Microchipping your dog is not mandatory but something you should consider if you want to improve the chances of finding your dog if he ever gets lost. According to the American Humane Association, more than 10 million pets are lost each year, and only
about 17% of lost dogs ever find their
owners. Some say that dog ID tags on collars are sufficient enough but I can also tell you that those tags can fall off or become damaged if the dog manages to get it snagged on a shrub or tree branch or get is stuck between rocks.
Microchipping you dog is a safe and effective way to permanently identify your dog. The process involves implanting a microchip between the dog's shoulder blades under the skin (in the scruff of the neck) with a needle and special syringe. The microchip is about the size of a grain of rice. It very rarely causes any bleeding or serious complications and can be implanted within minutes. Most dogs do not seem bothered when the chip is being implanted and feel little to no pain.
The microchip is housed in a glass capsule that is made to be compatible with living tissue so no adverse reactions will occur after the implant. It can sometimes move from the original implant spot which is not a problem, but the newer microchips are designed to prevent this from happening or at least reduce the amount of migration. The microchip only contains a unique alphanumeric code that is permanently stored on the chip so it does not need batteries and this allows it to last for the life of a dog and be very small in size. The microchip does not need to be ever recharged or replaced.
To get the chip implanted it can cost anywhere between $25 and $80 depending on where you go. Humane societies and shelters usually charge less than veterinarians. The chip itself costs around $10 (this fee is included in the implanting of the microchip) and you also have to pay a one-time registration fee (usually around $20) to organizations like the CKC or AKC that will keep your information and the microchip data in their database. Your total cost will be the cost for the implanting of the microchip plus the one-time registration fee - $70 on average.
The American and Canadian Kennel Club support microchipping and offer programs for registering microchipped dogs and providing a database of all microchipped dogs that is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Here are some links from the AKC and CKC that cover microchipping of dogs that are registered with those clubs: AKC CAR and CANADACHIP Recovery.
Once you lose your dog, he will be able to be reunited with you since most shelters have scanners that use radio waves to read the microchip and retrieve the data (a unique alphanumeric code) stored on them. If your dog has a microchip, the shelter will be able to get your information from the database and call you to let you know that your dog is with them. If your dog did not have a microchip or a tag, he would have to be found a new home or even euthanized in some cases.
The more ways of identification you provide to the person or shelter that finds your dog, the better the chances that your dog will be returned to you safe and sound. Never let your dog roam free and make sure that someone knows where your dog is at all times. Dogs are known to be good diggers and leaving one in the backyard unattended can lead to him digging a hole below your fence and running onto the street which is very dangerous. Keep your records updated when you change your address and phone number so that the microchip database will also contain the new contact information.