Carolinas Animal Hospital

Microchipping Dogs and Cats: The Difference Between “Lost” and “Home”

Microchipping dogs and cats is a quick, simple measure that can be the difference between “lost” and “home” for your pet. We recommend microchipping to all pet-owners as a basic precaution because, let’s face it, accidents happen. Pets slip out of their collars, they get spooked by loud noises and run off in fear (especially on the 4th of July), they slip out of your door or gate, or dig under the fence and go on an adventure. Microchips can’t keep them from getting lost, but they can help whoever finds your dog or cat to then get help finding YOU.


Microchipping dogs and cats is an easy way to help your pet go from being lost to being safe at home. Photo credit:

What are microchips?

Microchipping dogs and cats is great because it’s an electronic chip, kind of a tiny transponder, that bears a unique identification number. If your dog or cat is found, a vet or animal shelter will have a scanner to check to see if they have a microchip. If they do, the scanner will display the ID number of the chip. That number will be registered to you, the pet’s owner. A vet or animal shelter can then get your contact information from the microchip manufacturer so they can call to let you know your pet has been found.

Microchips are about the size of a grain of rice. They are implanted under the skin with a large needle usually between the shoulder blades. This is just as quick as getting a vaccine and does not require any anesthesia. Subcutaneous tissue then holds the microchip in place, which is made to work for up to 25 years. Because it’s so small, pets won’t even feel that it’s there over the course of their lives.

After the microchip has been implanted, all you have to do is register your contact information with the manufacturer of the microchip. Just remember to keep your information up-to-date just like you would in a collar tag.

Why is microchipping dogs and cats so important?

Losing a pet is scary, and it’s actually pretty common for them to not have a collar on when they are found. That puts a microchip as the most reliable alternative for someone to be able to find you about your dog or cat. We have often seen this process of the pet getting lost, then found by a good samaritan, then scanned for a microchip and the owner identified all happen before the pet owner even knew their furry friend had gone missing! This doesn’t just cut down on the amount of time your pet might be separated from you, which is a huge benefit, but if can also mean they are kept safe until you can get him or her.

Anytime your pet is lost, whether they are microchipped or not, the first thing you should ALWAYS do is call your local animal control. Find out if your pet is there, and if not, leave a description and your contact information in case they end up there. There is no time to waste on this front because if a pet is picked up by animal control and there is no way (a collar tag or microchip) for an owner to be located, the pet is put on what is called “stray hold”. Each county has laws about how long this is, but basically there is a safety window during which time a pet cannot be put to sleep or adopted by someone else at the shelter. Mecklenburg County’s is the most common time – 72 hours. This window is specifically to allow time for an owner to come and reclaim their pet. Otherwise, they are assumed to be strays and may be adopted or euthanized if the shelter needs to create room for more dogs. In America, and especially in the South, that need is almost constant.

Contact us!

Microchipping dogs and cats is so quick and easy and can be of such great benefit. Let us know if you’d like to schedule a quick appointment to get one for your four-legged family member!


  • Monday: 7:30am - 5:30pm
  • Tuesday: 7:30am - 5:30pm
  • Wednesdsay: 7:30am - 5:30pm
  • Thursday: 7:30am - 5:30pm
  • Friday: 7:30am - 5:30pm
  • Saturday: 8:00am - 12:00pm
  • Sunday: Closed

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