What Is a Microchip?
A microchip is a small, electronic chip enclosed in a glass cylinder that is about the same size as a grain of rice. The microchip itself does not have a battery—it is activated by a scanner that is passed over the area, and the radio waves put out by the scanner activate the chip. The chip transmits the identification number to the scanner, which displays the number on the screen. The microchip itself is also called a transponder.
It is injected by a vet, under the skin using a hypodermic needle, usually between the shoulder blades. It is no more painful than a typical injection, although the needle is slightly larger than those used for injection. No surgery or anesthesia is required—a microchip can be implanted during a routine veterinary office visit. If your pet is already under anesthesia for a procedure, such as neutering or spaying, the microchip can often be implanted while they’re still under anesthesia.
The microchips presently used in pets only contain identification numbers. The microchip is not a GPS device and cannot track your animal if it gets lost. Although the present technology microchip itself does not contain your pet’s medical information, some microchip registration databases will allow you to store that information in the database for quick reference.
Should I Be Concerned About My Privacy?
You don’t need to be concerned about your privacy. The information you provide to the manufacturer’s microchip registry will be used to contact you in the event your pet is found and their microchip is scanned. In most cases, you can choose to opt in or opt out of other communications (such as newsletters or advertisements) from the manufacturer. The only information about you contained in the database is the information that you choose to provide when you register the chip or update your information. There are protections in place so that a random person can’t just look up an owner’s identification.
Remember that having the microchip placed is only the first step, and the microchip must be registered in order to give you the best chances of getting your pet back. If that information is missing or incorrect, your chances of getting your pet back are dramatically reduced.
Does the Microchip Help Reunite Pets With Their Owners?
When an animal is found and taken to a shelter or veterinary clinic, one of the first things they do is scan the animal for a microchip. If they find a microchip, and if the microchip registry has accurate information, they can quickly find the animal’s owner.
A study of more than 7,700 stray animals at animal shelters showed that dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 21.9% of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were returned to their owners 52.2% of the time. Cats without microchips were reunited with their owners only 1.8% of the time, whereas microchipped cats went back home 38.5% of the time. (JAVMA, July 15, 2009) For microchipped animals that weren’t returned to their owners, most of the time it was due to incorrect owner information (or no owner information) in the microchip registry database – so don’t forget to register and keep your information updated.
Should I Microchip My Pet?
Yes ! This is an easy way to identify your pet which may become necessary should they ever become lost. The individual microchip number contains information about your pet and contact information used to help reunite you with your pet.
If you should ever want to relocate your pet internationally, the microchip is a requirement to comply with import regulations.
What does the Microchip Frequency Mean?
The frequency of a microchip actually refers to the frequency of the radio wave given off by the scanner that activates and reads the microchip. Examples of microchip frequencies used in the U.S. include 125 kilo Hertz (kHz), 128 kHz, and 134.2 kHz.
What Does ISO Standard Mean ?
The International Standards Organization, or ISO, has approved and recommended a global standard for microchips. The global standard is intended to create an identification system that is consistent worldwide. For example, if a dog was implanted with an ISO standard microchip in the U.S. travels to Europe with its owners and becomes lost, the ISO standard scanners in Europe would be able to read the dog’s microchip. If the dog was implanted with a non-ISO microchip and the ISO scanner was not forward- and backward-reading (universal), the dog’s microchip might not be detected or be read by the scanner. The ISO standard frequency is 134.2 kHz. The forward reading scanners only detect 134.2 kHz (ISO standard) microchips, but will not detect 125 kHz or 128 kHz (non-ISO standard) microchips. Universal scanners, also called forward- and backward-reading scanners, detect all microchip frequencies. The main advantage of universal scanners is the improved chances of detecting and reading a microchip, regardless of the frequency. It also eliminates the need for multiple scanners with multiple frequencies.
When shipping pets internationally, it’s best to make sure they have the ISO microchip which can be read worldwide. Otherwise, the option to buy/rent a universal scanner to arrive with the pet is considered, assuming the country of import accepts this option.
Contact Continental Pet Relocation for more information regarding Pet Shipping and Pet Relocation.
My pet has a non ISO Microchip already and needs To have an ISO Microchip implanted – Is this OK?
Do I need to have one removed? Will they interfere with each other? Which microchip will be detected by the scanner?
No, you do not need to have one of the microchips removed and no, they will not interfere with each other. The microchip detected by the scanner will depend on the scanner used – if it is a universal (forward- and backward-reading) scanner, it will probably detect each chip as it is passed over it. To detect the other chip, the scanner has to be reset and passed over the area where it is located. If it is a scanner that only reads one microchip frequency, it will only detect a microchip of that specific frequency and will not detect or read the other microchip.
If you know your pet has more than one microchip implanted, make sure you keep the database information updated for each microchip. People don’t routinely assume there’s more than one microchip (because it is very uncommon), so they will try to find the owner based on the registry number of the microchip they detect.
If you are shipping your pet internationally, make sure that all documents list both microchip numbers with the focus on the ISO microchip which is readable worldwide.
Both chips will function normally. If your pet is scanned with a scanner that only reads 125 kHz chips, only the 125 kHz chip will be detected. If your pet is scanned with a universal (forward- and backward-reading) scanner, it could detect one or both chips separately
I’m relocating to a country that required the ISO Microchip and my pet does not have an ISO chip or doesn’t have a microchip at all. What do I need to do?
Your pet will need to be implanted with an ISO microchip before it will be allowed into that country. But that’s not the only thing you need to know: Countries differ widely on their importation rules, including different regulations about required vaccinations and quarantine periods once the animal enters that country. If you do some research and preparation, your pet’s relocation can go smoothly. Contact the country of origin to determine their requirements regarding microchips as well as vaccinations, certificates, etc. Alternatively, you can contact an experienced pet shipper who is well-versed in the processes and regulations affecting animal shipment.
I’m relocating to a country that requires ISO chips, and my pet has an ISO chip. What else do I need to do?
In general, your pet won’t need another microchip to be allowed into that country; however, you should check on the destination country’s animal importation regulations as you plan your relocation. That’s not the only thing you need to know: countries differ widely on their importation rules, including different regulations about required vaccinations and quarantine periods once the animal enters that country. If you do some research and preparation, your pet’s relocation can go smoothly. Contact the country of origin to determine their requirements regarding microchips as well as vaccinations, certificates, etc. Alternatively, you can contact an experienced pet shipper who is well-versed in the processes and regulations affecting animal shipment. Many countries require the vaccines to occur AFTER the microchip was implanted and there is typically a quarantine period as well prior to import.
Do the benefits of microchipping outweigh the risks?
The benefits of microchipping animals definitely outweigh the risks. Although we can’t guarantee that a shelter or veterinary clinic will always be able to read every microchip, the risk that this will happen is very low, and getting even lower. Animal shelters and veterinary clinics are very aware of the concerns about missing an implanted microchip, and take extra measures to determine if a microchip is present before a decision is made to euthanize or adopt out the animal. Universal scanners are becoming more available, and solve the challenge of detecting different microchip frequencies.
What should I do to “maintain” my pet’s microchip?
Once your pet is microchipped, there are only three things you need to do:
1) make sure the microchip is registered; 2) ask your veterinarian to scan your pet’s microchip at least once per year to make sure the microchip is still functioning and can be detected; and 3) keep your registration information up-to-date.
If you’ve moved, or if any of your information (especially your phone number) has changed, make sure you update your microchip registration in the manufacturer’s database as soon as possible.
To remind pet owners to check and update their information, AAHA and the AVMA have established August 15 as “Check the Chip Day.” Take a few minutes to check your information and update it if necessary