Jun 14 2017

Microchips 101

As a young tech, I remember the drug rep sauntering (they ALL saunter; I think it’s a job requirement) into the emergency vet clinic that I worked for, flashing this “new technology” that was being made available for pets; a microchip implant. Now, being a child of the 70’s, raised in a religious home, I was suspicious of this fancy-pants-techno-witchcraft promising the miraculous reuniting of pet and owner, should the two ever become separated. Nonetheless, Dr. Hannis Stoddard’s AVID microchip quickly became the latest and greatest in Veterinary medicine, particularly to ER’s, because we could now find owners at lightning speed when injured pets were brought in.


A lot has changed since Dr. Stoddard created/patented the AVID chip in 1985; the patent expired and the market exploded with new microchip companies. Shelter pets were chipped before being adopted, the chip became a common optional addition to the basic spay/neuter surgical estimate, and every good Samaritan could bring their roadside find into any animal clinic or shelter and have them scanned for the chip number; creating a trail to the owner. Just a five minute vet visit, and an injection, ensured a lifetime “tracking” system for your four-legged friend.

But then, we all got busier. Microchipping became more common, but keeping the registration current became an oversight; something we kept INTENDING to do, but never could remember to update after a long day at work. To truly reap the benefits of a microchip, you MUST register your pet’s microchip AND keep your information current (moving, new phone #). If that information is missing or incorrect, your chances of getting your pet back are dramatically reduced. Many chip companies also recommend having your pets chip scanned once a year, to make sure that it’s working properly.

As a reminder, the AAHA and the AVMA have established August 15 as “Check the Chip Day” . Mark your calendar reminder to check your information and update it if necessary, and you can rest easy that you’ve improved your chances of getting your pet back if it’s lost or stolen.

Does the microchip REALLY make a difference? The answer is YES! In a *study of more than 7,700 stray animals at animal shelters, dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 21.9% of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were returned to their owners 52.2% of the time. Cats without microchips were reunited with their owners only 1.8% of the time, whereas microchipped cats went back home 38.5% of the time. (Lord et al, JAVMA, July 15, 2009)  And if those numbers seem a little low to you too, I looked into that quote; turns out that the animals that had microchips but didn’t get home was because the owners information was either never registered or never updated. Tragic.


FUN FACT! Commonly available microchips implanted in pets in the U.S. include the following:

125-kHz microchips:
Smart Tag (used currently at Cape Coral Pet Vet)
24PetWatch® (unencrypted)
FriendChip®, Avid (encrypted)
HomeAgain®/Digital Angel (unencrypted)128-kHz microchips:
AKC Companion Animal Recovery® (AKC CAR®)
134.2-kHz microchips:
Bayer ResQ®HomeAgain®/Digital Angel

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