August 15 is Check the Chip Day, a designation co-created by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) to remind pet parents to microchip, register and keep their pet’s chip info up to date. Since there is so much confusion surrounding microchips, and microchip registration, we’re going to break it down for you in six easy to follow steps.
1. Get your Pet Scanned
If you’re not sure about your pet’s history, first check to see if he or she is already microchipped. You can do this for free at a veterinary office, animal shelter and some pet stores. Call ahead to make sure the establishment can scan your pet using a universal scanner (one that reads all chip frequencies), so the chip isn’t missed.
2. Check the Chip
If a chip is detected, copy down the number and look it up at petmicrochiplookup.org to get contact info for the chip’s registry. If all of your contact information is there and up to date, perfect! You’re done. But if there’s no information or if it’s inaccurate, don’t worry. No matter which company sold the chip, you can always register it for free at found.org.
3. No Chip? Microchip!
If a chip is not detected, get your pet microchipped right then and there! Most veterinary offices and pet shelters will insert a microchip for a nominal fee. Make sure to get a copy of your pet’s microchip paperwork, which contains your pet’s unique microchip number. Think of this number like a social security number. Keep it in a safe place so you can find it again if you need it.
4. Register… Today!
Are you ready? This is the most important step! Register your pet’s microchip number as soon as possible at found.org. Registration is free for the life of your pet. Contrary to popular belief, a microchip is not a GPS device – it won’t tell you the location of your pet should he or she get lost. The chip has to correlate with information in a database to be useful. The database in this instance is a chip registry, where you will enter your contact information under your pet’s unique microchip number. This way, if your pet is lost without external ID, he can be scanned at a vet clinic or shelter and traced back to you as guardian.
5. Don’t Forget to Update
Remember to update your contact information in the chip registry every time you move or change your phone number. (This is why you should keep your pet’s microchip paperwork in a safe place you’ll remember.) You’ll want to be found easily should someone scan your lost pet’s microchip and want to return him or her to you!
6. Don’t Forget to ID
Having your pet microchipped is just one step in keeping your pet safe if he or she is ever lost. The other equally important step is keeping an external ID on your pet at all times. If your pet escapes your care, the first place a Good Samaritan will look is on your pet’s collar. Make sure your pet’s tag is up to date with your current phone number. Make sure if you move, you update it right away. You don’t even have to get fancy with this. A fabric collar with your phone number written on it in permanent marker will do in a pinch.
While microchipping is a great affordable tool that helps lost pets, it does require a little work and upkeep on the part of pet owners. Keeping your chip information up to date will ensure that if your furry BFF gets lost, they’ll have a better chance of being reunited with you. So, don’t forget to check your chip. Your pet would thank you for it if they could!