What is a pet microchip?

May is Microchip Awareness Month and we want to help you become aware of the importance of microchips.  A pet microchip is a small, electronic device encased in a protective shell.

microchip scan A microchip is the size of a grain of rice and is implanted under the skin of pets to provide a means of identification once the pet is scanned.  A microchip is the gold standard for reuniting lost pets with owners but only if the chip is registered!  Otherwise a microchip cannot be traced back to an owner.

What happens when an owner fails to register their pet’s chip?

When breeders, veterinary clinics or shelters purchase chips they become linked to that facility.  This provides a record where the chip was purchased and often implanted.  This is the only link that exists until the owner registers the chip.  Since so many chips never get registered, this link is vital. Our hospital maintains a record of the microchips that we implant.  If a pet comes to us with records of an existing microchip we include that information in the pet’s medical record.  We do all of this in an effort to help reunite your pet with you in the event it is ever lost.

Just because we maintain our database does not mean that all shelters, breeders or low cost clinics do though.  You cannot depend on this system to reunite you with your pet.  This road leads to a dead end more times than not.  This is why we want you to register your pet’s microchip and we will even reward you for doing so.  But we will discuss that later…

How does a microchip work?

The microchip contains a unique 15 digit number that belongs only to your pet once implanted.  Once scanned, your pet’s unique microchip number pops up on the chip reader’s screen.  The veterinary clinic or shelter will then call the company that maintains that chip’s database to collect information to contact you.  If you request privacy, the chip company will try to contact you

Reunited by a microchip

This was a successful reunion because Petey had a registered microchip

instead.  Successful reunions happen when owners register the chip and keep it up to date.  Chips are implanted easily and quickly and can be done in a nurse appointment.

The microchip is not a GPS and it will not tell you the location of your pet.  It does not contain information about your pet either.  It simply serves as a means of identification.

If my pet is chipped should he or she still wear a tag?

If your pet is microchipped it should still wear a collar with identification tags.  Even though microchips are popular, many people still do not get pets checked for a chip when they find a stray animal.  Therefore it is still imperative to identify your pet with tags.

Are all microchips the same?

All microchips work in basically the same way.  The area where you see the biggest differences is that some companies charge you to register the chip. At Hill Country Animal Hospital we use ResQ microchips that are registered through Pet Link.  Pet Link does not charge for registration and their website makes it very easy to get your pets registered.  Don’t forget to change your address with the microchip company when you move!  You can register chip that we implanted here.  Our chips are also ISO (International Standards Organization) compliant.  This means that the chip can be recognized in a foreign country.  ISO compliance is important if you travel or move outside of the US.

A microchip readerWe scan more stray pets who either do not have chips at all or they have chips that are not registered.  When that happens it is very difficult if not impossible to trace the owners.

Here’s your reward!

For the month of May, if you have your pet chipped you can earn 2 Loyalty Rewards stamps through our app.  If you come in with your pet and we scan your pet’s chip to make sure it is registered in our system, you can earn one stamp.  To have your chip checked, you don’t need an appointment but if you would like to have a chip implanted, or if you have any questions give us a call at 210-695-4455.