Pet Tracker Vs. Microchip

March 11, 2019

It is no secret that we love our pets and that we would do anything humanly possible to keep them safe from harm. Just the thought of losing our furry playmates is something that no pet owner wants to think about, let alone experience. Unfortunately, it has been estimated that over ten million dogs and cats are lost every year in the US and that one in three pets will become lost at some point during their life.

The good news is that thanks to microchipping, the return-to-owner rate has been on the rise. It has been projected that dogs who have been microchipped have over a 50 percent chance of being reunited with their owners, as opposed to 22 percent for dogs without microchips. As for cats, the numbers are equally pleasing; 38 percent of microchipped cats find their way back to their owners, compared to 2 percent for non-microchipped felines.

Microchip implant for cat

Therefore, it is relatively safe to say that microchipping your pets will definitely increase your chances of finding them if they get lost. However, technology is always one step ahead of the game and now with the rise of pet wearable technologies, such as pet trackers, there is something else to consider. These innovative devices let you know your pets’ locations at all times, thus preventing them from getting lost in the first place. 

So, how does one choose which option is better for their dog or cat? What is the difference between an implanted microchip and a pet tracker? Does it have to be one or the other? Or can it be both? Let us take a look.

What Is A Microchip & How Does It Work?

A microchip or a Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) is a tiny device with a small electronic chip enclosed in a glass cylinder. It is the size of a grain of rice and it contains a unique identifying serial number that, once implanted, becomes your dog or cat’s personal ID number. 

When your pet is found and hopefully taken to a nearby shelter or vet clinic, a microchip reader is used to read the serial number. If the chip is registered, it will lead to your contact information.

Considering that a microchip is inserted under your pet’s skin (usually in the back of the neck), the chip is naturally protected and can only be surgically removed.


  • Discreet and fairly inexpensive
  • One-time procedure; lasts a lifetime
  • Water-resistant
  • No power required


  • Hopeless if not registered by the owner
  • Only works if your pet is found by someone with a microchip scanner

What Is A Pet Tracker & How Does it Work?

A pet tracker is a wearable tracking device whose main purpose is to keep tabs on your pet’s location. It comes in different shapes and sizes and it uses a variety of different technologies in order to keep your pet on its radar.

There are different types of pet trackers. However, the 3 most popular ones are GPS pet trackers, which include cellular GPS trackers as well as mixed and multi-tech ones, Bluetooth pet trackers, and radio frequency pet trackers.

GPS pet tracker in the forest

1. GPS Pet Trackers

GPS pet trackers are battery-powered devices that can be attached to your pet’s collar. They have a built-in GPS receiver that communicates with the circling GPS network of satellites. Once the pet’s coordinates are requested, the information is sent directly to the pet owner’s phone and displayed on the map integrated within the application used. 

In addition, most pet GPS trackers on the market now can track more than just your pet’s exact location. They can also monitor your pet’s overall fitness and keep an eye on some health factors. They analyze your pet’s activity signs, as well as his or her quality of sleep and calories burned throughout the day.

On the downside, GPS trackers, taken into account that they are attachable devices, can either fall off or be stolen. Additionally, they need to be recharged. Some devices can last up to a week whilst others need to be recharged after two to three days. Finally, there is the cost to consider, as a GPS pet tracker can cost up to a couple of hundreds of dollars.  


  • Allows you to act immediately and locate your pet within minutes
  • Can monitor your pet’s health and other vital activities
  • Waterproof


  • Needs to be recharged
  • Can be stolen or it can fall off
  • Can be a costly investment

2. Radio Frequency Pet Trackers

Another popular choice in the pet tracking community is radio frequency pet trackers. Much like with walkie-talkies, a radio signal is transmitted and received by a hand-held receiver. The types of radio frequency trackers out there vary, as some of them have longer ranges than others, but most of them work within an average of a few hundred feet of the receiver.

Unfortunately, radio frequency trackers cannot give you the exact location of your pet. Much like a compass, they will give you the direction he or she is going – but not the precise location.

On the plus side, with these trackers, the battery can last a really long time. Unlike GPS trackers, which rely on cellular coverage, radio frequency pet trackers can be used anywhere in the world. 


  • Long-lasting battery
  • Does not require cellular coverage
  • Gives you the direction your pet is going in


  • Does not provide the EXACT location of your pet
  • Rather bulky in size
  • Suited for larger dogs

3. Bluetooth Pet Trackers

Bluetooth pet trackers are usually small tags or dockets that are attached to your pet’s collar. Like the aforementioned trackers, they too come in different shapes and sizes. Relying on Bluetooth technology, these trackers provide pet owners with a relatively stable connection and much lower power consumption.

Of course, there are weaknesses to mull over. Bluetooth devices have a limited range, usually a maximum of 100 feet, making them ultimately more suitable for finding different objects around the house or pets that usually stay in limited spaces and do not have the tendency to wander off too far.


  • Good battery life
  • Stable connection; no need for cellular coverage


  • Limited range
  • Suited for animals that are not prone to wandering


Truth be told, you should microchip your pet and get a pet tracker for absolute peace of mind. Microchipping has proven to be a very useful practice when locating a lost pet, however, one thing that puts pet trackers in the lead here is that they can be used by pet owners IMMEDIATELY, as soon as the pet goes missing. No precious time is wasted and the search can begin instantly. With a press of a button and with either the help of GPS satellites, 3G networks or radio frequency waves, you will be able to locate your pet’s location within minutes, sometimes even seconds. No need to wait around for your pet to be found by someone with a pet scanner before you are contacted. Unfortunately, as statistics sadly suggest, there is a strong chance that might never happen, so why take the risk?

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