Dog Microchips: Common Questions and Answers (2024)

Pet microchips save lives. A microchip provides permanent identification for your pet that links them to you, no matter where they may end up.

If your dog is lost, any shelter or veterinarian can scan your pet’s microchip to find out your contact information so they can reunite you immediately.

However, before deciding to get your dog microchipped, you may have a few questions.

Let’s take a look at some common questions and answers about microchips for dogs.

What Are Dog Microchips, And How Do They Work?

Dog microchips are tiny implants about the size of a grain of rice that are placed under your dog’s skin.

The microchip contains a unique identification (ID) number that becomes your dog’s permanent ID. Once the chip has been implanted in your dog, it will link your contact information to your pet.

All veterinary clinics and animal shelters have handheld scanners that can detect your dog’s microchip, read the number, and identify the associated microchip company.

After scanning your dog, the vet or shelter can contact the microchip company. The microchip number is verified, and your contact information is given to the vet.

Once you microchip your pet, go to the microchip company’s website and enter your contact info right away.

You can also do this over the phone. Your vet will provide the phone number or website.

How Are Dog Microchips Implanted, And Where Are They Implanted?

Microchips are implantedthe same way a vaccine is administered.

A needle punctures the skin, and a syringe with an embedded microchip is inserted.To help lessen any discomfort caused by the needle, numbing cream may be applied several minutes prior to the procedure.

The microchip is then scanned to ensure appropriate administration of the microchip.

Dog microchips are implanted under the skin, in between the shoulder blades.

Where Can I Get My Dog Microchipped?

Almost any veterinary facility will be able to microchip your dog.

In fact, most humane societies, animal shelters andASPCAlocations can also provide this service. If you adopt a dog from one of these groups, chances are he'll come with a microchip already implanted!

Even local vaccine/shot clinics offer this service.

Can I Microchip My Dog?

Microchipping your dog by yourself isnotrecommended. Although unlikely to happen, trauma to your dog can occur. A veterinary professional should microchip your dog.

How Big Is the Needle For Dog Microchipping?

The size of the microchip needle depends on the microchip company.

Can You Feel a Dog's Microchip Under Their Skin?

Most of the time, you can feel the microchip just underneath the dog's skin. It’s especially prominent in dogs with thin skin or poorbody condition(underweight).

A dog microchip is about the size of a grain of rice, hard, and can often be rolled or moved somewhat between the fingers.

Are Dog Microchips Painful?

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), a microchip injection for dogs isn't more painful than a typical vaccination.

Veterinarians can apply a small amount of numbing agent (like lidocaine) to help lessen any potential discomfort.

Vets also recommend providingdog treats,doggie peanut butter, or canned cheeseas a distraction.

Do Dog Microchips Have Side Effects?

Millions of microchips are implanted every year, and the side effects reported are minimal.

Overall,researchhas demonstrated that the benefit of a microchip greatly outweighs the risk of any side effects.

That said, reported side effects can range from minor problems such as tenderness at the site of injection for 24 hours to major problems such as aninfectionor formation ofa tumor.

How Much Does It Cost To Microchip Dogs?

A dog microchip can range in price from $15 to $50.

Can You Track Dogs With Microchips?

Microchips do not have any tracking capabilities like GPS.

Microchips use RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Device) technology that enables a scanner to emit an electrical field to activate the microchip.

Once the microchip is activated by the scanner, the scanner displays the permanent ID number associated with the microchip.

What Kind of Information Is Stored in My Dog’s Microchip?

Once scanned, the only information provided is the unique microchip number, usually nine, 10, or 15 digits.

From there, the veterinarian calls the microchip registry and is provided with any contact information you, as the pet parent, has already pre-registered.

Usually this only includes a phone number and/or address.

Do Dog Microchips Need Batteries?

Microchips do not need batteries. They are implants that emit a radio frequency when activated by a scanner.

How Do I Connect My Information to My Dog's Microchip Number?

Once your pet is microchipped, you will be informed of the microchip permanent ID number and its associated microchip company.

You should then contact the microchip company via website or phone to register your pet’s new microchip with your contact information.

Keeping up-to-date contact information with your associated microchip company is very important. If your information is outdated in the company’s database, then it will be even more difficult for a veterinarian or shelter to track you down to return your dog to you.

How Long Does a Dog Microchip Last?

Microchips last for the duration of a dog's lifetime.

Can Dog Microchips Fail?

Microchips are designed to last the lifetime of a dog, but that doesn't mean that some won't last or become unreadable by the scanner. Sometimes, they can migrate to other parts of the body—be sure to have the entire length and width of your dog scanned.

Also, using a different scanner or second person can improve chances of successfully scanning the microchip. Excess fat deposition or metal on the collar or dirty, matted, or wet coat can interfere with reading the microchip.

And, though not ideal, if the microchip does fail, you can always have another implanted in its stead.

Can A Dog Have Their Microchip Removed?

Yes, dogs can have their microchip removed, but it does requiregeneral anesthesiaand surgery.

Unless medically warranted—which is very rare—microchips are not removed.

How Do I Care For My Dog’s Microchip?

Other than the initial registration and updating your contact information as needed to the microchip manufacturer, no further care is needed for your dog's microchip.

If in doubt, you can always ask your veterinarian to double check that it's still active atroutine visits.


Sarah Wooten, DVM


Dr. Sarah Wooten graduated from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 2002. A member of the American Society of Veterinary Journalists,...

Dog Microchips: Common Questions and Answers (2024)
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