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Whether you call it a microchip, RFID tag or PIT tag, there’s no denying how useful these devices can be for finding lost pets. However, they’re only useful if used properly and kept up to date. By taking steps to inform your clients on updating and using these devices, you can make their pets easier to find if they go missing.
If your clients understand what a difference having a microchip can make if their pet is lost, it will be easier to get them on board for the procedure. A 2009 study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association tracked 7,700 shelter animals. When dogs were lost, the return rate was 22% for animals without a chip, increasing to 52% with a chip. Cat returns saw better results, going from 2% to 49% with a microchip. This is despite an average of just 6 out of 10 microchips being registered correctly. With one in three pets being lost sometime during ownership, there’s a high chance that a properly installed and updated chip will be used at least once in a pet’s life.
Microchips vs. Tags
Sure, promoting tags gives your clinic a chance to upsell them, but it’s important for clients to understand how tags and chips can be used together to keep their pet from being lost instead of assuming one is a replacement of the other. This comes into play in two key ways when trying to reunite a pet with its owner:
- As long as they’re still on the animal, a tag can be read by anyone, making it fast and easy to get the pet back to its owner. However, since a microchip is embedded in the animal, it can’t be lost. This greatly increases the chance of a reunion if the animal is missing for more than a couple hours.
- Rabies tags can be used to track animals, but only if the office that issued the tag is open. Microchip databases are accessible 24/7.
Without further information, it’s easy to assume personal information could be leaked by one of these devices. Your clients should know that the chip only broadcasts a serial number and the chip manufacturer, and only when activated using a scanner.
Problems with Chip Frequencies
When they first reached the market, microchips weren’t standardized, leading manufacturers to make chips designed to be read at 125 kHz or 128 kHz. In 1996, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) released a worldwide standard that uses 134.2 kHz. The American market settled on 125 kHz to ensure chips in lost pets could be read by the scanners already in use at shelters and vet clinics, while the rest of the world went with the ISO frequency as they rolled out this technology.
Today, 98% of microchips used in the U.S. are still 125 kHz, while 134.2 kHz is used across Europe and many other countries worldwide. What does that mean for you and your patients?
- Adding a 134.2 kHz chip should be part of preparing a pet for international travel.
- If the animal has two microchips, both need to be updated.
- If you’re looking into buying a new scanner, it should cover both frequencies in case you end up finding a foreign pet.
Getting Your Clients On-Board with Implants and Updates
Here are three ways you can get your clients to have their pets implanted with microchips, and keep their chips up to date:
When a client changes their address, send them a reminder card, noting that they need to get their pets’ chips updated.
August 15 is “Check the Chip Day,” an awareness day sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA,) the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and most major microchip manufacturers. This is a great time to leverage their campaigns to get animals in for chip testing and updates.
Chips should be tested once per year to make sure they’re in place and in working order. Making this part of regular checkups can help your patient’s information up to date.
We Can Help You Build a Partnership With Your Clients
Positive Impressions, LLC can help you build strong relationships with your clients so you can provide their pets with the care they need for long, healthy lives. We offer a wide range of customizable products including appointment reminder cards, birthday cards, sympathy cards and calendars as well as memorial products, goodie bags and prescription labels. To see how we can help you connect with your clients, make sure to check out our latest products and monthly specials.