Sensitivity of commercial scanners to microchips of various frequencies implanted in dogs and cats

J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2008 Dec 1;233(11):1729-35. doi: 10.2460/javma.233.11.1729.


Objective: To evaluate the sensitivity of 4 commercially available microchip scanners used to detect or read encrypted and unencrypted 125-, 128-, and 134.2-kHz microchips under field conditions following implantation in dogs and cats at 6 animal shelters.

Design: Cross-sectional study. Animals-3,949 dogs and cats at 6 animal shelters.

Procedures: Each shelter was asked to enroll 657 to 660 animals and to implant microchips in 438 to 440 animals (each shelter used a different microchip brand). Animals were then scanned with 3 or 4 commercial scanners to determine whether microchips could be detected. Scanner sensitivity was calculated as the percentage of animals with a microchip in which the microchip was detected.

Results: None of the scanners examined had 100% sensitivity for any of the microchip brands. In addition, there were clear differences among scanners in regard to sensitivity. The 3 universal scanners capable of reading or detecting 128- and 134.2-kHz microchips all had sensitivities > or = 94.8% for microchips of these frequencies. Three of the 4 scanners had sensitivities > or = 88.2% for 125-kHz microchips, but sensitivity of one of the universal scanners for microchips of this frequency was lower (66.4% to 75.0%).

Conclusions and clinical relevance: Results indicated that some currently available universal scanners have high sensitivity to microchips of the frequencies commonly used in the United States, although none of the scanners had 100% sensitivity. To maximize microchip detection, proper scanning technique should be used and animals should be scanned more than once. Microchipping should remain a component of a more comprehensive pet identification program.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Identification Systems / instrumentation*
  • Animal Identification Systems / standards*
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Male
  • Prostheses and Implants / standards
  • Prostheses and Implants / veterinary*
  • Radio Waves*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Software