Pet Tech 101: GPS vs. Microchips

In addition to various smart devices that help people in their everyday lives, there is a specific group of handy gadgets that we can use for our pets. Technology has advanced so much, that today’s devices are getting smaller and more powerful.

In the case of our beloved pets, these tools can be useful when we deal with a disobedient animal. We shouldn’t neglect the fact that dogs and cats are very active animals; they like open space and freedom. Sometimes they just walk away, without even being aware that they are doing something bad. Maybe your pet played, or it may have rushed for something that attracted its attention. Finally, maybe your four-legged friend just don’t know the environment well enough to be able to come back home.

For owners and pets, wandering can be very traumatic. That’s why technology comes to the rescue. Numerous GPS devices, trackers and various types of microchips are there to help you locate your pet at any time. Every layman may think these gadgets are all the same, but there are differences between these devices, which will be explained below.

GPS Devices for Pets

The history of GPS devices is not too long, but this invention has been applied in many spheres of our lives. As far as pets are concerned, the original purpose of these locators was for the use in military, naval or police services, in tracer and hunting dogs. Over time, as technology developed, manufacturers saw the need to offer these products to both “ordinary” owners and their pets.

The hunters first broke the ice, using GPS locators to track their dogs and secure catch. In the beginning, these devices were large and heavy, so it often happened that the dog lost them. Also, the location apps were not as good as these today; they had a lot of bugs and errors.

Today, there are many different manufacturers with many different types of GPS products available to the dog owners, in a diverse price range. Not to mention how much power supply of these devices is improved. Unlike the period of ten years ago, today’s batteries on these trackers can last for several months.

Except that at any time you can have an insight into the location of your pet, you can use GPS devices to track the movement of your furry buddy even if you know where it is located. In this way, you can follow and check how active it is, which can be very important for keeping your pet’s health.

How does GPS work?

It is logical that the GPS device will be placed on your pet’s collar. If your dog or cat is used to wear it from an early age, using this device will not be a problem, since most of today pets’ GPS collars are quite modernly designed, with a miniature locator.

Locators and trackers work on the GPS signal principle, which simultaneously receives and emits waves of specific frequencies from the device. Tracker collars use a micro-receiver, which can locate your pet within a given radius. This distance depends on the quality of the device, but also on manual settings, but the GPS signal can cover a pretty wide area. The accuracy of the GPS signal can vary a few meters (depending on how many satellites your locator use), but it is negligible in the area of hundreds or thousands square miles.

When the receiver gets the exact location of your pet, the transmitter is responsible for sending this information to the owner. Through any smart device, tablet, phone or computer on which the location application is installed, the pet owners will have an insight into the location of their four-legged friend.

Technology of Microchips

If people could know how many lost pets all around the world were found by using the technology of the microchip, there would be no more prejudice about this device. One of the most prevalent is that the installation of this tiny device in the body of your pet is unpleasant and dangerous to its health. Fortunately, it has been proven that this method is completely painless and harmless for the animal, so neither owner has to worry.

Microchip is the size of a grain of rice, and veterinarians can incorporate them into almost all sorts of pets – from reptiles and birds to cats and dogs. Installation is recommended when your pet reaches certain physical maturity; for example, for dogs, that would be an age of three months, and for kittens, at about eight weeks. Although it’s not a mistake to do this procedure later.

Microchip Is a Pet’s ID

The chip carries the number from the centralized pet’s database, which all veterinary stations should have access to. This information relates to the name of the pet, the owner’s address and the contact details. Without taking a lost animal to the vet, it’s practically impossible to read the data.

It is, in fact, the subcutaneous ID card of your pet. Microchip uses simple technology (when we say simple, we mean something that has been in use for a long time and which is already known). It works on the principle of identifying a chip with a radio frequency.

As the name suggests, this micro-device uses radio waves as a mechanism for data transfer. These are already mentioned information inputted on the chip, which reading is possible only in vet stations. Veterinarians use special instruments with electromagnetic waves for decoding chip data.

How Microchip Differs from GPS

As readers can see, the differences between microchip and GPS devices are not only visual, like those in size and way of use; the technology and purposes of those devices differ too.

A GPS device will be needed for those owners who want to locate their pet when it gets lost or wanders off somewhere. In case that you marked your pet with a microscope, someone needs to find the animal and take it to the nearest vet station. Employees will check the data from the chip, and in this way, contact the owner of the lost animal.

The pets can’t lose their collar just like that; however, anyone can just take it off and destroy the GPS locator. Also, there may be a problem if your pet falls out of range of the GPS signal, or if the battery on the device is empty.

With the microchip, these “technical” problems do not exist, because it does not require a power supply. However, with this device, the problem is different – whether the finder of your pet will be fair and honest enough to take it to the vet and return it to you.

Chipping as a system of compulsory (in most states) marking of pets is not a way which allows a satellite tracking and finding lost or stolen animals. This little device makes it easier to identify the owner of the found pets. In addition, it has numerous benefits to keep accurate records of vaccinations, which are required in many countries. However, with the microchip, you can’t have insight into the location of your lost pet in real time.

Which Device to Choose for Your Pet

In order to answer this question, owners must know the habits of their pets. It’s definitely best to have both devices because you never know what can happen to your four-legged friend. Also, the price of these devices can be a significant factor of the final decision.

While the installation of the microchip is a cheaper variant, prices of GPS devices can vary considerably. So let’s be real. As much as you love your pet, giving over $ 200 for the tracking collar is ridiculous, if you know it will not wander off just like that.

However, if your pet has a long “case history” regarding runaway and wandering off, perhaps the best option is to provide it with a quality GPS tracker, with a monthly subscription to the appropriate tracking app. Your pet’s safety should be a priority if you do not get overloaded with this cost.

If you’re still thinking about the most “humane” device for your pet, let’s repeat that implementing a microchip can’t hurt your beloved pet. So this question should not bother you. However, if you are convinced your pup or cat will suffer because of this device, choose a GPS collar. In a negligible number of cases, the chip may move, stuck somewhere in the body and cause complications.

Progress in technology is happening on a daily basis. Today, we can’t even assume what kind of devices we will have in the future. Both GPS and microchips can be used in various ways, and you can always combine them to achieve the highest level of security. They will not interfere with each other, and your pet will be maximally protected.

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