Debunking 8 myths about pet microchips

Carol Bryant

According to BC SPCA over 1 million pets go missing each year in Canada. That’s the bad news...and a statistic that represents every pet parent’s worst nightmare.

Millions of these lost or stolen pets wind up in shelters, which is better news for pets and their parents. However, without identifying lost pets, happy reunions are a rare exception.

Yet, despite research showing that microchips can more than double the odds of reuniting with a lost pet, some pet parents remain reluctant about microchipping.

Are these pet microchip myths stopping you from keeping your pet protected?

To help clear up any confusion or concerns pet parents might have about microchips, here are some of the most common myths and misperceptions about microchips, along with the facts refuting them.

Myth #1: Microchip companies can always see my pet's location.

Fact: A microchip is not a GPS tracker. You can’t use it to “find my pet” when they’re missing, the same way you use GPS to “find my phone.” Microchips can only transmit information that links you to your pet, and it can only be retrieved when the pet is present for scanning.

Myth #2: Microchips are automatically registered once implanted in your pet.

Fact: Just having a microchip isn’t enough. Once a microchip is implanted, you must register it in your name and keep your contact information up to date, so you can be notified if your microchipped pet is found and scanned. You can easily do that here for free in our customer portal.

However, many pet parents neglect this crucial step of microchip registration. One study found that only 58% of the microchipped pets in over 50 North American animal shelters had properly registered chips in a microchip database.

Myth #3: Scanning a microchip reveals a pet parent’s personal contact information.

Fact: When scanned, the only information a microchip transmits is a unique ID number. Veterinarians and shelters use that ID number to connect with the microchip company. As long as you have correctly registered your microchip, the company can use the information logged in their database to contact you and let you know your pet has been found.

Myth #4: It doesn’t matter where you register your pet’s microchip. All microchip companies and services are the same.

Fact: Many companies allow you to register a pet microchip from any manufacturer, so be sure to consider the services and benefits each company offers and the associated costs and choose the best pet microchip company. Some companies charge a single fee, while others may charge you every time you need to update your registration information.

At 24Petwatch, you can register your pet’s microchip and even choose additional protection options including our Lifetime Protection Membership service that offers additional support designed to reunite you with a lost pet quickly. For example, membership gives your 24/7 access to our Lost Pet Recovery Specialists, who can guide you through the process of reporting your missing pet. You can even connect with your pet directly to facilitate a faster reunion using the DirectConnect membership feature when your pet is found.

Myth #5: Microchips expire.

Fact: Every microchip comes in packaging with an expiration date, but that only tells the shelter or clinic how long the package will remain sterile. If the chip is planted before that date, it will stay safe and sterile. Once implanted, the microchip itself never expires. It stays in your pet’s body and can be read by any universal scanner.

Myth #6: Indoor cats don’t need a microchip.

Fact: Even indoor cats can escape and go missing. Of the nearly 42,000 missing and lost pet reports 24Petwatch received in 2020, a whopping 58 percent were cats. And indoor cats tend to be less familiar with outdoor hazards and the layout of their neighbourhood. So, it’s a good idea to microchip an indoor cat who may have a challenging time finding their way home safely.

Myth #7: Microchips can move around, migrate through your pet’s body, and even fall out.

Fact: Though some pet microchips can migrate, it is rare. Most tend to stay close to the insertion area when implanted by a trained professional. The microchips 24Petwatch supplies clinics and shelters feature a special coating on the glass housing that helps prevent migration.

Myth #8: Microchips can “zap” or “ping” pets, causing them pain.

Fact: Microchips do not emit shocks. Once implanted, the microchip sits dormant inside the body until scanned. The radio waves it transmits are pain-free.

How to get the most out of your pet’s microchip

To get the most out of your microchip, follow these simple veterinarian-approved steps::

  1. Register your pets microchip and keep contact information in the pet microchip registry’s database up to date. If you move or get a new cell number, update your pet microchip. It’s a good idea to check on this yearly. For convenience, look for a microchip company that makes the process easy. 24Petwatch offers a convenient online portal to support you in quickly updating your information at your convenience.
  2. Don’t assume your shelter dog or cat is microchipped. Instead, have your veterinarian do a chip check using a universal scanner.
  3. Don’t wait until your dog or cat is an adult. Puppies and kittens can be injected with a microchip at eight weeks of age or older.
  4. Be sure to report your pet missing to the company you used to register your pet’s microchip as soon as possible. The faster you do so, the better your chances of a successful reunion. 24Petwatch makes it easy to report your pet as lost or found online.

Every month, our Lifetime Protection Membership reunites 3,000 lost pets with their owners. You can count on us and our personalized pet protection services to help care for pets and reunite you if your pet is lost. Remember you can easily register your pet’s microchip on our Customer Portal for free.

Carol Bryant is the founder of Fidose of Reality and Wigglebutt Warriors. A pet product expert, Carol is a former president of the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) and winner of the 2020 and 2021 Best Dog Blog.