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© By Martine Lavallée BAA, TSA

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) supports the permanent identification of animals and recommends the use of electronic implants (microchips).

Microchip technology is not new and would be around 30 years old. In the world of pets, it was in Europe 25 years ago that the microchip made its appearance used to identify pets. The microchip’s costs are between $40 and $100.

Figure 1: X-ray of a dog with a microchip. Photo

There is no maintenance to be done following the installation of a microchip, which means that it is good for life. On the other hand, it is important to have it checked by a technician or a veterinarian every year to make sure that it is still working perfectly. Make sure you use microchips compliant with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard, an internationally used system, because they can be read by any type of reader.

The size of a rice grain, the microchip is an electronic device that is injected under the skin of the animal, mainly in the region between the shoulder blades because this region is less innervated than elsewhere. This identification device is particularly useful in case our animal gets lost because the unique number of the microchip can recognize it. However, a microchip is not a GPS geolocation system! We cannot follow the movements of our animal on our iPhone. It’s more like a recognition tool that says you’re the owner of this or that animal.

Figure 2: Insertion syringe, microchips and labels with barcodes as well as microchip numbers.



Figure 3: Photo

As I said, the microchip is injected into a region where there is very little sensitivity. Using a piston syringe (see Figure 3) made specifically for this purpose for insertion. The skin, at the injection site, will be stretched as much as possible to ensure that the microchip is injected well under the skin. Since the implantation technique may affect the microchip’s performance, the CVMA recommends that this intervention be performed by a veterinarian or other qualified person who is familiar with this type of intervention and this method of identification. Only cats and dogs aged 6 months and older can receive a microchip. The skin in which the microchip is injected can be irritated for a few hours, but is generally safe if the injection is done in the state of the art by the veterinarian or his technician. During this procedure, the animal may feel a slight discomfort for a few seconds, but these will fade quickly. It often happens that the operation is done under general anesthesia during sterilization. In rare cases, some animals have adverse reactions, such as infection, inflammation and sometimes tumour formation.



The microchip contains a series of numbers associated with a file containing the owner’s information as well as the animal’s information (address, phone and description of the animal). This information, sent by the person inserting the microchip, is stored in the microchip manufacturer’s database. To obtain or view the microchip number to access the corresponding folder, it must be scanned by a microchip reader. However, it is important to always update our information when there are changes especially when we move! This change is made directly to the microchip company.



Figure 4: Photo

It is not impossible that our animal runs away and goes astray visiting family or following an unforeseen event. That’s when a microchip can make all the difference. It can give us a maximum of chances to find our companion. In the case where our animal is found by an individual, it is strongly recommended that it be taken to a shelter or a veterinary clinic for a scan (see Figure 4) to detect presence or absence of a microchip. Using the microchip detector (or reader), we will simply fly over, a few centimetres of the animal’s coat at his neck, back and sides (microchips can migrate from the site of the injection after a few years). Once detected, the microchip number is recorded and the manufacturer contacted. The owner can quickly be warned so that he recovers his animal.



More and more, before having a pet, we must inquire with our city if it has a microchiping program in collaboration with veterinarians and technicians in animal health. These programs are often done at a reduced price. Most independent veterinarians also offer this service.



Earnings affect both owners and their pets. Unique identification (like a serial number) confers a form of “guarantee” that our pet belongs to us. No other animal will have the same code as him. The microchip is inserted once, and it will be good for the whole life of the animal. The only way it can be removed is by surgery. It allows to find the guardian of the animal most of the time rather quickly and to avoid expenses to stay with the SPCA in particular. Here are other benefits to emphasize:

  • It is a permanent identification method;
  • It is impossible to misplace a microchip;
  • It can save the life of our animal.


Permanent identification is therefore a must for an ethical and responsible animal service because it allows the guardian or owner to find his pet more quickly. As a precaution, we recommend that you use a collar with identification tags anyway since most people are not used to microchip. A neighbour or neighbour who finds your dog or cat wandering in the streets of the neighborhood will be able to locate the identification plates on the collar of your pet.

[1] According to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF), only 361 animals out of 4 million with a microchip would have suffered an adverse effect according to the results recorded during a survey.



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