The burning question among pet owners: Should I microchip my pet? Microchipping pets is a procedure that's been carried out in the United States since 1989. While it's not mandatory in all states, many pet owners opt to get their pet microchipped for peace of mind. Yet, others still have questions that need answering before they make a decision. If you're on the fence about microchipping your pets, we'll discuss the top questions pet parents ask about this procedure.

Microchipping pets: What you need to know

Microchipping pets has its advantages. According to the American Humane Organization, approximately ten million pets go missing annually across the United States. That's a worrying statistic to read as a pet parent. While you can take measures to ensure your pet doesn't go missing (e.g., keep them indoors), getting them microchipped may be the most effective.

A microchip is a tiny device containing an electronic chip. It's approximately the size of a grain of rice. This chip is preprogrammed with a unique identification number (ID) and a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag. When a vet scans the chip, they can see the ID numbers and cross-reference them to a microchip registry. Here, they can identify your details, such as name and contact info—easily reuniting you with your pet.

Pet microchips: Top pet parent questions

While some are unsure about this procedure, it can be great for your pets' well-being in the long run. However, it's a big decision to make and a personal one at that. To help you decide what's right for you and your pet, we gathered a list of questions owners ask about microchipping pets.

What is the microchipping procedure?

Microchipping pets is a quick and easy procedure that any licensed veterinarian can do during a routine checkup. A vet injects the tiny microchip between your pet's shoulder blades under the skin. Your vet uses a needle slightly larger than those used during vaccinations. In most cases, dogs and cats don't require any anesthesia to get microchipped.

If your four-legged friend has an extreme aversion to needles, you can talk to your vet about adding microchipping to another procedure, such as dental cleaning or spaying and neutering.

Pros and cons of microchipping pets

As with all procedures, there will be pros and cons. Understanding both is key to making an informed decision as a pet parent. Here are the most common pros and cons of pet microchips.

Pros

  • The procedure is quick and easy;
  • Microchips can last for approximately twenty-five years;
  • It helps reunite you with a lost pet;
  • Acknowledged way to prove ownership;
  • The microchip database is national.

Cons

  • The chip can become dislodged and move somewhere else in your pets body;
  • Certain types of pet microchips require a specialized scanner that not all clinics or shelters carry;
  • They don't include a GPS tracker to help you locate a missing pet.
  • If you forget to submit your personal information attached to the chip, they can’t track it back to you.

Is the procedure expensive?

Microchipping your pet is an inexpensive cost, especially when you consider the benefits you're receiving. In most cases, this procedure will range between $25 and $75, depending on where it's being done. There's no additional expense for becoming registered on the national microchip registry.

Are pet microchips mandatory in the United States?

Currently, microchipping pets isn't mandatory in all fifty states. However, there are various states where it's required by law or under a code of ordinance, such as California and Hawaii. Across the United States, twelve states and the District of Columbia require all animal shelters and rescues to scan missing pets for microchips.

Do microchips cause any side effects?

Many pet parents are worried whether microchipping their pets could open up the possibility of harmful side effects. Regarding pet wellness, this is one of the safest routine procedures carried out by vets. Occasionally, your pet may experience some inflammation around the insertion site. If this happens, it's typically  mild and only temporary.

Should I be concerned about my privacy?

No. Your information won't be shared when you get your pet microchipped. The national microchip registry stores your information in a secure database. It's up to you how many of your details you share when microchipping your pet. If your dog or cat goes missing, the registry will provide a vet or animal shelter with your contact details so they can reunite you.

Does having my pet microchipped increase my chances of finding my lost pet?

Yes, 100 percent. According to an Ohio State University study, your cat is twenty times more likely to be returned if they have a microchip. For dogs, this figure sits around the two-and-a-half time mark. Thousands of pets are never returned to their families yearly, all because they're missing a small microchip.

How do I get my pet microchipped?

Going to your veterinarian is the best way to get your pet microchipped. As it's a routine procedure, many vet clinics will have a supply of microchips readily available. However, specific animal shelters and pet stores can also do this procedure nationwide. Simply book an appointment, and your vet will microchip your pet that day.

Ensure your pet's safety with Wagmo pet wellness insurance

At Wagmo, our pet wellness plans help pet parents cover the cost of pet ownership. Routine procedures, such as microchipping and regular checkups, can add up. That's why it's our mission to give you access to affordable pet health care. By signing up for Wagmo pet wellness insurance, we'll reimburse you up to $1100 per year for various services, including vaccinations, blood work, and grooming.

We're not your traditional pet insurance company. For more information on how Wagmo can help you care more for your pet for less, check out our Pet Wellness plans. Ready to sign up? Take our pet wellness insurance quiz today.