More than 10 million pets are lost or stolen every year, 90% of which end up in the shelter. Some continue to roam the streets, homeless, while some end up euthanized because the owners either have no way of finding them or, sadly, didn’t even make the effort of looking for them.
Pet owners need to be responsible and prepared enough in case this scenario happens, especially during the summer months when traveling and spending time outdoors are frequent activities. Living in the 21st century, almost everybody is using location tracking apps and identification systems. Most of us are now familiar with the uses of GPS navigation, and we have it built in our smartphones. The same method is applicable to dog tracking and accounts for over 38% of the return-to-owner rate of lost or stolen dogs. On the other hand, pet microchipping is also very crucial that over 75 countries around the world have made it mandatory.
You are now probably asking which technology is the best for tracking your pet: the chip or the tracker? Note that each works differently and has its own sets of pros and cons. In this article, we’ll walk you through these differences to help you out.
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The Chip or the Tracker: Choosing the Best Technology for Tracking Your Pet
Dog tracking chips are tiny integrated circuits that are embedded under the skin of the animal. It uses passive radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, unlike GPS trackers. Pet microchips contain all information about the animal, such as the unique ID of the chip, your dog’s breed, description, vaccination schedule, the owner’s information, and the vet’s contact details.
- Permanent and cheap. Microchipping is a quick, easy, and relatively inexpensive one-time procedure. The device is a small, electronic chip enclosed in a glass cylinder about the size of a grain of rice that is inserted under your pet’s skin. It will never fall off or come out unless surgically removed.
- Resistant to the elements. You never have to worry about your pet’s microchip malfunctioning if he gets wet in the rain or if he rolls around in the mud. Since it is inserted under the skin, it’s naturally protected from the elements.
- No batteries required. Because a radio-frequency identification (RFID) implant doesn’t require a power source like a battery, you don’t have to worry about keeping it charged or replacing it. It will last the lifetime of your pet!
- Only read by a special scanner. This means that a lost dog implanted with a microchip can only be reunited with its owner if brought to a shelter or to the proper authorities with the specific scanner. You have no means of knowing where your pet is. You will have to wait for a good Samaritan to call and inform you of its location.
- Useless if not registered. You must register your pet’s microchip to connect its ID number to your information. Too often, lost animals are taken to shelters, scanned for microchips, and the ID number leads nowhere because the microchip was never registered.
- Non-uniform devices. There are various types of chips and readers out there. Worse, veterinarians and some shelters often have only one type.
GPS trackers, on the other hand, are larger devices, almost the same size as a matchbox. It uses the global positioning system (GPS) to transmit location information, just like how the car’s GPS system works. The tracker gives out the dog’s exact location through SMS or email alerts.
- Exact location in real time. If you’re in an area with 3G coverage, the tracker should be able to relay your pet’s precise location. Whether or not this happens in real time depends on how spotty internet coverage is. Unlike Bluetooth-only trackers that have a range of 50 feet, a GPS tracker lets you track your pet’s movements anywhere in the country, with continual address and location updates on a GPS map.
- More than just your pet’s location. Several GPS pet trackers can monitor your pet’s fitness and even some health factors. For example, PetPace Smart Collar analyzes your dog’s vitals and activity signs, from resting to running, plus pulse and respiration. FitBark 2, on the other hand, monitors the quality of sleep, distance traveled, calories burned, and more.
- Geofence features. You can even prevent losing your dog using the device through geofences. This function allows pet owners to set virtual fences on the map, and they will be alerted once their dog enters or exits the specified area.
- May fall off. The GPS tracker is either affixed to your dog’s existing collar or is the collar itself. If not fastened securely around the dog’s neck, the device may fall off. If the dog is stolen, it can also be removed by the thief.
- Battery powered. If the device runs out of battery, you won’t be able to track your dog anymore.
- Expensive. Most pet GPS trackers require a service plan that incurs monthly or annual fees. Very few trackers include only the upfront cost of the device.
GPS trackers, so far, are undoubtedly designed for dogs. If the worst should happen, the microchip can act as a safe backup. On the other hand, your cat will not appreciate having to drag around a collar, so microchip your cat and skip the GPS tracker.
Hope we helped!
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