There are few things worse than the feeling you get when a pet goes missing. Though you can certainly drive around the neighborhood and post up Lost Pet signs, the truth is that those old methods just aren’t that effective. That, perhaps, is it’s such a good idea to think about microchipping your dog. Before you get your dog microchipped, though, you might want to stop and consider the cost.
What Does it Cost? The Quick Answer
The good news is that the basic cost of getting your dog microchipped is probably a lot cheaper than you imagine. The average cost in the United States is about forty-five dollars, though you’re going to pay wildly different rates depending on how registration works and the type of facility at which you get the job done.
The Real Costs of Microchipping a Dog
While you might be satisfied with the quick answer, there’s some extra information that might help you to understand why the costs of microchipping your dog tend to vary so much.
Every dog microchip is unique. These microchips contain your contact information, which is then uploaded onto an online registry that can be searched if your pet goes missing. The microchip is generally a totally dormant device that simply sits under the skin beneath the shoulder blades of your dog, but it can be a life-saving tool when it’s actually needed.
So, why does the cost vary so much?
Well, one of the factors that go into the national average is the fact that many non-profits will microchip your dog for free if he or she is a rescue. There’s also the fact that many vets offer specials. You may even see some variance due to the costs of doing business in different parts of the country.
Perhaps the biggest factor in play is how often vets do this particular task. If you’re a vet that deals with a lot of microchipping, you should generally expect him or her to charge less for the procedure. With that said, though, these high-traffic facilities usually have hidden fees when it comes to registration.
While many organizations advertise that they can chip your pet for twenty-five dollars or less, they’re generally not including the cost of registering the microchip. This is a one-time fee that actually uploads all the contact information to the online database, so it’s an incredibly important part of the procedure.
This is another place where the prices can vary greatly. If you are looking at a vet or clinic that charges separately for the process of uploading your information, you should expect to pay around twenty dollars for a one-time fee. Other vets, however, may roll the price of registration into the microchipping procedure.
A Quick Note on Registration
One very heartbreaking note needs to be made about registration. There are many dog owners who sleep comfortably at night assuming that their pets are safe because the shelter from which they adopted the animals has already been microchipped their pet. The truth, though, is that shelters don’t always update this information and that adopted pets might still be registered to the shelter or even to a previous owner.
It’s vital, then, to make sure that you look up your pet’s microchip when he or she is adopted. You’ll first need to use a microchip lookup tool (available at many vets and shelters) to look up where your pet’s microchip has been registered. From here, you’ll check whichever registries have been identified by the tool to find out where your dog is registered and what kind of information needs to be updated.
Once you can find the registries to which the microchip is registered, you can update your information. It’s usually a good idea to get used to this process, as you’ll need to update your dog’s microchips every time you change addresses or phone numbers so that you can be contacted if your dog runs through your invisible fence or escapes your fenced-in yard.
Is it a Good Idea to Microchip Your Dog?
Now that you know how much it’s going to cost you to get your dog microchipped, you can start thinking about whether or not you should get the procedure done. In truth, this is a procedure with almost no downside, and with who would argue against having it done.
Current data shows that your dog has about a one in three chance of running away at some point in his or her life. Only about one-quarter of those dogs who run off without microchips ever end up being found. Microchipped dogs, on the other hand, have a significantly higher rate of return to their homes—in fact, more than half of all microchipped dogs will be returned back to their owners.
Frankly, this procedure has so many upsides and so few potential problems that it is a good idea for virtually any dog. It is a quick and painless procedure, one that can be done without putting your dog under and with virtually no discomfort. Even if your dog isn’t a runner, this is still the kind of procedure that will almost certainly improve his or her potential quality of life.
About the Microchip
It’s always interesting to learn a little bit more about the microchip itself. The chip is set inside a glass capsule and is only about the same size as a grain of rice, allowing your pet to house the chip without it causing any harm and allowing the metal parts of the chip to function even inside your dog’s body .
The chip itself is actually a low-frequency radio transmitter. The signal it transmits is read by a scanner, which can then be read as your dog’s registration. This is a form of an idea that’s significantly more permanent than your dog’s tags or registry number, and it’s one that your dog can never lose.
You absolutely shouldn’t worry about this implant causing your dog any kind of harm. It’s a one-time process that your dog isn’t going to notice and it can easily be done during other outpatient procedures. It’s going to be about as hard on your dog as getting his or her nails clipped, and getting it done is almost as fast. This is one procedure that’s a good idea even for dogs who are typically stressed out about going to the vet, as it doesn’t require any extra time to get done.
Microchips and GPS Tracking
Perhaps the most enduring myth about a dog’s microchip is that it somehow works as an active tracking device. There’s no website onto which you can go to see your dog running across the country; in fact, you can’t use the chip to see your dog move at all. This type of microchip is an entirely passive transponder, one that has no power source and that can only transmit a signal when it has the assistance of a special scanner.
Simply put, it’s not possible to implant a practical GPS tracker under your dog’s skin. GPS trackers are bigger than you might expect and they always involve the addition of a power source. If your dog’s chip could actually be used to track it, it would require you to be able to pull the chip out of your dog so that you could recharge it every time it loses its charge.
If you’re really worried about tracking your dog, you can look at a dog GPS tracker collar. These collars have the necessary battery pack and transmitter that can allow you to see your dog’s movement. They only run for about a week at a time on a single charge and do require that you have a cell phone plan to monitor the dog’s activity, but they can work in tandem with a microchip to give you an extra layer of protection. To take it one step further, you could opt for a GPS dog fence, which combines the functionality of an invisible dog fence with a GPS tracker. If your dog escapes the boundaries of the fence, you’ll receive an escape notification and automatically start tracking your dog’s location.
The Decision to Microchip is Yours
At the end of the day, microchipping your dog is a personal choice. It’s certainly neither an expensive procedure nor one that will cause your dog discomfort, but it is one that’s going to require you to get your dog’s information registered with a database. Given that these microchips do such an excellent job of returning dogs to their owners, though, it does seem like this is a good fit for the vast majority of dog owners.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to microchip a dog at Petsmart?
This one is obviously going to vary by where you live, but most PetSmarts are going to charge you somewhere between thirty-five and fifty dollars to get your dog microchipped and registered. It should be noted that PetSmart does often have specials, so it’s worth checking out the store’s website before you go in.
Is it worth it to microchip your dog?
Microchipping your dog  is definitely worthwhile. Doing so has been proven to drastically increase your odds of having your pet found if he or she manages to run away. This is an especially useful tool for those who have dogs who are frequent runners, as most shelters and pounds will check for a microchip before they undertake any other kinds of activities.
Is there a monthly fee for microchipping a dog?
There is no monthly fee for microchipping a dog. You will generally pay a one-time fee to get your dog’s microchipped registered, though even this fee might be rolled into the cost of the microchipping procedure.
Is microchipping painful for dogs?
Microchipping is definitely not painful for your dog. It’s absolutely no more invasive than getting a shot, and the location of the microchip injection tends to make it even more bearable for your pet. In fact, microchipping is so painless that dogs who get chipped won’t even have to be put under—it’s about as fast as clipping your dog’s nails and it will probably cause your dog less stress.