Pet microchip identification is required for all international pet travel and can provide for the location of a lost pet. Pet chipping is more common in Europe than in the United States, and is more standardized. In the United States, microchips emit different radio frequencies, making the use of microchipping pets haphazard. A database storing the microchip identification code with the matching pet owner's contact number and scanners using the proper radio frequencies are also integral parts of the system, besides the microchip.
What is a Microchip?
Since the microchip is no larger than a grain of rice, veterinarians can implant the chip (usually between the shoulder blades) into all kinds of pets, including birds, reptiles, cats and dogs. Each microchip has its own identification number that is entered into a database with the corresponding pet owner's contact information. There are various manufacturers using various frequencies, which can cause problems. Not every scanner can activate every microchip in order to read the information it contains. Additionally, not all shelters have access to all databases.
Microchips don't have any batteries. They contain an antenna to receive a weak radio signal and reflect back the data stored in it to the scanner. This form of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is called a passive RFID tag since the microchip does not actively transmit information. Having no battery or internal power source, the microchip must be activated to communicate via radio waves to the scanner. This device is biocompatiable, meaning it is not toxic or allergy-causing. Some of these devices have a polymer cap to encourage connective tissue growth around the microchip, so that it will not move within the body. Microchips do not expire, but remain good throughout the life of the pet.
Implantation of the microchip is similar to a vaccination shot. The microchip is loaded into a hypodermic needle and then released into the pet the same way as a vaccination serum would be. It is as painful as a vaccination as well. The cost ranges from $25 to $65. Some versions will even monitor pulse, glucose levels, oxygen levels, temperature and blood pressure, which can prove useful in diagnosing any illnesses.
Some research has discovered possible links to cancer in relationship to these microchips. Some studies discovered evidence that malignant tumors or sarcomas, which affect connective tissue, developed near the area of the chip in some of the animals; however, this evidence was deemed inconclusive, since only a small number of animals were included in the studies. In light of this concern, an alternative to this pet tracking microchip has been developed. Pet collars equipped with a GPS (Global Positioning System) device can be monitored using satellites and cellular technology. The device will send messages to either a computer or cell phone as to the location of the strayed animal.