Microchipping Your Pet

By Dr. Anne Ray, Veterinarian

Thousands of pets get lost and end up in shelters every year, and few of these missing pets are reunited with their owners. If your pet does not have a microchip, it’s time to consider microchipping for identification purposes.

Microchip or not, it’s important that your dog has identification at all times. Although collars and tags are essential, they can fall off or become damaged. Fortunately, technology has made it possible to equip your pet with a microchip for permanent identification.


The microchip, about the size of a grain of rice, is glass embedded with a unique number. The microchip reader is a wand type device that uses passive radiofrequency to identify the number in the chip. It’s injected UNDER THE SKIN with a syringe-type device. Connective tissue forms around the chip and holds it in place, preventing migration.

In dogs and cats, it’s placed between the shoulder blades. It’s also used in other types of animals and where it’s placed varies by species. For example, in birds it’s placed in the breast muscle. In horses, it’s placed on the left side of the neck 1” from the midline towards the withers. The US Fish & Wildlife Services uses microchipping in research – grizzly bears, black footed ferrets and giant land tortoises, to name a few.

There are many brands on the market with Homagain and Avid being the major players in the U.S.


When an animal is microchipped, the owner fills out a form with contact information and a description of the pet. This information is sent to a registry which may be the manufacturer or an independent entity such as a pet recovery service. Once registered, the pet is registered for life. When an animal is found it’s scanned and if a microchip is identified, the registry is contacted for information regarding the name and contact information of the owner.

The microchip IS NOT a GPS device and cannot locate your pet. It is a way to contact you, the owner. Veterinary hospitals and shelters are equipped with microchip readers to check stray or injured animals so as to contact its owner.

It’s important to keep your contact information current. A chip without accurate information is useless.

Dog microchipping is mandatory in many countries (England, Australia, Israel to name a few). Many countries require an ISO (International Organization for Standardization) compliant chip for import. Here at Rocky Gorge, we place the ISO Homagain Chip.


Usually microchips are placed at the time of spay or neuter although it can be placed at any time. Generally, it’s at 5-6 months of age because the animal is still growing and placement between the shoulder blades is important.

You the owner receives a registration certificate with the chip ID # and recovery service contact info. Like an automobile title, the certificate serves as proof of ownership. It’s transferred with the pet if given away or sold to a new home.

Please don’t hesitate to contact our staff here at Rocky Gorge to answer any questions you may have regarding this important pet identifying service.

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