Microchipping your pet: how it works

Microchipping pets is one of the best ways to keep them safe. Many animals stray during Guy Fawkes (animals are terrified of fireworks). Others may wander away from house sitters while their owners are on holiday.

It is extremely traumatic for an animal when he or she is lost, particularly if the neighbourhood is not known. There is also the danger of traffic and confrontations other animals.

Collars and tags can come loose when an animal goes walkabout which is why we recommend microchipping.

Microchipping is one way of ensuring that strayed pets and their owners have an excellent chance of being reunited but some animal lovers fear that inserting the microchip may be painful to the animal or may cause it long-term damage or ill health. In fact, it’s no more painful than a standard inoculation and is completely harmless.

Microchipping procedure

The microchip is no bigger than a grain of rice and it is injected under the skin between the shoulder blades of the animal by a trained veterinarian or animal welfare organisation. There is no need for anaesthetic and the procedure takes no more than a few seconds. In fact, your pet will hardly know it has happened.

Once implanted, the microchip will not move around the body and it does no harm to the animal.

Does the microchip have a tracking device?

No, the microchip does not emit radio signals. It is not like the trackers that trace stolen cars but is an identification tag. It’s a kind of ID document for your pet that carries a unique number registered to the pet owner. On registration, the number is entered into a central database.

What happens if my pet gets lost?

If the lost pet is picked up and taken to a veterinarian or welfare organisation, he or she will be scanned for a microchip. The scanner will quickly identify your pet’s unique number, which is then phoned through or sent by SMS to the microchip central database. Within a few minutes the owner’s name and phone number will be identified and you will be notified. This saves hours of heartache for both you and your frightened pet.

Who can scan my pet?

Most veterinarians in South Africa are equipped to scan microchipped animals and all branches of the SPCA, as well as many animal welfare organisations are also supplied with scanners.