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Is your pet chipped and up to date?

Aug 12, 2019Lynn SmithRead time < 5 min

As a pet owner, the thought of losing your dog is terrifying. Of course, preventing lost dogs is one of many reasons why we as humans go through so much effort to train our dogs. Teaching a reliable recall and a solid sit and stay is critical to preventing lost dogs. Even a well-trained dog can get separated from his humans. Being in an unfamiliar place can make it harder for him to find his way home  

According to Petfinder, one in three pets will become lost at some point in their life. A microchip is an important tool to help your dog get home safely, especially if you travel with your dog in your RV or camper.   

How Your Dog’s Microchip Works?

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Dogs are often microchipped as puppies during their first visit with their veterinarian. Rescue dogs are usually microchipped before they go to their forever homes. The veterinarian injects the microchip under the dog’s skin using a needle. The microchip is approximately the size of a grain of rice.

The technology used in a dog’s microchip is often misunderstood. This chip is not a GPS unit and does not track the dog’s whereabouts. The chip uses RFID technology, which means that it must be scanned at close range with an RFID scanner to obtain the information in the chip. You can read more about how your dog’s microchip works at the American Veterinary Medical Association website.  

The microchip only contains an identification number. This identification number must be entered into a database of dog owner information. Dog owners are responsible for registering their dog’s chip and updating their information. Unfortunately, many times the dog owner’s contact information is out of date.

To encourage owners to keep their data up to date, the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) has designated August 15 as annual National Check the Chip Day.

Benefits of Microchipping Your Dog

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There are many benefits of microchipping your dog. Collars and dog tags can break or fall off your pet. They can also be removed if your pet is stolen. Additionally, many dog owners have stopped using collars and identification tags because of collar safety concerns. A microchip is a low cost, low-risk way of being able to identify your dog when they do not have on a collar or tag.

What to Check on National Check the Chip Day?

For this National Check the Chip Day on August 15, 2019,  here are some things to do to ensure that your dog has the protection of a microchip:  

  • Make an appointment at your veterinarian’s office to have your pet’s chip scanned. Microchips often migrate around the body, so the scanner may have to scan your dog’s entire body. If they cannot find the chip, you can have another chip implanted in your dog.  
  • Log into your chip manufacturer’s website and confirm that your phone number, address, and emergency contact information are all up to date.
  • Update any physical characteristics of your dog that may have changed, including a recent photo of your dog, his weight and any medical information. If your dog has started to show signs of aging, you can update the physical description to reflect those changes.
  • Print or handwrite your dog’s microchip information and store in your wallet or with your other dog information. This way you will have the information should you need when you travel.  

The Importance of an Emergency Contact

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Your emergency contact is particularly important if you frequently take your RV or camper to rural locations. The last thing you want is to have a lost dog and no way for anyone to reach you if you do not have a cellular signal.

It is a good idea to have a plan in place before you find yourself in this situation. Let your emergency contact know how to reach you without a mobile phone. Ask them to email you so that you can check your email from a public computer. Another option is to use a Google Voice number which you can also access from a public computer or landline.

Locating Your Chip Manufacturer Database

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If you are not sure where to register your dog’s microchip, ask your veterinarian to scan your chip and give you the identification number. Then search the AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup to find out where you need to register your chip. Companies such as HomeAgain and AKC ReUnite allow you to register your dog’s microchip for a fee regardless of manufacturer.

A Plan You Never Want to Need

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Of course, we hope that you will never need to use this information and that your dog is never separated from you. However, emergency prepping is like insurance. You do not want to have to use it but you are glad that you have it if you need it. Ensuring that your microchip is up to date is an important part of making sure that your dog is always by your side, ready for your next adventure together.  

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