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Choosing the Right Microchip for Your Pet: Factors to Consider

Along with parasite prevention and vaccinations, microchipping is another way to help keep your pet safe. It can also help you reunite with your beloved companion if you are separated. In this blog post, our vets in Exeter discuss the benefits of microchipping cats and dogs and the different types of pet microchips.

What is a microchip for a pet?

A microchip for a pet is a small electronic chip enclosed in a glass cylinder about the size of a grain of rice. It is implanted under the pet's skin, typically between the shoulder blades. The microchip contains a unique identification number that a special scanner can read. This number is linked to the pet owner's contact information in a database, which can be accessed by veterinary clinics, animal shelters, and other organizations with the appropriate scanning equipment.

How to Choose the Right Microchip For Your Pet

While choosing a microchip for your pet may seem daunting, it may be simpler than you think. Different types of microchips have various benefits and may be chosen based on your dog's characteristics, from size and weight to age and health conditions. Some microchips even allow you to monitor your pet's health.

In the end, your vet can help you decide which microchip is best for your dog or cat. 

Types of Microchips For Cats & Dogs

Types of pet microchips include different frequencies, which different readers pick up. Some of the different types of animal microchips currently existing include:

  • 125kHz Chip: This was previously the most commonly used microchip frequency in the U.S., although it cannot be read by all scanners.
  • 134kHz Chip: Introduced in the U.S. in 2004, this microchip can be read by all scanners, and it is considered the universal standard worldwide.
  • 128 kHz Chip: Introduced in 2007, this microchip can be scanned by most but not all scanners.

What are some factors to consider when choosing a microchip?

Some of the factors to consider when choosing a microchip for your pet include:

Compatibility with Scanners

Unfortunately, in the U.S., there is no standard for microchip production, meaning that the various manufacturers all produce their versions of microchips with different benefits that operate at different frequencies. Because of the cost of microchip scanners, which can be expensive, pet hospitals and animal control facilities usually need to choose which type of scanner to carry rather than purchasing each one. This means that if a dog or cat ends up found at one of the facilities, the scanner may be unable to read the microchip if it has a different frequency.

International Microchip Standards

While there is no standard for microchipping in the U.S., having your dog or cat microchipped can still greatly increase your odds of being reunited with them. Even so, the International Standards Organization has approved a universal identification system for microchip use worldwide. These are the recommended standards in the United States, and while not mandatory, having your pet placed with an ISO-rated microchip means that you can be reunited with your pet even if you are overseas when you become separated.

Database Registration

Microchips don't have a centralized database in the U.S., the databases are run strictly by the manufacturing companies. The good news is that the identification number displayed by the microchip scanner will indicate the manufacturer. The only way the owner's information would be unavailable is if their contact information is incomplete or outdated or if the microchip was never registered.

Additional Features Offered by Microchips

While reuniting you with your pet is the main goal, some microchips offer additional benefits. Some microchips can monitor vitals, including heart rate and temperature. 

No matter which microchip you choose, the main goal is to be reunited with your pet, and it is vital to ensure proper implantation while keeping your pet comfortable.

How Does a Pet Microchip Work?

The microchip is implanted using a hypodermic needle in a quick and minimally painful procedure, similar to a routine vaccination. It does not require anesthesia. After implantation, the pet owner must register the microchip with their contact information in a database maintained by the microchip manufacturer or a pet registry service.

This registration is crucial because the microchip itself does not store any contact details. Animal shelters or veterinary clinics use a handheld scanner to detect the microchip when a lost pet is found.

The scanner emits a low-frequency radio wave that activates the chip, allowing it to transmit its unique identification number. The identification number is used to access the owner's contact information in the database, facilitating the pet's reunion with its owner.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Would you like to learn more about preventive care services to help keep your pet safe? Contact our Exeter vets today.

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Pacific Crest Companion Animal is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Exeter companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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