Inserting a small electronic device under your skin may seem like something from a science-fiction novel, but in the veterinary world, it is a pretty common practice. Devices called “microchips” are popular with breeders, rescues, and shelters, and are becoming common for the average pet owner as well. It is used to reunite lost pets with their owners, and it is pretty cool!
First, what is a microchip? A microchip is a small device, a bit larger than a grain of rice, which is inserted under the skin at the scruff of the neck with a large needle. This tiny gadget will stay there forever, never needing any maintenance, and very rarely causing any problems. It is most commonly placed at the time of the pet’s adoption, spay, or neuter, but can be placed at any time after a few weeks of age, as long as they are big enough. It hurts a bit to have it placed, but causes no pain afterwards.
What is the point of this thing, you may ask? The chip, through radio frequencies, is able to transmit its unique registration number to a special scanner. Every shelter and vet office will have one of these, and it is one of the first things we reach for when a stray or lost animal enters the clinic. Once our scanner picks up a microchip number, we call the company that handles the database, and they can provide us with contact information, or contact the registered owner themselves to let them know that their pet is at our clinic. This way, a happy reunion can happen much more quickly, with less worry and hassle. It works much better than a registration tag, as tags and collars can fall off or be broken, while the microchip stays in your pet’s body for the rest of their lives. They may migrate to other areas of the body, but we always scan the entire body in case that has happened.
The most important thing that I stress to everyone is to update your contact info with the microchip database if you move or change your phone number. There have been occasions when we have phoned the number attached to the chip, only to get the wrong person. This is unfortunate, as the owner was doing all the right things by having a microchip placed, but forgot one small detail. To change your info, you can call the company directly, or if you are unsure of the company, you can call the vet or shelter that placed the chip and they can assist you.
Microchipping may sound like a strange practice, but it helps many pet owners find their lost or runaway pets every day. Feel free to call or drop by Brampton’s 24 hour emergency vet to speak to a veterinarian or technician about it!