A lost dog wearing a leash.

It could happen when you least expect it. You’re walking your dog on his favorite trail and he somehow slips out of his collar to chase a squirrel. Or your curious kitty dashes past you through an open door when your arms are full of groceries. Becoming separated from a pet is a pet parent’s worst nightmare, and it happens about 10 million times each year in the United States. Collars with ID tags—while very much necessary—can break or fall off, leaving your pet without proper pet identification. 

Our compassionate team at Bayside Animal Hospital strongly recommends having your pet microchipped to add a layer of protection and drastically improve your chances of being reunited with your pet if he should ever stray. Read on to learn more about this important aspect of pet safety.

What Are Microchips?

A microchip is a teeny computer chip—about the size of a grain of rice—that contains a unique identification number. Your pet’s doctor implants the chip using a needle and syringe, much like administering a vaccine. No anesthesia is needed, and we can implant a microchip during a routine wellness visit, or during your pet’s spay or neuter or other scheduled procedure. 

How Do Microchips Work?

Each microchip contains a unique identification number and the phone number for the registry containing the pet parent’s contact information. Microchips can be read only with a special scanner. The scanner displays the identification number and registry phone number, and the animal shelter or veterinary clinic can call the registry to get the pet parent’s contact information. Microchips are not GPS tracking devices, and no sensitive data is stored in the microchip itself. 

Are They Effective?

Microchipping works! According to a study of 53 animal shelters conducted by The Ohio State University, an average of 73 percent of pet parents were reunited with their pets because of a microchip. The return-to-owner rates were more than double for dogs with microchips (52.2 percent vs. 21.9 percent) and more than 20 times higher for microchipped cats (38.5 percent vs. 1.8 percent). All cats and dogs should still wear collars with appropriate tags, but a microchip provides a permanent form of pet identification that cannot get lost or become illegible. For your pet’s microchip to remain effective, you must register your pet’s information (we will provide you with all instructions when we microchip your pet) and keep your information up-to-date if you move or change phone numbers. 

Microchipping is safe, effective, and provides the best chance to reunite you with your pet. If you adopted your pet and you’re unsure if he has a microchip, we’re happy to scan your pet at your next visit. Please contact us at (916) 791-8387 if you have any questions about microchips or to schedule an appointment.