Paws and Claws: Microchips help bring lost pets back home

by Cindy Anderson, DVM, Animal Care Clinic

Warm summer greetings!

 Did you know that Aug. 15 is National Check the Chip Day? What does that mean for us as pet owners?

Many of us have gone the extra step in order to keep our precious pets safe by having them micro-chipped and registered in the hopes of being reunited, if they should ever wander off.

Microchips are injected under the skin with a hypodermic needle and while the needle is larger in size, it is a quick and relatively painless procedure. Owners often opt to have the microchip implanted during their pets’ spay or neuter procedure, then the animal will not even feel it at all!

These specially designed chips are enclosed in a very small glass cylinder and are about the size of an uncooked grain of rice. The chips themselves do not contain any battery.  Instead, they are activated by the scanner as it passes over the area where the chip is located. The current technology of these chips allows for an identification number, which is used to find the owners’ information. They are not GPS devices used to locate animals.

If a stray is taken into a veterinary clinic or shelter, one of the first actions is to scan the pet for a chip,  with hopes the animal can be quickly reunited with its family. This technology isn’t foolproof, as many factors can impede a chip from scanning properly. Human error, such as improper scanning technique, can lead to the failure to detect a chip. Other factors such as matted hair, excessive fat deposits around the chip or metal collars also can lead to errors.

The benefits of micro-chipping definitely outweigh the risks, which are minimal. Although we cannot guarantee that a shelter or clinic will always be able to read every microchip, universal scanners are becoming more readily available and solve the challenge of detecting different brands of microchips.

Once your pet is micro-chipped there are only three simple things to do: 1) Make sure the chip is registered. 2) Ask your veterinarian to scan your pet’s chip at its yearly exam and make sure the chip is still functional and easily detected. 3) Keep your information current with the company you registered with.

The staff at Animal Care Clinic, located at 926 W Grand River Ave., Williamston; 517-655-5551; is happy to help you understand micro-chipping and how it can benefit both you and your beloved pet.

Cindy Anderson, DVM,  is a graduate of MSU Veterinary College (1992) and has practiced veterinary medicine for over 28 years. She traveled to Italy, New Zealand and Manitoba before establishing her own clinic in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.  Dr. Cindy took over duties at the Animal Care Clinic in October 2019 and now spends the majority of her time in the Lower Peninsula helping animals and their owners.

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