Microchips - A Safeguard for your pug
March 14th, 2006
A few weeks ago, I was reading through the classifieds of my local paper and I came across an ad placed for a lost dog. The dog was a beloved family pet and the family was desperately trying to locate their missing pup. My heart went out to the family as I was reading their ad and I couldn't even imagine what it would be like if one of my pugs was missing.
No matter how careful and cautious we are as pug parents, we must take necessary steps to ensure that if our pug does ever get separated from us that we can be reunited with him as soon as possible. Thankfully, through the wonders of technology, microchips offer pet owners an easy way to help identify their beloved pet so they can easily be reunited with their family.
What are microchips and how do they work?
A microchip is tiny capsule about the size of a grain of rice that is inserted under the skin of animals. The microchip capsule contains a small chip and an antennae. Each microchip is assigned a unique number that will then be used to identify your pet. The microchip does not rely on the use of batteries and the circuitry inside the chip is only activated when it is being scanned by a microchip reader.
After the microchip is inserted into your pug, you will need to register the chip's unique ID along with your contact information into the microchip maker's database. The most important step in microchipping your pet is to make sure that your contact information is registered and always kept up to date in the database.
Once the microchip is inserted and registered, your pug can be identified by a microchip scanner. To identify your pug, the handheld scanner is waved along your pug's neck. Once the scanner detects the microchip, your pug's unique identification number appears on the LCD screen of the scanner. This number can then be used to lookup your pug's contact information so that your pug can be safely returned home.
How is the microchip inserted?
In dogs, the microchip is inserted under the skin between your pug's shoulder blades. It is inserted into your pup's body using a needle that is slightly larger than the needle used to administer your pug's normal vaccinations. While the process is not pain free, your pug's discomfort will be minimal and will be no worse than receiving a vaccination shot.
Once the microchip is inserted, it will reside under your pet's skin and if the chip is inserted properly you will not see a lump on your pug nor will you be able to feel the chip.
Aren't my pug's tags as good as a microchip?
No. Many times when a pet is lost his or her tags are missing or mangled and rescuers are unable to contact the animal's owners. Since your pug's microchip is located under the skin, you will be guaranteed that it will never be separated from your pug.
Microchips work under the same premise as pet identification tattoos - that your pug will never be separated from their form of identification. However, microchips even have advantages over tattoos. Microchips can not be hidden by matted fur or scraps and scars. The microchip reader will be able to identify your pug simply by passing the scanner over your pug's body.
Do all shelters and veterinarians have microchip scanners?
Many of the shelters and veterinarians in the US have microchips scanners. Many of these devices were donated to these organizations by scanner manufacturers.
Does it matter which brand of microchip I choose?
Currently, the two major microchip manufacturers in the US are HomeAgain and AVID. In addition to making microchips, each of these companies also makes microchip scanners. The scanner manufactured by HomeAgain is universal and can detect HomeAgain and AVID microchips. However, AVID uses a proprietary encryption algorithm on their microchip, so HomeAgain scanners can only detect the chip. They can not read the chip's identification number.
While there is currently not a universal scanner that can read microchips made by any manufacturer, microchips are still a reliable way to identify your pug. When a stray animal is found, shelters and veterinary offices usually work together to find a scanner that can decode the type of microchip in the lost pet.
While microchips are not without issues, having your pug microchipped is an additional safeguard that you can take to ensure that your pug is safely returned to its family if the unthinkable should ever occur.