Microchipping dogs is required in most countries as a way to identify dogs along with details of their owners, caretakers, and even breeders. While pet microchips are a lot more robust system than the older tattoo ID number, many pet owners are worried.
Indeed, microchip implants for dogs are inserted under the dog’s skin and some owners are unaware of how the system works, or how the implant is inserted by the vet. This comprehensive guide to pet microchipping will explain, in details, how the system works, what are the best pet microchip companies, and how to do it right.
What are Microchip Implants for Dogs?
Dog microchip implants are designed for the purpose of correctly identifying a dog via a scanning device. In terms of size, a dog microchip is no bigger than a grain of rice. The design of a pet identification chip is made up of a small capsule made of bioglass with the internal components encased inside. Dog chip trackers can also be found externally, such as the RFID ear tags, that can be read with the same scanner as the microchip implant. These external chips, however, are used more for farm animals rather than for dogs.
Microchips for pets are operated by a Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology which enables a fast response rate. Pet identification microchips are radio-frequency identification transponders, also referred to as PIT (Passive Integrated Transponders) tags. Pet microchips serve as an integrated circuit placed underneath the skin of a dog. Pet RFID chips can be used for more than 25 years.
Microchips Aren't GPS Trackers
It is important to note that RFID chips for dogs are not the type of chip that allows outsiders to track a dog’s location as so many mistakenly assume. Microchips are not like GPS tracking systems that require outside power sources. Dogs cannot be tracked in this way, so if your dog happens to get lost at some point, you will be unable to see where he is with just a pet RFID chip. However, if somebody brings the dog to the vet, the vet can scan the ID and contact the registered owner. Dog trackers, or location trackers, are entirely different devices.
Dog Microchip Registration
A pet microchip registry is a database in which the personal identification details of the dog who has been microchipped is stored. For a microchipped dog to be registered, an enrollment form must first be completed by the dog breeder or the dog owner.
A dog microchipping form should contain:
- the unique ID number of the dog,
- the owner’s personal contact information,
- the description and the name of the pet,
- the kennel name or breeder’s name,
- information regarding the shelter or veterinary of the dog, and
- an emergency contact.
All this information is sent to the registry through a pet microchip company which could be a manufacturer of the chip or another distributor. It could also be sent to another independent entity as well. It is possible to have the vet or shelter be the primary contact person if desired.
Depending on the country one lives, there are also national registries available. Registration certificates will be issued to the dog owner. With this certificate, owners obtain the number to call in case they need a recovery service. Collar tags with the information imprinted on them are also convenient options to consider as this serves as proof of the ownership of the dog. Most kennel clubs require a microchip for each dog being registered.
How Does Dog Microchipping Work?
The main function of a dog microchip is to store a unique ID number. Once a scanner is placed over the area in which the dog RFID chip is located, a radio frequency is emitted to send the ID number. Once obtained, a microchip registry is called and this ID number get used to retrieve personal information.
The company where the dog is registered will be able to use the ID number on the scanner and produce the information that comes directly from the pet recovery base. Pet RFID chips are great as they can be used for more than 25 years and these chip implants are meant to stay in place. Often times, chips can be found with an anti-migration feature that keeps them from moving out of place through the bonding with the tissue underneath the dog’s skin.
An RFID chip for dogs is injected into the skin just as any other injection, except for the needles tend to be a bit larger in order to accommodate the size of the implant.
Pet Microchip Frequencies
Pet identification chips emit a unique frequency and are only activated when scanned. The most common frequency has always been 125 kHz which is the most common frequency used as it is read by most scanners worldwide. For a scanner to respond to a frequency it needs to be of the same frequency or else it will not produce results. Therefore, a microchip that responds to a scanner with 125 kHz will not respond to one that has 134 kHz. The 134 kHz frequency was later introduced and in 2007, the 128 kHz was introduced. Never microchip your pet more than once as both chips may interfere with one another.
Pet Microchip Implant Procedure
A pet microchip implant procedure is actually fairly quick and does not require anesthesia. Before the actual procedure, a veterinarian will prepare a hypodermic needle for the insertion. The microchip is placed inside a needle and applicator with the ID number already on the label.
The vet will gather together some flesh from the dog’s neck between the shoulder blades. The needle will be inserted and the retractor handle pulled back. This will release the microchip inside the animal. From that moment on, the microchip will stay indefinitely inside the dog forever and is already activated to be used and scanned when necessary.
There is nothing more than the dog owner or breeder needs to do at this point. Just remember the chipping procedure only supplies the number. Therefore, without registration of that number, it becomes meaningless.
Benefits of Pet Identification Microchips
Microchipping for dogs, and pets, in general, has become a mandatory step for all dog owners. These tiny little RFID chips offer huge benefits for all parties involved: breeders, owners, and pets themselves. Considering the downsides of implanting these chips are nonexistent, everybody agrees that this system outperforms the previous one of physically tattooing a dog’s ear.
