Pet Talk: Make it a New Year’s Resolution to Microchip Your Pet

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If your new year includes adding a furry friend to your family, consider microchipping your new pet to help locate it if it ever gets lost. Dr. James Barr, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, said microchipping is one of the newest ways to locate and identify lost animals.

A microchip is a glass-encased device that bears an identification number unique to every marked animal. Once the microchip is inserted under the animal’s skin and registered with the device’s company, the microchip can be activated with a scanner at a veterinarian’s office or local animal shelter. With no batteries or power source required to activate a microchip, this device will provide a permanent identity for your pet that will last its entire lifetime.

While many owners protect and identify their pet with a personalized collar, there are many strong advantages to microchipping your pet. For instance, pet collars may fall or slip off and personalized tags may become unreadable after several years. Microchips do not face any of these challenges and have no chance of being removed, no matter where Fido wanders off to.

“The biggest advantage is that a microchip can’t be lost,” Barr said. “It allows access to detailed information about the pet and its owner with a quick phone call to the device’s company.”

Barr also added that most microchips can be conveniently installed at veterinarian offices and sometimes even spay and neuter clinics. He further explained that the process of installing a microchip is quick and does not hurt the animal, contrary to what some might believe.

“A microchip is implanted under the skin between the shoulder blades using a needle and plunger, which is similar to a syringe,” Barr said. “The needle is a rather large needle comparatively to what would be used for a vaccine, but it usually does not require sedation and is only transiently uncomfortable for the animal.”

Microchips, which are about the size of a grain of rice, can be installed into dogs, cats, horses, ferrets, and most other mammals. If you are considering microchipping your pet, consult your local veterinarian to see which microchipping companies are most commonly used in your area. Some chips are more universally read than others, so it is important to consider which microchips your local veterinarian and animal shelters can read. Finally, do not forget to register your chip to your name and phone number. If you move to another address or change phone numbers, you will be required to update this information with your microchip’s company. A microchip will only bring your pet home if your contact information is kept up to date.

Though personalized collars have been traditionally used as a method of identification in pets, microchipping is on the rise of becoming the modern solution for lost animals. To help prevent your new furry companion from becoming lost this year, consider a microchip that is registered to your name and updated contact information.