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Microchipping FAQs: Your Top Questions Answered

Has your pet been microchipped? If not, should your pet become lost or separated from you, the chances for a happy reunion are surprisingly low. Without a microchip, your pet has less than a 10% chance of being returned home. Worse, since many animal shelters are overcrowded, your pet is at risk for being euthanized if he or she is not microchipped. PetAmberAlert.com estimates that 30 to 60% of lost pets are ultimately euthanized because they lack proper identification and are never adopted.

While we never want to imagine the worst happening to our pets, without a microchip your pet’s life is truly at risk. Microchipping pets saves lives and leads to happy reunions. Below, our emergency veterinarians answer four of the most frequently asked questions about microchipping, what to expect and why doing so is so important.

What is a microchip?

A microchip is a tiny chip that is approximately the same size as a grain of rice. The chip is encoded with a unique serial number and then implanted between your pet’s shoulders. This serial number is stored in a secure database. As your pet’s owner, you can log into the database at any time to update your pet’s contact information, such as a change of address or a new phone number. Should your pet become lost and turned in to a veterinarian or animal shelter, the vet or shelter is able to scan your pet for the microchip identification and then match this serial number with your contact information via the database, enabling a happy reunion.

Is my personal information safe?

Only an authorized veterinary hospital or animal shelter has access to the database. The microchip only contains a serial number; no personal information is stored on it. You do not need to worry about a random stranger obtaining your personal information via the microchip.

My pet already wears an ID tag; does he really need a microchip?

Even if your pet wears an ID tag on his collar with your contact information, keep in mind that tags can fall off a collar or become damaged and unreadable. Additionally, there may be times when your pet is not wearing a collar and could still accidentally escape or become separated from you. As an added bonus, microchip contact information can be changed at any time. In less than two minutes, you can log into the database and update this information with a new phone number or address; tags can take much longer to change. Finally, should you be on vacation with your pet, you can easily change the address to match your local vacation spot and then change it back when you return home.

Is microchipping painful?

Microchipping does not require anesthesia. While we often microchip pets at the same time that they are spayed or neutered, the two procedures do not need to be performed at the same time. The sensation of being microchipped is akin to being pricked with a pin.

To learn more about microchipping your pet, contact Solomons Veterinary Medical Center at (410) 326-4300.