Dog Health & Safety

What are the main reasons to microchip your dog?

Scanning a microchip


Scanning a microchip

Firstly, I think that Scotland (in the U.K.)  has it right, where microchipping will become compulsory by law from April 2016. Fundamentally, it is all about being able to identify a dog and/or a dog’s owner. While this is the over arching principle, there may be many resons to microchip your dog.


Dogs are often members of the family

First and perhaps foremost, for most dog owners thay love and cherish their canine friends. For these people, their dogs are considered important members of the family and like any family member, we would be devastated if there is a forced separation for some reason. Getting you dog microchipped is the simplest and most effective way of being able to reunite doggy families quickly and effectively, whatever the reason for the temporary separation. Without these details to “link” the two family parts together, it can be a much more difficult and lengthy process.

I am not talking here about a friendly labrador, that may wander off to the neighbours in the hope they may share some of that delicious meatloaf he can small. I am talking about serious separations where your dog is unable to make their way back home on their own. i.e. they are truly lost

For example, if you take your dogs on vacation, where they are in unfamiliar territory and get spooked by something. Your usual vet can’t help – their practice may be hundreds of miles away, or even in another state! So once your dog is picked up or taken in by someone else, they may well scan the dog for a microchip to see who he/she belongs to.

But you can already see from this example, without this little “identifier”, where would your dog’s finder start with locating you?


Your dog is financially valuable

For many dog owner’s the financial value of their dog is pretty irrelevant. As I’ve said above, they are likely to be loved and cherished members of your family and whilst you may have forked out a substantial amount of money to get the dog you really wanted, once they are settled in you will probably forget about that entirely! However, there are some dog breeds that are particularly favoured and may well be targeted by thieves who think there is a quick buck in snatching your dog and trying to sell them onto someone else. In this case, it’s purely about the money. I’m not going to talk about specific breeds here, as I’m not into scare mongering and in all likelihood, the possibility of anyone’s dog being snatched is pretty remote.

You can minimise the risk by ensuring the security of your dog when you are not around. Also, once a dog starts growing out of the puppy stage, it’s fair to say they may be less of a target. However, if you ever did find yourself in this situation, you would hope for the thieves to be caught, your dog to escape, or an honest recipient to have a guilt-trip and contact the authorities. Once again, a microchip would be used to link your dog back to you and is your best chance of being reunited.


It’s not the dog, but the owner who ran away!

As much as most dog owners are responsible and love their dogs, there are people out there who don’t take proper responsibility for their animals. They haven’t trained them properly, ther dogs may be out of control and in sever cases, the dogs do soemthing they shouldn’t.

I would like to point out here, that I don’t think any dogs are born bad – whatever the breed. I do think there are breeds that require more care and attention, and some that are usually a lot more easy going, but it is the owner that has responsibility for shaping a dog into what they become. We have all heard horror stories I’m sure, about dogs that have bitten someone, or attacked another dog. Yes, in some cases a dog has to be put to sleep as a result of it’s behaviour, but it can usually be traced back to it’s owner and how that particular dog has been treated and brought up.

In a situation where a dog is seized for some indiscretion, a microchip may be the only way to trace that person and make sure they are also held accountable. You may argue this is a case against micrchipping, afterall surely these people wouldn’t want to be traceable. Who knows, maybe this is true! However, if this happened in Scotland after April 2016, becuase it will be law to have a dog microchipped, there would the means to trace an irresponsible owner.


What is a microchip?Dog Microchip

A very small device, not much bigger than a grain of rice, that is inserted under the skin of the dog. They usually feel very little during the process, and now many vets offer it as an add-on during any treatment your dog may be getting. Nowadays, there are even mini-microchips which can be used for very small dogs – which is sensible. It’s good these have been developed, so the device is no larger than necessary for any particular dog.

The device stores identifcation information about the dog and the dog’s owner, which can then be read by a handheld scanning device.


To summarise…

Anyway, in summary the usual and most common endorsement for microchipping a dog, is that if they become lost or separated from you. And usually, this is becuase something unexpected gives them a fright –

  • a badly-timed clap of thunder
  • a bee sting on the nose
  • a fire cracker during Thankgsgicing
  • another dog in the park

Whatever the fright, and if your dog does in fact run off, wouldn’t you want to have the best chance possible of getting them back as soon as possible?


Hopefully I’ve made a good case for microchipping, and to finish off, let me tell you a little story….

Reasons for microchipping your dogOnce upon a time, we had a big, and very hairy, German Shepherd. Oh, and did I mention very strong! He loved the grass, and the outdoors, and chasing bees, so the secure garden with a tall fence was a great place to spend time, in his opinion. Even better, there was a path on the other side of this fence, where many dog walkers used to walk on by and there would be a lot of sniffing and snorting at the fence and what can only be described as very manly prancing – big bushy tail in the air. Anyway, once day while I am inside on the other side of the house, the phone goes.

A nice lady on the other end asked “Do you know where your dog is right now?”

to which I answered (feeling and probably sounding a little smug) “Yes, of course. He’s outside in the garden”.

“Are you sure” she continued.

Not feeling so sure anymore, I replied “Yes, I think so. Hold on, I’ll just go and check.”

On going out into the garden, there was an obvious gap in the fence, and Rocky was nowhere to be seen.

“Ah, no – he’s no longer in the garden. He’s pushed off one of the fence slats”, I said. By this point I was starting to feel panicked.

“Don’t worry” she quickly told me. “There is a gentleman standing on the corner of two roads not far from your address. He has Rocky by the collar and will wait for you to meet him there.”

And there folks, is why I’m such an advocate of being able to identify a dog owner. In this case, as well as a microchip, Rocky also had a tag on his collar with a telephone number. The gentleman had phoned them, given them the tag number and they called me straight away. Thank goodness Rocky hadn’t gone too far, and someone was confident enough to take hold of him, and then made the effort to phone the number. I was very grateful all round.

If you have a story you would like to share, please comment below. It is always nice to hear about the experiences and feelings of other dog owners.

2 thoughts on “What are the main reasons to microchip your dog?

  1. My husky used to dig under the fence in order to escape when he was little. Thankfully, he got caught by me and my husband and his mission failed every time. But there were a couple of times that he ran too far and did not came back for a while in an unfenced dog park. It freaked me out. He became more obedient as he grew up, but still there are times he doesn’t come back right away when I call him. Do you know if there is any microchip that has GPS in it, so I can track him with an iPhone app? If you know of any, is it OK for their health? I would never try anything that has a health-related risk to my dog.

    1. Hi Young,
      At the moment, microchips themselves are passive devices and do not have a GPS tracking function contained within. There are GPS devices available – which all seem to attach to a dog’s collar. The downside being if they slip their collar, they lose the tracking device. One that gets good reviews is the Marco Polo Pet Monitoring and Tracking system. Remember also that most GPS systems won’t work if you are out of cell phone range. I hope this helps and answers your question.

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