Dog and cat hanging out

Microchipping

For Dogs & Cats

Why is microchipping important?

One in three pets will become lost at some point in their lives, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). One of the best ways to help ensure that you and your dog or cat will be reunited if they get lost is to make sure your they have a microchip.

A Vet checking out a happy dog.

How to get your pet microchipped

First, make an appointment with Petco’s veterinary services. They’ll scan your pet and, if they find a microchip, they’ll give you your pet’s ID number and the name of microchip registry. It will then be up to you to call the registry and provide updated contact information.

If your dog or cat doesn’t have a microchip, our vets can perform the procedure. A microchip is implanted using a needle. The microchip is so small that implantation does not require surgery or even anesthesia. Your Petco vet will provide you with paperwork containing your pet’s ID number and registry information and then you can register your pet.

A Vet checking out a happy dog.

Lower the risk of losing a pet

The best way to reunite with your pet is to prevent them from getting lost in the first place. Collars, ID tags and microchips can be very useful if this should happen. You can also help lower your risk of your pet going missing in the first place with secure pet doors, electronic dog fences and behavioral training for your dog. At Petco, we are here to help you keep your pet safe and sound. Keep reading to learn more about why it’s important to microchip your pet or find out more about pet behavior training. Petco Love Lost was created to help missing pets be reunited with their pet parents. Upload your pet's photo to their database and explore their site for additional resources.

Frequently Asked Questions

This microchip is a tiny responder (about the size of a grain of rice) that is implanted beneath your pet’s skin between their shoulder blades. The transponder contains a unique identification number that belongs to your dog or cat. The beauty of a microchip is that it doesn’t need batteries and doesn’t use an electric charge. When scanned, it will transmit its ID number to the scanner. The microchip is designed to last for up to 25 years, so you shouldn’t need to replace it.
One of your most important jobs as a pet parent is to register your dog or cat’s microchip ID number so you can be contacted if your lost pet is found.

Let’s say your pet goes exploring without your permission. Maybe their collar gets snagged and comes off, so they no longer have their ID. Your pet then gets picked up and dropped off at a shelter or local vet's office, where they're scanned for a microchip. The scan reveals your pet's identification number and its associated registry. The vet or shelter contacts the registry, who reaches out to you to tell you where to find your pet.
That’s why it is so crucial that you register your pet’s microchip. The chip itself only transmits an ID number. It’s up to you and your vet’s office to connect that ID number to your personal information so the registry can reach you if your pet gets lost.

The answer is a resounding yes, as long as your pet’s ID number is registered. In fact, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA), microchipped dogs are twice as likely to return home to their pet parents than pups without microchips. And microchipped cats are 20 times more likely to be reunited with their family than their unmicrochipped counterparts.
Unfortunately, nearly 40% of cats and dogs with microchips aren’t registered. In fact, incorrect or missing pet parent information in the microchip registry is the main reason lost pets don't make it home.

Several different registries offer pet microchips, and each registry keeps its own database. Most registries charge a small upfront cost for a lifetime membership.
Some shelters will microchip all the pets they place and include the registration cost in the pet’s adoption fee. In those cases, the paperwork you'll receive as part of your adoption should include the information on your pet’s microchip, including the microchip ID number and the microchip’s registry.
The day you bring home your new dog or cat is an exciting one, but don't get so caught up in the fun that you forget to update their microchip. You can either call the registry to submit your information or create an account on the registry’s website. It only takes a few minutes to help ensure your pet makes it back home if they ever get lost. If your pet isn't microchipped before they become yours, it will be up to you to take care of that important procedure.
Fortunately, although different microchips transmit their information on different radio frequencies, most shelters, vet offices and animal control offices possess scanners that can read any type of microchip. And Petco’s veterinary services are here to help you get registered or get microchipped.

Yes. Collars can get loose and come off when a pet gets lost, especially if they wear a breakaway collar. Additionally, the engraving on ID tags can wear down over time, making it difficult for anyone to read them. Microchips and a collar with an ID tag are not mutually exclusive—your pet needs both.

A microchip is not a GPS tracker and will not tell you where to find your pet if they get lost. A GPS microchip would need to be constantly powered, and that would make it hard to maintain.

The microchip is extremely small, about the size of a grain of rice. Some pets may feel a little pain when it's implanted. Anesthesia is not needed, but you can ask your vet to apply a numbing agent. Your pet can go home with you and engage in everyday activities immediately after the procedure. Keep in mind that they may feel temporarily sore at the injection site.

Whenever your contact information changes, be sure to update your pet’s microchip information. Call the microchip registry or sign into your online registry account to update your information. Our vet’s office can help you with this step.

If you think your pet may already have a microchip from a previous pet parent, ask one of our Petco vets to scan for the microchip. The vet can give you the microchip’s ID number and registry information. You’ll then need to contact the registry to change your pet’s contact information.

In many cases, a pet will need to have a microchip to travel to another country. Before traveling with a pet, review your destination country’s rules about microchipping, vaccinations and quarantine periods. Even if a microchip is not required for travel, it is still highly recommended for proper identification and tracking purposes.

Within 24 hours of being microchipped, your pet’s tissue will bond to the chip, which usually prevents it from moving around. In rare cases the chip may migrate under the skin, but it will not fall out.

Pet microchips are made by many different companies and operate on different frequencies. In the past, this was sometimes a problem because some scanners could only detect certain microchip frequencies. However, our vet offices and many shelters and animal control offices now use a universal scanner that can pick up every brand of microchip.

Your pet’s microchip should last throughout their life and not require any maintenance. The only things you need to do are register the microchip and update your account whenever you move or get a new phone number. That is the very best way to help ensure your dog or cat is reunited with you if they ever go missing.
You can learn more about how to care for your pet with Petco’s Animal Care Sheets.