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Should You Microchip Your Pet?

Tech Talker explores a high-tech solution to keep your furry friends safe. Check out the latest in RFID microchips.

By
Eric Escobar,
Episode #167

I was recently at the vet getting my cat a check-up and had a really interesting conversation with the doctor about a trend that has been becoming more and more popular lately: implanting microchips into pets. 

In case you’re not familiar with what I’m talking about, veterinarians and animal breeders will often offer a service to implant a microchip into your pet for the purpose of finding your pet if it ever goes missing. This may sound extremely futuristic and complex, but it’s really not.

Let's discover how RFID can help keep track of your four-legged friend..

What Are RFID Microchips?

First of all, let's review some background info. The microchips that are implanted under the skin of an animal are known as RFID microchips. RFID simply stands for Radio Frequency IDentification. These work off the same technology that is used in ID cards that many buildings use for access. You may even have one of these on your key ring or in your wallet.

What’s pretty incredible about RFID technology is that it doesn’t require a battery to operate. You may be thinking “Wait a minute, how can you transmit a radio frequency without a battery?” Well that’s the magic of RFID. It is a passive type of technology. RFID requires two parts: a RFID tag and an RFID reader.

The reader emits a radio signal that is used to power the RFID tag wirelessly. Once the tag is powered up, it will emit a signal that is then read by the reader. This signal will provide some unique information specific to that card.

That information is what is used to match your missing pet with you, or to allow you into a building. This whole process takes a fraction of a second and it means that RFID tags can be extremely small and portable. Batteries are extremely bulky and often contain a lot of not-so-great chemicals. You don't want them anywhere near your pets!

Will the Microchip Hurt My Pet?

So how small is it exactly? Well the entire antenna, microchip, and full assembly (including the case) is about the size of a grain of rice. It is contained within an extremely strong glass capsule that is implanted just under the skin of your pet. It’s pretty much the same thing as getting a shot, and seems to only provide a momentary discomfort. From everything that I’ve seen, the animals don’t even notice that there is a chip inside them.

This capsule will remain implanted in your pet for their entire life. This is even more amazing, because it’s a one-time procedure that can give you peace of mind. Should your pet ever get lost, the chip will help get them back home.

Now, there’s a popular misconception that I’d like to clear up.....

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