Few things frighten a pet owner as much as the prospect of losing a pet.

The door didn’t close all the way. The gate was left open. There’s a hole you didn’t know about in the fence. Accidents happen. Thankfully, a few valuable tools, such as a microchip, can help your pet make it home safely if they are ever lost.

A microchip is a small radio-frequency identification device that is about the size of a grain of rice. It is injected under the skin of the pet, generally between the shoulder blades. The chip has a unique number that can be picked up by a scanner that is waved like a wand over the pet’s body. That ID number can then be searched in the national database of registered pets in order to reconnect the lost pet with its owner.

The microchip is not a tracking device. You can’t log onto the internet and watch your pet’s movements or determine its location at any time. While many active tracking devices are available that are worn as a removable collar, the pet microchip is a permanently embedded passive transponder that only transmits when pinged by a scanner.

The process of implanting the microchip is straightforward and relatively painless. Similar to common vaccinations, the pet can be distracted with treats or praise, and the microchip is implanted under the loose skin between the shoulders. If a pet shows particular sensitivity to the injection, a local anesthetic can be applied to numb the area to facilitate the injection. Once the microchip is implanted, it will generally function for the entire lifetime of the pet. Our staff will check the ongoing functionality of your pet’s microchip by scanning it at the annual exam.

Pets can be microchipped at their earliest puppy and kitten exams. The chip can then provide a lifetime of security if your pet is ever lost or stolen. But it is never too late to get your pet chipped. Even senior pets older than ten can be just as protected by a microchip.

If someone finds your pet, they can get it checked for a microchip at any local veterinary clinic, animal shelter, and even some pet stores. Once the number has been entered into the database and your current information is pulled up, you will be contacted. Alerting your microchip company that your pet is missing can also speed this process along, as can contacting local veterinarians and the animal shelter. Physical posters, as well as online posts, are also valuable tools.

Don’t make the mistake that many pet owners do- microchip your pet. It is an affordable ($30-$50), permanent way of getting your beloved pet home should they ever go missing.

Pet owners who would like more information about microchips or to schedule an appointment to get chipped can speak to one of our pet specialists here at Family Pet Health by calling 615-907-8387.