If you have a dog with a microchip, it is important to know how to scan that chip. This article will cover the basics of scanning with your phone (including why it’s not really possible) and what you should do if your pet gets lost. Read on for more information!
So… how do you scan a dog microchip with your phone?
How to scan a dog microchip with a phone
First, before we get into the “hows,” it’s SUPER IMPORTANT to note that, at this time, there is NO foolproof way to scan your dog’s microchip with JUST a phone. I’ll explain more about that in a moment. The steps below assume that you have a scanning device that can transmit data to your phone. We’ll also go over some basic steps on getting your chip set up in the first place so that you CAN scan it and have the correct information show up.
Scanning a dog’s microchip with a smartphone is a great way to quickly and easily identify your pet. In order to do this, you will need a few items: a smartphone, a microchip scanner app, and of course a microchip implant.
- Get the chip number and registration information from your dog’s vaccination records. This has important data that you will need in case of an emergency, such as:
- Owner contact information and address
- Pet name
- Type of animal (dog)
- Breed group (i.e., terrier)
- Any other relevant info like medical conditions or medications your pet needs regularly
- Make sure your phone has a scanning app AND a scanning device. As of 8/2023, most of the free microchip scanner apps have vanished from the App Store, and the few that remain have less-than-stellar reviews. That said, if you stick with the free ones and you’re just using it as a backup (or out of curiosity), then even those cruddy ones are better than nothing.
- Next, you’ll need to locate the microchip implant. Microchips are typically implanted just beneath the skin above or between your dog’s shoulder blades.
- When you have located the implant, use the scanner to carefully scan the microchip. The scanner will then interpret the information from the chip and display it on your phone.
- Finally, you should check the information to make sure it is correct. This will help ensure that your dog’s microchip is properly registered and that anyone who finds your lost dog knows who to contact in case of an emergency. If the information is incorrect, you can contact the manufacturer of the microchip to have it updated.
If you have a microchip implant in your dog, there’s a good chance that someone who finds your pet can scan the chip with their smartphone. Contact local shelters to let them know about your missing pup, and make sure they’re aware that Fido is “chipped.” Include the chip number, breed, and color of your pet.
If you find a lost dog, you can try using your smartphone and scanning app to identify the owner. However, these apps aren’t always the most reliable ways to scan a microchip, especially if the owner hasn’t registered their pup through the app’s service. So, it’s always best to take found dogs to your local shelter. They will scan the microchip using a professional scanner and contact the owner listed on the chip register. This is often the quickest way to reunite a lost pet with their family!
Limitation on microchip scanning apps
As Scott Taylor pointed out in the comments, there are some MAJOR limitations to using a microchip scanning app. I’m going to share his words here because he does an excellent job of explaining the issue in plain terms without being condescending. He writes, “…an off-the-shelf SmartPhone (iPhone or Android) cannot read a pet microchip without an external pet microchip scanner. The reason is that the RFID frequencies (125kHz, 128kHz, 134.2 kHz) used for a pet microchip are much lower than the RFID frequency (13.56 MHz) used for NFC devices (like a credit card), so the antenna needed is larger than the SmartPhone itself. Most modern SmartPhones have the much smaller antenna needed to work with high RFID frequencies, but not the very low frequencies used for pet microchips. (The linked app gets low reviews because it also glosses over that fact.)”
So, the bottom line (and disappointing fact) is that while you CAN scan a microchip with a smartphone, you CANNOT do it with JUST your phone and the microchip. There’s absolutely no way around this at all at this time. Who knows what the future of pet tech holds, though, right?
What is a dog microchip for and what does it do?
A microchip is a device the size of a grain of rice that has information stored on it about your pet. The implant process is fairly quick and painless. In fact, it can often be implanted at the same time as your dog’s routine vaccinations.
The purpose of a dog microchip is to provide a permanent form of identification for your pup. It contains a unique identification number that is linked to a database with your contact information (provided you finished the registration process). If your pup ever gets lost or stolen, shelters or vets can scan the microchip to retrieve your contact information.
Last, but not least, a microchip provides peace of mind for you. If your pup ever goes missing, you can rest assured that there’s a way for them to be identified and returned to you. In this day and age, it’s a must-have for any pup parent who wants to keep their best friend safe. These devices are used all over the world to help reunite lost pets with their families.
Tracking Your Dog – What Other Options Do You Have?
Microchipping your dog is a great way to ensure that he’s easily identified should someone locate him and take him to a shelter. However, it won’t do much good if he’s lost in the woods with no one around for miles. It also does no good if he’s too afraid of strangers (or too much like Leonardo Dicaprio’s “Catch Me if You Can” character!) to allow anyone to catch him.
Fortunately, there are many ways to track your dog, including GPS dog tracking devices, like the SpotOn Dog Collar and Virtual Fence system. Speaking of SpotOn, I just want to mention a bit of great news. As of 3/10/23, the price of the SpotOn GPS Fence dropped from $1500 to $1295. Even better news, I have an amazing SpotOn coupon for you! Save $100 by using the code BARK.
Another option is to go with a Fi Nano Chip. Yes, it’s still a microchip, but it’s significantly cheaper AND more reliable than the old-school chips.
Of course, if you want to go “old school,” you can also just attach a tag with contact information on it so someone who finds them will know where to return them.