In both cats and dogs there is always a risk of them getting loose, or stolen. Finding a permanent identification is important in pet recovery, but just how effective are microchips?
What is a Microchip?
A microchip is a small device, about the size of a grain of rice. They are implanted by a veterinarian, usually above the spine in the shoulder area, just under the skin. The procedure is quick and relatively painless. The microchip uses Radio Frequency Identification technology and holds an individual code for each unit. This code can then be used to trace the owner or veterinarian who implanted the chip. If a pet is found a veterinarian, or shelter, can use a scanner to check for a chip and scan it for the code. They then have to contact the provider of the chip who will release the information on who the chip is registered to. In such a way the original owner can be identified and the pet returned.
Although microchips are most often used on cats and dogs they can be used on any animal. They are in use on horses, being injected on the left side of the neck, and have been used on other pets, livestock, and even wild animals.
Above is a microchip in a cat, the head would be to the right.
Pros of Microchips
- It is a form of permanent identification, and cannot fall off or be removed as can a collar.
- It can be used to settle disputes of ownership.
- The scanner is clear to read, unlike tattoos which can be hard to read on some pets.
- Shelters and veterinarians who have scanners will scan found pets for free.
Cons of Microchips
- A Microchip cannot be seen, as such people may assume a pet is unwanted and keep it, never realizing it has identification.
- There are many types of chips and not all scanners read every type of chip. Therefor a pet with a chip might be scanned and nothing detected.
- Very rarely the chip moves and might be harder to find.
- If the pets owner does not keep their correct contact information up to date, it make be impossible to trace them if they have moved.
- It is not a GPS system, as some people assume, the microchip does not indicate where a lost pet is, only who it is when it is found and scanned.
- Sometimes owners of microchipped pets get lazy, assuming the chip will bring the pet back to them in its own time. They become complacent to the fact that errors can occur and chips can be missed. As such they may not make trips to the shelters to look for their missing pet, or be active in the recovery of their pet in other ways.
- The general, non-pet-owning, public is still unaware of this technology, so may not take a pet they found to a veterinarian for scanning to check for a chip.
Alternatives to Microchips
- Collars with tags are great and highly visible, the problem is that they do fall off or can be removed.
- Tattoos may be used, and are often in a pets ear, stomach, or inner hind leg. They are more visible than a microchip, but less visible than tags, however tattoos are permanent.
For the record, I have six cats, none of whom have microchips, four are tattooed, and one is good enough to keep her collar on. I live in the country and all are spayed or neutered.
Published in: Pets