For Dog Owners
Dog owners are usually the people who benefit the most from pet identification chips. After all, no dog owner wants to risk losing their dog. When purchasing a new dog, always ensure if the dog is chipped and if so, where it is located. Ensure you know how to scan it. For dog owners, having a microchipped dog can provide security and ease of mind knowing that if there is ever an issue in losing him, there is a viable solution in retrieving your lost pet.
Furthermore, a dog who embeds an RFID chip proves to outsiders to whom the dog really belongs to, giving dog owners more authority and credibility. In reality, dog tags and collars can fall off or can even get destroyed making the information illegible. With a chip, that is no longer a problem as these chips are hidden inside the dog and cannot be mingled with by outside sources.[pullquote-right]The American Humane Association estimates that one in three pets will become lost at some point during their life.[/pullquote-right]
For Dog Breeders
Dog breeders can also reap the advantages of having their dogs chipped. Often times, breeders have a lot of dogs that they need to keep track of and keep organized for business. Having their puppies tracked will help breeders better identify their dogs.
As a result of this, having your dogs microchipped as a breeder helps you confirm which puppy was sold to which buyer. This can prove to be invaluable in your business as this serves as a contract and in doing so, keeps you protected. Top pet microchip companies, such as AKC Reunite, offer additional benefits and resources to breeders who have their pets microchipped.
As a breeder, you will always be linked to the dog even after the purchase. In addition, these dogs also meet the requirements for a permanent ID in any responsible breeding program.
Dogs who are microchipped with pet identification are guaranteed more safety and overall health. Often times, there is nobody that can speak for a dog. For example, if a dog needs to go to the vet or is found and taken to the vet, the vet will be able to track down the information of the owner of the dog and contact them. They will also be able to retrieve important information regarding his health.
If a dog is stolen, the chip can literally save his life or at least assist him in finding his home. Puppies who have a pet RFID chip may grow up to be more confident and trusting of others due to being taken care of and watched better.
Most Popular Dog Microchip Companies
A dog microchip company can be a lifesaver for many pet owners and breeders alike. The main role of a microchip company is to provide unparallel support in finding lost dogs. A good microchipping company should offer a variety of services relative to pet identification. Their staff is highly trained and they should be committed to protecting your pets. They should make the process easier and give you peace of mind. Not all companies are the same, however, and finding that perfect one may require some research.
Home Again (US)
The Home Again pet microchip company provides lifetime registrations for the dog owners. For an exclusive price of ~$19.99, dogs can receive an unlimited supply of benefits and gain instant access to a wide network of professionals who are highly trained in their fields.
With over two million pets recovered and over two million Home Again pet rescuers, the Home Again pet microchip company in the US provides top of the quality microchip scanners, an emergency medical hotline, and even travel assistance for your pets. They provide lost pet specialists who work around the clock to send out Lost Pet Alerts. Pet parents have the option of creating a Lost Pet Poster for their lost loved one.
Pet Link (US)
Pet Link creates a permanent bond between owners and their pets and their pets are not limited to just dogs and cats. This microchipping company in the US provides in-depth videos and other educational materials in order that pet owners may feel confident in their identification solutions.
In business through the Datamars pet recovery and pet registration database, costumers can enjoy the added benefits through their online shopping source for purchasing various gears and personalized accessories. If you find a pet, from the homepage just insert the microchip number and the database will automatically conduct your search. However, for international searches, they advise contacting Petmaxx.
The trustworthy, US-based AvidID pet microchip company not only provides microchipping technology but also offers tracking devices. The enrollment process is simple. Just enroll your pet RFID chip number with the PETtrac technology to begin the journey of keeping your loved ones protected.
There are no annual fees and guests receive 24-hour pet recovery service, and a private, secure recovery database. Scanners available through the AvidID include a MiniTracker 3 with universal FDX and Bluetooth. The Power Tracker VIII is an RFID reader with the ability to translate and storage up to 2000 AVID. Customers can purchase Avid collar tags as well as DNA identification systems.
AKC Reunite (US)
Having direct links to the American Kennel Club, AKC Reunite is a US company that specializes in disaster relief programs and comprehensive pet transfer services. Reunite feature indigo microchips of 134.2 kHz ISO, as well as INDI Minichips which are ideal for cats and dogs that have short coats a thinner skin without the thick folds.
Their universal scanner provided is able to scan all brands of dog microchips on the market. Customers of AKC Reunite can easily transfer their pet’s records with a completed form and the release from the primary contact. The pet microchip company provides an array of resources in how to scan and microchip a pet, pet travel, marketing your program, as well as providing a wealth of information o tailored programs. Their resource center provides necessary forms to fill out, tips, and safety precautions.
