How do pet microchips work?

  • Posted by: Cara Fudge
Cat at the vets

How do pet microchips work?

The first step in understanding how a microchip works is understanding how it identifies your pet. Each chip has its own unique identifying pattern called aID, and this pattern is linked to the owner’s information in a database called a PIC (or Pet ID Card). When the chip read by someone the chip transmits this information on the reader, and the owner can be identified without needing to access any further information. Which is why it’s important that all the information is kept up-to-date. 

What are pet microchips?

Pet microchips are small chips with an identifying pattern that is placed under the skin, and they can be used to identify lost or stolen pets to help reunite them with their owners. The chip itself is usually around two millimetres wide by a centimetre long, but they can vary in size. There is usually a small antenna on top of the chip and sometimes a larger one on the back of it, which can be read by scanners that use radio waves or near-field communication (NFC). There are different types of chips that exist, but some common types are RFID, which uses radio waves, and ICs that use an integrated circuit. Most commonly, you’ll find a combination of both methods together in a pet microchip.

How are pet microchips implanted?

The process of implanting a microchip into a pet is relatively safe, when done by a professional, but it can be an uncomfortable experience. Depending on the type of chip that needs to be implanted, the process can take 5-10 minutes; each chip has its own unique identifying pattern called an ID. This is the pattern that will be linked to the owner’s information in a database called a PIC (or Pet ID Card), and the information can be read once scanned. 

Puppy at the vets

How do pet microchips work?

The first method is through RFID, which involves using a radio frequency to send and receive information. This is the most common technology used for microchips. However, this method has some limitations: it is not as reliable in colder climates, and it cannot be used outdoors or on animals with no hair. The second option is through an IC chip inside of your pet’s microchip, which are more powerful than those made with RFID, but they still have limitations. The biggest downside to this technology is that not all pets can be chipped with an IC chip due to their size, shape, or age; so if you want to use this technology in your pet’s future, you should consider whether they are a good candidate first. Finally, an integrated circuit chip that also uses RFID technology. This method can be more reliable in colder climates and on animals without hair; however, it can also be expensive because the chip must be equipped with both technologies for optimal performance.

Do all pets need microchips?

All cats and dogs in the UK require a microchip to be inserted by a veterinarian. Dogs must have a chip by the time they are 8-weeks old and cats by the time they are 20-weeks old. By having a pet that is microchipped it increases the chance that it will be returned to you if found wondering the streets or if it has been stolen. 

Puppies and microchips

Are there any risks associated with microchipping pets?

A potential downside of microchipping is that the chip can be lost or removed. The most common way that chips are lost is when they become dislodged, meaning they’re not read by the scanners.

The British Small Animal Veterinary Association has a database of all adverse reactions to microchips. The database has been running since 1996, and there have been over 4 millions pets microchipped in this time, out of these 4 million only 391 adverse effects have been reported. Many of these reported have been due to the microchip moving from its original implant site. 

Conclusion

A pet microchip is a small device that is inserted under the animal’s skin, usually between the shoulder blades. The chip is about the size of a grain of rice and contains a unique ID number. When a lost or stolen pet is found, a shelter or veterinarian can scan the animal for a microchip and then contact the owner using the ID number.

Microchips are safe for animals and cause no more discomfort than a routine vaccination. The chips are encoded with information about the animal and its owner, so they can be used to reunite lost pets with their families.

Although microchips are not required by law, they are strongly recommended for all pets. In most cases, they are the only way to identify a lost pet and get them back home safely. 

Author: Cara Fudge

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