Understanding Pet Microchips vs GPS Trackers: Facts and Future Innovations

Understanding Pet Microchips vs GPS Trackers: Facts and Future Innovations

Ever wondered how pet chips work? Do they have GPS? These are common questions pet owners often ask. It’s easy to assume that these tiny devices, implanted beneath your pet’s skin, work like a GPS tracker, pinpointing your pet’s location at any given time.

However, the reality might not be what you’d expect. This article will delve into the fascinating world of pet microchips, unraveling the mystery of their functionality. We’ll also explore if they really have GPS capabilities, and how they can help keep your furry friends safe. So, let’s start this intriguing journey of discovery together.

Key Takeaways

  • Pet microchips are not GPS trackers. They operate via Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology and contain unique identification data for your pet.
  • A pet microchip’s primary function is to provide a reliable form of identification for lost pets. If a pet is lost, a quick scan of the microchip can reveal the owner’s contact information.
  • Microchips and GPS trackers serve different roles in ensuring pet safety. The microchip acts as an ID card, while the GPS tracker provides real-time location tracking.
  • Despite not having GPS capabilities, microchips offer the significant advantage of durable, lifelong identification. They can lead to more effective pet recovery compared to pets without chips.
  • Microchips do not render traditional ID methods like collars and tags obsolete. Instead, they complement these methods, providing a dual layer of identification for your pet.
  • Real GPS alternatives for tracking pets are available in the market, including wearable GPS devices, radio-telemetry devices, and smartphone-integrated devices.
  • Future advancements in pet tracking technology anticipate a fusion of identification methods with tracking technology, possibly integrating microchip and GPS technology, enhancing pet safety.

Understanding Pet Chips

By comprehending the intricacies of pet chips, you take another step towards securing your pet. Here, delve deeper into what a microchip is and the technology powering these devices.

What Is a Microchip?

A microchip constitutes a tiny electronic device, roughly the size of a grain of rice. In the realm of pet care, it’s injected under a pet’s skin using a hypodermic needle. This process is pretty similar to a routine shot, hence, doesn’t cause harm. The chip carries unique identification data embedded in it, serving as a permanent pet ID.

For instance, consider Fido, a charming Labrador Retriever. Fido gets lost and winds up in a local animal shelter. The diligent workers at the shelter scan Fido for signs of a microchip. Upon locating it, they can read its unique ID. They can then match this ID to a database to find Fido’s family, ensuring the lost pup gets back to his loving home.

The Technology Behind Pet Chips

Delve into the microchip’s functionality, and you’ll find RFID, or Radio Frequency Identification. This technology doesn’t require a power source. Instead, it works by emitting a radio wave transmitted by a scanner.

To illustrate, picture the scenario when a pet goes missing. An animal shelter worker scans lost pets with an RFID scanner. When the scanner runs over the microchip, it prompts the chip to transmit its unique ID number. This number then appears on the scanner’s screen. Operators can use this number to search a pet microchip database for the owner’s contact information.

Hope this gives more clarity about pet chips and dispels any notion of GPS functionality within them.

The Misconception of GPS in Pet Microchips

The Misconception of GPS in Pet Microchips

A common fallacy perpetuates among pet owners that pet microchips act as a GPS, allowing them to track the exact location of their furry friends remotely. Let’s debunk this myth and shed light on the actual workings of pet chips.

How Pet Chips Actually Work

In reality, pet microchips are radio-frequency identification (RFID) devices about the size of a grain of rice. Instead of tracking your pet’s location, they keep a specific code unique to your pet. Vet clinics and animal shelters employ RFID scanners to read this unique code when they come across a lost pet. With this ID, the chip registry gets contacted, and the owner’s information gets retrieved. Thus, the lost pet finds its way home. However, remember that this process only works if the pet owners keep their contact information updated on the chip registry.

Differences Between Microchips and GPS Trackers

Despite some similar goals of ensuring pet safety, microchips and GPS trackers function distinctly.

