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Does your Pet need Microchipping and a GPS Tracker?

Pets are as close as family, sometimes even closer. As pet owners know, owning a furry friend can bring joy and excitement into your life, but the reality is, caring for your beloved animal will cause worry and concern. Small things, such as leaving a door or garden gate open, can have significant consequences.

Photo by Snapwire

Microchipping is the most popular way of protecting your pet. It is now UK law that all dogs are microchipped, and if you don't, you could be £500 out of pocket. But what else can you do to protect your pet? Are GPS trackers necessary? This article will discuss the benefits of microchipping and GPS trackers and whether the latter is worth the investment.

Microchipping

How does it work?

A tiny microchip smaller than a grain of rice is simply implanted under the animal's skin. The pain is similar to that of a vaccination shot. The chip uses RFID technology, which uses radio waves to send information. When the microchip is scanned, it transmits the microchip's unique ID number. The number can then be matched to the owner and their contact information contained within a database.

Positives

  1. Affordable
    Microchipping your pet is a relatively affordable procedure which takes almost no time to complete.
  2. Permanent
    Microchips cannot be separated from the pet, as the chip is embedded underneath the skin. Collars can be taken off, and the information on the name tags could fade over time.
  3. Lasts a lifetime
    The microchip never needs to be replaced, repaired or charged. They usually last over twenty years, so once inserted, you don't have to worry about it.
  4. Medical history
    As well as containing your contact information, some chips can also hold your pet's medical history. This could be helpful if your lost pet is taking medication or has allergies, as the vet will be able to see this and treat them accordingly.
  5. Definitive proof of ownership
    As well as increasing the chances of your lost pet being returned, the microchip and the information on it is proof of ownership. This is of particular help if your pet was stolen and there's a dispute over ownership.

Negatives

  1. Migration
    The microchips can sometimes travel under the skin. This means that they can be challenging to locate with the scanner. Sometimes, if the chip has moved too far, then it cannot be recognised.
  2. Out of date information
    You have to remember to update your contact information on the chip. It's easy to forget to do this, and if your contact information is out of date, the whole process is ineffective.
  3. Not all scanners scan all microchips
    There are many different microchip manufacturers, and some of them require a specialised scanner. If the pet is taken to a vet that doesn't have the needed scanner then there's no way of locating the owner. There is a universal scanner, but the vet may not own it, and it is not compatible with the technology used in older microchips.
  4. Luck
    Essentially, if you've lost your microchipped pet, you're relying on someone finding them, knowing they're microchipped, and then bringing them to the vet to be scanned. It's uncertain if you will ever be reunited with your furry friend.
  5. Health concerns
    There is always a chance that when something foreign enters the body, it will reject it, which can cause various health problems. There are many reports and articles concerning this, so it's definitely worth doing independent research.
Photo by Humphrey Muleba 

GPS Trackers for Pets

How do they work?

Unlike microchipping, GPS trackers are not implanted underneath the skin. Instead, they are usually attached to collars. The tracker works by locating itself using satellites. It then communicates that information to the pet owner, often by a mobile app.

Positives

  1. Real-time location
    The tracker will be able to detect your pet's exact location and sometimes provide you with directions on how to get there. If your adventurous dog runs off in the park, you'll be able to locate where he is immediately.
  2. Easy to attach
    The trackers are usually small and lightweight enough to attach to your pet's collar. Many trackers come with a collar attachment, and some even have specialised collars that you can purchase along with the tracker.
  3. Extra features
    Some trackers can do more than track your pet, they can provide you with health and fitness information too! Think of it as a Fitbit for pets; you're able to monitor their pulse, respiration, quality of sleep, calories burned and more.
  4. You can act immediately
    Having a GPS tracker means that you do not have to be reliant on strangers and vets when you're pet is missing. You can take matters into your own hands and personally locate your lost friend.
  5. Set up zones and alerts
    You can receive alerts direct your phone when your pet leaves a specific area. These virtual boundaries are called geofences.

Negatives

  1. You need a collar
    The main way to attach the GPS trackers is using a collar, which is not a  problem if you have a dog, but with cats, this may be a little more tricky. Also, some trackers can be cumbersome and irritate your pet.
  2. Can be removed
    The tracker could easily be removed, which may happen if your pet is stolen. It could also fall off and get lost. Or you may purposely remove it, but forget to put it back on.
  3. Battery powered
    The tracker will need charging, which will involve taking it off your pet. What happens if your beloved animal goes missing while the tracker is charging? Or if it runs out of battery while your pet is missing? The battery life of trackers varies, some last a few weeks, other months.
  4. Expensive
    GPS trackers can be a pricey investment, especially if it comes with additional features. And since it uses a mobile network, you will often also have to pay for monthly/annual subscription fees, which can add up.
  5. Poor signal
    As the trackers rely on mobile networks, if there is no or inadequate network coverage, then you may be unable to get location details. This is likely in rural or and remote areas.
Photo by Eric Ward 

Conclusion

It's clear to see that microchipping and GPS Trackers are not really comparable when it comes to your pet's safety. They have very different purposes; microchips are primarily used to identify your pet after they are found by someone else, whereas a GPS tracker is designed to locate your pet as quickly as possible.

If you can, having both is an ideal situation. Incorporating microchipping and a GPS tracker will definitely increase your chances of finding your lost pet.

If you've decided that having a GPS tracker may be of benefit to you and your pet, check out the Lightbug Zero, our small GPS Tracker for pets, with amazing battery life. We don't have a specialised collar attachment just yet, so it is best suited for larger dogs at the moment (since it can be clipped on to their collar) but we're working on it!

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About Efia Davis