GPS Chips for Dogs: Do They Exist and Alternatives?

Filed in Dog Products by on May 31, 2020

Gps Chips for Dogs

Has your dog ever got lost outside your home?

Wouldn’t you want to increase the chances of your dog being found in such a scenario?

It’s very anxiety producing when you do not know where your dog is.

Many people search online for the term “GPS chips for dogs.”

However, technically this technology doesn’t exist since chips (aka microchips) work off radio frequency, and not GPS.

In this blog post, I will go through everything you need to know and what alternatives exist to help find your dog.

A Quick Look at GPS Chips for Dogs

You can probably understand my disappointment when I found out that a GPS implant that tracks your dog is a myth!

A GPS tracking implant would be the perfect solution for dogs who love running away from home.

Although this technology doesn’t exist as of today, we do have the following solutions: 

  • Implanted chips (aka microchips) 
  • GPS trackers  

Let’s take a quick look at what they have to offer.

How Do Implanted Dog Chips Work?

Vet scanning dog microchipA microchip is placed under your dog’s skin, normally around the shoulder blade, to help identify your dog if ever lost.

The chip is enclosed in an 11-14 mm plastic or glass cylinder and implanted in your dog. It weighs around 0.025 grams.

By using RFID or Radio-frequency Identification technology, the small electronic chip contains a unique identification number that is 9, 10 or 15 digits. It does not contain any other personal information.

Microchips work when your lost pet is found by a good samaritan and brought to the vet who has a scanner to read the ID. If all goes well, the vet will be able to access your contact details and call you. 

In order for the chip to work, it must be registered with an online registry.

There isn’t one universal registry, but you can register your chip with multiple registries including ones not from the manufacturer.

However, the vet or shelter will need to know to check these registries and not just the chip maker’s registry.

There are a number of databases that are recommended such as:

  • HomeAgain National Pet Recovery Database
  • AKC Companion Animal Recovery
  • Found Animals
  • AVID
  • PetKey

A microchip can help you find your lost dog only if: 

  • Someone has a scanner to read the information embedded in the chip 
  • If your contact information on the chip is up to date 

Their use is extremely limited. 

In some countries, the law requires you to get your pet microchipped.

How Do Global Positioning System Trackers Differ From These?

GPS trackers track the live location of your dog and are attached to your dog’s collar. 

The trackers use GPS technology–similar to what your cellphone uses and needs to stay connected to a GSM network. Some of these trackers also have cool features like activity tracking, sleep tracking, behavior tracking, etc. 

You can also use geo-fencing to specify a Safe Zone–if your dog leaves this area, you’ll be notified right away. 

The great thing about these devices is that you know where your dog (or the device) is in real-time. This saves you a lot of time and panic in situations where Fido has become lost. 

The main problem with GPS trackers is that they’re large in size which means that they have to be attached to your dog’s collar. If your dog runs away without the device on him, or it falls off, then you won’t be able to track his location.

How Does My Canine Get Implanted With It?

Vet implanting dog microchipThe vet uses a needle to place the tiny chip underneath the layer of your dog’s skin—usually near the shoulder blade.

Normally, implantation does not even require an anesthetic, plus the chip has a sterile applicator.

The process isn’t long or very painful–it only takes as much time as a regular shot would. While the process of implantation takes only a few seconds, you do have to spend a bit of time on completing the paperwork. 

Any trained expert can implant the microchip. However, we recommend you go to a vet to avoid complications. 

Once you get your dog microchipped, you also need to attach a tag to his collar so that people know that he’s microchipped. 

How Much Does It Cost To Microchip my Canine?

Microchipping your dog costs about $50.

You should only need to implant a chip once over the life of your dog since the chip does not break down.

If you have adopted your dog, there is a good chance that your dog is already microchipped.

Pros and Cons of Microchips for Canines

The words Pros and Cons on top of a seesaw drawn in chalkLet’s take a quick look at some of the pros of getting your dog microchipped:

  • Permanent: The implanted chip is placed inside of your dog, which means that it can’t fall off unless surgically removed.
  • No batteries: As the chip uses RFID technology, it will never run out of battery unlike GPS trackers. It’ll keep doing its job for years to come!
  • Resistant: You don’t have to worry about the damage done by rain, trauma, etc. since the chip is implanted under the skin.
  • Peace of mind: These chips increase the chances that your dog will be found if lost. In fact, the return to owner rate is 2.5 times higher for dogs with microchips than without.

Now for the cons:

  • Lack of universal scanner: Some systems are incapable of reading the microchip.
  • Dog must be found: Your dog needs to be found in order for the chip to be read.
  • Complications: I’ve read there is a slight possibility that the chips can cause inflammation, but check with your vet.

The Bottom Line

While GPS chips for dogs don’t technically exist, implanted chips and GPS trackers provide a similar function.

You can even use both at the same time for the best outcome.

Keep in mind, a dog collar and tag work just as well, as long as they remain intact.

Have questions? Leave them in the comments, and we’ll get back to you soon!

Comments (12)

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  1. Angelina says:

    This is very informative information, but I do would like to add to your bottom line statement.
    It is correct that an implanted chip and a GPS tracker in runaway dogs would be enough but there are countries where there are a lot of dog and cat nappings that happen and the first thing they do is take off the collar with the GPS trackers on it.

    Because of that reason, there needs to be a solution where you can implant a GPS just like you do a chip so any dog that has been stolen from their home can be traced back to where they are. It also would help the police to finally stop these criminals from kidnapping dogs and cats and with it hurting many owners.

    Maybe there should be some kind of way to find out if there isn’t a company that could combine those two technologies and brings a product on the market.

  2. Sofie says:

    It seems utterly ridiculous why a gps tracking chip can not be designed as small as a regular chip and work as well as our smart phones work to track our every single move. . We have the technology accessible to produce something the size of a SIM card combined with an application to navigate the device. There’s no excuse

    • Todd says:

      Yeah I agree. With technology nowadays, I don’t see why someone can’t figure this out.

      • Arvin Steinbeck says:

        Microchip GPS size of a grain of rice or two, could be powered actually by coaxial movement like watches or even powered by bioelectricity of the cat/dog. This technology has been available by the Intelligence agencies of the world for over two decades now, so its only a matter of time before this type of product becomes available within the consumer public sector markets.

    • Becky says:

      Not sure if you guys understand how a GPS tracker works it requires the use of a battery to send a signal and if you implanted a tracker underneath the skin of your dog how would you change or charge the battery when it died.

  3. Dave says:

    So it’s really not that eat to make a small gps device that goes under the skin. It has to be sophisticated enough to pick up signals from multiple satellites at the same time that are in ever changing orbits (so it needs to be updated periodically as well), record the time that signal was received, and then at a minimum transmit that data to a service/device that can take the lapse in time from signal generation by the satellite to signal reception by the gps unit to determine what it is located (again, must be receiving multiple signals). Transmitting that data to another device (because asking this small device to do the math and triangulating your location would only make it larger) requires some sort of connection, often a cellular network (which is not available everywhere a dog could get lost). I know it seems like it should be easy at first given our cell phones do it all the time, but it’s actually a pretty impressive task that piggybacks on the things our phones already do. Regarding “giving it time” I think you’re at least a decade away from accomplishing this task without some significant breakthroughs.

  4. Carida Ortiz says:

    Whoever figures this out will become an instant billionaire!!

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