Ask the Vet
Q: Our family just adopted a dog from the shelter. They gave her a microchip before we took her home. Is this standard procedure now? Is it also like a tracking device? W.S., Farragut
A: Congratulations! Many people are adopting now, as they have more time during quarantine. Yes, it is standard procedure at most shelters for microchipping to be done before the pet leaves the facility. The two closest shelters, located in Knox and Loudon counties, both microchip dogs and cats before adoption.
The microchip is a permanent means of identification for your pet. Unfortunately, it is not a tracking device. Microchips are quite small, about the size of a grain of rice, and each contains a unique alphanumeric sequence.
It is inserted underneath the skin between the shoulder blades. The needle used for microchip insertion is a bit larger than those used for routine injections, but the discomfort is brief and short-lived. Most microchip companies provide a tag that can be worn on the collar as an outward sign to other pet owners, veterinarians and shelter staff that the pet has a microchip.
The microchip number is entered into a computerized database. Your contact information, description of your pet, veterinarian’s information and often an emergency contact person are all entered in the database.
If a lost/stray pet is found, your local shelter or veterinary office can use their microchip scanner to detect if a chip is present.
If a chip is present, the number of the manufacturer of the chip appears. The database can then be accessed, and the pet and owner can be reunited.
Thus, it is important to update your contact information with any change in address and/or phone number. The average cost for a microchip is $40 to $60 (depends on the manufacturer), and that often includes enrollment in the database for the life of the pet.
Microchipping has been around over 25 years, and it is estimated that this technology has enabled more than one million pets to be reunited with their families.
A microchip will increase the chances of finding your pet if he/she should ever get lost. If your pet does not have a microchip, call your veterinarian today and schedule an appointment.
If you have questions about your pet, e-mail them to Dr. Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org/.