Although it is estimated that more than half of dogs in the U.S. have been microchipped, there are still many people who wonder whether or not they should microchip their dog. Microchipping your dog is a permanent way to identify your dog as belonging to you, and is one of the best ways for your dog to be returned to you if they get lost.  As an animal shelter volunteer for 8 years, I can attest to the importance and success of microchipping dogs (and cats!) In this post I'll share the benefits and cost of microchipping a dog, and why I feel so strongly about dogs being microchipped.


Why Microchip Dogs?

Should You Microchip Your Dog? 

In my opinion, the statistics in the above graphic alone should make any dog owner want to run and get their dog microchipped!  

When I was volunteering at the animal shelter, it was always so heart-wrenching when a sweet, adorable dog arrived with no identification. Collars and tags can break off, and frightened dogs can suddenly become little Houdini's, wriggling out of collars or harnesses!  In addition, a dog's ID tags and collars can be inadvertently removed by someone, or become worn out and unreadable over time.

If there isn't a tag with updated (readable) contact information associated with him, the dog is scanned for a microchip at the shelter. If there are no tags and no microchip on the dog, there is no way to identify the owner. Shelter staff have to hope an owner makes their way to the shelter on their own in search of their missing dog.

It's a heartbreak when you can't identify a dog's owner, and a joy when you can. Once a dog ends up at a shelter, there are only a few short days before the dog is put up for adoption if the owner isn't found.  Would you want to take that risk with your furbaby? I know I wouldn't.  All my dogs and cats have been microchipped and wear ID tags. Pets should have both!

What Is Microchipping A Dog? 

Microchipping a dog entails a Veterinarian or other qualified pet health individual inserting a tiny chip, about the size of a grain of rice underneath the skin, usually between the shoulder blades.  A microchip for dogs is a permanent way to identify and link your dog to you. Having your dog microchipped could mean the difference between your lost (or even stolen) dog being returned to you, or ending up as someone else's pet.  

How Do Microchips Work In Dogs? 

The microchip, a tiny chip the size of a grain of rice, is permanently inserted into your pet using a syringe, placed just under their skin. Each chip has a unique identification number that links your pet to the information you provide at the time you register your dog's chip with the microchip manufacturer, or other pet microchip registration.

Microchipping dogs is a simple procedure requiring No anesthesia or incision. It can be done during a routine Veterinary visit in just a few minutes. It's as quick & easy as getting vaccinated.

BENEFITS AND COST OF MICROCHIPPING A DOG   What is microchipping a dog?
Microchipping permanently links your dog to you

Loose skin between the shoulder blades is pulled up, and a needle is inserted. The applicator trigger is squeezed, injecting the microchip into the tissue. This procedure doesn't cause your dog pain or discomfort, they won't even know it's there! Microchips are non-toxic, so your dog shouldn't experience any allergic reaction once the chip is implanted.

Keeping your dog's profile up to date with your current contact information is critical. When a veterinarian or shelter finds a lost or missing dog, they can use a scanner to read their chip. They can then contact the microchip company's recovery service informing them that they have located a lost pet that has one of their chip's implanted. The chip company will then contact the dog owner and facilitate reuniting them with their dog.

Can Microchipped Dogs Be Tracked? 

No, a microchip isn't a tracking device or GPS. Microchips use Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology enabling the chip to be scanned, using a microchip reader. The microchip stores the chip manufacturer's contact information and information that enables that dog owner to be identified and notified by the chip's recovery team.  A microchip by itself can't figure out your dog's location if they get lost. Someone needs to locate your dog, have him scanned for a microchip, and read the contact information stored on the microchip, which leads to the dog's safe return.

How long does a microchip last in a dog?

A microchip should last the life of your dog, whether you have them microchipped as a puppy or an adult dog. 

People often ask, What is the best age to microchip a dog?  A dog can be microchipped at virtually any age, from a puppy (about 8 weeks old) to a senior dog. No matter when you have your dog microchipped, the important thing is to have it done! It's never too late to get dogs microchipped - as long as your dog's Veterinarian doesn't think your particular dog has any medical reason why your dog shouldn't be chipped.  I've never heard of that happening, but you should always check with your Veterinarian whenever you make changes that concern your dog.

How Can I Find Out Where To Microchip Dogs Near Me? 

You can have your dog microchipped in a variety of places. Your Veterinarian is the first logical place to contact. You can also contact your community's animal shelters and see if any of them offer pet microchipping services at a lower cost.  Several retail pet supply stores offer both vaccinations and microchipping for pets. 

Your puppy or dog may already have a microchip. Many puppy breeders, animal shelters and rescues have begun microchipping their puppies and dogs, or offering it as a service. It's very important to note that although a chip has been implanted in the dog you're bringing home, you are usually responsible for contacting the microchip company's pet registry and providing them with your contact information. Don't skip this step! A microchip is useless without your contact information attached to it.

You can also use a separate microchip registry service. You may want to do this if, for example, the microchip company charges a registration fee you don't wish to pay. Search online for free pet microchip registries, but beware of scam sites! Make sure they are legitimate. I heard from one rescue group that is a legitimate free pet microchip registry.

How Much Does It Cost To Microchip A Dog? 

