No matter how careful we are with our pets, there’s no question that some are born escape artists. And even the most docile pets aren’t immune to the occasional wander. 

According to statistics, one in three pets will go missing at some point in their lifetime. If you’ve ever felt that trauma first-hand or the simple thought of it fills you with dread, one thing is for sure: You know there’s nothing you wouldn’t do to get a lost dog or cat nestled safely back in your arms...fast.

Here’s the good news: If your pet is microchipped, the key to a speedy and successful reunion is already in place. But in order to unlock its power, there’s one more crucial step you need to take: register your pet’s microchip. It’s the single most important thing you can do to ensure your pet’s safe return. Luckily, it’s also the easiest!

And research proves that this one simple step is absolutely worth the few minutes it takes to complete. According to a 2009 study of 7,700 lost pets, 52% of microchipped dogs and 39% of microchipped cats were successfully reunited with their families. 

Unfortunately, of the chipped pets who did not make it home safely, the study revealed unregistered microchips or those with outdated information were the primary reasons.

Simple Microchip Registration

According to experts, an estimated 40% of microchipped pets are walking around with unregistered chips. That’s like splurging on shiny new tags for your dog or cat, but leaving them blank...If someone finds your lost pet, how will they know how to contact you?   

While microchip registry sounds like a no-brainer, even the most responsible pet parents sometimes get derailed by pretty common scenarios. Such as:

  • Many shelters automatically microchip animals in their care. But brand new pet parents might not realize they need to register the chip. 
  • Some people confuse chip registration with needing to obtain a local license for their pet.
  • Even experienced pet parents sometimes forget to register a chip in the excitement of welcoming a new family member. 
  • And what happens if you misplace your paperwork and can’t figure out how to update your registry or whether your pet was ever chipped to begin with?

No need to worry...or to let these unanswered questions keep you from reuniting with a lost pet one second longer than you have to. In two easy steps, here’s how to ensure your pet’s microchip is properly registered, once and for all.

Step 1: Verify Your Pet’s Microchip

If you’re one of those organizationally-gifted people who can summon their pet’s microchip number at a moment’s notice, huzzah! You can proceed directly to Step 2.

The rest of us may need a bit of assistance. Luckily, you have plenty of options:

Veterinarian Microchipping DogCall your vet. Even if your files aren’t the tidiest, if you’ve ever shared your pet’s microchip registry number with your vet, the office should have it on record. This is the option of first resort for many pet parents. It’s convenient, fast, and free!

Contact your breeder, shelter or rescue. No matter where you got your pet, it’s possible they came to you already microchipped. So don’t hesitate to contact a breeder or shelter for your pet’s microchip number...even if you’re afraid it will make you look like a bad pet parent. It’s typically free, and it’s much more common than you think. 

Get your pet scanned. If you still can’t confirm your pet’s microchip number, it’s time to bring them to a pro. Most veterinarians, animal shelters, and even animal control offices can scan your pet to see if they have a microchip — often free of charge. Be sure to call ahead to confirm cost and make sure they use a universal scanner, which reads all frequencies so it’s more likely to detect any chip, regardless of manufacturer.

Step 2: Register Your Pet’s Microchip

Once you’ve confirmed your microchip number, registering it is free and takes no more than a few minutes. You can do it yourself on the 24PetWatch Pet Registry Portal or by calling 1-866-597-2424 to work directly with a Pet Registry Specialist.

That’s it! Once you’re done, your pet’s unique microchip ID will forever be linked to the information you entered in the registry. Congrats on taking the most important step you can, to help ensure your pet makes it home to you safely. 

But what does that really mean? Can you track your pet wherever they go like you can with some food delivery services? Now that you’ve registered your pet’s microchip, it’s important to understand exactly what they can — and can’t — do.

How Do Microchip Registries Work?

Your pet’s microchip is a tiny piece of technology — no larger than a grain of rice — that stores a unique ID number. Think of it like a barcode, Microchip Scannerexcept that it resides safely and securely inside your pet’s body just under the surface of their skin, so it can never get lost. 

