I’ve spoken before on the blog about the time that Jake, my childhood dog, ran away. I was in my early teens, and he didn’t show up to greet me off the school bus one day. It was a pretty scary day for me, and although we did find him later, it stayed with me throughout the years. I never wanted to feel that fear again, so I became a staunch supporter of microchips.
Microchips are tiny little devices that are imbedded under a dog’s skin, that send out an electronic signal. When this signal is intercepted by a chip reader, the signal connects the chip reader to a website. On that website is all the information about your dog, based on what you entered into the database. It often includes the dog’s name, owner’s name, owner’s phone number and address, and possibly also some medical information about the dog.
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For as easy and potentially lifesaving as these devices are, I find it incredible that so few pets really have them. Certain shelters and breeders are starting to require that all owners chip their pets in order to adopt, and I think that’s a great thing. But it isn’t the norm yet, and I think it comes down to not understanding these little chips.
I put together a list of seven things to consider about microchips that may help you understand why these are such a great idea. If you’ve never considered chipping your dog before, here are some reasons why it’s not only good for you – but life saving for your dog.
1. It’s easy to keep a microchip updated as your life changes.
Our lives change often as we grow, get new careers, move to new places, get new families, and so on. Every time a new life change occurs, it’s common for your contact information to change too. One thing that stinks about the ID tags on collars is that you have to take the time to order one and have it made or go to a store and have it engraved there. It takes time and money, in other words, to make sure your dog is wearing the right information.
Microchips are different. They work by sending out a signal that leads to an online database. In this database is whatever information you have stored recently. And once you pay for the microchip, you have an account with the data base for life. No need to worry about paying to update your information – you can just log in, adjust your address, phone number, name, and so on, whenever you want. The new information saves immediately, so your dog always has the most up-to-date “tag” on them.
Not sure how to update your dog’s microchip information? Talk to your vet, the breeder, or the kennel where you got your dog. Any person who works with dogs can show you or tell you how to do this. Your vet may even be willing to update the information for you if they microchipped your dog.
Not only is all your information up to date so your dog can be easily found, but your phone number and address are private as well. It takes a vet or kennel worker with a scan to find your contact information, so a random person can’t just get your phone number off your dog’s lost collar.
2. Microchips are useful for more than just lost dogs.[easyazon_image align=”right” cart=”n” cloak=”y” height=”250″ identifier=”B009NH6NR0″ locale=”US” localize=”y” nw=”y” nf=”y” src=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41CFl-QS%2BiL.jpg” tag=”natur0da-20″ width=”219″]
Because microchips emit an electronic signal, they are actually being used for other pet-related devices these days. For example:
- I mentioned above that you could input medical data in your dog’s database entry. This is very helpful if a dog is found wandering and needs medical attention – the chip can alert a vet to their allergies, or to the fact that they have diabetes or epilepsy, for example. Even if the chip doesn’t result in a found owner, it could result in a dog getting better care in the first place.
- A dog microchip can make it safer and more convenient for your dog to go in and out. There are dog doors that [easyazon_image align=”right” cart=”n” cloak=”y” height=”250″ identifier=”B00VIXRB6O” locale=”US” localize=”y” nw=”y” nf=”y” src=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41x5CRjxuDL.jpg” tag=”natur0da-20″ width=”225″]open only when they detect the microchip signal, like the [easyazon_link identifier=”B009NH6NR0″ locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”natur0da-20″ cart=”n” cloak=”y” localize=”y” popups=”n”]SureFlap Microchip Pet Door[/easyazon_link]. This helps to keep neighbor pets or stray animals out of your house and means that you don’t have to worry about remembering to close the doggie door at night.
- We do already have devices that feed dogs based on a pre-set schedule that you set throughout the day. These automatic [easyazon_link identifier=”B00VIXRB6O” locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”natur0da-20″ cart=”n” cloak=”y” localize=”y” popups=”n”]pet feeders[/easyazon_link] are the top-of-the-line to help prevent overeating. However, new developments are being revealed in the industry, and we may soon have microchip controlled pet bowls. This could help ensure that one pet gets the right serving, while another pet gets a different serving, for example.
3. While I love microchips, I don’t think you should get rid of the classic ID tag.[easyazon_image align=”right” cart=”n” cloak=”y” height=”250″ identifier=”B00416J9F6″ locale=”US” localize=”y” nw=”y” nf=”y” src=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51MYluQFMrL.jpg” tag=”natur0da-20″ width=”250″]
Because microchips aren’t as common as I wish them to be, and because not everyone has a pet and knows about these things, it’s not unheard of for someone to find a pet and not think to take them to a vet to be scanned. They may not have the ability to, or the idea may not cross their mind. For this situation, it’s a good idea to still have a basic ID tag for your dog. At least have your name and number so they can call you if they find your dog.
Also, many townships require that dogs have some form of ID that is visible. Usually they only require the rabies tag to be displayed, but not always. Your HOA or other planned neighborhood may have its own special rules. If you want to avoid fines and issues with the local authorities, it’s best to learn about these laws and follow them.
