As animals can’t communicate, it is important to get a permanent way to identify them. Although marked collars are a good way of supplying a means of identification, it is not foolproof. Collars can be removed, break off, or get lost. The best way of supplying permanent identification is to place a collar in combination with a commercial pet microchip.
Dog & cat microchipping
Dog and cat microchips are placed under the skin of your pet and it is virtually impossible to remove them. More than one microchip can be placed. The process carries no medical risk and can be done within seconds at your family veterinary consultation rooms. No anaesthesia is needed and in most cases, sedation is also unnecessary.
The chip is about the size of a grain of rice and is placed between the shoulder blades of the animal. Although the microchip is marketed for pet dogs and cats, it can be used in most pet animals, including rabbits, horses, birds and larger reptiles.
Bird microchipping is often done to identify breeding birds. The chip is placed under the skin on one of the wings of the bird. Bird microchip placing is a bit more tricky compared to larger dogs and cats and will need a little more time.
About the microchips
Each microchip is manufactured with a unique 10- or 15-digit serial code. At the time of implantation, this code is connected to the owner’s credentials, which are stored on a protected national database. Registered owners, veterinarians and animal charity organisations (such as the SPCA) have access to these databases.
When an animal gets lost or needs to be identified, a microchip reader can be used to identify the serial number. This can be used, by contacting the appropriate database, to find the owners of the animal.
Apart from being used as a way of finding the owners of lost animals, permanent pet identification is also necessary for pet health insurance, breeding programs, KUSA registration, pet animal emigration, court cases and many more.
There are many commercial pet microchips available in South Africa. In our opinion, the better quality ones comes with higher price tags. It is also important to note what microchip scanners can read the chip you decide to use. Some microchip suppliers also maintain international databases which can be accessed for speedy retrievals.
In South Africa, there are currently two main commercial pet microchips endorsed by veterinarians and international travel companies, namely Virbac Back Home and IdentiPet. Vet Hospital Port Shepstone uses the Virbac Back Home microchips.