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Published: Feb 06, 2024 3 min read

Microchipping is the process of inserting a small capsule under your dog’s skin for the purpose of registering them with a unique identification number. The microchip also includes your name, address, phone number and return instructions.

Pet microchips are not GPS or tracking devices and cannot tell you your pet’s location. Rather, think of a dog’s microchip as a sophisticated dog tag or dog collar, with all the contact information needed to return your lost pet to you. Its transponder emits a radio frequency that can be read by a scanner owned by most veterinary clinics.

Vet offices and animal shelters often have microchip scanners that can read out the information they contain. These locations are more than likely where your dog will end up if it goes missing. Microchips are advantageous in the sense that they can hold much more information than an id tag and can’t be removed or fall off.

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Steps to microchipping a dog

The process of inserting a microchip is fairly painless and doesn’t even require local anesthetic. The chip is about the size of a grain of rice and is usually inserted between the dog’s shoulder blades with a syringe or applicator, which would hurt about the same as an average vaccination shot.

Some pet owners may opt to do it as part of another process that actually does require anesthesia, such as neutering or spaying.

Your dog’s microchip number would then be linked to a pet recovery database run by the microchip company with which you registered. This registry is where your furry friend’s unique ID number and dog owner information will appear when the veterinary office or animal control center scans their microchip.

Average cost of microchipping

Having a microchip implanted on your dog can be surprisingly low-cost, with an average cost of $25 to $60. This includes the registration fee as well as the actual process involved to microchip your dog. Since the microchipping services and microchip registration is the same for all dogs, your best friend’s age, size and breed will not be a factor in its price.

Unlike neutering services, some pet insurance companies may cover the cost of microchip registry and insertion as part of its preventive care or wellness plans. Both the American Veterinary Medical Association and the ASPCA endorse microchipping as a way of providing peace of mind for pet parents and their potential lost dogs.

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Cost to microchip a dog FAQs

What’s the best age to microchip a dog?

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There’s not really a specific age you should get your dog microchipped, although the earliest you can get them vaccinated is usually when they’re about eight weeks old. That’s the usual age puppies receive their first vaccinations after being weaned from their mother.

Can my dog be tracked with a microchip?

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No, microchips are not GPS enabled and cannot track the active location of your dog. However, microchips can help facilitate finding your dog if it gets lost by easily storing all the information someone would need to bring your dog back to you.

What are the potential side effects of microchipping a dog?

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Adverse reactions to microchipping are uncommon and usually relate to the microchip moving by accident inside the dog’s skin. Other uncommon side effects could include hair loss or swelling around the area of insertion.