The thought of losing your pet is one of your worst nightmares, and proper identification is essential to help ensure you and your furry pal are reunited should they get lost. Microchipping is pets’ only permanent identification type, but some pet owners still neglect to schedule this important procedure. Our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Nasa team answers frequently asked questions (FAQs) about pet microchipping to explain the procedure and why this identification form is necessary.

Question: How do pets get lost?

Answer: You may presume your pet is at a low risk for becoming lost. However, many circumstances can cause your pet to become separated from you. When your pet is microchipped and registered, they are more likely to be returned to you if one of the following scenarios causes them to become separated from you: 

  • Fear of fireworks or thunderstorms (i.e., noise aversion)
  • Auto accidents
  • Natural disasters (e.g., earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes)
  • Pet theft
  • Home break-ins
  • Cognitive dysfunction syndrome (i.e., senior pet dementia)
  • Vision loss

Q: What is a pet microchip?

A: A pet microchip is a tiny, electronic device encased in a biocompatible glass cylinder, roughly the size of a grain of rice. A microchip does not require a power source or contain moving parts, so it is extremely unlikely to malfunction and will last throughout your pet’s life, with no need for replacement. The chip contains a unique identification number linked to a database, with details about your pet and your contact information. Microchipping is a simple and quick procedure, equivalent to a vaccination. Our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Nasa team implants the tiny chip in the loose skin behind your pet’s shoulder blades. The procedure is easy and relatively pain free, and we can implant the chip during your pet’s next wellness exam. 

Q: How does a pet microchip work?

A: When a microchip scanner is passed over the chip, it emits radio waves that activate the chip, which transmits your pet’s identification number to the scanner, displaying the information on the scanner’s screen. The microchip is not a global positioning system (GPS) device, and cannot track your pet if they are lost. If a veterinarian or animal shelter finds your pet, a team member will scan them to determine whether they have been chipped. The unique identification number stored in the microchip registration database accesses your contact information. A microchip’s primary purpose is to reunite lost or stolen pets with their owners, and you must keep your contact information up-to-date in the microchip’s associated database.

Q: Why should I microchip my pet?

A: Microchipping your pet is not a substitute for a collar and identification (ID) tags, and your pet should continue to wear their collar and tags that include your current contact information. However, a collar and tags aren’t foolproof and can break or fall off, leaving your pet unidentified. Microchipping provides multiple benefits, including:

  • Increased chance of reunification — A study of more than 7,000 stray animals showed that only 21.9% of unmicrochipped dogs, compared with 52.2% of microchipped dogs, were returned to their owners. Only 1.8% of unmicrochipped cats, compared with 38.5% of microchipped cats, were returned home. When microchipped pets were not returned home, the typical reason was because their owner information in the microchip database was missing or incorrect. Ensure you register your pet’s microchip and keep your contact information updated.
  • Proves pet ownership — If a thief steals your pet, they can change your four-legged friend’s appearance by simply shaving their coat. A microchip proves that the pet in question belongs to you.
  • Can store health information — Microchip registries allow you to provide essential information about your pet, including chronic health conditions, medical risks, daily medications, and notes about their personality. Although not required, this information may be crucial for a pet rescuer to know and can be easily accessed by scanning your pet’s microchip. 
  • Required for international travel — Most countries outside the United States require pet microchips that are compatible with the International Standards Organization (ISO) frequency. If you are planning a trip with your pet, contact the microchip manufacturer to determine the chip’s ISO compatibility. In addition, before traveling with your pet, contact the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for your destination’s pet health requirements.

Microchipping is a simple, safe way to increase the likelihood of a happy reunion should your pet become lost. Schedule your pet’s microchip embedding procedure with our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Nasa team.