May is National Chip Your Pet Month, recognized by the American Kennel Club as a month to educate responsible pet parents on the importance of microchipping your pet.
What Are Pet Microchips And How Do They Work?
Pet microchip implants are extremely tiny devices that are inserted into your pet, typically placed between the shoulder blades. Using radio-frequency identification, these microchips provide a lifetime of identification information and require no batteries or power source to remain active. When having a microchip inserted into your pet, you will be asked to provide your name, address, and phone number that will be associated with your pet’s chip ID number, as well as details about your pet, such as name, age, and a brief description. When the chip is scanned with a special reader, your pet’s microchip ID number will appear on the reader’s screen. This number can then be used to look up the owner information you have provided, which is why it is crucial for pet parents to update their contact information on the microchip regularly. Most shelters and nearly all veterinary hospitals use a universal microchip scanner, making the process of locating a pet’s owners quick and easy, no matter where your pet has wandered off to! The ideal microchip is a fifteen digit ISO (International Standards Organization) ID, which is usually required for travel outside of the United States.
What Can’t a Microchip Do?
It’s not uncommon for pet owners to assume that their pet’s microchip acts as a “GPS” that will pinpoint their pet’s location, but that is far from the truth. Microchips are not GPS tracking devices and are meant to provide valuable information about the pet’s owner. For this reason, it is incredibly important to make sure that your microchip is not only set up in the microchip registry but that your own information is always up to date. Pet parents are responsible for updating their contact information in the registry each time they are changed. You can add other identifying information, such as your cat’s breeds, or physical traits, to ensure a safe and easy reunion in case your pet gets lost.
Several pet care companies now offer GPS collar trackers, which can be used in addition to your pet’s microchip. While many use wireless networks or Google maps to provide tracking information, many require a monthly subscription fee, have a temporary battery life, and only range a certain number of miles. GPS collars alone are not enough to ensure your pet’s safety, and it is recommended that a microchip be placed as well.