Micro Chipping

Microchips are fast becoming a popular method for permanent identification of pets. The chips are considered reliable and an effective way to identify lost pets. The chip is small, compact and easily inserted under the skin. But once inserted, there are two other equally important components of the microchip system that must be in place in order to properly identify and return lost pets to their owners; the microchip scanner and an accessible and accurate database. However, there is controversy regarding the chips and scanners.

The microchip is a tiny computer chip or transponder about the size of a grain of rice. It stores an identification number and transmits that information through radio waves to the appropriate scanner. Typically, the microchip number contains 10 characters, making available 275 billion separate codes. This makes it highly unlikely that the same identifying code will be used more than once. Rest assured that your pet will have a unique microchip code.

Microchips are composed of a silicon chip and tiny antenna encased in biocompatible glass. The microchips come pre-loaded in a syringe, and the needle is inserted just under the skin between the shoulder blades where the microchip is implanted. The entire procedure takes less than 10 seconds and is only as painful as a vaccination injection. After injection, the tissue surrounding the microchip reacts to this new substance and forms a casing. This helps prevent migration of the microchip. Since the microchip is made of biocompatible material, rejection is uncommon and infection at the site is very rare.

The microchip scanner is used as a power source for the microchip and is used to receive the message encoded in the chip. The scanner uses electromagnetic energy to empower the chip to transmit its message through radio waves, which are normally at specific frequencies for each manufacturer of microchips. For this reason, in the past, not all scanners could read all brands of microchips.

In an effort to address this potential problem, in 1996, the International Standards Organization published that universal readers must be produced. Scanners are provided to animal control, humane shelters and other rescue organizations in an effort to ensure that every stray pet is scanned and those with chips are reunited with their owners. Veterinarians can also purchase scanners for use in their hospital.

In addition, you can register your pet in your own name for faster notification when your lost pet has been found. There is a charge for this service. These microchip databases are usually available 24 hours a day and are even accessible via the Internet. But remember, the database, as with computers, is only as good as the data it contains. Annual confirmation of your pet's microchip information is strongly recommended.

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