If your pet has ever gone missing, you understand the stress and anxiety of not knowing their whereabouts, safety, or wellbeing. Are they injured, scared, alone? One in three pets will go missing at some point during their lifetime, and you should be prepared if that happens to your family pet. Collars and tags are good starting points, but these identifiers can fall or break off, or become illegible. 

August 15 is National Check the Chip Day, when pet parents are encouraged to get their pets microchipped, or to have their existing microchip checked. We are celebrating this important day by ensuring you understand why permanent identification is important for your pet.

Why is microchipping pets important?

Without understanding the benefits of microchipping your pets, the process can seem overwhelming or unnecessary. So, here are the benefits, to let you make an educated decision for your pet.

  • Permanent — Microchips are the best and only means of permanent identification that allows a lost or stolen pet to be reunited with their family.
  • Sedation not required — Our LaGrange Veterinary Hospital veterinarian can microchip your pet the same way they vaccinate them, without sedation or anesthesia, although the preferred method is to microchip a pet when they are being spayed or neutered, and already anesthetized.
  • Quick — Implanting a microchip, which is no larger than a grain of rice, is a quick, almost painless procedure.
  • Economical — The cost of microchipping is more than outweighed by the peace of mind that you and your lost pet are highly likely to be reunited.
  • Lifelong — Microchips have no battery or moving parts, and do not degrade, so they last for your pet’s lifetime.
  • Privacy — The pet owner’s personal contact information is held in the national database, not on the chip itself, which holds only a code. The veterinarian or shelter employee calls the database company, who contacts the family.

What does microchipping your pet involve?

Microchipping is a two-step process. 

  • Step #1 — The first step to successful microchipping involves your veterinarian placing a tiny device that stores a code under your pet’s skin close to their shoulder. A veterinarian should perform the implantation, to ensure proper placement and minimize chance of injury. Once the chip is under the skin, a microchip scanner can detect the code, which is entered into a national microchip database.
  • Step #2 — The second, critically important step is registering your pet’s microchip with a national microchip database, with your name and contact information. You also must always ensure you keep your information up-to-date. Also important—microchips are not tracking devices. That technology will undoubtedly become available, but not yet.

How does microchipping help ensure pet-pet owner reunions?

If your lost pet is found by a Good Samaritan, and taken to an animal shelter or a veterinarian close by, they will scan them for an identification code. The shelter employee or veterinary team member then provides the code to the database company. A company representative contacts the family, gives them the pet’s location, and a happy reunion ensues. 

Dogs with registered microchips are twice as likely to be reunited with their family, while cats with registered chips are 20 times as likely to enjoy a reunion. Sadly, only about 60% of microchips in the U.S. are properly registered, and the reason why lost pets who are microchipped cannot be returned home, is usually because their registration information is incomplete, incorrect, or out-of-date. These pets most likely end up in an animal shelter.

The ASPCA takes in millions of pets every year, but only about 710,000 dogs and 90,000 cats annually are actually returned to their families. At LaGrange Veterinary Hospital, we hope that a better understanding of how microchips work, and how successful they can be at reuniting pets and pet owners, will help increase the number of pets who undergo the simple procedure, and the number of lost pets who experience a joyful family reunion.

The LaGrange Veterinary Hospital team is passionate about our patients’ care and safety. We promote microchipping, because we want our pet parents to have the best chance of a reunion should their pet ever go missing.

If you want your pet microchipped, or if they already have a chip, give us a call, and schedule an appointment for the procedure, or for a chip check-up. Also, take a moment to ensure your pet’s microchip’s registration information is complete and up-to-date. Our goal is for every lost pet to find their way home again.