Small investment, big return: The microchip
The vet’s office
By Dr. Elizabeth Knabe, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
Each year thousands of lost cats and dogs are found and taken to shelters or other animal services. The animals are scanned to see if they have a microchip so that they can be reunited with their owners.
In the past only a small percentage of the pets had a chip, but now with microchips a regular part of adoptions from shelters and breeders, there is a greater chance the animal has one. Many pets still do not have microchips, though, and this article hopes to educate the public about the importance of this identification tool.
There are three components a microchip system needs to be effective. There is the chip itself, which is a tiny computer crystal implanted under the skin. Once it is in place, the pet does not feel it. A scanner is needed to read the information from the chip. The manufacturer of the chip creates a database to store records that match the chip number to the contact information of the owner. There is also a microchip lookup internet site sponsored by the American Animal Hospital Association that allows one to enter a chip number to find which company sponsors the chip.
Once a microchip is in place on the top of the shoulders, it tends to be surrounded by connective tissue that essentially glues it in that spot. Occasionally the chips migrate a bit and end up off to one side or down towards the front legs. This is why a chip should be scanned for periodically when a pet is visiting the veterinarian. Another reason is simply for peace of mind that the chip is reading correctly.
Lastly, the owners of microchipped pets must do their part and register their pet under their name. This way the correct address and any contact phone numbers as well as other numbers of relatives will be on file in the database. If someone is traveling, they would want to have numbers on file of others who may be taking care of their pets. Some companies provide tags that state the pet has a chip as an added level of awareness.
In addition to the chip, dogs should have a collar with readable ID. That way someone finding the lost dog could contact the owner directly. Then if the collar comes off, the chip is there for a safety net.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.