Locally-Owned in Oakdale and St. Paul, Minnesota

Why Should I Microchip My Pet?

microchip, cat collars, ID tags, pet safety, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota, Twin Cities emergency vet, Minnesota emergency vet

Summer is coming and you’ll likely be spending more time outside. Help your pets stay safe in the event of an accidental escape with proper identification (ID) tags AND a microchip!

ID Tags

ID tags come in many colors, shapes and variable degrees of sparkle. Some families opt for less noisy “boomerang/slider” type tags. Some families choose to have the important information embroidered directly on their pet’s collar. No matter what your pet’s ID tags look like, they should always contain the following information:

  • Your pet’s name
  • The best contact phone number for you

ID tags are an easy way for the public to identify your pet’s name and call you if your pet is lost. When I worked in Oregon, I once reunited a family with their injured dog that had been missing for 3 months because he was wearing a collar with ID tags.

Unfortunately, ID tags can fall off collars, the inscriptions can wear off with time or your pet’s collar could become detached. The second line of safety is having your pet microchipped.

microchip, cat collars, ID tags, pet safety, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota, Twin Cities emergency vet, Minnesota emergency vet

Microchips are rice grain sized transponders that are implanted with a large gauge needle under your pet’s skin, typically on the back between the shoulder blades.
Many pets are microchipped at the time of a spay or neuter surgery, while under general anesthesia. However, general anesthesia is not required or necessary for the procedure. My own dog was microchipped as an adult (the rescue organization he came from did not implant microchips) with the only restraint being a tasty jar of chicken baby food.

How do microchips work?
A special scanner is waved over your pet’s coat to detect the microchip signal. The unique ID number associated with that chip will read on the scanner. There are many different types of microchip scanners. A universal scanner is designed to detect all the different types of microchips. Veterinary clinics, animal shelters, and animal control agencies have microchip scanners to help reunite a lost pet with their family.

Important Points about Microchips: 

  • You MUST register your pet’s microchip number with the microchip company. This allows your pet’s microchip number to be associated with your contact information. If any of your personal information changes (i.e. phone number, address), it’s crucial to update this with the microchip company.
  • The public cannot tell that your pet is microchipped. This is why many microchip registration packets come with a tag to place on your pet’s collar, indicating that your pet has a microchip. The tag will have a contact phone number for the microchip company hotline and may even display your pet’s microchip number. However, we already know the potential pitfalls of using tags alone.
  • If you find a lost pet with a tag that displays the pet’s microchip number, you can look it up at the AAHA Universal pet Microchip Lookup. Simply type in the microchip number and this resource will look up the microchip company, provide the hotline number, and most recent date of updated microchip information. It does not give out the owner’s personal information.

A Special Note about Cats: “End the cat nudity. Embrace the orange.”
Indoors is certainly where cats are safest from predators, vehicles, diseases, and parasites. Here’s a new and interesting idea for indoor cat owners: The Kitty Convict. The concept is to place an orange collar on indoor-only cats to signal that they belong inside and are not an outdoor or stray cat. This allows the public to know that any cat sporting an orange collar has escaped and needs help getting home safely.

Since cats are essentially furry acrobats, it’s strongly recommended to have quick release/break away collars on cats to prevent choking injury or death if tangled on fences, trees, etc…

Please take the time to invest in collars, ID tags, and microchips for your pets. Don’t wait until it’s too late!

Ally Thell, DVM, emergency veterinarian, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota

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