Chip in for Safety: A Guide to Dog Microchipping

How often do you check your dog’s microchip data? Did I just hear a gasp? Maybe you just adopted a dog and you’re wondering how on earth to transfer the microchip information to you. Perhaps you’re wondering how much of a hit microchipping your dog will be to your budget and if it’s really worth it. These are all great questions and worthy of exploring. So, today, let’s dig into how dog microchipping saves costs and your dog. 

learn how dog microchipping saves on your dog expenses like this dog parents did for him
disclaimer note
Budget tip:

The simple act of microchipping your dog ties him or her to you. It’s your one of your backup systems in case you’re separated. You can register your dog’s chip for free and often find free microchip clinics. As long as the information on your database site is updated, it can mean the difference between reuniting and regretting or mourning. A microchip for your dog is easy and generally free. In other words, it's definitely budget-friendly. There’s no downside. It’s a major win-win!

Do you know what your dog expenses are currently? While it’s not difficult to create a dog budget, it’s critical for your dog. You can even figure out if you can afford a new dog. I walk you through the process in this article. 

What are the benefits of microchipping your dog?

The idea behind microchipping a dog or pet is that if your pet should become separated from you, he or she can be reunited more easily with you. Many times dogs and cats will run from loud noises like fireworks, fire, hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning, or even chasing prey. Even collars can become lost or broken during the escape. The problem then becomes how to get an unmarked, lost pet, or dog home. 

One option is if someone finds your dog or pet, takes them to a shelter or vet’s office, and scans your furry friend for a microchip. Assuming your dog or pet is chipped and the information is up-to-date, then there can be a happy reunion.

NOTE: May is Chip Your Pet Month. So, it’s a great month to update or chip your dog.

According to a study by the American Veterinary Medical Association, a microchipped pet has a much higher percentage of being reunited with their owners than a non-chipped pet. 

Basically, think of a pet or dog microchip as a backup plan. Yep, another proactive measure. 

How do I know if my rescue dog has a microchip?

The shelter or organization where you adopt your dog from should provide that information, including the chip number. However, don’t always take what you’re told as gold. When you take your dog in for his or her first vet visit within the next day or two, make sure your vet scan’s your dog. 

NOTE: I was told my dog, Henry was not microchipped when I adopted him. However, the next day I took him in for his first vet appointment. I was happy to discover that Henry was chipped! The veterinary clinic provided me with his chip number. This is the vital piece of information for transferring chip information. I’ll go into this part below. 

Are you struggling to find a good vet for your dog? There are tricks to getting the right match. In this article, I share some great tips that most pet parents never think about yet are critical. 

Does microchipping hurt my dog?

No, the insertion of the chip is generally no more painful than a vaccine or a blood test. 

Overwhelmed with the cost of vaccines for your dog? There are low-cost dog vet vaccine options available. I discuss them in this article. 

Are there any side effects to microchipping my dog?

Sometimes the chip isn’t detected, like with Henry. Other times the chip may migrate to a different location. But a trained practitioner will most likely still be able to find it. 

Additionally, I need to inform you that chips do use a low frequency of microwaves. However, there’s no strong evidence that this minimal frequency causes negative effects in dogs or cats. Although, there are studies that this low frequency has produced tumors in lab rats and mice during a cancer study. Other tumors in dogs and cats haven’t shown a strong correlation between the low-frequency microwaves and chips. Thus, it appears to be very safe for your pet. Honestly, I’m not concerned about Henry. 

Who can microchip my dog at a low cost?

Of course, you can always take your dog to your vet to have him or her microchipped. That price will vary depending on where you live. 

However, if you’re on a tight budget or want to save a bit on your dog’s budget, you can find great board-certified veterinarians to administer a microchip for your dog or cat.

These locations will include:

  • Petco (usually $25-60)
  • VIP Pet Care ($30 with free lifetime registration into a database)
  • Low-cost vet clinics (check with your local shelter or Humane Society for one near you)

For instance, a local county where I live offers free pet microchipping with free registration into the HomeAgain national database. Your county may offer something similar.

Will pet insurance cover dog microchipping? 

Most likely yes. It should be fully covered. But there could be a co-pay. You’ll need to check with your pet insurance. 

What do I need to know about getting my dog microchipped?

The most important part will be to get the chip number. You will need this number to register your dog, which is the critical part. This is also the number you will need to transfer the chip if you’ve recently adopted your dog or pet.

Are you searching for a dog to adopt? Find out how you can adopt a foster dog. Henry was a foster dog. In this article, I walk you through the process of adopting a foster dog. 

Are there different types of pet microchips?

Yes. There was an issue with different types of chips being used until recently. Not all chips were created equal. So, one chip could be read by certain a microchip scanner. But not another pet microchip by the same scanner. Insanity, right? However, now, there are universal pet scanners, which allow different microchips to be easily read with one scanner. Thus, the title “universal” scanner. 

