Can You Feel A Microchip In A Dog? And 8 Other Questions About Microchipping Your Dog

Few things are more frightening for a pet owner than the thought that our dogs could be lost and never returned to us. While a collar with an ID tag listing your contact information can be helpful, this will not help if your dog is not wearing its collar at the time or manages to slip out of it somehow. Inserting a microchip will ensure that your information will always be with your pet and can be read by any rescue, shelter, or animal control officer. 

However, you may have questions about the safety and specifics of this method. We have answered 9 common questions about microchips to help you better understand how this technology works.

Can you feel a microchip in a dog?

Typically, you will not feel the microchip in your dog. If it is inserted correctly, the microchip will be nestled in the space between your pup’s shoulder blades. This positioning is intended to keep it in place since your dog is unable to dig at it or remove it in this location.

What is a microchip?

A microchip is tiny piece of technology that stores and transmits information to a scanner using radio frequency. Each microchip has an identification number that you are able to register to a database so that your information comes up if your pet is scanned. It is easily inserted using a large needle and can be done during a routine office visit to the veterinarian.

Since the chip is the size of a small grain of rice, it will not usually be easily detected with your fingers. In some cases, however, the microchip can build up enough scar tissue around it to create a lump that can be felt externally. This typically happens when it is not placed correctly, or when the microchip shifts naturally in the skin. 

This is not something to be worried about, as your dog is unlikely to feel it. Additionally, this benign lump means that not only can you feel a microchip in a dog, but others likely will too, increasing the likelihood that they will scan in the right location if your pup ever gets lost.

Can you deactivate a dog microchip?

While the answer to this question is technically yes, the reality is that deactivating a chip can be a difficult and potentially painful process for your pet. 

How do you deactivate a chip?

When considering the best procedure for deactivation, it is important to consider your ultimate goal in doing so. If you are simply looking to remove your information in connection with the chip, this can easily be done through the registration database. If you follow through with this digital deactivation, your name and contact information will no longer connect with your pet’s identification number when scanned. On the other hand, if you do not want the microchip to be able to be scanned at all, you would need it surgically removed.

Can I deactivate the microchip at home?

If you are interested in disconnecting your pet’s identification number from your contact information in the registry, this can be achieved by a phone call or navigating to their website online. You will need to do this by contacting the company with which your dog is registered. If you are not sure which one you are signed up with, the Pet Microchip Lookup will indicate the company attached to your pup’s identification number. You can contact them and request to have your contact information removed or changed. 

Can a microchip be removed from a dog?

As noted above, a microchip can be removed from your dog’s back, but it requires a surgical procedure by a veterinarian. Any surgery is a risky process, and this is especially true for removing a microchip. 

Since they are intended to be permanent and are often embedded in layers of skin tissue or have shifted location, your pet would need x-rays prior to surgery to ensure the positioning for the chip. The surgery will still be largely exploratory, so your pup would also need to undergo anesthesia to remove it. Be sure to speak with your vet if this is something that you feel is important for your pet. 

How much does it cost to remove a microchip from a dog?

If your veterinarian is willing to perform the surgery to remove the chip, it can be a very expensive procedure. Before the surgery even begins, you will need to pay for preoperative blood work and x-rays to ensure your pet is healthy enough for surgery and to narrow the location of the microchip. 

During the surgery, you will be charged for anesthesia, a person to monitor the dog while sedated, the veterinarian to perform the surgery, and any follow up care or medications needed. The costs can be very prohibitive, especially when combined with the risk of subjecting your pet to an elective surgery.

Can you remove a microchip from a dog and replace it with a new microchip?

While it is possible to remove a microchip in order to place a new one, this is not the recommended approach. If you need to replace your dog’s microchip because you are moving to a different country and need a different kind, or the other is no longer detected, you would instead insert a second microchip. While you may be concerned about the frequencies of the chips interacting with one another or canceling each other out, this does not actually happen. Both chips will remain active and detectable.

