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Microchips for Your Cat or Dog

November 15, 2018

You may have heard of microchips for pets. Have you ever wanted to learn more about them, or are you thinking of outfitting your own animal companion with one? Below, your Waterdown, ON vet tells you all about microchips for your dog or cat and why it’s a great idea for your pet.

What is a Microchip, Exactly?

A microchip is a small computer chip that contains a number, implanted electronically on the chip. This number references the manufacturer’s database, where your pet’s contact information is stored. When a lost pet is relinquished to a vet’s office or animal shelter, specialized scanning devices there can read the chip’s number, allowing the professionals to reference the database and find out who the lost pet belongs to.

What’s the Benefit of Microchips?

Microchips have many benefits, and many pet owners use them in tandem with ID tags on the collar for maximum effectiveness. One benefit is the consistent, constant identification that a microchip provides; your pet won’t be able to remove their chip either on purpose or by accident, meaning that they’re properly identified no matter what. For most pet owners, that peace of mind is well worth it!

Another advantage of microchips is that they’re inexpensive, and very cost effective. You only have to purchase one for the entirety of your pet’s lifetime—even if you move or get a new phone number, your pet can keep the same chip. All you have to do is contact the chip manufacturer to have them update their database with your new information.

What’s the Procedure Like?

The microchip itself is housed in a tiny glass capsule, which is then inserted under your pet’s skin using a special hypodermic needle. The whole unit is about the size of a large grain of rice. The procedure only takes a few moments, and all that your pet will feel is a quick pinch. It’s much like a regular vaccination!

Is There Any Risk?

The microchipping procedure is virtually risk-free. Minor symptoms like irritation or swelling around the injection site are possible, but they should dissipate on their own within a few days.

Our Advice on Microchips for Your Cat or Dog in 2024

At what age is it recommended to microchip a pet?

It is recommended to microchip pets as early as possible, typically during their first routine vaccination visit, which can be around 8 to 10 weeks of age. This early implantation ensures that a pet has permanent identification from a young age, which can be especially important should the pet become lost or separated from its owner. However, microchipping can be done at any age and is equally effective in adult pets. Always consult with a veterinarian to determine the best timing based on individual health and vaccination schedules.

Can microchips be detected by all veterinary clinics and animal shelters, or are there compatibility issues?

Microchips are widely compatible with scanners used in veterinary clinics and animal shelters across many countries. Most modern scanners are designed to read microchips from different manufacturers, adhering to international standards, such as ISO 11784/11785. However, there can be exceptions, particularly with older or non-standard microchips that may not be detected by all scanners. Pet owners should ensure their pet’s microchip complies with current standards to maximize the likelihood of detection across various facilities, enhancing the chances of reunification if the pet is lost.

What specific information is stored in the microchip database, and how is it kept secure?

The microchip database stores essential contact information including the pet owner’s name, address, and phone number, linked to the unique identification number of the microchip implanted in the pet. This database is managed by the microchip manufacturer or a designated registry. To ensure privacy and security, access to this information is restricted to authorized personnel such as veterinarians, animal shelter staff, and certain rescue organizations. Additionally, these databases are typically protected by secure data handling and encryption practices to prevent unauthorized access and ensure owner confidentiality.

How often should pet owners check and update their contact information in the microchip database?

Pet owners should verify and update their contact information in the microchip database at least annually to ensure it remains current. Additionally, it is crucial to update this information any time there is a change in address, phone number, or ownership. Keeping contact details up-to-date is essential for the effectiveness of the microchip in case the pet becomes lost. Many registries offer online portals where updates can be easily made, facilitating quick adjustments whenever necessary to maintain accurate and timely information.

Can microchips migrate within the pet’s body over time, and if so, does this affect their functionality?

Yes, microchips can occasionally migrate from the original implantation site within the pet’s body, typically moving only a short distance. This migration can occur if the microchip is not implanted correctly or if the pet’s activity causes it to shift. Migration is generally rare when the chip is placed correctly between the shoulder blades. While migration might complicate locating the chip with a scanner, it does not affect the microchip’s functionality; the chip will still operate and transmit the identification number when scanned.

How Do I Get My Pet Microchipped?

Are you ready to get your pet set up with a microchip for a lifetime of proper identification? It’s time to make an appointment with your Waterdown, ON veterinary clinic to get started. We’re here to help!

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