Another reason I still support visible ID tags is that they can make your dog feel more comfortable if they get lost. [easyazon_image align=”right” cart=”n” cloak=”y” height=”250″ identifier=”B0075RW2KC” locale=”US” localize=”y” nw=”y” nf=”y” src=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61q5e9%2BB6rL.jpg” tag=”natur0da-20″ width=”250″]They may not want to respond to a stranger, but if that stranger knows their name, they may feel easier about following that person to a vet.
There are many different types of ID tags that won’t fall off your dog’s collar if they get loose. You can try a [easyazon_link identifier=”B00416J9F6″ locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”natur0da-20″ cart=”n” cloak=”y” localize=”y” popups=”n”]slide-on tag[/easyazon_link], or ditch the ID tag itself and find a collar with the [easyazon_link identifier=”B0075RW2KC” locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”natur0da-20″ cart=”n” cloak=”y” localize=”y” popups=”n”]name engraved[/easyazon_link], stitched, or printed on the side. As long as your dog has their collar on, they’ll have their name and any information with them
4. Microchips are the most reliable form of identification.
Even if you don’t mind the fact that you have to pay for a replacement ID tag should it ever get lost, or your information ever changes, a microchip is still a more reliable means of identification. Here’s why:
ID tags are made of metal, and they last for a very long time. But they are exposed to the environment, so they are breaking down, losing their engraving, and becoming harder to read as time goes on. Microchips do not degenerate in any way. They are made of a biocompatible material that isn’t harmful for dogs, but also doesn’t break down. Because it’s not organic in any way, and it doesn’t have any moving parts, and it isn’t exposed to any elements, there’s nothing about it that will wear out. The only reason that a microchip wouldn’t be able to be read by a vet is if the manufacturer of the chip doesn’t work with the brand of their sensor – and this is rarely a problem these days. Nearly all vets and kennels have universal scanners that pick up all major microchip brands.
You also don’t have to worry about the microchip moving around inside the body. If it does migrate a little bit, it won’t hurt your dog, and the scanner will still be able to pick up the signal from it. Additionally, there is an anti-migration feature that is in most modern chips to keep them right where they are placed
5. Speaking of universal scanners, the databases are becoming more universal every day.
I know that some people are very concerned about the fact that not every scanner can read every microchip. When microchips were brand new, this was more of an issue than it is now. Every manufacturer of a microchip has their own database online, and if the scanner doesn’t work with that database, the vet couldn’t get to that information. However, most databases and scanners play well together today. We have devices called “forward and backward reading scanners” that work with nearly every microchip that exists. Any professional vet or kennel will have this type of scanner, so that they can access nearly any database
6. Depending on where you live, you may have to have your dog chipped.
If you live in either the United Kingdom or Ireland, you do have to have your pets microchipped. This law has been in effect since 2016, and it has resulted in a huge decrease in cases of lost dogs. It has also meant that fewer dogs are needlessly euthanized, and that there are less strays on the streets. This has been great for dogs, great for their owners, and great for tax payers. It’s also meant that there is a traceable way to find unethical puppy mills, so the UK and Ireland have been able to cut back on that as well
7. Microchips are an affordable way to protect your dog.
When microchipping was first introduced, it may not have been the most affordable thing. However, these days, getting a microchip is the equivalent of having your dog spayed or neutered in terms of cost. I know so many people who think this is a very expensive procedure, but it’s truly a very affordable thing. Consider that you don’t have to keep replacing a lost ID tag as well, and it makes it even more affordable. If you adopt from a shelter, or have your dog spayed or neutered at a vet, they may even add the cost of microchipping into the cost of adoption or having the procedure done. This procedure doesn’t require anything more than a quick visit to the vet, and your dog doesn’t have to stay overnight. There’s really no reason to avoid the procedure at all.
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The Final Word
After Jake got loose when I was in school, I never had another dog without a chip. Gloria gave me a scare when I first got into Boxers, but I wasn’t nearly as concerned with her as I was with Jake. I knew that Gloria had her chip, and that any vet or kennel worker would be able to find me if she was picked up. I later found her myself just a few houses down playing, but I realized that the peace I felt about her ability to be found was worth the price of the chip.
I highly recommend chips as important for great dog owners. Even if you think your dog will never get out, accidents happen. What if they get loose on vacation, or when they are in an unfamiliar part of town? If you aren’t sure where they’d go, and they don’t recognize the area, there could be very little that you can do to find them. But if you have a chip, you can call all the local vets and kennels, let them know that your dog is loose and has a chip, and wait for them to get back to you. Chances are, someone will take your dog to the vet soon, and you’ll be reunited.
If you want to know more about chips, talk to your vet or your local kennel. They can tell you more about how these are implanted, how they work, and why they are great tools. Microchips can be implanted as soon as a dog is old enough to get vaccines, so you can even have it done at the first standard puppy checkup.