Microchip For Dogs: The Pet Lover’s Guide to Dog Microchipping

29 November 2022

Dog microchipping is a common practice that can help you to identify your furry friend permanently - and increase your chances of being reunited with your dog in case they should get lost. Get all the facts about microchips for dogs below.

female vet holding white and brown dog

If you are a pet parent, then you’ve probably heard something about microchips for dogs. In this post we’ll cover everything you need to know about dog microchipping, including the what it is and how it is done, how much it costs, if there are risks or pain associated with the procedure as well as the benefits of microchipping your dog. We’ll also discuss the difference between GPS tracking devices and dog microchips, and which tools are necessary to keep your dog safe. Make the best decision for your furry friend by learning all about the chip for dogs below.

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What is a microchip for dogs and how does it work?

A microchip for dogs an implantable ID chip, about the size of a grain of rice, placed under the skin of a dog.

The purpose of a microchip is to provide a form of permanent identification for your dog. This is important because, while ID collar tags are also necessary, they may fall off or become difficult to read.

When a lost dog with a microchip is brought into a vet, animal hospital or shelter, they can use a microchip scanner to read the dog’s microchip ID number. This number can then be looked up in a microchip database, to identify the parent of the dog.

If the information and contact details in the microchip database are up to date, the dog’s family may receive a phone call informing them that someone has found their missing dog.

As you can imagine – this is the best case scenario for you if your beloved furry friend goes missing, and you don’t have a GPS dog tracker on them to track and find them right away.

In fact, many vets, adoption agencies and pet shelters recommend getting your dog microchipped. Microchips are considered an invaluable tool for dog parents, as are microchips for cats.

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dog at vet getting a dog microchip injected under the skin
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According to a 2017 survey by the British Veterinary Association, 50% of stray dogs that couldn’t be reunited with their family had no microchip or collar tag, and 44% did not have up to date information in the microchip database1.

Where do they put the microchip in dogs?

Usually, the microchip is implanted in between the shoulder blades along the spine of a dog. The placement is important because it should stay put and move much within the dog’s body.

Dog microchipping procedure: How do they microchip a dog?

Many dog parents wonder how the procedure of microchipping a dog actually works. The good news is that it is a relatively simple, affordable, and painless procedure. Here are the basic steps involved:

  • Before the sterile microchip is removed from it’s package, it is scanned to verify that the code on the chip is the same as the code on the package label.
  • The microchip is put into a needle, which is then put into a special syringe used for microchipping.
  • The vet will position your dog to get them ready for the injection. The microchip is typically inserted between a dog’s shoulder blades, along the spine. Your dog should be standing or lying on their belly.
  • A bit of loose skin is pulled up at the injection site and the needle is quickly inserted. The syringe is squeezed so that the microchip is injected into your dog’s tissue.
  • Finally, the chip is scanned to ensure it can be read properly.

After the microchipping procedure, you need to register your dog as well as your name and contact details in the microchip database. Your vet will provide you with the relevant information as well as inform you of any fees to be paid.

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Warning: If you don’t register your dog’s microchip identification information in the database, the process will be rendered useless because the microchip ID will not be associated with you or anyone.

How long does it take to microchip a dog?

The dog microchipping procedure is quick and easy; you’ll likely be all done in 10 minutes or less2!

How much does it cost to microchip a dog?

In the U.K., it costs as little as £10 to £15 to have your dog microchipped3 . In the U.S., the average cost is anywhere from $25 – $70, depending on the vet. The fee includes the implantation of the microchip as well as registration in a pet recovery database. Veterinarians are generally the most qualified to microchip your dog, although some groomers, walkers, or dog sitters may also offer this service.

In the U.K., its mandatory to microchip your dog. Therefore the following organizations offer free dog microchipping:

Does microchipping hurt dogs? Is it safe?

Dog microchipping is considered a safe, harmless, and relatively painless procedure so you can microchip your dog without a guilty conscious. The process is comparable to humans getting piercings – a quick jab and then it’s over. Since it’s quick and easy, no pain medication or anesthesia is needed.

