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No one wants to lose their pet, but unfortunately, around 250,000 go missing each year. This is why microchipping is so important and in this Pets4Homes article, answers to the most commonly asked questions are covered. It is true to say that not all lost microchipped pets will be reunited with their owners, however, simply by having a chip inserted can drastically improve the chances of them returning home safely.
It certainly isn’t the type you will find in a computer – although the technology can be similar. It is really a transducer (a small electronic component), about the size of a grain of rice that is held within special glass or plastic. This unit carries information in the form of a code. The code can be read by a scanner that is available at vets, dog wardens, some rescue centres and even the police.
Should a pet be lost, they are routinely scanned to find out if there is a microchip present, and where the chip is registered to. They can then ring a microchip database centre who will hold the information on the register chip. Once this information is found, hopefully, the pet can be reunited with its owner.
The way the chip works means it doesn’t need batteries – which is helpful considering where it will be! It actually uses radio waves from the scanner to read the code on the microchip (transducer). These can then be interpreted by the scanner as the number and are displayed to the person scanning.
There are normally inserted using a sharp needle containing the component just under the skin – in cats and dogs, this is usually between the shoulder blades. Your pet will not need any sedation or anaesthetic for this procedure, and it is often done in a consultation time – especially common during a routine first vaccination for your pet. There are owners that prefer to do microchipping whilst animal is asleep – this works particularly well for cats if they are being neutered. Dogs, on the other hand, should be, by law, microchipped whilst puppies before you take them from their mother at eight weeks plus.
This is a very common question, normally because the owner has seen the size of the needle needed to deliver the microchip to the right place. Yes, it’s true the needles are quite big – this is because they need to hold the microchip in their centre hole ready for implanting.
The way the needles have been designed means minimal discomfort for your pet. The needle end is completely angled so the injection is not too traumatic. Occasionally there is a little blood from the injection, this is usually because a small vessel has been nicked during implantation of the chip.
Sometimes the chip can move under the skin – it is usual for them to move a couple of centimetres, but some migrate all over the body! It is why you will see a vet scan the neck for a microchip and then the rest of the body – just in case something strange has happened. A migrating microchip by itself will not cause problems. It is more of an inconvenience for the vet to find it!
If you have rescued a dog or cat the vet will check all over them for a microchip – as you won’t know the full medical history. It also means if they do have another chip implanted, they won’t end up with two!
This happening is extremely rare, the components are checked thoroughly and tested time and time again before they even hit the shelves of implanters. If the worst should happen and a known microchip does fail, there is only one practical option.
The vet will leave the old chip in the pet – because it’s not working anyway, and add a new one – re-registering the new code number.
Manufacturers make several different types of microchip; some do different things whilst some are basic and just carry the code. The all singing and dancing ones can do things such as take the core temperature or feedback any other information.
If a pet has one of these types of chips implanted, the scanner is actually the key – it will only display information it is capable of doing so. For example if the dog has a microchip that tells the temperature, only if that facility on the scanner is available will the vet/nurse/implants are able to read the dogs temperature.
Generally speaking, any type of pet! Vets of course commonly microchip dogs, cats, and rabbits, however birds can be chipped, ferrets or even creatures such as tortoises! As long as there is space to get a chip into them, there is no reason why they cannot carry a microchip.
Not really, however, there is one very important point to note. If you move or if there are any changes that may affect the registration of the microchip, please let the microchip company know themselves – not your vet. This is because if your cat dog or other pet goes missing and the code is carrying your old address details, you may not get reunited with them. The rule of thumb is if you move, update their details fully.
The bottom line is microchipping is immensely important – by law puppies need a microchip and it is usual for breeders to do this before the puppy goes to their new home – sometimes it happens just after on a first vaccination.
Although cats do not have to be microchipped by law, these are far more likely to wander off and get lost, so microchipping them is also a great idea. If you have any concerns about microchipping or have any further questions, please get in touch with your vet.
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