Petlog is the UK’s largest database for microchipped pets. Options available through their online site include recording your dog’s overseas microchip, transferring of ownership, dog microchip identification as well as reporting lost and found, and changes of addresses. Just simply microchip your dog, add it to the Petlog database after creating your personal profile, and keep up to date with the all the latest news and trends.
Informational resources are offered to dog owners, breeders, veterinarians, police authorities, and various animal welfare organizations. Upgrading the membership to Petlog premium allows even greater access to more features such as the inclusion of lost pet alerts, downloading free missing pet posters, and the option of adding holiday and friend’s contact information.
Pet Microchip Lookups
Currently, there are two major online databases that serve as pet microchip lookups in which dog owners can check their pet’s identification RFID chip numbers.
In the US, Pet Microchip Lookup provides US residents with a platform to search for microchip identifications. Just simply enter your microchip ID and number and click search. The results you get back are from the most recent entries. Then call the first company that shows up where it indicates with whom the chip is enrolled by.
For international pet microchip lookups, Pet Maxx is the platform to use. You can search various databases by the country selected. It’s essentially a search engine that allows users to search simultaneously for transponder numbers in chips using multiple database platforms.
Questions about Microchipping Dogs
Implanting a chip under your dog’s skin is worrying more than a few dog owners and dog breeders out there. So we want to answer common questions about microchipping dogs to reassure our readership.
Are pet identification microchips safe?
In a general sense, yes, dog microchip implants are safe and do not cause any harm to the animal. However, there have been very rare cases of hemorrhages or a chip moving out of place within the body. These are very rare occurrences.
Just like with any procedure done on the body that involves planting a foreign object into any crevice, there will always be a potential risk involved. This is when dog owners should weigh out the benefits vs the risks. The major concern regarding a chip implant would be the possibility of the body rejecting it. Likewise, microchips may aggravate the immune system through an auto-immune reaction.
Another concern would be having the wrong chip frequency that is not easily tracked by common scanners. There have been cases in which dogs have not made it back to their respective owners do this problem. This is why universal scanners have recently been introduced to avoid this kind of situation.
What are the side effects of dog microchips?
Rare side effects that may or may not present themselves when a dog receives a microchip implant include:
- hair loss,
- chip malfunction, or
For the most part, the process of microchipping is a very straightforward process and it is a very safe one at that. Some dogs may initially bleed as soon as the injection has been placed. But this is similar to the prick of one feels when receiving their shots. This pain subsides rapidly and normally does not pose any kind of threat. These chips are designed to not bring on any type of inflammatory response in an animal, therefore, swelling in the individual after the procedure is not usually common.
Some dogs experience hair loss during some time after a procedure has been made. There have also been some cases in which problems have arisen due to a veterinary not implementing the chip in the correct way, or not in the appropriate place on the body. However, most incidents are minor cases. Dog owners should keep in mind that the vast majority of these animals who get chipped experience very minimal effects from the experience (if any at all).
What data gets stored on a microchip implant?
A pet microchip implant only holds an identification number that is linked to a record in a registrar’s database. The microchip itself does not contain personal data. It is what is assigned to that number’s record that is useful.
A dog microchip links to a record that stores data such as the owner’s personal information on how to contact them including phone numbers and addresses. These are the details each dog owner and breeder must input at the time of the registration process. When the dog owner or breeder goes to register for a chip, they choose the information that will be stored in the database. This will also include who is the primary owner or caretaker of the animal.
If a person moves, changes their phone number, or transfers the ownership from one person to the next, then they must notify the registry and update their details in the system.
How to find a dog's microchip number?
Finding a dog’s microchip number is done by placing a scanner of the same frequency of the chip against the skin in which it had been planted. The scanner will automatically scan the device using passive radio-frequency identification. The chip that is inside the animal will emit a radio-frequency signal back to the scanner.
This is how the scanner is able to read the personal identification number, or ID, of the pet. This unique code is registered in a registry which is automatically called. That registry company uses the number to retrieve the information that is stored in the database. Most vet hospitals and animals shelters carry global scanners. These scanners are able to read dog microchips from most manufacturers in the US, and some international chips too.
Where are identification microchips located on a pet?
The most common part of the body where an identification microchip implant is located is underneath the skin on the back of the neck, between the shoulder blades, right on the dorsal midline.
Of course, this very well depends on the type of animal it is. For dogs, the back of the neck is the normal procedure. European pets, for example, get the chip inserted on the side of their necks. Horses get their chip implanted on the left side of their necks between the withers and poll about an inch below the mane midline. Birds, on the other hand, receive their chips in their breast muscles. The connective tissues around the implant are what hold the chip in place and keep it from losing its spot.
There are some external microchips that are placed on the ears such as the RFID ear tag. As one can imagine, the place in which these chips are normally placed varies from one animal to animal. These things are subject to change due to outside factors that would normally affect the frequency range of the object implanted. Implanted chips can often times mess with magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) and this also includes the spinal types.