your pet is a very important step to insure their safety. Pets do unfortunately
get lost. The AKC CAR estimates that there are approximately 8 to 10 million
stray animals each year. Each year in the United States, one million pets are
lost or stolen. One in three pets will get lost during their lifetimes. Cats
are particularly vulnerable once lost. Shelters continue to euthanize
unidentified, owned but lost pets. Only 20% of lost dogs and 2-5% of cats are
reunited with their owners.
fences and doors may not be enough to keep pets safe and secure. Accidents
happen, and some things like natural disasters, can separate pets from their
and collars are a good start but they are not 100% dependable. Tags can fade;
get scratched or damaged, rust, reducing legibility. Tags can fall off; collars
can tear, slip off or get caught on something.
is the only identification method that is permanent and individual to each
animal. A unique ID code matches the animal with the owner’s contact
information in a database. Pets can be microchipped at any age, however after
six weeks of age is preferred. At Niles
we typically will microchip puppies and kittens at the time of neutering or
spaying. Birds can be microchipped at any age; however, we do not chip birds
smaller than small parrots or conures, due to their small size in relation to
the microchip (the microchip is implanted in their chest muscles).
is so very important in the recovery process of a lost pet. Virtually all
veterinarians, police department (animal control officers) and shelters have
microchip scanners so they can check a lost pet for the presence of a
microchip. If the microchip has been registered and the information is current
then the pet can be easily reunited with their owners. The goal of
microchipping is to save pets’ lives.
reason for microchipping is that it is a means of proving ownership. With
proper updated personal data registration information you will undeniable proof
a pet is yours if it ever came into question. Microchipping is done extensively
overseas so if you travel internationally with your pet it is important to have
them identified for their own well-being. Some municipalities require
microchipping for a pet to receive a license. In case of a disaster, microchips
aid in reunification of owner and pet.
microchip is technically referred to as a transponder and is not a GPS device. The energy
transferred by the scanner to the transponder (microchip) generates
electricity. Then the microchip sends out a radio frequency code which is read
by the transceiver (scanner). Each microchip has one unique ID code embedded in
it, that allows the individual animal to be specifically identified based on an
alphanumeric (letters and numbers) or purely numeric ID code.
makes up a microchip? The working parts are the aerial (a copper tube),
capacitor and the microchip itself which contains the encoded information.
These parts are all enclosed in a biocompatible glass encasement, which is
typically not rejected by the animal’s body. The glass is medical quality,
which is suitable for implants and FDA approved. Glass is able to withstand the
harmful effects of body fluids and is strong enough to withstand the stresses
and strains it experiences during the implantation process. The microchip does
not contain a battery and need not be changed. Each implanted microchip will
last throughout the lifetime of the pet.
Types of Microchips
nationwide standard for microchip identification does not exist in the United States.
Throughout much of the world, the International Organization for
Standardization (ISO) standard of 134.2 kHz for radio frequency identification
devices (RFID) has been adopted and implemented as the preferred or sole RFID
technology for companion animals. This has been endorsed also by the American
Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), American Animal Hospital Association
(AAHA), American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA),
Society of Animal Welfare Administrators and National Standards Institute
(ANSI). In the United States,
however, the non-ISO 125 kHz microchip is still predominantly used. (The Home
Again Microchips implanted at Niles
are the 134.2 kHz ISO microchips).
current situation with microchip types in the United States is that the majority
of microchips are functioning at 125 kHz; however recently, the 134.2 kHz ISO
microchip as well as the 128 kHz microchip have been introduced, leading to
three frequencies operating. In addition, the 125 kHz microchips can be
encrypted, meaning that they are read with a different protocol than 125 kHz
unencrypted microchips. With the introduction of multiple microchips operating
at different frequencies as well as different communication protocols
(encrypted vs. unencrypted), several universal scanners that can read all three
frequencies have been introduced. (We have a Universal Scanner that can detect
all three frequencies). The obvious problem is that with the multiple types of
microchips with different frequencies and communication protocols,
non-universal scanners may not be able to pick up the signals from some
microchips. Based upon global dynamics and the introduction of the 134.2 kHz ISO
microchip in the United
States, many believe a move towards national
adoption and implementation of the ISO standard is inevitable.
useful as microchips are there are some problems. First of all there is a lack
of standardization among all the types of microchips. There are a variety of
microchips and there are multiple frequencies used by the different types. In
addition, there is no link between the various sites where the microchips are
registered. With a bit of effort it can eventually be determined who the
microchip is registered to, but it would be easier if it were centralized.
placement may vary per animal as well as the country of implantation. The
accepted implantation site in the dog and cat is under the skin
(subcutaneously) between (or just in front of) the shoulder blades along the
midline of the body. This is the standard implantation site in the United States, Australia,
New Zealand, Canada, Japan
and the United Kingdom.
