All the Way Home: The Importance of Microchipping Your Pet

microchippingAh, the first taste of spring! Fine weather is finally here, and we’re all ready to get outside with our dogs. Our cats, too, are anxious to get out – whether or not that’s allowed.

Of course, before we get too excited, safety first! That means taking a look at whether or not your pet could be found if the spring in their step finds them wandering away. Berks Animal Emergency and Referral Center explores the very big importance of that tiny device, the microchip, and why microchipping is essential to your pet’s safety.

What Is a Microchip?

If you’re not aware, a microchip is a tiny, rice-sized capsule that is placed under your pet’s skin in your veterinarian’s office. The microchip stores a unique ID number that is used to retrieve your contact information if your pet is lost. Thousands of lost pets are reunited each year with their loving owners, thanks to microchips.

Why Are Microchips Important?

Consider this: your pet escapes, without their collar and tags, while you’re on vacation. Your pet sitter doesn’t know what to do. Your pet makes it into the local shelter, thanks to a Good Samaritan who finds and takes them there. At the shelter, your pet is scanned – and, thankfully, has a microchip. You are contacted within hours of your pet’s escape, and you can put your pet sitter in touch with the shelter, to get your pet home safely.

This scenario (plus or minus the pet sitter) is common! Here are a few more good reasons to microchip:

They can’t be removed or lost – Unlike a collar and tags, a microchip is permanent and can never be stolen, lost, or removed.

Escapes do happen – As we alluded to above, even with diligence, pet escapes do happen. All it takes is an unlatched gate, a hole in the fence, or a door left open too long.

Accidents happen, too – Sadly, sometimes pets are injured when they are lost or escape. We speak from personal experience. Our entire staff breathes a collective sigh of relief when a lost and injured pet brought to us has a microchip, because it often means we can do more for that pet beyond basic emergency stabilization.

So do natural disasters – It’s unpleasant to think about, but a microchip is a smart part of your emergency preparedness plan. With it, your pet can be rescued and returned to you. Without it, being reunited with you is simply not as likely.

How Do Microchips Work?

Once the chip is placed, it is registered by the pet owner in the national pet recovery database, and can then be scanned by any veterinary hospital or animal shelter nationwide for a unique identification number, which will be used to contact you. The microchip works with radio frequency, which means there is no battery or moving parts.

When the scanner is moved over the skin of a microchipped pet, the microchip emits a tiny radio signal and the scanner reads the microchip’s ID. The microchip company is called and they will contact you with the location of your pet.

Microchipping Sounds Serious…Does It Hurt?

Placing a microchip is actually very simple and quick. It’s a similar procedure to that of a vaccine, and can usually be done in the exam room with you present (unless you prefer not to be). Of course, if your pet will be undergoing an anesthetic procedure, such as a dental cleaning or spay, it’s preferred to place the microchip while they are otherwise anesthetized.

Once microchips are placed, pets don’t notice them at all. They are a permanent, safe, and inexpensive way to make sure your pet can be reunited with you.

What Happens if My Pet and I Move?

If you move, simply contact the national pet recovery database and change your address and phone number (if needed). You don’t need to have another microchip placed, and you won’t have to worry about your pet getting lost in your new neighborhood.

It’s clear; microchipping is the best idea for keeping your pet safe and for a quick reunion with you, if they’re ever lost. If you have any questions or would like more information, please call us.