children petting a beagle

Even the most diligent pet owner can become victim to companion animal wanderlust.

Losing a loved one can be an emotionally traumatic event for the owner with potentially devastating consequences for the pet. Lost pets are predisposed to trauma, whether from another animal or man-made, malnourishment, exposure to infectious disease, and/or ending up at the animal shelter with the possible outcome of euthanasia among other risks.

Traditionally, collars with identification information have been used to try and reunite a lost dog or cat with their owners; however, these methods are not failsafe as collars and their ID tags can fall off or become worn and no longer legible. Fortunately, microchipping offers an easy, reliable means of identifying lost dogs and cats.

Microchips Explained

Microchips are small implants that produce a radio signal when scanned. This radio signal contains individualized information on your pet that provides a means by which to contact the owners.

The process of implanting a microchip is simple and easy. The device is implanted under your pet’s skin via administration of an injection. Pets can be awake during this procedure and typically do not react to the injection; however, depending on each pet’s temperament, your veterinarian may recommend administering the implant during an elective anesthesia procedure such as a neuter, spay, or dental cleaning or after administering a sedative to reduce stress in your pet. After implantation, the microchip is scanned to ensure appropriate placement and function.

Advantages of Microchipping

The benefits of microchipping cannot be overstated. Numerous studies have proven the effectiveness of microchipping 1,3,4,5.

In one study, cats were 20 times more likely to be returned to owners while dogs were 2.5 times more likely to be reunited with their loved ones3. Interestingly, studies assessing characteristics of stray dogs and cats that have been recovered have shown that although roughly half of stray dogs had some form of identification at the time they were lost, only 19% of cats had any means of identification 6.

These studies not only demonstrate the utility of microchipping but highlight the need of having some sort of unique identifier for each pet to increase the chances for their safe recovery. Furthermore, in many parts of the world, compulsory microchipping of the stray pet population is becoming common practice to not only increase the percentage of pets successfully returned home but also reducing medical costs associated with caring for strays1.


1. Zak J, Voslarova E, Vecerek V, Bedanova I. Impact of mandatory microchipping on traceability of sheltered dogs in the Czech Republic. J Appl Anim Welf Sci. 2018 Apr-Jun;21(2):108-119.

2. Lancaster E, Rand J, Collecott S, Paterson M. Problems Associated with the Microchip Data of Stray Dogs and Cats Entering RSPCA Queensland Shelters. Animals (Basel). 2015 May 13;5(2):332-48.

3. Lord LK, Ingwersen W, Gray JL, Wintz DJ. Characterization of animals with microchips entering animal shelters. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2009 Jul 15;235(2):160-7.

4. Lord LK, Wittum TE, Ferketich AK, Funk JA, Rajala-Schultz PJ. Search and identification methods that owners use to find a lost dog. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2007 Jan 15;230(2):211-6.

5. Lord LK, Wittum TE, Ferketich AK, Funk JA, Rajala-Schultz PJ. Search and identification methods that owners use to find a lost cat. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2007 Jan 15;230(2):217-20.

6. Goodwin K, Rand J, Morton J, Uthappa V, Walduck R. Email Reminders Increase the Frequency That Pet Owners Update Their Microchip Information. Animals (Basel). 2018 Jan 31;8(2).