The typical implantation site in most of Europe
is in the upper half of the left side of the neck, halfway from the ear to the
tip of the shoulder. That is why it is so important to check extensively when
scanning for the presence of a microchip.
pet birds, the microchip is implanted in the pectoral (breast) muscles. Bird
skin is paper thin and they have virtually no subcutaneous tissue so it must be
embedded in the muscle. Size of the bird is a limitation to which birds can be
microchipped. Conures and larger can be microchipped, however, in small birds
due to the size of the chip itself, implantation would be too traumatic.
microchip is already loaded in the needle of a specially designed syringe used
for the implantation of the chip. The needle is of a larger diameter than the
typical size used to give vaccinations because it must be large enough to hold
the microchip, which is approximately the size of a grain of rice. The
microchip is implanted in the same fashion as a vaccination or injection would
be given to a pet subcutaneously. The microchips are specially designed to
allow incorporation in the subcutaneous tissue to allow the microchip to remain
Problems with Microchips
minor problem can be microchip migration and can occur less than 1% of the time.
To minimize the risk, the pet should not be allowed to engage in exercise for
24 hours post microchipping. This allows the chip to anchor properly and reduce
chances of migration. Some microchips have special anti-migration devices
inherent in their structure that will allow soft tissue to grow into a porous
cap structure, thus anchoring it to the subcutaneous tissues and skin.
a chip does migrate, they typically move by gravity down the leg towards the
elbow or to the lower chest or sternum. They will remain just below the skin
and cannot penetrate into the body cavity.
are supplied sterile so it is very rare for a pet to develop a reaction or
infection at the site of implantation. On occasion, as with vaccinations, a
small amount of swelling may develop post implantation due to localized tissue
inflammation. This should disappear within a few days with no medical
intervention needed. However, if a reaction occurs or the swelling does not
resolve veterinary care should be obtained.
the microchip becomes visible hours or days after implantation, seek veterinary
care. This indicates that the implantation was not done properly.
microchip without registration is an ineffective means of pet reunification.
Ideally registration should be completed immediately after the microchip has
been implanted and while at the veterinary office. Registration involves
linking the microchip number with the contact information of the owner
including contact numbers as well as emergency contacts. Some registrations
include additional perks for a charge and may have an annual renewal fee to
maintain some of these services. However, once the microchip is registered, the
information is always on file so contact can be made and this portion of registration
does not require an additional annual renewal fee. Some people are under the
mistaken impression that the registration is an “activation fee” to make the
microchip “functional” and requires yearly fees to remain “active.” The
microchip is already functional and will remain so, however by registering your
information will be placed in the database so retrieval of your lost pet is
much more easily accomplished by readily having contact information available.
that exist are that people do not turn in their registration information and
they do not update their registration information if there is a change of
address or pet ownership. Owner contact information that is entered into
lifetime registries is rarely, if ever, updated by pet owners. Changes that can
affect registration information include: relocation, job change, phone service
change, divorce, separation, email service provider change or transferring pet
to another owner. To further complicate issues, at this time multiple
registries exist for pet owner information due to the variety of microchips
available. Hopefully, one day there will be a central registry/database for all
study was conducted by Dr. Linda Lord from The Ohio State College of Veterinary
Medicine to see how successful shelters were in finding owners for animals with
microchips. They checked information from 53 shelters nationwide and evaluated
7,704 microchips. They found that 74% of the owners of dogs were found and
63.6% of cats. They also discovered that only 58% of animals had a current
registration when the microchip registry was called and there was no difference
between databases for finding the owners.
is a valuable tool for protecting your pets if they become lost. However, unless
you properly register and keep the information updated than the value of
microchipping is diminished as it may be difficult to find the owner if their
circumstances have changed. Microchipping is safe and easily performed.
discussion is excerpted from several sources including an AAHA Webinar
conducted by Dr. Linda Lord, “Microchipping Works: Best Practices” and an
online course offered by AAHA “Microchipping and Scanning of Companion