Microchipping a pet is becoming increasingly common, yet many pet owners are unfamiliar with the process.  Microchips, how microchips work, and alternatives to microchipping, such as microchipped dog tags, are discussed.

What is a Microchip?  

A microchip is a radio-frequency transponder, roughly the size of a grain of rice, that contains an identification number unique to your dog.  

How does a Microchip Work? 

The microchip is first injected under your dog’s skin, typically between the shoulder blades.  Pet owners then register the microchip and ensure up-to-date contact information has been provided.  When the microchip is scanned, the dog’s identification number is displayed, which correlates to a database of dog owner information.  

Alternatives to Microchipping

Although microchips are safe and effective, some pet owners do not wish to microchip their pets.  Alternatives to microchipping include:

  • Traditional Dog Tag

A traditional dog tag is etched with identifying information, such as name and owner contact information, and is attached to the dog’s collar.

  • Microchipped Dog Tag

A microchipped dog tag has all the benefits of a microchip, except the microchip resides in a tag attached to the dog’s collar instead of under the skin.  

  • Tattoo

A unique identification number is tattooed in an inconspicuous area, such as inside a dog’s leg, which is then registered with a dog identification registry.   

Is Microchipping Mandatory?

Microchipping is not mandatory in the United States.  However, some cities and towns have ordinances in place which require pet owners to microchip their animals.