However, when a chip isn’t detected and a universal scanner is used, generally it is an operator issue. This is what seemed to happen with Henry.

Honestly, if a shelter says your dog doesn’t have a microchip, ask your vet for a second opinion before microchipping.

Do I need to do anything after getting my dog microchipped? 

Yes. You will need to register your dog with a database company. 

What do I look for in a database registration company?

There are a few key items to look for in a database company. These include:

  • AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) marked or endorsed registry – you’ll see an icon or symbol with AAHA displayed on the website
  • Ease of updating information
  • Inclusion of backup contact info (think if your phone dies or you’re out of range)
  • Pet health conditions
  • Privacy information is clearly stated
  • Easy to use, absolutely a necessity especially when you’re in panic mode
  • Inclusion of your vet info in case your pet is injured 
  • Free! Bells and whistles are nice, but you don’t really need them. 

How much does it cost to register my dog’s microchip with a database company?

Many database registration companies offer a free version. They may also offer paid or premium versions. But honestly, they aren’t necessary. All you need is to register your pet or dog’s microchip number and information (listed above) in the national registry in case you are separated. That option should be free.

The upgraded options may include pet insurance, search alerts, online vet help, a collar tag, and discounts. While these might be nice options they aren’t needed. Especially if your budget is tight. 

What database companies participate in the AAHA registry with free options? 

Here’s a short list of companies using AAHA with free options or versions: 


Avid ID 







Do you want to get a dog with your partner, but you’re not sure if it’s a good idea? In this article, I guide you through all the tricks you need to know to make a well-informed decision.

Are microchips required by law?

This actually depends on where you live. Some areas are requiring pets to be microchipped. For example, Houston just recently enacted a law requiring all cats and dogs to be microchipped or their pet parents could be fined between $100-500. YIKES!!! If you have more than one dog or cat, that could add up quickly. 

Thus, definitely check with your local shelter to make sure what’s required in your area. You should be able to do this online. 

How do I avoid registration scams?

There are a few tricks to avoid a free registration scam:

1. Make sure the company has a physical address

2. Look for a phone number to call

3. Search the Better Business Bureau for any complaints

4. Review their privacy policy. Do they have one? Keep looking.

5. Do they have an AAHA icon or certificate? Even those companies in Canada often have AAHA icons.

6. Not sure? Ask your vet if the company is legit. 

How do I transfer my rescue dog’s information to me?

I admit this seemed overwhelming with Henry. Let me put it simply – this is easy. It just seems scary.

The key part is to have the microchip number. Additionally, if you can identify the company that your dog was registered, all the better. But if not it will be fine. Simply go to:

You will want to look on both sites for your dog’s microchip number. If the number doesn’t come up, then it has been abandoned or is no longer active. If the chip is registered, the company will need to contact the listed owner to make sure that the pet isn’t missing. 

Once that’s been accomplished the transfer will be complete and you can register your adopted dog with any registry you select. 

I told you, that was easy, wasn’t it? The anxiety of doing it though can be a lot.

Do you know the top 15 red flags to look for that will tell you it’s time to get a new vet? In this article, I walk you through each of them. 

What information is required to register my dog’s microchip? 

Keep in mind that the information you provide is meant to reunite you with your dog if you should be separated. However, different database companies will ask for different information.

Most, but not all, pet database companies will ask for the following information when registering your pet’s microchip number:

  • Your name
  • Your dog’s name
  • Approximate age of your dog
  • Breed 
  • Coloring
  • Veterinary clinic information
  • Physical appearance
  • Unique markings
  • Current photos
  • Spay/neutered status
  • Special medical needs
  • Your contact info (email, phone, etc.)
  • 1-4 backup emergency contacts

Not all free database registries will ask for all this information. I always think that the more information you have on your dog or pet when he/she is lost the better. 

One free database that allows you to store all this information is FreePetChipRegistry. 

Does your dog have a license? Do you know a dog license can save your dog? You might be surprised about this one. In this article, you learn about how to save on dog costs and protect your dog. 

Will my privacy be compromised if I chip and register my dog? 

There are supposed to be safeguards in place to protect your privacy, while still allowing you to reunite with your dog. I encourage you to read the privacy information before signing up with any database company. Additionally, if the company doesn’t have a privacy page for you to review, then it’s not the company for you.

If my dog is microchipped, does my dog also need a collar with an ID tag? 

Yes! One doesn’t replace the other. A microchip is a backup in case your dog slips out of his or her collar and attached ID tag. 

Is a microchip a GPS for my dog?

No. Microchips don’t have that capability. GPS systems are attached to your dog. While microchips are injected like a vaccine. 

Is a microchip for my dog foolproof?

Unfortunately, nothing in life is foolproof. There can be operational issues with the scanner. Or the person running the scanner isn’t trained well. I suspect the latter is what happened with Henry’s rescue saying he wasn’t chipped. 

