How to Update Your Pet’s Microchip

Lady cradling her dog

A microchip, though tiny and invisible under your pet’s skin, can be the key to bringing them back home if they ever get lost. This device, about the size of a grain of rice, contains essential information about your pet that can be accessed when scanned. This can be a lifesaver, ensuring that animal shelters and rescue organizations can contact you if they find your pet.

Microchips do not replace a tag and collar, but they are crucial for reuniting lost pets with their owners. Astonishingly, 1 in 3 family pets will get lost at some point. Microchipped dogs are over twice as likely to be returned to their owners, while microchipped cats are more than 20 times as likely. However, only about 60% of microchips are registered. When a microchipped pet isn’t returned home, it is often due to incorrect or missing owner information in the microchip registry. In 2022, HomeAgain successfully reunited more than 160,000 pets, and to date, they have reunited over 3 million pets with their owners.

Why Registration Matters

Generally, microchips are registered when they are implanted. However, if you adopt a pet from someone else, you might need to update the registration to reflect your ownership. Thankfully, this process is straightforward with various available services. For instance, the American Kennel Club provides a lifetime registration service for $19.50. Additionally, your veterinarian can recommend services that will register the microchip for a nominal fee and ensure the information is included in the universal microchip database.

Even if your pet has a microchip, it’s only useful if the information tied to it is current. If you’ve moved, changed your phone number, or altered your email address, you need to update this information in the microchip registry. Shelters and animal control agencies rely heavily on these registries to contact owners when lost pets are found.

Steps to Update Your Pet’s Microchip Information

1. Locate Your Pet’s Microchip Number

Microchip ID numbers adhere to a universal standard set by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). These numbers, which consist of 9, 10, or 15 digits, can be found on a dog tag, veterinary records, or other related documents. When a microchip is scanned, this number appears and links the scanner to your contact details.

If you don’t have the microchip number on hand, contact your vet or visit an animal shelter to have your pet scanned. Most facilities will do this for free.

2. Identify the Microchip Type/Brand

Your pet’s original paperwork should have your microchip type/brand. If you have misplaced your paperwork, your vet, breeder, or shelter where you adopted your pet should have it. To verify your pet’s microchip information, the simplest method is to use the AAHA universal pet microchip lookup tool. This database compiles information from all microchip providers, offering a single point where you—or anyone who finds your pet and scans their microchip—can retrieve your contact details and other relevant data. Alternatively, if you know the specific company that issued the microchip, you can access and update the information directly on their website.

3. Update Your Contact Information

With your microchip number and registry details in hand, go online or call the registry to update your contact information.

Keeping Your Information Current

Regularly checking and updating your contact information is essential. Many pets with microchips end up in shelters but can’t be reunited with their owners because the registry information is outdated.

Registering a New Microchip

If your pet’s microchip hasn’t been registered yet, it’s a quick and simple process. All you need is the microchip number and access to the internet. Here are a few registries where you can register your pet’s microchip:

Some registries can handle any brand of microchip, while others are specific to their own brand. Registration and update fees may vary.

Changing Ownership of Your Pet’s Microchip

If you’ve adopted a pet with a pre-existing microchip, you’ll need to update the ownership information. This usually requires a signed transfer form from the previous owner or a bill of sale. If these documents are not available, your veterinarian can provide a letter to the microchip company verifying your ownership.

Do You Have to Renew Your Pet Microchip?

While some companies offer subscription services with additional benefits, maintaining the microchip’s registration does not typically require renewal. Once registered, the microchip will continue to work throughout your pet’s life.

Can a Microchip Be Removed?

Removing a microchip is generally not recommended due to the risks involved with the procedure. If necessary, personal information linked to the chip can be deleted without removing the chip itself.

In Conclusion

By keeping your pet’s microchip information current, you ensure that your beloved pets can find their way back to you if they ever get lost. Stay proactive and keep that information up-to-date!

Where Can I Learn More?

Find out more about how to keep your pet calm:

  • Watch Dr. Douglas Dean’s 4th of July recommendations here.
  • See WoofDoctor on Wheels recommended:
    • Calming products for dogs here.
    • Enrichment products for dogs here.
  • Read:
    • How to Create a Safe Space for your dog here.
    • Everything You Need to Know About CBD for your pet here.
    • Desensitization Training for 4th of July here.
    • How to Update Your Pet’s Microchip here.
    • How to Get Your Cat Ready for 4th of July here.

If you’d like to schedule an appointment or discuss medications for your pet, please call us at (843) 966-3362

References

Lord, L. K., Ingwerson, W., & Gray, J. L., et al. (2009). Characterization of animals with microchips entering animal shelters. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 235, 160-167. https://avmajournals.avma.org/view/journals/javma/235/2/javma.235.2.160.xml

Lord, L. K., Wittum, T. E., Ferketich, A. K., et al. (2007). Search methods that owners use to find a lost dog. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 230, 211-216. https://avmajournals.avma.org/view/journals/javma/230/2/javma.230.2.211.xml

Lord, L. K., Wittum, T. E., Ferketich, A. K., et al. (2006). Demographic trends for animal care and control agencies in Ohio from 1996 to 2004. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 229, 48-54. https://avmajournals.avma.org/view/journals/javma/229/1/javma.229.1.48.xml

Lord, L. K., Wittum, T. E., Ferketich, A. K., et al. (2007). Search methods that people use to find owners of lost pets. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 230, 217-220. https://avmajournals.avma.org/view/journals/javma/230/12/javma.230.12.1835.xml

Lord, L. K., Wittum, T. E., Ferketich, A. K., et al. (2007). Search methods that owners use to find a lost cat. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 230, 1835-1840. https://avmajournals.avma.org/view/journals/javma/230/2/javma.230.2.217.xml

Scientific American. (n.d.). The incredible journey: Microchip ID reunites cat with owners. Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-incredible-journey-microchip-id-reunites-cat-with-owners/

CBS Local. (2014, September 19). Missing Jack Russell Terrier from PA turns up in Oregon. Retrieved from http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2014/09/19/missing-jack-russell-terrier-from-pa-turns-up-in-oregon/

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