It is important to note that there are different scanners for the various frequencies of the chips. Some scanners only read one frequency, while universal scanners can read all of the different types of microchips. Additionally, when reading a dog with two microchips, only one will be read at a time and the scanner will need to reset and pass again to identify the other one. Therefore, you will want to ensure that both chips are registered with your contact information, as most people scanning for the microchips will not think to look for two separate ones. 

Is it legal to remove a microchip From a dog?

As your dog’s owner, you are allowed to request removal of your pup’s microchip. In order to prevent theft and resale of animals, it is illegal for anyone who does not own the pet to have a chip taken out. As noted above, however, many veterinarians will decline to do so unless the chip is impacting your dog’s health.

My dog has a microchip from the previous owner. What should I do?

The very first step when acquiring an adopted or rescued dog with a microchip is to request the serial code identification connected to it. The easiest way to transfer the pet to you in the registry is to work in tandem with the previous owner. Typically, they will need to permit transfer of ownership in the database to reflect your name and contact information. If this is done through a direct adoption with an owner looking to rehome willingly, this process should go smoothly.

However, it can be difficult in some cases to obtain the microchip identification from the previous owner. This may happen at a shelter where the information is not easily identified, or if the previous owner is dragging their feet in helping you. 

If you are struggling to obtain the necessary information, you can enlist the vet or shelter to scan the microchip and point you in the direction of the correct company. Once you reach out to them, you can seek help in contacting the previous owner in order to finalize the connection of your contact information with your dog’s microchip serial identification number.

How do you scan a dog for a microchip?

As mentioned previously, a microchip scanner is used to read your pet’s serial identification number. While the microchip does not contain a battery, it does operate using radio frequency. A scanner emitting a specific frequency matching the design of the chip will activate it and transmit the identification information to the scanner. This number can then be entered into a database to track down the company and eventually the owner of the dog.

Since there are different kinds of chips that are activated at varying frequencies, a specific scanner used at a shelter or rescue may not always be able to detect a chip. For example, an ISO standard microchip is intended to be read by a forward-reading scanner, but not by a backward-reading one. The same is true in reverse for non-ISO microchips. 

A universal scanner will allow any chip to be read because it operates as a forward- and backward-reading machine. A crucial part of finding and identifying the chip is not only having a scanner of matching frequency, but also a skilled individual who can locate the chip. A lack of either of these can lead to a delayed or missed identification.

Is there an app to scan a dog for a microchip on Android or iOS?

The quick answer is no, you cannot use an app to scan your dog or any other potentially lost pets that you come across. Cell phones alone are not able to emit the proper radio frequency in order to read the microchip. 

However, you can purchase a separate scanner that will connect to an app in order to read a chip and obtain the identification information. If you live in an area with a high concentration of pets this could be a useful tool to have at your disposal in the event you come across a wandering pup.

In order to use the scanner, be sure to purchase the one that is compatible with the operating system of your phone. First, download the corresponding app on your phone and set it up. If you buy the bluetooth scanner you will want to ensure that it is paired with your phone; the cable scanner will plug right into the port on your device. When the scanner is prepared and ready to work, move it over the dog’s shoulders and back where the microchip is most likely to be found.

 If a chip is located, the app will display the information on your app screen. You will be able to read the serial identification and any personal information that the pet owner has entered. There may be a picture of the pet to verify and the app will indicate if the pet has been reported lost by its owner.

If you purchase a scanner for home use, be sure to register your own pet through the database established by the company. This allows anyone who scans your dog’s microchip to be able to immediately access your information and contact you. You can go into the app and mark your pet as lost if he gets out and you are unable to find him. 

If it makes you uncomfortable for others to have access to your personal information in that way, though, you can choose not to attach all of your information to your pet’s chip. Anyone using the reader will still be able to find the microchip serial identification number and use it in the typical pet lookup databases to hopefully reunite you with your pet.