If you’ve ever lost a dog, you know how important microchips can be to getting him back safely.
Microchipping your pup makes it easy for others to identify you as its owner so they can help your pup find his way back home.
Microchips are safe, effective and harmless for your dog.
They’re injected deeply under your pet’s skin so they can’t fall out.
If your pup has thin skin, you may be able to feel this chip when brushing or stroking your pup.
New to microchipping? Here’s a rundown of the process to get you caught up.
What Exactly is a Microchip?
The purpose of microchipping is to help pet owners recover their pets in the event they get lost.
Microchips are tiny computer chips roughly the size of a grain of rice that contain an I.D. number for your dog or cat.
Your vet will inject this chip beneath your pet’s skin, usually between his shoulder blades at the back of his neck, with a hypodermic needle.
To your pet, it may feel similar to getting a shot.
Once your pet is microchipped, you register his number on a pet data base along with your contact details.
This identifies you as the owner of your dog.
Microchips can be read using a microchip scanner which most animal shelters and vets have.
If your pet gets lost, whoever finds him can take him to the nearest shelter or vet to be scanned for a microchip.
The vet or shelter will look up your info on the pet registry and contact you to let you know where you can go to pick up your pup.
Unlike a collar and tags which can be torn off or damaged, making them unreadable, microchips remain intact under your pet’s skin.
If your pup likes to roll around in the mud, swim in the ocean or run through the field, there’s no worry about the chip falling out or getting damaged.
Most pets have no problem adjusting to a microchip as it’s so tiny, it doesn’t bother them or feel uncomfortable under their skin.
But that chip could be a lifesaver if your pet were to ever get lost.
As long as your contact info is kept up to date, you can count on your pet’s microchip to help him find his way back home.
Can you Feel a Microchip in your Dog?
Generally speaking, it’s difficult to feel a microchip once it’s been implanted under your pup’s skin.
For proper insertion, make sure the procedure is done by a qualified vet.
Your vet knows the best place to put the chip where it will stay safe and secure and not cause any discomfort to your pet.
As microchipping is done while your pet is awake, there’s always the chance that the chip misses its mark due to your pet moving unexpectedly at the time of insertion.
If the chip is inserted incorrectly and doesn’t go as deeply into his skin as it’s supposed to, you may be able to feel it later on.
Even if your pup’s microchip was injected properly, you may be able to find it if you searched hard enough.
You’d have to run your hands over your pup’s skin around his shoulder blades and neck, pressing down hard to see if you can feel the chip within.
If your pet is small and has little fur, you’re more likely to succeed.
Otherwise, it could be hit and miss.
Sometimes, a chip may shift out of place and you may be able to feel it when stroking your pup.
You may feel a tiny lump on your pet’s chest or back (or other area where the chip has “migrated”) that’s the size and shape of a microchip.
Keep in mind we’re talking about a chip that resembles a grain of rice.
If your pup is extremely active, there’s a chance the chip may dislodge from its original place and shift elsewhere on its body.
It won’t fall out, but it could find its way to another area of his shoulder or his back or his chest.
This shifting won’t affect how the microchip works.
There’s no need for your vet to remove the chip and reinsert it where it’s supposed to go.
Microchips can last for the lifespan of your pet.
Over the course of many years, it’s not unusual for chips to move about.
When scanning for a microchip, vets and animal shelter personnel generally wave their handheld scanner wand all around your pet’s body to ensure they’re not missing a chip if it’s there.
How Can I Distinguish a Microchip from a Harmful Growth?
Like most pet owners, you want to stay on top of your pet’s health and catch problems early on.
If you feel something unusual on your pet’s skin, like a bump or growth, you report it to your vet and have your pet checked right away.
How do you know you’re feeling a microchip and not a harmful growth? Here are a few tips along that line.
Microchips are very small, narrow and hard to the touch, with rounded edges – like a grain of rice.
Lumps or unusual growths don’t usually fit that full description.
They may be small but soft, instead of hard.
Or they could be hard and narrow, but much larger than a grain of rice.
A lump or growth may also be uncomfortable to the touch.
If your pet flinches or tries to get away when you touch that spot, chances are it’s not the chip and worth having your vet check it out.
When in doubt, there’s no harm in calling your vet and scheduling a checkup.
Better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your pet’s health.
How Do You Know if a Dog is Microchipped?
If you’ve taken in a stray dog or found a dog wandering in your yard, the best way to determine if he has a microchip is to take him to the vet.
A vet will scan his body and see if the dog has been chipped at some point in time.
If the dog is wearing a collar with a tag, it may say on the tag that he has been microchipped.
Then it’s a matter of having the dog scanned to get the contact details of its owner and contacting the owner to inform him that his pooch has been found.
Most vets will not charge for scanning a pet for a microchip.
If you’ve found a lost pet, you will be doing the pet owner a favor by taking him to a shelter or vet for scanning.
The pet owner may even give you a reward for your trouble.
Microchips vs GPS
Microchips make it easy for people to find the owners of lost pets.
They do NOT, however, track lost pets in real time.
In other words, a microchip isn’t a GPS device.
You can purchase a separate GPS tracker for your pup, on top of having him microchipped, to help track him down if he ever gets lost.
Losing a pet can be heartbreaking, for both you and your pup.
Through microchipping, you increase your chances of reuniting with your pet if he should get lost.