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According to the American Humane Association, over 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the U.S. every year – a statistic that equals out to one in three pets that are lost or missing at some point in their life.
It’s something you hope will never happen to you, but unfortunately, it’s entirely possible that it might.
The stats are depressing, and the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association backs them up: In a study of 53 animal shelters, less than two percent of lost cats that entered the shelters were reunited with their families. For microchipped cats, however, that number was much higher — over 38 percent had a happy reunion with their owners.
May is National Microchip Your Pet Month, so today on the blog, we’re discussing why and how you should microchip your pet. Keep reading for all of the details.
What Is A Microchip and How Does It Work?
Microchips are small computer chips (the size of a grain of rice). Microchips are implanted under your pet’s skin, right between the shoulder blades; a vet performs the procedure, which is very similar to a vaccination. Each microchip has an individual registration number that’s added to an official registry service. That number can be detected using a microchip reader that displays the owner’s name and contact information; most animal shelters and vet offices have a microchip reader on hand. Microchips do not require batteries or power.
It’s your responsibility to make sure your information in the database is always up-to-date. If you need to change your contact information, try searching the AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup website with your pet’s microchip number. There are several different microchip registries, and this website will tell you which one your pet is registered with. From there, you can contact the registry and update your personal information.
It’s not enough to just know that your pet has a microchip — your contact information has to be in the database and it has to be correct, or the microchip won’t help you and your pet reunite if your pet should get lost.
Why Should I Microchip My Pet?
Microchipping is the best way to ensure that your pet will return safely if lost. Collars with name tags can be helpful, but aren’t the best solution because they are not permanent — name tags can become outdated, fall off, or your address might rub off over time. Microchips are also helpful if you become caught in a stolen pet case, as microchips serve as proof of ownership.
Plus, microchips last for a lifetime. They don’t require any upkeep or additional costs after the initial implant. And the upfront cost of a microchip is typically only $40 to $50. In the U.S., microchipping pets is voluntary. But it’s a very smart idea — even well-known actress and celebrity Vanessa Williams thinks so.
Is implanting a microchip painful? No — not more so than any other injection. Your vet can perform the implant at any routine checkup and no anesthesia is required.
Can a microchip track my pet? No. A microchip is distinct from a GPS tracking device. The only function of a microchip is to store information.
I just adopted a new pet. How can I tell if it’s already microchipped? Ask the shelter if they scanned the animal to see if it’s microchipped. If you adopted your pet from another individual instead of from a shelter, have your vet scan for a microchip at your pet’s first checkup.
My pet has a microchip. Does it still need ID tags? Yes. Up-to-date ID tags (and rabies tags) are just as important! A microchip should be a last resort; it gives you peace of mind to know that a permanent solution is always there. But if your pet simply runs down the street, whoever finds it can easily read the tags on its collar and bring your pet home within just a few minutes.
The team at PetFirst Pet Insurance loves helping pet parents have the ability to give their pets the best care possible.
Accidents, like getting lost, are always unexpected. We want to be by your side during emergencies — we can give you a free quote today.