What is a Microchip?

microchip-72Calgary Humane Society

All month long we have been celebrating an amazing team here at the shelter – our animal admissions team! We’ve been talking about the importance of microchipping your pets, and today we’re here to answer all YOUR questions about microchips!

What is a microchip?

A microchip is also called an “identifying integrated circuit” – it is a small chip (about the size of a grain of rice) that will bring up a specific number when scanned by the proper type of scanner. Microchips use radio frequency identification technology to communicate with microchip scanners. The ‘chip’ of the microchip is surrounded by glass so your animal is never in contact with the actual ‘chip’.

Vet clinics, animal shelters and municipal animal control facilities usually have scanners capable of reading microchips. When the chip is scanned, the number is matched in a database to determine the owner’s contact information so the pet can be returned.

What types of pets can get microchips?

Microchips are normally used for cats and dogs, but other animals (such as parrots) can also be implanted with microchips. At Calgary Humane Society every cat and dog adopted from our facility will go home with a microchip.

How can I find out if my pet already has a microchip?

Your pet’s veterinarian can likely scan for one during your pet’s next visit if you are unsure whether your pet has a chip.

Where can my pet get a microchip?

Your veterinarian can assess if a microchip is a good option for your pet and can implant a microchip for your pet. Microchip implantation will be a routine procedure at many veterinarians but you may want to call ahead to ensure your vet has a microchip available before booking your appointment.

Due to our limited veterinary license, Calgary Humane Society is unable to provide veterinary care (including microchip implantation) for animals that are not in our care and control. Therefore we are not permitted to implant microchips for the public at this time.

How is a microchip implanted?

Microchips can be implanted as part of a regular veterinary exam. Using a needle your vet will inject the microchip just under the skin of your pet. Microchips are normally implanted in between the shoulder blades of the animal, but your veterinarian will choose the most appropriate location for your pet’s microchip.

Do microchips hurt the animal?

Like all injections, microchips will feel like a sharp pinch when they are implanted but most animals recover quickly from the procedure. A microchip implant does involve a larger needle than standard injections, so many veterinarians will suggest that microchips be implanted during other surgical procedures (such as spaying/neutering) or may suggest using a local anesthetic prior to injecting the microchip in order to prevent any discomfort. If you are concerned about pain from a microchip injection you should speak to your vet about using a local anesthetic.

Are there dangers with microchips?

Complications from microchips are usually rare. The most common issue is some bleeding or bruising at the implantation site and this usually resolves quickly. In rare cases microchips can migrate away from the implantation site and move to other locations (such as the animal’s belly).

In very rare cases your pet may develop an infection or may have an immune response to the microchip. These reactions are not common and your vet can speak with you further about this, and other, risks if you are concerned. Your veterinarian will be able to give you an opinion based on the health of your animal.

What are the benefits of a microchip?

Microchips are permanent forms of identification that are difficult to alter. Other forms of permanent identification, such as tattoos, can fade over time and become difficult to read. Microchips can be read years, even decades, after implantation. As long as you keep your contact information up to date in the microchip database (you will be given forms for your pet’s microchip when you adopt or have the microchip implanted) an agency will be able to contact you if your pet is found.

Do the benefits outweigh the risks?

From a shelter perspective, Calgary Humane Society supports the microchipping of animals that are healthy enough to receive a microchip as we see each and every day the consequence of pets not having permanent identification.  Permanent identification substantially increases the likelihood that your pet will be returned to you if they become lost.

In very rare cases, an animal’s health may prevent safe implantation of a microchip. Your veterinarian is the best person to determine if your pet is healthy enough for a microchip.

Can I feel a microchip if my pet has one?

Depending on your pet and the location of the microchip you might be able to feel the chip once it is implanted. It will feel like a small grain of rice under the animal’s skin. A lot of pet owners cannot feel the chip at all and most rarely, if ever, notice it during day to day life with their pet.

Can I decline a microchip if I adopt?

No. We require that all cats and dogs adopted from Calgary Humane Society receive a microchip unless there is a health-related reason to avoid microchipping. In most cases, microchips will be implanted when the animal receives a spay or neuter surgery, so your new pet will likely already have a microchip when they go up for adoption. You will be provided paperwork for the microchip when you adopt so you can register your contact information.

My pet is lost! Can you track it with a microchip?

Great question, and one that we are asked often! Unfortunately microchips are not GPS units so we cannot locate your animal using GPS or use satellites to track lost animals from space. We wish we could! What a microchip WILL do is allow us to find your contact information if your pet is brought to Calgary Humane Society.

How much does a microchip cost?

Prices will vary from clinic to clinic but microchips are a pretty affordable option! Most clinics will charge between $50-$100 for a microchip. Some vets may charge an exam fee for the visit in addition to the microchip charge.


We hope you have enjoyed this Q&A about the wonderful world of microchips! If you are thinking about a microchip for your pet we encourage you to discuss the decision with your pet’s veterinarian.

Stay tuned this for more celebrations of all things Animal Admissions and remember… Don’t skip the chip!

– See more at: http://www.calgaryhumane.ca/what-is-a-microchip/#sthash.mOM1XOTY.dpuf