Animal identification and microchipping

The American Animal Hospital Association’s position regarding animal identification and microchipping.

Animals with identification are more likely to be reunited with owners than those without identification.

The American Animal Hospital Association recommends the permanent identification of dogs and cats using microchips that conform to the International Standards Organization (ISO) standard of technology.

Microchip devices/radio frequency identification devices (RFID)

To maximize the potential of microchip technology in identifying and reuniting pets with owners, AAHA recommends the following:

  • Implantation and initial registration of microchips only be carried out by veterinarians or under the supervision of a veterinarian
  • Veterinarians use the World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s standardized implantation sites
  • Details of all microchipped animals are maintained in a central database(s) that can be accessed 24/7 by a single, well-publicized phone and internet portal

AAHA urges veterinary professionals, animal shelters, and humane societies to use microchips that are scannable, traceable, and backed by accessible and reliable microchip registries. A registry’s participation with the AAHA Pet Microchip Lookup tool helps to increase the traceability of the microchips they produce.

Additionally, AAHA strongly encourages pet owners to:

  • Confirm the accessibility and reliability of the registry that is associated with a microchip prior to consenting to implantation
  • Keep all contact information associated with their pet’s microchip up to date so that they can be contacted if their lost pet is found
  • Have their pet scanned annually to ensure proper function and location of the chip
  • Use collar identification tags with current owner contact information on all dogs and cats

Pet owners should be aware that there are different frequencies of microchips in the marketplace and not all scanners are 100% effective in detecting all microchips. Microchips are therefore not fail-safe. In the case of a lost pet, AAHA recommends that all lost-animal search strategies be considered (including, but not limited to, searching for your pet, hanging lost-pet ads, posting lost-pet ads online, including on social media, and checking animal shelters daily).

AAHA recognizes the unique advantages that microchips provide. However, there are issues that currently compromise the effective use of this technology. AAHA urges the microchip industry to address these concerns and to work toward a global system of animal identification that maximizes successful animal recovery by:

  • Adopting only ISO standards for microchips and scanners
  • Providing veterinarians, humane societies, and shelters with a true universal scanner capable of identifying all microchips
  • Providing supporting databases with 24/7 accessibility and response
  • Maintaining databases with accurate, secure (in the event of bankruptcy or natural disaster), and up-to-date information that allows for ease of registration and contact information updating
  • Providing traceback capability, ensuring a specific microchip number can be traced from its source of production to the animal who received it
  • Creating an international integrated database that facilitates the identification of every microchipped pet
  • Promoting proper use of the technology by providing detailed instructions regarding correct scanning methods and implantation technique, including use of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s standardized implantation sites

Veterinarians practicing in Canada are advised to use microchip products that have been successfully reviewed by the National Companion Animal Coalition (NCAC) and appear on the NCAC list of recognized products.

Find recognized RFID products.

Adopted by the American Animal Hospital Association Board of Directors October 1993. Revised November 1994, October 2000 and October 2009. Last revised November 2015.