All About Microchips for Dogs

by Sundays

While you can’t guarantee that your pet will never get lost, you can take plenty of precautions to minimize the chances.

You hate to imagine ever losing your pet, but it can happen. Even the most diligent pet parents have had scares where they can’t find their pet for a few minutes or even hours. There’s always the possibility that a pet sitter, child, repair person, house guest, or someone else might leave a gate or a door open, and your pup could run out.

While you can’t guarantee that your pet will never get lost, you can take plenty of precautions to minimize the chances. One way is to get your dog microchipped. If you’ve never done this before, you probably have some questions about microchips for dogs and how they work.  

What is a microchip for dogs?

A microchip is a tiny chip that holds data unique to a specific pet. It uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology that responds to microchip scanner frequencies. 

The tiny chip is about the size of a grain of rice and surrounded by sterile glass. It comes pre-packaged inside a hypodermic needle sealed in plastic. Your vet will use the needle to inject the microchip into the skin at the back of your dog’s neck.

Every shelter and veterinary office has a microchip scanner to check a lost pet for a microchip. When the chip is scanned, the scanner shows the pet’s chip number. The vet or shelter can use the number to find out which microchip registry has the pet parent’s contact information. 

Are microchips safe for dogs?

Microchips for dogs have been around since the 1980s, and they are considered to be very safe. It’s a pretty simple and quick procedure for your vet to place the microchip. Your pup won’t even need anesthetic. They may have a little swelling around the area because of the injection, but this is the only commonly reported side effect.

How much does it cost to get a dog microchipped?

The cost of a dog microchip depends on where you go. No matter what, you want a veterinary professional to do this procedure. 

There is usually a cost for the procedure, and then a cost for registering the microchip. Usually the procedure can be $15-30, and then around $20 to register it. If you get it done at your vet’s office, they may register it for you, and in that case, the cost to register will be included in what you pay. 

Ask your vet if they register the chip or if you need to go online to register and pay the microchip registry service directly. HomeAgain is one of the major companies that provides this service, and you do not have to pay for any ongoing or yearly service after you pay the registration fee.

Where can I get my dog microchipped for free? 

There are several options for getting your dog microchipped for free or at a low cost–you just have to do a little extra work to find them. Some animal shelters microchip every animal they place, so double-check that your pet wasn’t already microchipped if you adopted them recently. 

There are also events at pet stores and clinics where they will do free or low-cost microchipping. You’ll just have to reserve a spot. Your local humane society and animal shelters will also offer cheaper rates for microchipping a dog. Also look for community clinics that have different pricing tiers based on proof of residency and proof of getting some form of public assistance.

Are there GPS microchips for dogs?

The simple answer to this is no, the technology does not support GPS tracking in dog microchips. You can get a GPS tracker for your dog, but it’s a device that is worn on their collar. This is because you would have to change a GPS tracker’s batteries, and it’s too large to be implanted in a pet. 

It’s not a bad idea to get your dog a GPS tracking collar as well as having them microchipped. In fact, you should also have an ID tag on their collar or harness. This is because a microchip is only scanned if your pet is found and brought to a vet or shelter. GPS trackers can help you track down your pet, and an ID tag with your contact info means that anyone who finds your pup can call you directly. 

Dog Microchip Tips

Here are some helpful tips when it comes to microchipping dogs:

Register the chip. This is the most important thing you need to remember to do after you get your dog microchipped. If your vet does it for you, great! But if not, you need to do that ASAP. A microchip is only as good as the contact info you add to it. 

Keep your contact info updated. If you move or get a different phone number, go onto the microchip registry’s site to change your contact info right away. 


Don’t ditch the ID tags. Pet microchips aren’t replacements for an ID tag with your contact info on it. They serve different purposes, and combined, increase the odds of you being reunited with your pup if they get lost. If you add a GPS tracker collar, you’ll have a way better chance.

Check out smart pet doors and feeders. Some pet products work with microchips, like pet doors and feeders. This is so helpful when you have multiple pets in your home. Let’s say the dog loves getting into the cat’s food, or you want to be able to let one dog have free access to the backyard, but the other needs supervision. You can get feeders or doors that only unlock for specific microchips, making your life so much easier.

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