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Micro chipping: The Fast and Easy Way to Keep Your Pet Safe

A couple relaxing at home with their dog
A study by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) reveals that 14 percent of dog owners and 15 percent of cat owners reported a missing pet within the past five years. Dogs came home 93 percent of the time, and cats returned in 74 percent of the cases. How do you avoid becoming one of the owners who loses a pet forever? Try a microchip. Microchipping is a simple and safe way to avoid losing a friend.  
Protect Pets Instantly
A microchip is a device that a vet injects into the pet. About the size of a grain of rice, the chip includes an antenna and radio transmitter, so it can receive and send a signal. It also has a computer chip to store information. The information it stores is a 10-digit ID code that matches up with the contact information entered into the database by the owner.
The implantation process is similar to a vaccination. The process takes a few seconds, and the animals do not need anesthesia, stitches, or follow-up care. The vet will scan the area after the injection to ensure the microchip works properly. An annual scan during a normal vet visit ensures the device still works and has not migrated.  
Keep Details Private
The only information stored on a microchip is the ID number. The device is not a GPS tracking device that follows the pet or reveals personal information about the family. It is only a way to contact the registered owner of the animal. To access the contact information, a person must have a scanner and enter the number from the device in an online database.
Check Microchip Occasionally
After implantation of the microchip, the pet owner should watch their pet the same way they would after a vaccination to make certain the site of the injection is not swollen or infected. Outside of this initial surveillance, you don't need to do anything but have the vet scan the chip annually to find the microchip. The device works off radio frequency, so no battery will wear out or need replacement.
Protect All Animals
Microchips do not work for only cats and dogs. Horses, cows, birds, and even many reptiles can benefit from the security of these devices. However, some animals may be too small for the microchip implantation, so talk to your vet to see if your pet is a suitable candidate.
Microchips also help if a pet becomes lost when traveling with the owner. The chips use the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) guidelines, which are used in several countries, including Canada and Australia, as well as in Asia and Europe. The system cross-references multiple databases to reunite owners and pets separated by thousands of miles.
Update Contact Information
Remember to update the database information after any phone number change or move. Most animal shelters now scan pets and update existing microchips with the information for the new owner. After adopting an animal from a private owner, have your vet scan your pet and change the contact information if they already have a microchip.  
Some microchip manufacturers have their own databases and charge users an annual fee to keep their information listed. The fee is an added charge over the cost of the microchip and implantation. However, many databases do not charge any fee. Check with your database administrator to make sure you've paid any relevant fees so your information stays current and available.
At Irby-Overton Veterinary Hospital, we can include microchipping during an appointment. Ask for the service when making an appointment or call for more information.