. Similar to vaccinations, a microchip is inserted right under the skin, but between the shoulder blades. Although microchip needles are larger than vaccination needles, most pets pay no more attention to a microchip implant than they do a vaccination, especially when distracted with a tasty treat. 

#5: Microchips provide an additional method for reuniting with a lost pet

Microchips are a great way to help you reunite with a lost pet, and they provide extra security to your furry pal’s identification. Most people first look for information on collar ID tags, which do not require special equipment to read, and usually include a phone number. But, collars can fall off, ID tags can become worn and too illegible to read, and many cats do not wear collars, making microchips the best permanent identification form.

#6: Microchips do not contain your personal information

Some people may worry that microchips contain their personal information, but when scanned, they emit only a number in a microchip database. The number is linked to the microchip company that registered your pet’s chip, and the company must be contacted for your information. 

#7: Microchips offer more features than permanent identification

HomeAgain pet microchips are an excellent method of permanent identification, with additional benefits. The implanted microchips or collar tags allow your pet—and only your pet—access to her food bowl or a door. These features are ideal for multi-pet households with pets who need prescription diets, or for homes that stray animals can enter through doggy doors.   

#8: Microchips must be inserted correctly to avoid health issues

Since microchips are administered like vaccines, some people believe implantation is simple, and can easily be done at home. In fact, only skilled professionals should implant microchips, as the needle is larger and may be longer than vaccine needles. With the needle differences, in addition to the squirming capabilities of puppies and kittens, a microchip can easily be misplaced, and cause serious health issues, such as breathing problems and paralysis. Ensure your pet’s microchip is correctly placed by scheduling an appointment with your family veterinarian. 

If the unthinkable happens, and your pet darts out an open door, only to encounter an injury, give us a call. Be thankful your furry pal was microchipped, so you could be reunited, and provide emergency veterinary care for her injury and pain.