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Microchipping your dog
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Dog microchipping

All you need to know about microchipping

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What exactly is a microchip?

A microchip is a very small electronic device, about the same size as a grain of rice, that is implanted under your pet’s skin.

Every chip has a unique 15-digit number stored within it, on circuitry this is encased in a protective shell made of glass or biopolymer. This casing helps to prevent the microchip from causing a reaction or moving around, which can make it difficult to read.

Microchips are designed to last the lifetime of your pet. The microchip is read from close range using a special scanner.

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Does my dog really need a microchip?

Although no one likes to think of their dog getting lost or stolen, unfortunately it does happen, as each and every year some 250,000 pets go missing. Collar identification tags are a legal requirement for dogs, but are not the best solution in themselves as they can fall off, break, or be removed. Microchipping is a permanent solution that greatly increases the chances that a lost pet will be reunited safely with its owner. If a dog is stolen and recovered by authorities, a microchip might provide the only means to identify and contact the owner.

England, Scotland and Wales

From 6th April 2016 all dogs in England, Scotland and Wales to be micro-chipped and registered by the breeder on an authorised database by the time they are 8 weeks old and before they transfer to a new keeper. The new keeper must then register the dog in their name and keep their details up to date.

Northern Ireland

Since April 2012 all dogs held under an individual dog licence have to be microchipped.

Where can I get my pet microchipped?

A qualified microchip implanter will place the microchip under the skin between the shoulder blades of your dog. The procedure is very quick, and most dogs experience little to no discomfort. It is very important to have this done by a qualified individual as complications can arise if performed incorrectly. 

The microchip only needs to be placed once as it is designed to last for the life of the dog.

What happens if my microchipped pet is lost?

Sometimes, cat owners think that once their pet has been microchipped, they will be able to track where it goes. Unfortunately, this is not the case! The microchip is simply an identification tag – but it relies on you keeping your contact information up to date. 

Where is my pet's contact data stored?

Whenever a pet is microchipped, the owner’s contact details are recorded and submitted along with the chip number for storage in a national database. There are several such databases in the UK including Petlog, Anibase, Pettrac and Pet Protect. Each microchip manufacturer has partnered with one of these databases to store the contact details for each chip they manufacture.

In a recent study, Petlog found that 51% of owners didn’t know whether the contact details for their pet’s microchip were up to date.

How do I update my pet’s contact information?

The first step in updating a pet’s contact details is to determine which database your pet’s microchip is registered on. Each microchip manufacturer contracts with a specific database. Then you will need to contact the manufacturer to update any information.

If you do not know which database to contact, but do know the manufacturer of your pet’s microchip, start by visiting the company’s website. Here you should find the contact details for the database which is associated with your pet’s microchip.

If you do not know either the microchip manufacturer or the database, you can refer to our Vet Report (page 28) and check the Chip Number prefix to determine which database to contact.

Finally, if you do not know any information about your pet’s microchip or database, phone your vet to see whether they have your pet’s microchip number, or you can arrange to take your pet in to have them scanned for the number. 

Can my cat be microchipped too?

As pet owners, losing a pet is right up on the list of things we  don’t ever want to think about happening. However, it is a sad fact that many cats go missing every year.

The most common way of identifying a dog is with a metal tag on their collar. This is not always effective with cats as they tend to roam, and a collar cannot be a certain way of identification in case the tag falls off on their travels. This means that there is no way of identifying and contacting the owners.

Microchips offer a more permanent way of making sure your cat is always identifiable and that you can always be contacted in the event of them being found.

This microchip holds a number unique to your cat, which can then be read by a universal scanner. Animal rescue centres and vets scan every stray or unidentified cat brought into their possession. Your details are kept on a central computer; resulting in a quick and happy reunion should your cat become lost.

You just need to make sure that if you ever change your telephone or move house that you let the microchip company know to update their details.  

More information on cat microchipping