A missing pet is heartbreaking—wondering where they are, and whether they will be safely returned, leads to stress and sleepless nights. Microchipped dogs are 2.4 times more likely to be reunited with their owners than non-microchipped dogs. Cats are a remarkable 21.4 times more likely to have a happy ending to a story that could have been tragic. 

Don’t let your missing pet become only a memory—read our guide, and then bring your pet to be microchipped at Johnson County Animal Clinic.

Techno-pets? The microchip explained

The microchip has become a worldwide standard for pet identification because of its ease of administration and convenience. Only the size of a grain of rice, the electronic chip is pre-programmed with a single piece of data—a string of unique numbers that correspond with a microchip manufacturer and registry. The chip is readable only when detected by a handheld microchip scanner at an animal shelter, veterinary hospital, or animal control. The microchip number is linked to registered owner contact information stored in a national database. When the shelter or a veterinarian contacts the microchip registry, the registry can contact the owner with the good news that their pet has been found.   

The process: Does my pet need anesthesia to be microchipped?

Microchip implantation does not require anesthesia or sedation, and can be performed at your pet’s wellness appointment. Microchips are traditionally implanted through the loose skin over the shoulders. This standardized location allows animal facilities predictability of a microchip’s placement for scanning. This is the implantation process:

  • Pets are first scanned to confirm no other microchip is present.
  • The microchip is scanned in its packaging to confirm readability, and to ensure the number matches the packaging.
  • A team member will safely restrain your pet so they cannot move during the injection.
  • The veterinarian or technician placing the chip will lift and lightly pinch the loose skin over your pet’s shoulder blades to desensitize the area, and then inject your pet. 
  • The pet is scanned again to confirm accurate chip placement.

The entire process takes only slightly longer than a vaccine, and ensures lifelong identification for your pet. Although the microchip is small, a large hypodermic needle is required for smooth and accurate placement, so your pet will likely experience momentary discomfort. Over time, the body will form a harmless fibrous capsule that will fix the microchip in the tissue. Your pet should always be microchipped by a veterinary professional, because inaccurate technique can lead to excessive pain, inappropriate placement, and microchip loss. 

Sign me up! The crucial step of microchip registration

Your pet may be microchipped, but an unregistered chip cannot help your pet. In a study published by the American Veterinary Medical Association, only 58 percent of microchipped pets found by 53 shelters were registered to a microchip database. This means for the remaining 42 percent, the microchip was useless. 

You must register your pet’s microchip immediately following implantation. Many organizations make completing or transferring the pet’s registration the owner’s responsibility, but they often overlook this step, lose the paperwork, or believe their pet is protected simply because they are microchipped. To ensure your pet’s registration, follow these steps:

  • Find your pet’s microchip number — The number may be on your adoption paperwork, or in our hospital records. You can also bring your pet by to have the chip scanned anytime.
  • Search the number — Go to Pet Microchip Lookup, which will give you instant manufacturer and registry information, including the last time your pet’s information was updated.
  • Contact the manufacturer — Register the number in your name, or update your contact information.

It’s that simple, but small things make a big difference.

Don’t let your pet stay lost. Be there when they need you most

Regardless of your pet’s identification method—and we hope that you’re using more than one—updating information is crucial. In the same AVMA study, 35.4 percent of missing pets’ owners could not be contacted, because the phone numbers on a pet’s tag or microchip were no longer current. To increase the chance of getting your pet back if they are lost, make sure you keep your contact information up to date.  If you move, change phone numbers, or want to add an additional contact to your account, call the microchip company to provide them with your updated information. Most microchip companies have interactive websites where you can easily update your information.

Check the chip! Your pet’s annual exam is the perfect time

Any technology can fail, but microchips seldom become unreadable. However, they sometimes migrate out of position. We check your pet’s chip at every annual examination. A quick scan confirms the chip’s position and functioning, and also serves as a reminder to update the registry information. Migrated chips are typically not harmful, but may reduce the chances of identification by another facility. If the chip is significantly out of place, we may advise you to implant a second chip in the correct position.

With one in three pets expected to go missing in their lifetime, you cannot afford to not microchip your pet. Always keep a well-fitting collar and tags on your pet for added security, and keep them confined to a leash or crate in unfamiliar areas. If you have additional questions, or would like to make an appointment to have your pet microchipped, contact Johnson County Animal Clinic.