Most importantly, if the data supplied to the registry isn’t up-to-date, then a reunion is much more difficult. Or almost impossible. 

How often should I look at my dog’s registry information?

I recommend it at least once a year. Mark it down on your calendar and do it on your dog’s birthday. Or check it on National Check The Chip Day, which is August 15th every year. Yep, there’s a day to remind all pet owners to look at their pet’s chip info. 

However, if you move, change your phone number, split from your partner, or an emergency contact moves, then jump on that microchip registry and make the necessary changes. This could even be adding an allergy condition. For Henry, I just hopped on to his databases to add his recently discovered severe allergy to Benadryl.

You can read about the shocking surprise of how Benadryl could work for years and then go sideways within minutes in this article. 

Can I transfer my dog’s microchip information from one company to another? 

No. I recently discovered that database companies frown upon this suggestion. In fact, they simply won’t allow it. 

However, you can have your dog registered with multiple companies.

What’s the benefit of registering with multiple companies? 

Perhaps there’s none. But for me, I like to think that the more places I have Henry placed in case of disaster, the better. 

In other words, if your dog goes missing you can call upon more people and resources. It’s kind of the difference between lighting just one candle in the dark and turning on the sun. That’s probably an overstatement, but that’s really my goal with registering Henry with different companies. 

For instance, I currently have Henry registered with three database companies. They each provide something a bit different. But they all are AAHA companies. I know you’re curious about which companies I went with for Henry. First, they are all free. Here are my choices for Henry:

  • 24PetWatch (the most basic)
  • FindPet (lots of photos)
  • FreePetChipRegistry (lots of additional dog identifying and health information)
Henry is protected with a collar, ID and a chip. He and I both know that dog microchipping saves lives on expenses. It's a winner!
Henry watches a pair of hummingbirds and is safe with his collar, ID tag, and pet microchip (which is updated regularly).

Is there anything else I should know about registering my dog’s microchip?

No. Just make sure you register with an AAHA database company and check it at least yearly.

Can I register other pets besides my dog? 

Some databases allow for a multitude of pets to be registered. Others only include dogs and cats. You’ll be able to easily see what’s provided when you pop on the site you’re considering. 

How do I save on my costs when I microchip my dog?

I admit, this is the fun and eye-opening part. When you simply microchip your dog and keep the information up-to-date, you may find savings in your future dog costs. Consider the following:

Dog microchip FreeFREE – $30
Price of registering a pet microchipFREE
Looking for a lost dog (fliers, gas, calls, reward)$100-1000
Expense of claiming impounded dog*FREE-$10,000+
Vet bill if your dog is hit or injured while lost$200+
Possibly losing your dog forever **IMMEASURABLE
Your dog possibly being euthanized ***IMMEASURABLE
Anxiety incurred while your dog is lostIMMEASURABLE

Then also consider that when a dog goes missing he/she only has a 20% chance of returning home.** However, the chances go up dramatically when a dog is microchipped, registered and the information is up-to-date. 

Additionally, if your dog should escape from you and causes damage to someone’s property or a person, then you may have a very steep bill. You may even need to hire an attorney, which can get very price. If you go to court or get sued then the expense can go up and up. *

Moreover, if your dog is picked up by animal control without proper rabies vaccines and a dog license, then you will most likely face fines. Of course, the fines will vary depending on your area.*

Finally, if you own a dog breed that is considered “high” risk and he/she escapes and ends up at a kill shelter, the results could be disastrous. Your dog could have a short stay before he/she could be legally euthanized. ***

None of this is a risk I would be willing to gamble with when it comes to my dog, Henry, or furry friend. 

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Summary dog microchipping saves money

I know microchipping can be confusing at first. I know I had anxiety about transferring Henry’s microchip information. But really it’s easy. The bottom line is to make sure your dog is chipped, registered in an AAHA database, and the information is up-to-date. 

It can be easy to overlook the updating part, but when you associate it with your dog’s birthday, it’s an easy task.

In conclusion, the cost saving you can realize for your future dog costs are truly imaginable. I will never put Henry in the position of being lost without multiple backup systems to be reunited. That means a dog collar, ID tag, and updated microchip. I cover as many bases as possible just in case. You just never know when a bunny will cross a pup’s path and he’ll need to go down that hole.

this cute husky parents learned how dog microchipping saves on their dog costs

Is your dog microchipped? When was the last time you checked your dog’s chip info? Did you know it can save on your dog’s costs? 

About Terri Rodefer

Terri Rodefer is the founder of Tail Wag Wisdom, a blog focused on affordable pet care. She likes to say helping pet parents afford and love their animals even more, makes her tail wag. As a lifelong lover of all animals with a background in economics, biology, and marketing, allows Terri to bring a unique spin to pet care. 

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