  • Microchips, as we’ve discussed, aren’t location devices. They rely on RFID technology to store a pet’s unique identification number and doesn’t emit a signal.
  • GPS trackers, on the other hand, do allow location tracking. These devices use GPS technology to provide real-time tracking of your pet anywhere cellular service exists. They’re often attached to a pet’s collar and not implanted under the skin.

Conclusively, while both microchips and GPS trackers serve to safeguard your pets, they perform different roles. Your pet’s microchip acts as an ID card, while GPS works as an actual tracking device. It’s critical to understand these differences and utilize a combination of both for the maximum safety of your pets.

Advantages of Microchipping Your Pet

Advantages of Microchipping Your Pet

After understanding the nature and function of pet microchips, let’s dive into the specific benefits they offer. Despite not having GPS capabilities, microchips carry significant advantages.

Identification and Recovery of Lost Pets

A prime advantage of microchipping your pet involves identification. You’ve learned that each chip carries a unique ID number. In the instance a pet gets lost and then found, a quick scan reveals this identifier, linking directly to the owner’s contact information in a database. Consequently, pets—whether dogs, cats, or birds—find their way home again.

Furthermore, unlike collar tags, microchips endure. Physical tags can fade, break, or even get lost over time. But a microchip stays with your pet for their entire life, providing a secure and reliable source of ID. For instance, in animal shelters and vet clinics, microchips lead to reuniting pets with their owners over two times as often compared to those without chips.

How Microchipping Complements Collars and Tags

Even though microchips offer substantial benefits, they don’t render traditional ID methods obsolete. Indeed, microchips complement collars and tags in that collars and tags provide immediate visibility of a pet’s ID to anyone who finds them.

In comparison, microchips require a specific scanner—usually available at vets, rescues, and animal control facilities—to read the information. The combination of both provides a dual layer of identification for your pet. If, for example, the collar gets lost, the microchip serves as a backup, ensuring your pet is identifiable and increasing the chances of a happy reunion.

So, while navigating pet safety, don’t perceive microchips and collars as competition—rather, they’re companions in keeping your pet safe. As you move forward, consider how implementing both can provide comprehensive protection for your pet.

GPS Alternatives for Tracking Pets

You’ve understood that pet microchips aren’t GPS trackers – they aid in identification through RFID technology. Now, let’s turn our gaze towards the actual GPS alternatives. These devices embrace the capabilities of GPS technology, enabling you to monitor your pet’s location actively.

Types of GPS Devices for Pets

There’s an array of GPS devices in the market, each with its specific feel and features.

  1. Pet Wearable GPS Devices: Often attached to your pet’s collar, wearable GPS devices like Garmin Astro 320 provide real-time location updates. Offering accurate data, they keep you in the loop regarding your pet’s whereabouts.
  2. Radio-Telemetry GPS Devices: For pets that venture out into the wild, devices like the MARSHALL Radio optimise radio signals besides GPS. They promise an unbroken transmission, even in dense terrains.
  3. Smartphone-integrated GPS Devices: Gadget-friendly pet owners might find solace in products like the Whistle GPS Pet Tracker. Easily synchronized with your smartphone, they offer location updates right at your fingertips, along with additional perks like fitness tracking.

Considerations When Choosing a GPS Tracker

Deciding on a GPS tracker for your pet isn’t just about picking the latest device from the market. Your selection benefits from a slew of factors.

  • Coverage Range: Consider the tracker’s range and ensure it matches your pet’s roaming area. An indoor house cat requires a different range than a dog that loves exploring outdoors.
  • Battery Life: The tracker’s purpose gets defeated if it’s battery conks regularly. Prioritize a device with a long-lasting battery that ensures uninterrupted monitoring of your furry friend.
  • Size and Comfort: The tracker should be size appropriate without causing discomfort to your pet.
  • Price and Subscription Plans: While some GPS trackers come with lifetime free tracking, others demand monthly or annual subscriptions. Your budget plays a crucial role here.
  • Additional Features: While location tracking remains the key feature, certain additions like fitness and health monitoring, activity tracking, escape alert notifications, etc., might be the cherry on top.

