Losing your dog is just about the worst thing that could happen. That's why dog owners invest in microchips, a tiny electronic chip that veterinarians implant in the subcutaneous tissue along the spine between a dog's shoulder blades.
When someone finds a lost dog and takes them into a shelter, animal rescue organization, or veterinarian, these places can scan the dog's microchip, look him up in the microchip registries through the AAHA's Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool and attempt to locate your contact information.
A microchip is an insurance policy just in case a dog's collar comes off when he gets lost. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, dogs that do not have microchips are returned to their owners 21.9% of the time, while dogs with microchips are returned 52.2% of the time.
If you have a rescue dog and you can't tell if he is microchipped, or you don't remember if you got your dog microchipped when he was a puppy, then there is a simple solution to this issue.
How do you know if your dog is microchipped?
You can tell if your dog is microchipped simply by taking him to the vet or the rescue organization where you got him. You can ask them about scanning for a microchip, and they should be able to do it on the spot.
If your dog does not have a microchip, you can have one put in. Microchipping should cost around $50 and it will, most likely, last throughout your dog's life. A microchip is safe and the procedure is fast and virtually painless.
How to register your pet's microchip
Once you get the microchip in, you have to put your contact information into the microchip registry's website. There, you'll provide your dog's name, weight and other identifying features, your name, address, phone number, and email. You should also be able to include a secondary address, phone number, and email just in case. You'll be given a little tag you can place on your dog's collar with the microchip number and the name of the registry, too.
If you move, or change your phone number or email address, you should update your contact information with your microchip registry. This ensures that if your dog gets lost, the people who find will be able to contact you.
When should you microchip your dog?
You can microchip your dog at any time. When you adopt a dog, the rescue organization will often microchip him for you. It doesn't matter how old your dog is, as long as he is in good health and will be able to undergo the procedure.
If a dog comes into a rescue organization and the owner never claims him, then the organization can clear the information in the microchip, and you can update it with your contact information instead.
If your dog has two microchips for any reason, you don't have to worry that their frequencies will interfere with each other.
Preventing your dog from getting lost
Along with getting your dog microchipped and making sure to update your contact information if you have to, you should always keep a collar on your dog, lock up the gate when he's outside, and use positive training to command him to come when you call out his name. If your dog does get lost – whether or not he's microchipped – you can hang up flyers around your neighborhood, enlist your neighbors' help to look for him, post on Nextdoor, call local shelters and animal organizations and look at lost pet groups on Facebook.
You can find out if your dog is microchipped by having a veterinarian or rescue organization scan for a microchip. If they're not chipped, you can have a microchip put in by the vet, or if they have a chip, you can update your contact information in order to keep your dog safe.