Categories: Dog Safety

By Stephanie Challand

What is a Microchip?

Microchips are tiny transponders, about the size of a grain of rice, which are implanted under the dog’s skin, between the shoulder blades, using a special syringe. The procedure is much like getting a shot and causes very little pain to the dog. Once implanted, the Microchip can be detected by a special scanner which uses radio waves to read the chip.

How do they work?

Microchips are designed to be a backup to your dog’s regular collar and tags, not a replacement. If your dog ever gets loose and loses their collar and/or tags, the microchip may be able to bring them home again. Many vets and shelters have handheld scanners which can detect and read the microchip’s identification number. They can then contact the registry to get the owner’s contact information provided the chip was registered.

Microchips are only effective if you register them. It is also very important that you keep your information up to date with the registry. If you move or change your phone number you must update your information with them. Many of the most popular registries have online servicing that allows you to update your information online. If you adopt a dog who has already been microchipped, you still need to register it or update the information on file. If you are not sure if the dog has been microchipped, ask your vet. They should be able to scan him and give you information about what to do.

More about Registries

There are many different companies that manufacture and register microchips throughout the United States. All of the registries will register their own chips as well as chips from other manufacturers. There are also two relatively new companies that have created internet based lookup utilities to help rescuers locate the dog’s owner. PetMicrochipLookup.org created by AAHA and CheckTheChip.com created by Chloe Standard. These sites allow you to enter a microchip id and get the registry information if it is available. Not all registry information is available at this time but both companies are working on building their database to hopefully include all registries sometime in the future.

I tested these sites on my own dog’s microchip numbers and they were both able to correctly identify the Home Again chips but only CheckTheChip.com was able to identify the AVID chip.

Below is more information about the most popular registries.

RegistryWebsiteOnline ServicingRegistration FeeAnnual FeeUpdate Fee
AKC CARwww.akccar.orgYes$17.50 – online
$19.95 - paper
Avid / PETtracwww.avidplc.comNo
$19.95 – 1 pet
$50.00 – 3 pets
Home Againwww.homeagain.comYes$19.99None for Basic
$19.99 for Premium
Pet Linkwww.petlink.netYes$11.95NoneNone
24 Pet Watchwww.24petwatch.comYesNone$21.95 / year OR
$74.95 Lifetime

Microchip Registration Locator Tools Launched, Mary Straus, Whole Dog Journal, November 2009