How a Microchip Works

March 1, 2016

microchipBy Langley Cornwell

As a responsible pet owner, you love your animal companion and want the best for him or her. You provide your dog or cat with plenty of love, proper exercise and healthy pet food such as CANIDAE. You always do what you can to protect your pet from pain and suffering. Sometimes it’s necessary to understand the full story about something before making a decision. Take microchips, for example. Microchips have been used for decades now in order to help owners find their lost pets. Even so, some people are skeptical or even resistant to the use of microchips.

For some, the thought of putting a microchip into their pet’s body is just a bit too much like science fiction; they cringe at the idea of having a tracking device embedded into their pet. But the reason they are uneasy about the idea is because they love their pet and they are just looking out for the animal’s well-being.

Because many decisions like this are based on a lack of understanding about the product or technology, it’s helpful to share what it is really all about. If you have a microchip in your pet, you can learn a bit more about how it works. If you don’t have a microchip in your pet, this might help you understand how harmless they are, so that you can make an educated choice.

How Does a Microchip Work?

Contrary to popular belief, a microchip doesn’t rely on any form of energy. It isn’t sending off a continuous signal, emitting radiation or anything of the sort. In fact, a microchip isn’t causing any harm to pets. Instead, the microchip only sends off a radio frequency (RF) when the wand or radio frequency reader is waved over the actual chip.

This wand can translate the information sent by the radio frequency, which is really just a code that is specific to the identification of your pet. In other words, it’s sort of like the microchip 2price tags in stores. When you wave them over the scanner, they offer a number that gives information about the product. This information includes product identification, price, and so forth. The price tag isn’t sending out any signals on its own. The microchip works the same way, but the number that it gives off can be matched with information that identifies the pet as well as the pet owner.

How is a Microchip Embedded?

Some people think that a microchip is embedded through an expensive surgery, like a slit in the skin where the microchip is implanted. The process is much simpler than that, in part because the chip is so small. The microchip is contained within a capsule of bioglass. The entire product is so small that it is about the size of a single grain of rice. Rather than being inserted through surgery, it is actually injected, like a vaccination shot and just as easily administered. For both a vaccine and a microchip implantation, the vet pinches the skin between the animal’s shoulder blades to eliminate the feeling of a “pinch” that the injection causes. The chip is then injected under the skin, and the vet uses another pinch to prevent the chip from following the needle out.

Does the Microchip Move?

There are different types of microchips, but they all have a method to prevent the chip from moving out of place. Some of them can actually become attached to the skin, while others use an anti-migration coating to keep the chip in place. In all cases, the chip remains in the area between the shoulder blades so that it is easy to scan, no matter who scans it.

The advantage of a microchip is that a lost pet can be quickly reunited with his family when found. The procedure itself is inexpensive and since most shelters have a scanner, it is the most reliable way to make sure your pet is returned to you if he wanders off or somehow gets lost.

Top photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel/Wikimedia Commons
Bottom photo by Travis/Flickr

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell

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