Let’s start with the basics, what is a dog microchip?

A microchip is a tiny capsule made of bioglass with an identification code that uses RFID technology. A microchip reader is used to identify a lost dog. 

Microchipping your dog is a simple procedure done by your veterinarian. The microchip is injected beneath the surface of your pet’s skin between the shoulder blades. 

The microchipping process is similar to a vaccine and takes only a few seconds.

How big is a dog microchip?

According to HomeAgain, the standard microchip is 12mm in size, about the size of a grain of rice, using a 12 gauge needle to insert it into your dog.

AKC Reunite compares their microchip to a penny in the photo below:

penny and microchip showing size comparison

There is a new generation of microchips emerging:

  • The Nano Chip claims to be the smallest microchip, featuring a 1.25 mm microchip, using a 16-gauge needle.
  • The HomeAgain XS™ features a 15-gauge needle and a 1.4mm x 10.3mm microchip.
  • MicrochipID/BuddyID is 1.4 mm x 8 mm, smaller than a grain of rice, delivered through a slim sharp 15-gauge needle.
The original mini microchip
home again microchip

Note: the higher the gauge number, the smaller the needle. A 16-guage needle is .064 inches in diameter. And a 15-guage is .065 inches in diameter.

How does a dog microchip work?

A microchip uses RFID technology, that when scanned by a microchip scanner emits a low radio frequency, reading the microchip’s ID code.

This ID code is unique to your dog, making it their permanent identification. 

Your vet will inject the microchip in to your dog’s shoulder blade. 

Once your dog gets the microchip inserted, you need to register with the manufacturer of the microchip with your contact information. Without registration, the microchip is useless. 

If your dog ever gets lost, anyone with a universal microchip scanner can scan your dog and look up his ID code so they can quickly find their way home.

A microchip is NOT a tracking device or GPS tracker. It will not allow you to find where your dog is. If your dog has a history of running away, consider adding a GPS tracking device to their collar, such as the Jiobit GPS Dog Location Monitor, or the Whistle Go Explore Dog GPS Tracker.

Where can I get my dog microchipped?

Your veterinarian is the best resource to get your dog microchipped. Some places like PetSmart and Petco have veterinarian services in their stores that may be able to microchip your dog. I suggest calling first to ask if they offer microchipping services. 

Your local humane society or shelter may also offer microchipping for a reduced fee. 

Can I microchip my dog myself?

It’s best to find an experienced professional, like your vet, to ensure the microchip is properly inserted into your dog. A microchip can migrate through a dog’s body so it must be inserted correctly. 

I do NOT recommend microchipping your dog yourself. Just because you can buy dog microchips online, doesn’t mean you should. AND not all microchips are created equal, you want to make sure it’s a high-quality device, not a cheap knock-off version. This is not the time or place to save a few dollars.

How much does it cost to get your dog microchipped? 

Getting your dog microchipped will cost between $10 and $50 depending on your location. A very minor cost if you ask me, well worth the comfort knowing whoever finds your dog can find you.

The microchip will last your dog’s entire lifetime. They do not break down or need to be replaced. 

Is microchipping painful for your dog?

Microchipping is a quick injection and may have some pain associated when inserting it into your dog. 

The needle is a bit larger than a vaccine syringe (12-gauge), but it’s quick and as simple as any vaccine injection your dog receives.

Don’t let the thought of pain stop you from microchipping your dog… the one second it takes to inject the microchip could save you and your dog from the pain of being lost.

If you are concerned, ask your vet to use a local anesthetic to help ease the pain of the injection.

What are the side effects of microchipping a dog?

Most veterinarians and microchip manufacturers will tell you there are little to no side effects of microchipping a dog. 

But in my research, I was surprised to learn that studies have found that microchips can cause tumors in mice and rats. Out of all the studies, it seems that 0.8% up to 10.2% percent of mice/rats developed cancer after being inserted with a microchip. 

Source: https://veteriankey.com/microchip-induced-tumors-in-laboratory-rodents-and-dogs/

I was not able to find any dog-specific data, everything leads back to this original microchip study done on the mice and rats. 

Microchip dog side effects to consider are:

  • Cancerous tumors
  • Possibility for a dog to bleed out from wrongful injection
  • Microchips have been known to migrate inside the dog’s body

You need to decide if these side effects are enough reasons not to microchip your dog. Write down the pros and cons of microchipping your dog and make the decision that is best for you and your dog.

Why you should microchip your dog

After reading the possible side effects of inserting a microchip in your dog, let’s weigh out the benefits of the microchip:  

  • A microchip will be your dog’s permanent ID that will last the lifetime of your dog.
  • A microchip will increase the chances your dog will be returned to you when lost.
  • Microchip smart products such as doggy doors and feeding stations.

Dog microchip companies

Below is a list of companies that manufacture microchips for our pets. 

International Microchips:

Dog microchip registration

You must register your dog’s microchip for it to work. Register it with the manufacturer of the microchip and/or with Found Animals, which will allow you to register any brand of microchip for free.

Keeping your pet’s microchip information up-to-date is very important. Anytime you move or change your phone number, take a few minutes to submit your new information. Don’t wait until your dog is lost and you are in a panic.

You can always check your dog’s microchip information by visiting the manufacturer’s website. If you have the ID number but don’t know the brand, you can check the AAHA universal pet microchip lookup website.

What’s Next

About the Author

Debi McKee

Debi McKee is the expert behind Rescue Dogs 101 where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She is a mom of 3 human kids and 4 dogs and volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society. Click here for more about Debi and her passion for helping you and your dog.

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