Pet Tips

Microchipping your pet – Pet tip 128

There is nothing more distressing than losing a pet. You search the streets for hours, even days. You tack up posters. You offer rewards. You wait by the phone in the hope that someone, somewhere, has not only found your pet, but has somehow managed to find you as well. The reality is, however, that most of these efforts will be in vain. Just over 2% of lost cats and 15% of lost dogs ever find their way home.
Fortunately, these numbers are changing. Thanks to current technologies, it is now possible to provide your pet with a means of identification far superior to the name written on their collar. Microchips are becoming an increasingly popular way to help lost pets get found.

What is a microchip?
Microchips are a permanent and reliable form of identification. Not much bigger that a grain of rice, these chips are implanted just under the skin on the back of your pet’s neck. Unlike ID tags which can get scratched or fall off, microchips remain functioning and in place for the entire length of your pet’s life. Also, unlike a tattoo or other permanent marking, the information contained in microchips can be read and understood by virtually any veterinary clinic or animal shelter.

How does it work?
Each microchip has a unique identification number associated with it. They day you get your pet microchipped, you will submit your personal information (name, address, phone number, emergency contact, etc…) to the microchip company, and they will link it to your pet’s microchip number. It is your responsibility to update the microchip company should you move or change phone numbers, but otherwise there is no upkeep on the chip.

When workers at the local animal shelter or veterinary clinic are presented with a lost animal, the first step they will always take is to scan the animal for a microchip. With this number, it is simple for microchip companies to search their database for your information, which they will provide to the clinic or shelter where your animal is located. After that, your pet’s safe return is only a phone call away.

Will it hurt my pet? Is it safe?
Microchips are implanted with the use of a large needle, so it is not a painless procedure, but it isn’t a whole lot different from your pet’s annual vaccinations. For a larger animal this pain is fairly minimal, but for a small puppy or kitten, veterinarians often prefer to insert the microchip during their neuter or spay, when they will be under general anaesthetic anyway. While there is always an inherent risk to implanting any foreign material into your animal, microchips are designed with a safe, biocompatible material. Your veterinarian will be more than happy to address any of the concerns you have about the procedure.

What will it cost?
Contrary to popular belief, microchipping is not an expensive procedure. Typically, the cost will run from about $50 to $75. This is a one time fee for a product that will last your pet’s entire life. Also, as an added bonus, many pet insurance companies will offer a discount to owner’s who microchip their pets.

Microchips are definitely changing the fate of lost pets everywhere. It is important to remember, however, that they are not an absolute guarantee. It is always a good idea to make sure your pet has multiple forms of identification should they get lost, and, of course, it’s even better if you can make sure they never get lost in the first place!

By Alison Norwich – writer

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