There are many different microchip manufacturers, but it doesn’t matter who made the chip inside your pet. Some microchips operate on different frequencies, but a universal scanner can read them all. Even then, the only thing a scan will reveal is the microchip’s unique ID number.

That’s why registering the chip is so important. When a lost pet is found and scanned, a shelter can quickly search that ID number in a database to find out where that pet is registered, then alert the registry that the pet has been found. If the microchip is registered properly, that registry then alerts the pet parent on file to arrange the happy reunion!

What microchips don’t do is track your pet’s location 24/7 so you can find them the minute they go missing. They also don’t store any private data. And they’re best used in addition to — not instead of — standard pet ID tags.

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Microchip Registry

Hopefully, by now, there’s no doubt in your mind just how important it is to properly register your pet’s microchip. But when a pet is missing, you want to make sure you have the best possible chance of reuniting with them. 

According to Dana Rayman, Manager of the 24PetWatch Call Center, here’s how to get even more out of your microchip registry and improve your odds of a successful reunion.

Free Microchip Registry

“When you register your microchip with 24PetWatch, you get free access to the online portal and lost pet recovery services. That means when your pet goes missing, you can take immediate action and get our Lost Pet Recovery Team on the case, instead of just worrying or hoping for the best,” said Rayman. 

Here’s how that works: 

  • The minute you realize your pet is missing, you can report your lost pet at any time of the day or night. 
  • The Lost Pet Recovery Team will then search for your pet’s microchip ID in their nationwide database of found pets. 

If they get a hit, they’ll notify you using the contact information you included in your registry. (Even more reason to make sure that info is always updated!) 

Pet Protection Services Membership

However, finding a lost pet is seldom simple, and most pet parents want to do everything in their power to reunite with their lost pets as quickly as possible. That’s why 24PetWatch offers enhanced Pet Protection Services as part of an Annual Membership ($29.95/year) or Lifetime Membership ($94.95).

“A Pet Protection Membership is the equivalent of 911 for pet parents,” says Rayman. “Instead of self-service reporting and updates if there’s a hit in the database, you get instant, live access to a Lost Pet Recovery Specialist who can not only expedite your search, but also provide additional support and ideas to help you get your pet back faster.”

Here’s how that works:

  • Experienced Recovery Experts are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, ready to speak with you directly the minute you report your pet missing.
  • In addition to searching their database in real time, Recovery Experts also reach out to local facilities and shelters so they can be on the lookout for your pet. 
  • They provide tried-and-true suggestions, like placing your pet’s bed outside your door to help them scent their way home, and even help you create a custom Lost Pet poster.
  • Best of all, with DirectConnect, Recovery Experts have the ability to instantly connect you directly with the facility or finder who has your pet the second they are found to arrange a safe, happy reunion.

“The best part of working directly with our members is that there’s no delay,” said Rayman. “If we get a call at 4:00 AM saying someone found your pet, you can bet we’re waking you up to give you the good news.”

“Membership also gives you unlimited updates to your registry information, so it’s easy to keep it up to date. And you can even add trusted friends and family as contacts. That’s key if we can’t reach you or if your number has changed; We’ll call your secondary contacts until we find someone who can get your pet right away.”

Woman Hugging Her DogLifetime Pet Protection Membership offers a range of additional benefits, including a $25 PetCo coupon, exclusive discounts, and year-long access to a 24/7 Vet Hotline and 24PetMedAlert®.

But the biggest benefit of registering with 24PetWatch is the extensive network of shelters and facilities that work with the company as a long-standing leader in the field of lost pet recovery. Thanks to that partnership, over 90% of pets adopted from shelters are already chipped and registered to their pet parents through 24PetWatch, said Rayman.

“On average, we’re reuniting between 3,000-4,000 pets with their parents each month...most of them through DirectConnect. And there’s nothing like hearing the relief in someone’s voice when they know we’re about to connect them to someone who has their pet, safe and sound.” 


Click for more information on registering your microchip or Pet Protection Service Membership, or call a 24PetWatch representative at 1-866-597-2424.

Karen Vitale is a long-time writer, creator and animal lover whose work has been featured everywhere from Disney Studios to The Smithsonian Institutions.​