Comparing Pet Chip ID Systems

Using pet chip ID systems has continued to grow in popularity for more than 20 years. The technology has continued to evolve during that time, creating several different types of microchip technology. Generally a microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and is inserted by the shelters and various companion pet fairs to help identify the pet should he become lost. Chip insertion causes little discomfort.

Services Offered for Pet Chip Identification

Standard services offered by the microchip manufacturers varies. While all offer database services to reunite you with your pet, others offer additional services like lost pet alerts and emergency medical hotline services for an annual service fee.

Types of Pet Identification Microchips

While the individual microchips are similar, they do have distinguishing characteristics that set them apart from the other manufacturers' products.

  • Information on the chip can be either encrypted or unencrypted, depending upon the manufacturer. If the chip uses an encrypted format, the identification number contained in the chip cannot be read unless an approved scanner is used. Unencrypted chips can be read by universal scanners.
  • Chip manufacturers have not standardized on a frequency for their chips. This creates a problem. If an organization tries to scan a chip without the correct scanner, the chip will either be unreadable or go undetected. Many of the chip manufacturers have gone to creating capabilities within their scanners that will allow competing chips to be detected, but not read. This led to universal scanners being adopted by many rescue or animal service organizations, allowing them to read and detect most, if not all microchips. The current frequencies in use in the microchips are 125 kHz, 128 kHz and 134.2 kHz. Your veterinarian or local animal shelter can help guide you toward the chips and frequencies most in use in your area to ensure that the microchip will be able to be read. While some chip manufacturers have worldwide recovery services, if you are traveling outside your area with your dog or cat, go to the microchip manufacturer's website for information about locator coverage in that area.
  • Many pet owners are asking about GPS microchips so that they can track their own pet. At this time, GPS functionality is only available in a collar worn by the cat or dog. GPS functionality requires a power source to be able to transmit a signal and a power source would be too large for insertion under the skin. Current microchips are powered by the scanner used to read them.

Additional Services Offered

While the current microchip manufacturers offer their database to help reunite pets with their owners, some have extended the services offered for additional fees.

Enhanced services offered often include free database information update, alternate contact information, upgraded brass collar tag, free downloadable posters should your pet go missing and wallet cards with critical information including the pet's ID number and phone number to report a missing pet.

Pet Insurance is an option that would be tied to your pet's identification number. Should they become injured while lost, the insurance would cover medical treatment they might need.

Microchipping has become very popular around the world. Be sure to check out all the options available in your area and select the most appropriate for your pet. Probably the most important thing to remember is that your pet can only be returned to you if the information in the microchip database is accurate. Collars and tags can be lost, but microchips will be with your pet forever.