This month I will be discussing the use of microchips in our canine and feline companions. Tags and collars are still important and easily identify your pet, but they can tear or slip off leaving your pet with no identification. Microchipping involves your veterinarian injecting a small computer chip under the skin in the area between the shoulder blades. Then the number coded onto the microchip needs to be registered with a database where that number can be used to look up your contact information.
What is a Microchip?
The microchip is a tiny computer chip with a small transponder. This device is enclosed in a small glass cylinder, about the size of a grain of rice. It carries no power supply of its own and in most cases will be good for the lifetime of your pet. The microchip scanner sends a radio wave impulse that gives the chip the energy needed to send back the information it carries (a sequence of numbers and/or letters unique to that microchip). That unique sequence of numbers when registered with a database (mainly provided by the manufacturing company) can be used to look up your information and return your pet to you.
How is the Microchip implanted?
The microchip typically comes preloaded into a syringe with a hypodermic needle. The needle is larger than those used for vaccines, but is very sharp and for its size most patients react with surprisingly little pain response. If an anesthetic event is planned for the patient such as a spay, neuter, or dental the microchip can be placed while they are under anesthesia to avoid them experiencing pain at placement.
How much do microchips cost?
The typical cost for a microchip can vary. Microchips are sometimes advertised at low prices, but it is important to check that the price you are quoted includes the cost of registering your pet’s information with a database which can be an additional $20-$30 over the placement cost. At Animal Hospital of Montgomery the charge for a microchip, its placement, and registration of the microchip with Home Again is $65.10. For the month of August we will be running a special to promote microchipping and the cost for that full service will be 50% off ($32.55).
Are all microchips the same?
The short answer is no, they are not all the same. The main difference is the frequency at which the microchip transmits its information. This means that some microchips can’t be read by certain other company’s scanners. The best thing to look for is a microchip that is compliant with the International Standards Organization or ISO. This organization is working for standardization of microchips and ISO compliant microchips will be recognized for travel and health certificate purposes in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and most of Asia. The Home Again microchips that we use are ISO compliant.
Lots of pets slip away from their owners at some point in their life. Microchips are a great way to get you and your companions reconnected. If you have more questions that this article does not answer please contact your veterinarian and/or take a look at the American Veterinary Medical Association’s webpage on FQA’s related to microchips at: https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/FAQs/Pages/Microchipping-of-animals-FAQ.aspx