In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, it seemed appropriate to discuss the importance of microchipping. Being separated from your pet can be heartbreaking no matter the circumstances, but natural disasters such as hurricanes can make things even more unpredictable. Collars and ID tags are very important to keep your pet identified, but are not always 100% reliable. Many times collars can fall off, or tags can break away. This can leave your pet as an unidentifiable stray, and make uniting you and your pet difficult and unlikely. These pets are often brought into the shelter where they await their owner to find them, or for the shelter to re-home them. This scenario can be devastating for pets and owners alike, but luckily it can be prevented with microchips.
Microchips are computer chips, about the size of a grain of rice, that are implanted under the skins surface. The microchip is placed between the shoulder blades using a syringe, in a similar fashion to giving a vaccine. These chips are given a unique sequence of numbers that are then assigned to that pet that is kept in their medical record and also kept on the microchip company's database. When a pet is found at a shelter a microchip reader is used over the animals back to check for a chip. Once the microchip number is found, contact information to reunite the pet and owner is a phone call away.
Microchipping is fast, easy, and vital to keeping your pet's safe. The process of implanting the microchip takes minutes and can be done when the pet is awake or asleep for a surgical procedure such as a spay, neuter or dental.
Studies such as this study from the AVMA helps to show the importance of microchipping by demonstrating the increased likeliness of returning a pet to an owner when the animal has a microchip. This article shows an increased rate of returning shelter animals to their owners when they have microchips placed. This research specifically states that dogs are over 2.5 times more likely to be returned to their owners where as cats are a staggering 20 times more likely to be reunited with the use of a microchip.
Microchips are a under utilized tool in veterinary medicine, but are invaluable for reuniting lost pets and their owners. In order to work the chip needs to be registered into a database and contact information needs to be kept up to date.
If you have questions or concerns regarding microchipping your pet, consult your veterinarian.