Moreover, according to experts at the Johnson Animal Clinic, more than four million pets have been microchipped and only 391 adverse reactions were reported4. Most of which involved a nodule developing under the skin where the microchip had been implanted. So it is very unlikely that your dog will experience any negative side effects as a result of getting microchipped.

blue syringe used for microchipping dogs

Should I microchip my dog?

In general, yes, you should microchip your dog. Microchipping is an important part of being a responsible dog parent.

Again, microchips offer a permanent solution for identifying your dog. Dogs found straying on their own will usually be collected by a dog warden or brought into an animal shelter. There, they will try to scan the dog for a microchip to identify the ‘owner’ aka you.

Your chances of being contacted and reunited with your beloved dog should they go missing are much higher than if your dog does not have a microchip (as long as you keep your contact details up to date).

If your dog gets lost and does not have a microchip, and your contact details cannot be found otherwise, the chances of being reunited with your furry friend are much worse. Stray dogs without a known guardian may be rehomed or worse: euthanized.

The use of microchips significantly increases the chance that a lost pet will be returned to its family, reducing euthanasia of unclaimed pets.

– Dr. Gary Michelson, founder of the Michelson Found Animals Foundation5

Not to mention, in many parts of the world, microchipping your dog is required by law. In the U.K. for example, you have to microchip your dog before they are 8 weeks old; otherwise you may be fined upwards of £500.6 Check to see if there are dog microchipping laws in your area.

Where can I get my dog microchipped?

The best place to get your dog microchipped is at your preferred veterinarian. However, large pet stores such as PetSmart or Petco also offer microchipping services.

List of pet microchip companies

Some common pet microchip companies or microchip registries include:

  • 24 Pet Watch
  • AKC Reunite
  • AVID FriendChip 
  • Banfield
  • BuddyID™
  • Free Pet Chip Registry (911PetChip)
  • Furreka
  • Home Again 
  • InfoPET
  • Microfindr / Datamars
  • Nanochip ID Inc.
  • Peeva
  • Petidco (AVIDCanada)
  • PetKey
  • Pet Link
  • RESQ
  • Smart Tag
  • Save This Life

If you only have the microchip ID number, you can use petmicrochiplookup.org to find out which organization your dog microchip is registered with.

Where to get a dog scanned for a microchip?

Dog microchips can be scanned at veterinarians offices, animal hospitals, animal shelters, most humane societies as well as at some big pet retailers like PetSmart. Call or visit the website of a local businesses in your area to find out if they offer microchip reading services and how much it will cost.

Can a microchip be removed from a dog?

While microchips for dogs are generally considered permanent, they can be removed in rare circumstances. This would require a surgical procedure and possibly anesthesia. Some people fear that their dog could get cancer and therefore they want to remove the microchip.

Major institutions like the American Veterinary Medical Association advise against removing a dog’s microchip7. Not only because it is a complicated procedure, but according to studies, it is extremely unlikely that a dog will get cancer from a microchip. Additionally, the benefits of a dog microchip far outweigh the possible disadvantages.

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Dognapping is on the rise and stolen dogs may be victim to attack and injury when dog thieves attempt to remove the microchip – and all traces of identification – from the dog. You can protect your dog from coming into harm’s way with a Tractive GPS Dog Tracker.

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Can I track my dog with a microchip?

A common misconception is that once you get your dog microchipped, you will be able to track them using GPS. This is false: microchips only help you identify your dog; not track them. Microchips are the size of a grain of rice, so they’re not big enough to hold the technology that is required for a GPS tracking device.

So while a microchip will help identify your dog if they are lost and found again, the only thing that can help you track and follow your dog in real-time is a GPS dog tracker like the Tractive GPS.

Conclusion

So, in this post you learned all about the microchip for dogs. Dog microchips are a permanent ID solution and essential tool recommended by most vets and shelters. They are safe, relatively painless, affordable and can be implanted quickly by a vet or other pet professional. By microchipping your dog and keeping your contact information in the microchip database up to date, you can increase the chances that you will be reunited with your furry friend should they ever get lost. In some places it is even legally required to microchip your dog. Keep in mind that a microchip does not use GPS and won’t help you track a missing dog in real time; the good news is you can use a GPS dog tracker for that.

For more information from a vet and to see what the process really looks like, check out the video below from our friends at Heron Lakes Animal Hospital:

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