Most of us are familiar with microchips. They’re used for a variety of purposes including creating a permanent form of identification for pets.


Collars and tags can still be effective, but some animals don’t like wearing them, and there’s always the chance they can come off and be lost. Also, relying on this method means that if your contacts details change, you need to remember to get a new tag engraved.


Benefits of microchips

Microchips are easier and more effective  for a number of reasons. Firstly, they’re permanent and remain with the animal for life. They can’t be lost, or expelled by the animal. Secondly, your pet won’t be aware of it, so it won’t be trying to remove as it might a collar. Thirdly, updating your information on the chip is simple and the chip itself doesn’t need to be replaced. An additional benefit is that your personal information is much more secure than it would be on a tag. With a microchip, your details can only be accessed with the microchip’s identification number, rather than being on display publicly on a tag. Before we look at the process of microchipping, let’s review how microchips work.


What exactly are microchips?

Before you microchip your pet, you should understand what they are… and what they’re not. Microchips are a small computer chip – a microchip tag – which is inserted subcutaneously (under the skin) with a needle. The procedure takes only a few seconds, and microchips are inserted between dogs’ and cats’ shoulder blades. They’re smaller than the size of a grain of rice, they’re non-toxic, and they won’t cause any discomfort to the animal.


The chips contain a radio transmitter, an antenna, and a code. The code is read by a scanner and your details are linked to the code rather than your details residing on the microchip. Microchips are not GPS systems that allow the location of an animal to be identified by tracking.


Are they safe?

Yes, microchips are safe. There are isolated cases of animals’ bodies rejecting a microchip and of allergic reaction to them, but they are very rare, and we would not recommend that pet owners decide against microchipping for this reason.  They are non-toxic, and most animals are completely unaware of them. Even if they move, they cannot migrate to any vital organs.


Will I be able to feel it?

It’s possible that you might be able to feel the microchip occasionally as it is only skin deep. The size and weight of your pet will most likely influence this. Pounds and vets, being aware that chips can migrate, will scan the entire body of an animal to check for a microchip.


Is anaesthetic used to insert the microchip?

No. Your pet will feel the microchip needle being inserted, just as we would the prick of a needle, but the discomfort is short-lived. If you have any concerns about your pet experiencing pain, please talk to us.


How do microchips work?

The process is very straight forward; Every chip has a unique identification number. The owner’s details are linked to the chip’s i.d. in an online registry. If the pet is found and taken to a vet or pound, the chip’s number can be read with a scanner. The owner’s details can then be obtained by searching on the chip’s i.d. number on a registry.


How do my details get onto the registry?
The vet that inserts the chip will register your details initially. If they change, you’ll need to update them yourself on the registry. It’s a good idea to record this as a standard activity on your moving home checklist, and also remember to update the registry with any change of phone number, even if you’re not moving.


How do I find my pet’s microchip number?

The number is normally provided by the rescue group, pound, pet store or breeder from which you obtained the animal.  It’s usually a 15-digit number and if your pet has been vaccinated or desexed, the microchip number will usually appear on the certificate provided by the vet. If you can't find the number in any of your records, the chip number can be obtained by having your pet scanned at a vet hospital. 


Are microchips foolproof?

The effectiveness of microchips lies in accurate information being recorded against the chip, and people who find a lost animal getting the chip details checked. Of course, people may still respond to a notice that the lost pet’s owner has placed in various media, but microchips are one of the simplest and most effective ways of reuniting lost pets with their owners.


Where do I update my pet’s microchip details?

Once you have the microchip number, record it somewhere for future reference, and then visit  This will tell you which registry maintains the records for the microchip.  Once you have the registry’s details, you can visit it online and update your contact information.   Chips remain listed with a particular registry permanently and cannot be moved to another one.    


There are a number of registries that will allow you to update your details online such as:

Australasian Animal Registry

Central Animal Records 
Petsafe Register
Global Micro Animal Registry


Often, we don’t think about our pet going missing until it happens, and it does… even with indoor pets. They can run away from a sitter, escape while you’re entertaining, or bolt during fireworks or a thunderstorm. Thousands of pets go missing every year, and sadly, many owners never find them. Minimise the risk of becoming one of them, by microchipping your pet and keeping your details up to date.


Don’t forget also, that microchipping of dogs and cats is now compulsory in South Australia. If you have any questions about microchipping, want to get your pet chipped, or you need to obtain your pet’s microchip number, please get in touch.