White fluffy dog being scanned for microchip

How to Change Your Shelter Dog’s Microchip Contact Info

If you have recently adopted a dog from a shelter or rescue group, you should check to see if he has been microchipped. Next, you will want to make sure that you get the contact information for your dog changed to your own.

This is really important in the event your dog becomes lost or stolen even if your dog has identification and license information on his collar. Collars can come off or get lost, but microchips stay embedded in your dog and offer a permanent form of identification.

But if you have never updated a microchip before you may have no idea how to do this. I know that I did not have a clue about how to change my dogs’ chip information when I adopted them. But I learned that there is an online resource to help you determine which of the several companies your dog may be registered with. Then it is a matter of calling the company, paying a small fee, demonstrating evidence of adoption, and entering your contact information. The process takes about 60 days to complete since the prior owner needs to be contacted to confirm the transfer of ownership. Read on to learn more about how to do this.

First, Find the Registration Company for Your Dog’s Microchip

When you adopt a dog from a shelter, they should provide you with paperwork that includes a microchip number. If for some reason they do not have that information or you adopted a dog from the street or a friend, you can still find the number. Just take your dog to a local vet and ask them to scan your dog to get the number.

Once you have the number, you will need to find out which company your dog is registered with. Sometimes the chip number clearly identifies which company the chip is from, but not in all cases. If so, you can all companies (approximately 10 in the United States) until you find the right one.

This is important since only that company will have the prior owner’s contact information. They will need to contact the prior owner to get permission to transfer ownership contact information. You can go to AAHA.org to look up your dog’s chip number and find the applicable manufacturer and registration company for your dog’s chip. This website will also give you the registery’s phone number.

Complete the Registration Paperwork and Pay the Fee

Once you have found the company where your dog is registered, call them or go to their website to start the transfer process. They will ask you some questions and you can enter your contact info. Most companies request a small fee to do the transfer.

The process takes 60 days so the company has time to review the prior owner’s information. In the meantime, they will include your name and contact information with your dog’s record, so you can be protected immediately in the event your dog becomes lost.

When I adopted my two rescue dogs from someone who was affiliated with the local humane society, she did not have any paperwork other than some vet records that included the microchip number for both dogs. I never received any adoption paperwork, nor did I pay an adoption fee. They were rescued and adopted out as pups and then returned five years later to the same person who originally rescued them and their Mom. The microchip was implanted when they were returned at five years old.

So, I explained all of this to the microchip registration company, AVID, in the event there were any complications. They told me not to worry, and that my name and contact info would go into the record immediately. I think the fee was only $19.95 per dog for the transfer.

What is Microchipping and How Does it Work?

image of microcchip for dog identification
Closeup of tiny microchips

A microchip is a minute chip encased in a tiny glass tube containing a unique identifying number that is inserted under your dog’s skin. The number of the chip is transmitted using radio wave frequencies which can be read with a scanner. This does not require special equipment, batteries, or electricity to be transmitted, and it does not impact your dog in any way.

After insertion, the number of the chip needs to be registered with one of several national registries which will record your name and contact information. See this post at Peventivevet.com for a complete list of national registries. Some of the registries charge a small fee and offer different services. Some nonprofit organizations will register your dog for free.

It is best to give them your street address, work, and home phone numbers–landline and mobile if applicable, and personal and work email addresses. The more information you give them, the faster you can be contacted if your dog becomes lost.

According to the American Kennel Association, one out of three dogs becomes lost during their lifetime. So, this is a great step to take to help keep your dog safe. Dog tags on collars with contact information are great as well, but they are less permanent than a microchip which will stay with your dog permanently.

Who Can Implant the Microchip?

Husky getting a microchip at the vet
Husky getting a microchip inserted at the vet.

Microchips can be implanted by any veterinarian. It is a simple procedure and only takes a few minutes. Additionally, some large pet supply companies offer this service with onsite veterinarian staff.

Where is it Embedded?

The chip is usually inserted under the skin between the shoulder blades. Your dog will never even notice that it is there.

Does it Hurt Your Dog?

The insertion of the chip does not usually hurt and the dog does not usually need anesthesia. It is similar to getting a blood draw or a vaccination. The needle is slightly larger than a vaccination needle with an open tube and plunger to insert the chip which is the size of a small grain of rice. See this article at VCAanimalhospitals for a more detailed description of the process.

Is a Microchip Permanent?

Yes, the microchip is permanent and will stay with your dog for life. It is possible that the chip could migrate, therefore it is recommended that the entire dog be scanned to find the chip and its unique number. All vets and most shelters have universal scanners which can read chips from various manufacturers. They also have access to the list of national registries and can make contact to determine who the registered owner is.

Make Sure You Change Your Contact Info if You Move

Once you have changed your dog’s contact information to your own, make sure you keep it up to date. Not only do dogs frequently get lost, but, sadly, according to GRID news dog theft is on the rise. Apparently, thieves make a lot of money stealing popular breeds and re-selling them online. This is a good reason not to buy dogs online unless it is a well known, trusted service such as Petfinder.com!

And, dogs being dogs, they will often run off if they get a chance. Some dogs just really like to run and explore. Many years ago, I had Beagles who loved to run off. They had a high hunting instinct and felt it was their duty to chase jack rabbits. And they were so fast!

My dogs were very creative. Somehow they managed to find any loose board in the fence where they could push their way out. Despite the fact that I had a huge yard, the grass was always greener somewhere else. One time these two medium sized dogs managed to scale a 4 foot gate and ran off for several hours. Thankfully, they never got more than a few blocks. My kind neighbors found my number on their tags and called me. This was before mirochipping became available.

Final Thoughts

In today’s world, it is more important than ever to protect your dog from getting lost or stolen. So, transfer that microchip contact info as soon as possible. If your dog becomes lost, this will greatly improve your changes of finding him. Microchips are pretty tough to remove due to their minute size. Therefore, you may even be able to find your dog in the event of dog theft.

If your dog has never been microchipped, take him to a vet and get it done. It is not that expensive and it does not hurt your dog. Just know that a microchip does not work like a GPS locater. However, anyone including a shelter who finds your dog can easily scan the chip and contact you. Be sure to also see my post, Everything You Need to Know About Adopting a Rescue Dog for more information about bringing home a new dog from the shelter.