When a puppy enters your life they quickly find a special place in your heart, and it’s only natural to want to do everything that’s best for them. Although a microchip might sound scary, it is an easy and safe way to identify your precious pup should he get lost, injured, or even stolen. Every year thousands of lost pets are reunited with their owners, all thanks to those tiny microchips. There are a lot of myths surrounding microchips, so in this guide we’ll make everything crystal clear so you can make the right decision for your pooch going forward.

What is a microchip?

A microchip is a tiny electronic chip about the same size as a grain of rice. It is inserted easily just under the loose skin at the back of the dog’s neck. The process doesn’t require surgery or an anesthetic and feels just like an injection. Many puppies have a microchip implanted during their routine vet visit for vaccinations or a check-up. However, sometimes it is possible to have the microchip implanted while the pet is having an aesthetic for another procedure such as neutering.

How does a microchip work?

Pet microchips contain a unique identification number. Microchips don’t even contain a battery; they are only activated when a microchip scanner is passed over the area and when the chip is scanned the scanner reads the unique ID number. Once your pet is microchipped you need to register the chip with the registration database and provide your contact details (and remember to keep this information up to date!). Contrary to popular belief microchips don’t contain a GPS tracking device or your pet’s medical information.

Why should you microchip your puppy?

A microchip is a permanent form of identification for your pup. If you are planning on taking your pet on holidays or abroad, chances are you will need one as it is often required for pet travel or obtaining a pet passport. A collar and an ID tag are essential ways of identifying your dog, but what if they come off? The main reason to have your pet microchipped is to increase your chance of getting your dog back if he goes missing.

If a dog is found or taken to a vet clinic or shelter, one of the first things they do is check for a microchip. If your pooch has a chip with up-to-date contact details, then you can be quickly reunited with your pup.If a dog doesn’t have an identification tag or a microchip, then there is no way of knowing where the dog came from.The local animal control agency or shelter will hold your dog for a certain number of days, before they can be passed to a rehoming center to find a new home, or they may even be euthanized if no one claims them.

Where can you get your dog microchipped?

Your veterinarian will be able to microchip your puppy. Some animal shelters or your local authority might offer microchipping events or promotions too. A microchip should be placed by a suitably qualified person. Someone who doesn’t know what they are doing could injure your pup, or insert the microchip incorrectly.

Do you need to register your pet?

Having the microchip inserted is just the first step. Once your pup is chipped you need to register the microchip number with the company’s registry. This can usually be quickly completed online, or the paperwork can be posted. You have to provide your contact information and remember to keep this up to date if you change your phone number or move house. You might also want to register your puppy’s microchip with a national pet recovery database. For example, AKC Reunite is the largest non-profit pet microchip and recovery service in the United States.

Does your pup still need to wear a pet collar and tags?

Yes, your pup should still wear a collar and ID tag even if he has a microchip. An ID tag is the easiest way for a person to quickly identify your pet and doesn’t require a fancy scanner.

Is microchipping your dog compulsory?

The laws associated with microchipping your pet depend on where you live, and they can vary a lot between different states and countries. For example, in the UK owners must ensure their dog is microchipped. While in the United States there are no compulsory state laws for microchipping your dog, yet in Los Angeles County all dogs are required to have a microchip. Therefore, you should ask your veterinarian or local authority what the local laws are and if your pup needs to be microchipped.

Is your pup already microchipped?

If you adopted your pup from a shelter, they may be able to tell you if your pet has a microchip, and how you can change the registration details. If you are unsure if your puppy already has a microchip, you can ask your veterinarian to check using a scanner. Microchips also show up on x-rays (radiographs), so that’s another way to check if necessary.

Final thoughts

Research has shown that dogs with microchips are much more likely to be reunited with their owners if they are lost, compared to dogs without microchips. It is an easy and safe way to permanently identify your pup. Once your pooch is microchipped, you just need to make sure the microchip is registered and that you remember to keep your contact information up-to-date. At least once a year you should ask your vet to scan the chip, that way you know it is still functioning. So, it’s pretty clear that it is a good idea to microchip your puppy – it is an easy and straightforward process that can really help get your dog home safe if he ever gets lost.