Microchipping of pets for identification is becoming more popular. A microchip is a tiny electronic chip that is implanted under your pet’s skin using a specialized hypodermic needle. The chip itself is about the size of a grain of rice, and can be implanted in your pet during a routine office visit. Many people choose to have their dog or cat microchipped when their pet goes to the vet to be spayed or neutered. Should your dog or cat become lost and is taken to a shelter, one of the first things the shelter will do is scan your pet for a microchip, greatly increasing the chances that your pet will be returned to you.
A microchip will remain embedded in your pet for life as a permanent form of identification, unlike identification tags on a collar which can become lost, or be removed. Your pet’s microchip carries a unique number which is picked up by a special scanner; this number can then be easily identified in the microchip database, which will provide your contact information. In order for your pet’s microchip to be effective, it is important to keep your contact information current with the registry. When your pet goes to the veterinarian for his or her regular exam, you should request that your vet scan your pet to ensure the microchip is still functioning properly.
There has been some recent controversy regarding the possibility of adverse reactions in pets to the microchip. However, the AVMA notes that the risk is very low, and the benefits of microchipping your pet far outweigh the risks.