Does Your Pet Have an ID Microchip?

by Kasondra

Why should I microchip my pet?
On the AVMA’s (American Veterinary Medical Association) website, there was a study of 7,700 stray animals in shelters.

  • Dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 21.9% of the time.
  • Dogs with microchips were returned to their owners 52.2% of the time.
  • Cats without microchips were returned to their owners 1.8% of the time. No, that’s not a typo!
  • Cats with microchips were returned to their owners 38.5% of the time.

For microchipped animals that were NOT returned to their owners, the majority of the time it was due to incorrect information in the registration database or no owner information in the database at all. Keep reading for more on this topic!

What exactly is a pet microchip?
A microchip is the size of a grain of rice. It is a radio frequency identification transponder with the single purpose of storing a unique identification number.

How does it work?
Microchips are passive, meaning they have no battery. They are powered by the microchip scanner that passes over them. The microchip will emit a radio frequency signal that the scanner will then pick up. Without the use of a scanner, they just lie dormant. Think of them like an internal collar tag that will help bring your fur baby home if they ever become lost.

Why can’t they work like a GPS?
A Global Positioning System (GPS) differs from a microchip in that it requires a battery source. For all of the components necessary to have a good GPS unit, the device would be much larger and too big to implant. Plus, it would need to be charged, and since we can’t plug our pets in…

How do you register a microchip?
Once the microchip is implanted, the next step is the extremely important! As we mentioned above, in the AVMA study of lost pets, in the case of microchipped animals that were NOT returned to their owners, the most common cause was incorrect information in the registration database or no owner information in the database at all. Most chip companies allow you to list your vet practice as an additional contact on their account, which can be a good backup if your pet becomes lost while you are out of town.

At Frontier, we give you registration paperwork with instructions on how to register your pet’s microchip online through Petlink It’s simple and only takes a few minutes! If you don’t register your pet, you are now the proud owner of a nothing other than a metallic grain of rice. It’s useless without the registration!

One important thing to know is that there is no single central database for microchip registration. You must register your pet’s microchip through that chip’s manufacturer. If your pet becomes lost and the chip is scanned, the shelter or vet office will know by the chip number which company manufactured the chip and will contact them to get your information. There are, however, a couple of databases that compile data from multiple databases, including the AAHA database and Petmaxx (an international database)

My pet has gone missing, now what?
Call your microchip company and report your pet missing. Make sure all of your contact information is up-to-date (phone number, name, address). If your pet is found and taken to a shelter or veterinary office, they will scan your pet for a chip. If one is detected, they will contact the microchip manufacturer to find your contact information.

I heard there are different types of microchips, what does this mean?
There are different microchip frequencies, and not microchips and scanners are universal.

  • 125kHz chip – This is the oldest type, and can be read by most scanners.
  • 134.2kHz chip – This is the GLOBAL standard, used by most of the world, including the microchips we use at Frontier. Specifications are set by a company called the International Standards Organization and you may have heard these microchips referred to as “ISO Chips”. These chips use a 15 digit numeric code numbered 0-9, with the first 3 digits representing the manufacturer’s code.
  • 128kHz chip – This is the least common and can be read by most scanners, but not all.

What does this mean? And why isn’t it required all vets and shelters use the same microchip frequency?
Currently, there are no state or federal regulations in place in the U.S. for chip standards. Not every veterinary offices may be able to scan your pets’ chip, but the majority of shelters and vet offices carry a universal scanner, also called a forward and backward scanner, that can detect all radio frequencies.

What happens if my pet has two microchips with different frequencies?
Your pet’s microchips will NOT interfere with each other. They will be detected based on the type of scanner used. If a universal scanner is used, it will most likely detect both chips. If the scanner only picks up on frequency, it will only detect a chip with that frequency.

What if I travel to a different country with my pet?
Try to ensure your pet is microchipped with an ISO chip, as these are the global standard and they most likely will have a scanner to read it. If you have questions about your travel, it may be best to contact your destination country for further assistance.

Can you place microchips in birds?
Yes! Dr. Peterson can place a microchip in some birds (not the really tiny ones). Most chips are placed in the keel of a bird and may require pain medications and/or anesthesia to complete, making it a little more costly. If you are interested in microchipping your bird, please contact us to discuss options with Dr. Peterson.

The bottom line?
Microchip your pets! Even your indoor-only cats because accidents do happen, and since indoor cats are less likely to wear a collar with ID tags, the microchip may be the only way to get your cat home!

Two forms of identification are better than one! Have your pet wear another form of identification if you are able. A collar with their name and your phone number, rabies tag and/or county license information is best.

What's Next

  • 1

    Call us or schedule an appointment online.

  • 2

    Meet with a doctor for an initial exam.

  • 3

    Put a plan together for your pet.