GPS trackers complement pet microchips by providing active location tracking. Gauge your pet’s needs and your preferences to find the perfect GPS tracker. Remember, the goal is always to ensure maximum safety and prevent pet loss.

The Future of Pet Tracking Technology

Let’s explore the revolutionizing advancements that anticipate the future of pet tracking technology. The forthcoming prospects hint at a dynamic fusion of existing identification methods with innovative tracking technology, setting a new horizon for pet safety.

Innovations in Pet Location Monitoring

In the sphere of pet location monitoring, innovation takes the center stage. Breakthroughs emerge often, focusing on creating technologically advanced solutions that can guarantee more reliability and accuracy in tracking pets. For instance, companies such as Fi and Whistle GO, develop tracking devices that employ a combination of GPS, Wi-Fi, and cellular technology.

By leveraging the best features of each technology, these devices enhance location accuracy. They offer real-time updates, setting up safe zones for pets and sending alerts if your pet ventures out of these prescribed areas. Plus, they delve deeper into your pet’s health with activity tracking features, allowing you to better monitor your pet’s behavior and wellbeing.

Integrating Microchips and GPS Technology

As tracking technology evolves, the integration of microchips and GPS emerges as an exciting prospect. The idea capitalizes on the strengths of both technologies: microchips for reliable identification, and GPS for real-time location tracking.

Imagine a world where a single device installed in your pet not only helps identify them but also track their exact location live. Tractive’s GPS collar, though not a microchip, is one approach, combining GPS tracking with a virtual fence feature, thus allowing owners to customize safe zones for their pets.

While full integration of microchips and GPS in one device remains largely conceptual, it encapsulates the future ambitions in the realm of pet safety and location tracking. Evolution in pet tracking technology continues, promising breakthroughs that will ensure our pets’ safety in a rapidly changing world.


So, you’ve learned that pet microchips aren’t GPS trackers. They serve different roles but are equally crucial for your pet’s safety. You’ve also discovered the variety of GPS devices available for pet tracking, each with its own set of considerations. As technology advances, you can look forward to more sophisticated solutions that merge GPS, Wi-Fi, and cellular technology to provide accurate real-time tracking. Innovations like Tractive’s GPS collar are just a glimpse of what’s to come. Remember, staying informed about these evolving technologies is key to keeping your furry friends safe and secure in an ever-changing world.

Understanding the differences between pet microchips and GPS trackers is crucial for ensuring your pet’s safety. American Veterinary Medical Association states that microchips provide permanent identification that can help reunite lost pets with their owners. Meanwhile, Consumer Reports notes that GPS trackers offer real-time location monitoring, which is particularly useful for pets that tend to roam.

What is the difference between pet microchips and GPS trackers?

Pet microchips are an identity device that provides your pet a unique ID number when scanned. GPS trackers, on the other hand, provide real-time location information about your pet.

What are the types of GPS devices available for pet tracking?

There are various types of GPS devices available, which include GPS collars and attachable devices. These trackers use GPS networks to provide real-time location data on your pet.

What should you consider when choosing a GPS tracker?

Consider your pet’s behavior, the area where you live, the tracker’s affordability, its battery life, and its accuracy in providing location data when choosing a GPS tracker.

What is the future of pet tracking technology?

The future of pet tracking technology lies in combining GPS, Wi-Fi, and cellular technology for enhanced accuracy. This will enable real-time identification and location monitoring of pets.

What is Tractive’s GPS collar?

Tractive’s GPS collar is an innovation that harnesses advanced pet tracking technology. It embodies the envisaged future of pet tracking, combining identification and real-time location tracking in one device.