A microchip implant is an identifying integrated circuit placed under the skin of a dog, or cat, or other animal. The chips are about the size of a large grain of rice and are based on a passive RFID technology.
Uses and benefits
Microchips have been particularly useful in the return of lost pets. They can also assist where the ownership of an animal is in dispute.
Animal shelters and animal control centers benefit using microchip identification products by more quickly and efficiently returning pets to their owners. When a pet can be quickly matched to its owner, the shelter avoids the expense of housing, feeding, providing medical care, and outplacing or euthanizing the pet. Microchipping is becoming increasingly standard at shelters: many require all outplaced animals to receive a microchip, and provide the service as part of the adoption package.
In addition to shelters and veterinarians, microchips are used by kennels, breeders, brokers, trainers, registries, rescue groups, humane societies, clinics, farms, stables, animal clubs and associations, researchers and pet stores. Animal control officers are also trained and equipped to scan animals.
Several countries require a microchip when importing an animal, as a proof that the animal and the vaccination record belong together.
System of recovery
Effective pet identification and recovery depends on the following:
Many veterinarians perform test scans on microchipped animals every time the animal is brought in for care. This ensures the chip still performs properly. Vets sometimes use the ID as the pet’s ID in their databases, and print this number on all outgoing paperwork associated with its services, such as receipts, test results, vaccination certifications, and descriptions of medical or surgical procedures.
Components of a microchip
Microchips are passive, or inert, RFID devices and contain no internal power source. They are designed so that they do not act until acted upon.
Three basic elements comprise most microchips: A silicon chip (integrated circuit); a coil inductor, or a core of ferrite wrapped in copper wire; and a capacitor. The silicon chip contains the identification number, plus electronic circuits to relay that information to the scanner. The inductor acts as a radio antenna, ready to receive electrical power from the scanner. The capacitor and inductor act as a tuner, forming an LC circuit. The scanner presents an inductive field that excites the coil and charges the capacitor, which in turn energizes and powers the IC. The IC then transmits the data via the coil to the scanner.
These components are encased in a special biocompatible glass made from soda lime, and hermetically sealed to prevent any moisture or fluid entering the unit. Barring rare complications, dogs and cats are not affected physically or behaviorally by the presence of a chip in their bodies.
In dogs and cats, chips are usually inserted below the skin at the back of the neck, between the shoulder blades on the dorsal midline. The chip can often be manually detected by the owner by gently feeling the skin in that area. It stays in place as thin layers of connective tissue form around the biocompatible glass which encases it.
Horses are microchipped on the left side of the neck, half the distance between the poll and withers, and approximately one inch below the midline of the mane, into the nuchal ligament.