In the mid 1980’s, my first microchip scanner was actually supplied in a medium-sized suitcase.
Thankfully they are now much smaller!
In basic terms, scanners consist of an antenna coil which is either wound around a rod or,
configured as an air-coil. Longer range scanners generally feature air-coil type antennas combined with a more powerful decoder.
Choosing your scanner
All scanners sold in the UK must be able to read the DEFRA-required FDX-B microchips, the
specified microchip technology used to chip dogs and horses in the UK. By default, these types of microchips will also be used in the majority of other animals in the UK.
So far, so straightforward… however.
The US Kennel Club and other bodies around the world have used different specification
microchips. As a result, the microchips are often undetectable by commonly used, cheaper scanners.
An example of the implication of this is in a valuable show dog entering the UK to compete at
Crufts. If single-system scanners are in use, the dog could be lost and never identified.
Fortunately, multi-system scanners are available, and ideally should be routinely used.
Scanner size and read-range
In addition to considering whether to opt for a single-system or multi-system scanner, there are other considerations. As microchips do not have an in-built power source, they rely on the energy field generated by the scanner antenna to activate them. Compact hand scanners such as the Halo are excellent, by using an air coil design they have a large read area. This proves helpful when locating microchips that have migrated.
Similar designs, for example the Petscan, are pocket-sized. Whilst this makes them popular in the field or for use at dog/horse shows.
The range of pocketable is smaller, meaning they need to be virtually in contact with the animals hair. Larger reader systems are available offering greater read-range but these come at a cost. Readers like the ARE-H5 for example, have a range of around 6 inches. It can even be used with an extension pole.
It is easy to see why you need to consider carefully which type of scanner would best suit your needs.
PetDetect have donated Universal scanners to all UK airports handling animals.
Being discipled about scanning techniques is important. It is important not to scan too quickly, to look where the chip should be and if not found then methodically checking the whole body. Our www.pet-detect.com website has a short video and graphics showing a ‘system’ for scanning.