Microchipping has become an effective way to help identify lost pets because it’s an inexpensive procedure and can not be easily removed as identification. A microchip is a small device placed between the shoulder blades on dog and cats. The device is about the size of a grain of rice inserted with a large bore needle. The microchip carries a unique number that is registered to your pet.
Dog and cats tolerate the placement of microchips with minimal discomfort. On young puppies and kittens, I personally prefer to place the microchip at the time of neutering or spaying, while under anesthesia, so there is no discomfort. Ferrets will not tolerate placement without some anesthetic gas, usually less than 5 minutes is sufficient. The ferret is soon awake within two minutes. While large birds may be microchipped awake, they become so vocal and stressed that I prefer to administer a light intranasal sedative, which effects may be reversed after placing the microchip. This procedure in birds runs about fifteen minutes.
Often, caretakers believe their fenced in yard or in house only pets (cats, ferrets, and birds) are adequately safe. However, one in five pets will escape from their caretakers in their lifetime. While microchipping does not guarantee a pet will be found or returned, it does increase the probability. One shelter study showed 74% of lost dogs and 64% of lost cats were immediately returned to their homes because of microchips. All shelters, rescue organizations, and most veterinary hospitals routinely scan lost pets for microchips.
While collars and tags can be physically removed when a pet is lost or stolen, a microchip is tamper-proof and creates a permanent identification. Although microchips can’t tell you where your pet is (no GPS capability), it is the first thing any pet agency is going to do – scan for a chip. Microchips last a lifetime. You only need to update your physical information when you move or change phone numbers.
I recommend that all pets be microchipped. It is simple and safe and brings peace of mind.