Proper Microchip Scanning

How to use a microchip scanner

In a recent laboratory study of the leading microchip scanners, it was demonstrated that proper scanning techniques improved the sensitivity and performance of the devices.1

Learning to use a microchip scanner properly takes a little bit of patience and practice. Here are 5 things to remember when scanning for a microchip:

  1. Scan slowly – A fast pass over the animal may miss the microchip. Proper scanning should take 10 to 20 seconds depending on the size of the animal.
  2. Scan directionally – Start by working across the animal's shoulders "east and west," making multiple passes, back and forth. Then work "north and south" from the pet's head to its tail, again making several slow passes.
  3. Scan sides and below – Sometimes, but not often, microchips may migrate to other areas of the body. Click here to see why HomeAgain microchips don't migrate >
  4. Change arm angle – Sometimes the way you hold the microchip scanner affects whether the microchip registers on the scanner. Turn your arm 90 degrees and scan the same areas again.
  5. Change operator – Have a second person scan if a chip was not found the first time. Studies have shown that a different operator may find a chip missed on the first attempt.

For additional information on proper microchipping and scanning companion animals, this free, hour-long online course is offered by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) through an educational grant from HomeAgain: AAHA Microchipping and Scanning of Companion Animals Online Course

1. Lord LK. The Microchip World: Recent Advances and Options for Shelters and Veterinarians. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Dept. of Veterinary Preventive Medicine; 2009. Available at: Accessed January 5, 2010.

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