How does Microchipping Work?

Does microchipping your pet really work? Do all shelters and humane societies scan for microchips? And what happens if you move? How does the information...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Jun 29th 2005


Does microchipping your pet really work? Do all shelters and humane societies scan for microchips? And what happens if you move? How does the information get updated? Thanks!

Julie, Metro Detroit, Michigan

Microchips are small (about the size of a rice grain), devices that are injected into pets. Currently available chips each contain a unique series of letters and numbers that can be read by a scanner and matched to the pets owner through a central database. If a pet escapes and loses its tags, the microchip should still work to reunite the pet with its owner.

Although I don’t know that every shelter scans stray pets for microchips, it is certain that a large number of them do. To date, thousands of pets have been reunited with their families because of microchips.

It is not just shelters that check for microchips. When stray animals are brought to my hospital, I always scan them to see if they have a chip. I have returned several pets to their families that way.

If your pet is microchipped and you move you must update your information with the database. This can be done by telephone or online.

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