How Do Microchips Work and Should My Dog Have One?

Microchip Dog

There are nearly 90 million dogs across the United States. Dogs are the nation’s favorite pets and anybody that has ever owned a dog will be able to tell you why. For most of recent history, the only way to identify a dog was via a physical tag attached to the dog’s collar. These tags would usually provide a name and phone number for the dog’s owner. And then a revolutionary new technology arrived.

This new technology allowed you to microchip your dog and provide a form of instant identification for any dog, no matter where in the world it was. Let’s look at how this technology works and whether you should get it for your dog. 

The Basics of Microchip Technology

Microchips are the key technology in the modern age of pet identification and tracking. They are tiny electronic devices about the size of a grain of rice. They are made of a microchip that is encased in a biocompatible polymer capsule. 

The anatomy of the microchip is rather straightforward. It has an integrated circuit that contains a unique identification number that is assigned to each chip. This unique number acts as a digital kind of ‘license plate” for your dog. 

A dog microchip scanner emits low-frequency radio signals that are received by the chip. The chip then transmits its unique number back to the scanner, which then displays the number on the screen. This is how people use microchips to identify dogs and other animals.

The information on the microchip is non-volatile, meaning it is retained even when there is no power source. It does not require a battery and is designed to last for the lifetime of the pet. The identification number on the chip is programmed during the manufacturing process and cannot be altered.

Microchips operate at specific frequencies, usually 125 kHz or 134.2 kHz, which are commonly used worldwide. They are compatible with various types of scanners, ensuring that the information can be read by different devices.

Implanting a microchip in a dog is a simple and relatively painless procedure. A veterinarian injects the chip beneath the skin, typically between the shoulder blades. The process is similar to a routine vaccination and does not require anesthesia.

Microchips provide a permanent and secure means of identification for dogs. They play a vital role in reuniting lost pets with their owners and are widely recognized and used by animal shelters, veterinary clinics, and authorities. 

Reasons to Microchip Your Dog

There are many pros and cons of chipping your dog. The benefits far outweigh the negatives, though. Let’s look at some of the main reasons you should microchip your dog.

Permanent Identification

Microchipping offers a permanent means of identifying dogs. Traditional ID tags can become lost or be removed. Your dog’s chip will remain active and in place for your dog’s entire life. 

This ensures that even if external forms of identification are lost, the microchip provides a reliable method of identifying and reuniting a lost or stolen dog with its owner.

Increased Chances of Recovery

Microchips are incredibly effective at increasing the chances of recovering a lost dog. A chipped dog can be scanned and immediately identified. Dogs that are not chipped who go missing have to rely on luck to be reunited with their owners. 

Reliable Contact Information

Microchips allow pet owners to provide accurate and up-to-date contact information. Should a dog go missing, having current information on file enables quick and efficient communication with the owner.

It is crucial for pet owners to ensure they update their contact information with the microchip registry to maximize the chances of a successful reunion.

Peace of Mind

Microchipping provides pet owners with peace of mind. Knowing that their dog has a microchip significantly increases the chances of a reunion if the dog gets lost or goes missing.

It offers reassurance and a sense of security. This is especially true for owners whose dogs may have a tendency to wander or escape from their homes.

Legal Compliance

In some regions, microchipping dogs is a legal requirement. It is important for pet owners to familiarize themselves with local regulations to ensure they comply with the law.

Microchipping not only helps owners avoid potential fines or penalties but also contributes to responsible pet ownership.

Rehoming and Adoption

Microchips play a crucial role in animal shelters and rescue organizations. When stray or abandoned dogs are brought to these facilities, microchip scanning helps identify owners and facilitates their return.

Additionally, microchips provide a reliable way to verify ownership during the adoption process, ensuring that dogs are placed in the right homes.

Concerns and Risks

Microchipping is generally safe and beneficial. However, there are a few common pet safety concerns with it. Let’s take a look. 


In rare cases, a microchip may migrate from its original injection site. However, this occurrence is uncommon. Proper implantation techniques should always minimize the risk.

Infection or Inflammation

As with any injection, there is a slight risk of infection or inflammation at the implantation site. Following proper hygiene protocols during the procedure significantly reduces these risks.

Scanner Compatibility

Microchips operate at standard frequencies. But some older or incompatible scanners may struggle to read certain microchips.

It’s crucial to ensure that the microchip and scanner are compatible and regularly test the chip’s readability.

False Sense of Security

Microchipping should not replace other identification methods. They should be used alongside collars and tags.

While microchips provide permanent identification, these external forms of identification are still essential for immediate identification and contact information.

Limited Tracking Functionality

Microchips do not provide real-time tracking of a pet’s location. They require a dedicated microchip scanner to read the chip’s information. Therefore, microchips should not be solely relied upon for locating a lost dog.

Legal Requirements for Microchipping

Pet owners should understand the state laws on whether or not microchipping is mandatory. 

In Indianapolis and Marion County, it is a legal requirement for your dog to have some form of permanent identification on them at all times. This does not have to be a microchip, it can also include tags or other identifiers. A microchip is a better option though. 

For the rest of Indiana, microchip[ping your dog is not mandatory but still highly advised for the above reasons. 

Maintaining and Updating Microchip Information

In order to keep the chips effective at identifying dogs and their owners, information needs to stay as up-to-date as possible. 

Pet owners should periodically check that the registered phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses are current and accurate. 

Any changes in contact details or ownership should be promptly reported to the microchip registry. Notifying the registry allows for the information linked to the microchip to be updated. This ensures a smooth reunification process in case the dog is lost.

If the dog receives a new veterinarian, it’s important to provide the updated contact information to the microchip registry. 

In the event of the dog being rehomed or adopted, it is crucial to inform the shelter or rescue organization about the microchip transfer. Providing them with the updated owner’s information ensures a seamless transition and accurate tracking if the dog is ever lost again.

While microchips are a reliable form of identification, it is recommended to have additional identification methods, such as collars with tags. These provide an immediate means of contact for anyone who finds the lost dog before it is taken to a facility equipped with microchip scanners.

Making an Informed Decision for Your Dog

Take some time to do further research into exactly how microchips work and how they can help to keep your dog safe. If you’re not convinced about the benefits of chipping your dog, then have a chat with your veterinarian to get a better understanding of it. 

Be sure to consider your dog’s individual lifestyle. If your dog loves to go outdoors, loves open spaces, or just like to wander and take in its surroundings, then a microchip is definitely a good idea. 

Find a Veterinarian Today

On balance, it’s a great idea to microchip your dog. If done properly, it is a painless, harmless, and efficient way to make sure that your dog is permanently identifiable if they were ever to go missing or be taken from you. 

If you’re looking for a veterinarian to insert the microchip, then look no further than All Animals. We’ve been helping furry friends for over 30 years now across 9 counties around Indiana. 

Contact us today to see how we can help you and your pet. 

The All Animal Vet Clinic is here to help guide you through the journey of owning a new puppy.

Contact us to schedule an appointment in our Lebanon, Indiana Clinic.