The price of microchipping dogs can range depending on where you have it done. From what I've seen, most Veterinarians will charge anywhere from $25 to $75.  Some pet supply retailers, such as Petco, have Veterinary clinics and offer this service at select store locations as well. However, your pet usually needs to be a patient of theirs.  The Petco near us charges $55 to microchip a dog, and the dog must be a patient of theirs and the dog must also have a Vet exam at the same time, so the cost of the microchip visit is considerably higher! PetSmart offers microchipping as well through their in-store Banfield Veterinary clinics, but I don't have pricing information for them.

How To Find Low Cost Microchipping For Dogs and Cats 

There are a number of places you should be able to find low cost microchipping for your dog.  I have seen these range from about $15 to $25.  In my area of South Florida one animal rescue organization charges $25, and one in the next county charges $20.  I searched and found that Los Angeles Animal Services Centers in California charges about $15. They sometimes offer free microchipping as a special event. You can search online for "low cost microchipping in [your county, town, or city name]".

Free microchipping events may not be given year round, but many areas offer free microchips for pets at various times throughout the year.  Try searching online for "free microchipping clinics near me" or "free microchipping in [your county, town, or city name].  You may find one or more free microchipping events happening in your area.  

Here's a YouTube video that demonstrates a dog receiving a microchip at a veterinary office.  You can see how quick and easy it is to microchip a dog!

NOTE: It is illegal for anyone other than a pet's owner to request that a microchip be removed from a pet. If a dog's owner changes, the new owner information needs to be updated with the microchip company with whom the chip is registered. It's important to always keep your contact information updated with the microchip recovery service (or whichever pet recovery service you have registered the chip with).

I hope this information helps explain why it's important to have your dog or cat microchipped, and gives folks some useful pet microchipping facts. If your dog isn't already microchipped, I hope you will consider it. Don't risk losing your precious dog because you can't be reliably linked together!

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Anonymous said...

Chipping a dog is esential. It is safer, more secure. What if they get lost, or they are stolen?

It is SO worth the money for the peace of mind you get and the resutnr of your dog it it gets lost.

Marjorie at Dash Kitten

Tail Wag Wisdom said...

Microchips are super important part of having dogs and cats, especially. Although, I guess other critters are being chipped now too. I know when I adopted Henry I was told he wasn't chipped. However, his vet found that he was chipped and provided the number on his first visit. The the issue became how to transfer the chip to me. That was interesting to learn. It seemed more difficult than it actually was though. He's now registered with three different data base companies. All with their free service. However, each company's free service offers something different. So, Henry is well covered. Plus, I also make sure his information is kept up-to-date, which is also critical. I definitely agree that folks should chip their dogs and keep the info updated.

LaylasWoof said...

Fantastic post as Microchips are so important and every pet should have one. It so upsets me when pets get lost and are not chipped as it means they lose their families

FiveSibesMom said...

This is such an important article! I cannot even fathom why a pet parent would not microchip. We even microchipped our feral cat (when I could catch him and have him vetted & chipped). When we lost our first cat, even though the vet knew who our cat was, the gal who saw her get hit by a car called us. While so was better to know and we rushed right over to the hospital. Sadly, she did not make it, and we had to put her to rest. But having that info meant we knew and could go to her, which was better than to always wonder what happened to her. I always had all of my dogs microchipped when they went int for the spay and neutering. The happy ending stories of those who were reunited with families are a true testament to the importance of microchipping. This awareness is so important. Sharing this info for sure!

Dawn said...

Microchipping of all dogs has been law since 2016 in the UK. Having been a victim of dog theft myself when somebody entered my house and stole 4 of my dogs way back in the 80s know only too well the heartache of never knowing what happened to them, so I started getting my dogs tattooed, my dogs at the time were then amongst the first in the country to receive microchips when the first came out in the late 90s I think it was. Both my current dogs are also microchipped and tattooed, spaniels are a massive theft breed here in the UK, so if somebody did steal them and remove their chips, hopefully the tattoo would make them too hot to handle and they dump them somewhere and I'd eventually be reunited with them again. But that aside microchipping saves lives of lost dogs without having to go through the shelter system. Here if we find a dog we take it to the local vet and they look up the microchip then contact the owner direct, so they're usually reunited with their owner within hours of being found, I've heard a rumour that soon all cats will need to be microchipped here too although I've no idea how they'd enforce that one. Thank you for stopping by my blog as I'm so happy to have found yours xxx

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Oh my God Dawn, I am so sorry to hear that you went through the horror of losing 4 of your furry family members - I can't even imagine that heartbreak. I really admire the UK for making microchipping dogs a law, I was really happy to hear about that when it became law. I don't understand why the US doesn't follow suit! Although it is illegal in the US to remove a microchip from a dog that doesn't belong to you. I'm glad you both microchip and tattoo your dogs. that helps so much. Thank you for sharing your story, I think it might help other dog owners who are on the fence about microchipping their pet.

Hindy Pearson said...

We can't talk enough about the importance of microchipping. How many times are dogs and cats lost who have no form of ID, and what are the chances they'll be reunited with their families. It takes no time at all to get a microchip, but details must be kept up to date for it to be effective.

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