Rewind the clock to when I was a television news reporter. After moving to Texas and starting fresh at a new station, the first story I covered was a family reunited with their dog after he went missing for several years. So how did this magical moment come about? Well, it was all thanks to the dog’s microchip!
While microchips are a great resource for helping lost dogs find their way back home, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) are reminding pet parents that it’s not enough to simply chip your pets and move on.
Find out more on microchips and the mission behind National Check Your Chip Day!
What Is a Microchip for a Dog?
A microchip is a small, rice-sized electronic chip enclosed in a glass cylinder that’s implanted under your dog’s skin, between his shoulder blades at the back of his neck. It isn’t a GPS. Rather, it contains a unique tracking number that’s registered to a database and linked to an account with the animal’s info and pet parent’s contact details.
If your dog goes missing and someone brings him to a shelter or veterinary clinic, one of the first things they’ll do is wave a scanner over the dog’s neck to check for a microchip. When the scanner passes over the area, radiowaves activate the chip. The chip then transmits the identification number to the scanner and the number displays on the screen.
If the microchip registry has accurate and up-to-date information, the shelter or vet team can quickly find and contact the animal’s owner.
According to the AVMA:
“A study of more than 7,700 stray animals at animal shelters showed that dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 21.9% of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were returned to their owners 52.2% of the time.”
About National Check Your Chip Day
This national day was created by the AAHA and the AVMA with support from HomeAgain to encourage pet parents to check their pet’s microchip information annually and keep it up-to-date.
Just think about it: Since your dog has been microchipped, have you moved to a new house or apartment? Changed your phone number? Did you adopt a microchipped dog, but never thought to update the registered contact information?
By checking your dog’s chip yearly and updating any outdated information, you increase your pet’s chances of returning home if lost!
How To Update Your Dog’s Microchip
- First, you’ll need your dog’s microchip number. If you don’t have this on hand, call your vet’s office (the one that implanted the chip) and they should be able to help you. I actually had to do this for both of my dogs. They were microchipped in Texas and I never thought to update the registered contact information after we moved to the Carolinas!
- Once you have the chip number, you’ll need to figure out where the chip is registered. Visit the AAHA’s Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool. This tool is linked to the registries of the majority of microchip manufacturers and allows a quick database search of any microchip made by these manufacturers.
- Once you know the manufacturer, you’ll need to log into your existing account or create an account.
- Access the registration information and make sure it all — particularly your phone number and address — is up-to-date.