We get many questions about microchips and how they work, so instead of trying to cram it all into the FAQ page, microchips get their own dedicated page. If you have questions not covered here, please email them to Dr. Adams; new material may be added to this page as more questions come in.

Microchip basics:

A microchip, or radio-frequency identification chip, is a small device (about the size of a fat grain of rice) implanted into the subcutaneous tissue via a hollow needle. This device is coated with a biologically inert substance to prevent chronic inflammatory responses to the presence of the chip. It stores an alpha-numeric code, which can be recalled by passing a scanner of appropriate frequency near the chip. This code is associated in a national database with the pet's information and owner contact information, so that if the pet is ever taken to a shelter, rescue, or properly equipped veterinary clinic they can be returned to the owner.

At this time, microchip identification is the most efficient and reliable method of identification for pets. Collars or harnesses can be slipped off, removed, or snagged. Tags can be chewed up, or lost. Breed association tattoos are still used by many breeders, but finding owner information through those requires that the shelter be able to figure out with which breed association the dog is registered; sometimes a daunting task given the variety of breed associations across the country. Because the information is available to any shelter or any quality veterinary clinic in the country, it doesn't matter if the pet is lost while traveling.

Millions of dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters every year in this country alone because the owners cannot be found. The National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy conducted a survey in 1997 of 1,000 shelters. In the shelters that replied to the National Council's survey, 4.3 million animals were handled. Roughly 64 percent of the total number of animals that entered these shelters were euthanized -- approximately 2.7 million animals in just these 1,000 shelters. Only 15 percent of dogs and 2 percent of cats that entered surveyed shelters were reunited with their owners. The difference in return of cats to owners compared to dogs is attributed to the generally greater lack of identification on cats. As you can see, any form of identification can greatly improve your pet's chances of being returned if they somehow get lost!

Click here for some microchip success stories.

Frequently Asked Questions about microchips

Can the microchip be GPS or satellite tracked?

Does implantation hurt? And does my pet need to be anesthetized for implantation?

What are the potential side effects of microchip implantation?

How long does a microchip last?

How much does microchipping cost?

What if I don't get my pet's chip registered?

Can a microchip be reused?

Can you take a microchip out? Or can I take it out at home?

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For general questions, or to sign up for email reminders for your pet's vaccinations, please feel free to contact us at inquiries@chewelahveterinaryclinic.com.