FAQs for AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool

What is a microchip?​

A microchip is a very small electronic chip encased in a glass cylinder. It’s about the size of a grain of rice. It has no power source, but returns a radio wave when scanned. 

Is it safe and pain-free to insert a microchip into a pet?​

No surgery or anesthesia are required – the needle commonly used to insert the chips is not much bigger than needles used for typical injections. Your pet may experience some discomfort during the procedure, so many times chips are inserted while the animal is already under anesthesia (such as for a spaying or neutering service).​

Can I track my pet’s location with microchips?

No. The microchip is not a GPS device so cannot track your pet’s location.

Do microchips really help unite pet owners and lost pets?

Yes. The AVMA reports that in a study of more than 7,700 stray animals at animal shelters showed that dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 21.9% of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were returned to their owners 52.2% of the time. Cats without microchips were reunited with their owners only 1.8% of the time, whereas microchipped cats went back home 38.5% of the time. (Lord et al, JAVMA, July 15, 2009) For microchipped animals that weren’t returned to their owners, most of the time it was due to incorrect owner information (or no owner information) in the microchip registry database – so don’t forget to register and keep your information updated.​

What information is stored on a microchip?​

Just a 9-, 10- or 15-digit identification number. That number is then registered with one of the many pet registry services, where pet owner contact information is stored and maintained. Pet owners determine what, if any, contact information to provide to the registry. There is NO medical information saved on a microchip. ​

Do I have to register my pet’s microchip?​

Yes, in order for your lost pet to be reunited after scanning its microchip you must have registered the microchip with a participating registry! You can do this at any time. Please see the list of microchipping and pet recovery services on AAHA.org and contact one to register your microchip.

How do I update my pet’s microchip information?​

If you move or if you have adopted a pet which may have already been chipped, your veterinarian can scan your pet and provide the ID number. You can use AAHA’s microchip registry lookup tool to locate which registry contains the pet’s ID and submit change information to that registry. ​

Is there a universal or global standard for microchips?​

Yes, the 15-digit pet microchip is the international standard (see ISO 11784:1996 and ISO 11785:1996). If you travel to or move outside of the United States with your pet, consider having a 15-digit microchip implanted. ​

However, in the U.S., the Animal Welfare Act does not authorize the USDA-APHIS to regulate private pet ownership and concluded that it cannot mandate a national standard for pet microchips or scanners. Therefore, in the U.S., there are multiple microchip companies with multiple scanners, multiple radio frequencies, and multiple registration databases.

Why was this tool created?

Combined with a collar and current name tag, a microchip increases the likelihood of a lost pet being safely reunited with its owner. However, even with a microchip scanner, identifying the correct pet recovery registry to contact can be challenging because microchip manufacturers and pet recovery services use different microchip technology and databases.

To alleviate the guesswork for veterinary hospitals, animal control facilities and shelter staff members, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) created the AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool. The tool is possible through an unprecedented collaboration between the participating microchipping and pet recovery companies. Although the launch of this tool represents a ground-breaking achievement for those working to reunite lost pets with their owners, AAHA acknowledges that the tool is a work in progress and will periodically review its functionality.

How does it work?

AAHA provides an internet-based application that enables veterinarians, humane organizations, pet owners or other persons to search various Pet Recovery Service registries and identify those registries on which a particular microchip is registered. AAHA is not affiliated or involved with any specific microchip registry and has no relationship, financial or otherwise, with this Participating Pet Recovery Service Registry (“Registry”). This Registry has given AAHA permission to search the Registry’s database in order to assist pet owners in being reunited with their pets. AAHA does not maintain a database of microchips of its own. It only links to registries such as this one. The AAHA Universal Microchip Lookup Tool only searches the databases of companies that elect to participate in the program.

The AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool works by checking the databases of the Participating Pet Recovery Service registries to determine which has registration information available for a microchip. Once a microchip identification number is entered into the tool, a list of all the registries with microchip registration information available, along with the registries’ contact information, appears in chronological order with the registry with the most recent update appearing first. If the microchip has not been registered with any Pet Recovery Service Registry, the result returned will default to the microchip’s manufacturer or distributor. While the tool will not return the pet owner information contained in the registries’ databases, it will identify which registries should be contacted when a lost pet is scanned and a microchip is found.

If I am a pet owner and don't see my pet's microchip information, whom should I contact?

Since the tool works by checking the databases of participating pet recovery services to determine which has registration information available for a microchip, pet owners should contact their pet recovery service. The American Animal Hospital Association will be unable to assist pet owners with their microchip registration and/or problems.

Why doesn't the tool show the pet owner's information?

To protect the privacy of pet owners, the tool will display all the registries with microchip registration information available, along with the registries’ contact information. The information will appear in chronological order; the registry with the most recent update appears first. Additionally, the pet recovery services have trained experts, resources and infrastructure to efficiently and effectively contact the owners of lost pet.

Which countries does this tool serve?

Microchip technology and regulations can vary by countries. The AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool was created to primarily serve chips distributed in the United States.

Can I link this tool to my site?

The tool has been unanimously endorsed by the Coalition for Reuniting Pets and Families. Members of the coalition include: AAHA, American Humane Association (AHA), American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), American Society of Veterinary Medical Association Executives (ASVMAE), AVMA, Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), National Federation of Humane Societies (NFHS), and the Society of Animal Welfare Administrators (SAWA).

PetMicrochipLookup Logo

AAHA and the Coalition for Reuniting Pets and Families encourage all veterinary practices, shelters and animal control facilities to bookmark or link to www.petmicrochiplookup.org, and use it every time a lost pet is scanned. To download the tool’s logo to accompany a web link, please right-click the image to the right and select “save picture as”. Or download the full Pet Microchip Lookup logo pack here.

PLEASE NOTE: If you are a Participating Pet Recovery Service Registry, please refer to your Letter of Agreement for proper use of the Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool logo.

Contact Us

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) acknowledges that this tool is a work in progress. AAHA encourages veterinary hospitals, animal control facilities and shelter staff members to leave their feedback regarding how we can improve this tool’s functionality. Your ideas and suggestions can be sent to [email protected]. Note that AAHA is unable to provide support to pet owners with their pet’s microchip registration and/or issues. Please contact the pet recovery service for assistance.

Where do I register my pet’s microchip?​