Losing your pet is a traumatic experience many would rather not experience. Unfortunately, around 33% of pet owners will lose their pets at least once. Collars and ID tags make it easier to identify lost pets, but only if they don’t fall off or break.
Microchips are the closest thing to permanent identification for pets. However, many pet owners have questions about how this technology works and whether it is safe and reliable. This article will cover all you need to know about microchipping your pet.
What Is a Microchip?
A microchip is a device that emits a radio signal. Each of the devices comes with a unique ID. Veterinarians inject the chip under the skin around your pet’s shoulder blades. It’s as small as a grain of rice and doesn’t contain any moving parts or batteries.
The microchip transmits an ID number under a scanner. The ID number makes reuniting a lost pet with the owner easier—as long as it’s a duly registered microchip.
How Does Microchipping Your Pet Work?
To microchip your pet, you must take them to a qualified professional or a vet. The vet will scan a sterile microchip to confirm the identification parameters before loading it into a needle. The needle containing the microchip goes into the syringe or application gun.
The vet injects the microchip into the pet’s subcutaneous tissue along the spine. The pet must receive the injection in a standing position or lying on their stomach for optimal placement.
The vet will pull up the loose skin between the shoulder blades before quickly inserting the needle. On squeezing the application trigger, the microchip will go into the tissue. After the process, the vet will scan the pet again to ensure scanners can pick up the chip information.
What Does Microchipping Your Pet Do?
Microchipping simplifies identification if your pet ever goes missing. If a good Samaritan finds your pet and takes them to a vet or shelter, the staff will use a scanner to find the identification number on the chip.
The vet or shelter will contact you to reunite you with your lost pet if you have your information on the microchip ID. Keep in mind that the microchip is only useful if you keep the information in the microchip file up to date.
At What Age Can You Microchip a Puppy?
You can microchip a puppy at any age. However, it’s best when they are between seven and eight weeks old. For puppies of small breeds, you can wait until they are around three months old. At that age, they are almost near their full adult size.
Does Microchipping Hurt Dogs?
Microchipping doesn’t hurt dogs more than a standard immunization. It requires injection using a hypodermic needle. Therefore, your dog will feel a slight sting but nothing more.
The process doesn’t require anesthesia, and there’s no “recovery” time. Your vet may recommend a numbing cream if you have a very young dog or one too sensitive to pain. Waiting for the cream to kick in will lengthen the process by up to 30 minutes.
Once inside, the microchip won’t hurt your dog. Neither does it generate heat or energy.
Pet Microchip Laws in Texas
As with other states in the US, pet microchip laws in Texas are lax. There’s no statewide law mandating pet owners to microchip their pets. The law requiring animal shelters, rescues, and releasing agencies to scan lost pets for microchips only came into effect on September 1, 2021.
The City of Houston passed an ordinance in January 2022 mandating pet owners to microchip their pets and obtain a certificate. However, enforcement of the law will not begin until 2023.
Animal rights groups and pet owners agree that the laws are not enough. For example, no law mandates a rescue or animal shelter to return a pet to the registered owner. If someone finds your pet and wants to keep them, the microchip doesn’t provide any legal standing for the owner.
How Long Does a Microchip Last in a Dog?
A microchip has no power supply, moving parts, or battery. Most units can last over 20 years, which means they work throughout your dog’s lifespan.
The microchip anchors to the thin layer of connective tissue around it. There’s no risk of it moving through or out of the pet’s body, and you don’t need to take any special precautions to keep it working.
Importance of Microchipping Your Pet
The main benefits of microchipping your pet include the following:
- It increases your chances of reuniting with your pet if they go missing.
- The microchip ID is unique to your pet, making it a suitable permanent identification.
- It’s a safe way to stay connected to your dog without giving away personal details to everyone who comes in contact with your dog.
How Much Does Microchipping Your Pet Cost
Microchipping your pet costs around $50. The cost covers the chip, the online registration process, and the vet’s fees. Your dog’s size doesn’t change the cost, as the chip size doesn’t vary.
The procedure is also the same regardless of the dog breed. The cost of microchipping your pet is smaller than what you stand to lose if you both become separated at any point.
If you adopted a pet from a shelter, you might not need to pay for microchipping. Pets in shelters may have microchips from their previous home, and some rescue organizations microchip any adopted pets before they leave.
If unsure, ask your vet to check for an existing microchip first. If you find one, you can transfer your information to the microchip ID number.
Is Microchipping Your Pet Safe?
Microchipping your pet is completely safe. It’s a walk-in process usually completed in less than five minutes.
The chip will not interfere with biological processes in your pet’s body nor put them in discomfort.