Microchipping dogs: all you need to know
Petplan and our friends at Dogs Trust have always understood the importance of microchipping - it gives you reassurance that should your pet get lost or stolen, they are more likely to be returned to you safe and sound. However, from 6 April 2016 all dogs in England, Wales and Scotland will be legally required to be microchipped and their details registered on an authorised database. Northern Ireland has already introduced this measure in 2012.
In light of the new dog microchipping law, Petplan and Dogs Trust have joined forces to bring you everything you need to know in our microchipping FAQs...
Why is the government making it compulsory for dogs to be microchipped and what does this mean for dog owners?
Ministers hope the change in the law will help reunite owners with lost or stolen pets, relieve the burden on animal charities and local authorities and protect the welfare of dogs by promoting responsible dog ownership. All dog owners in England, Wales & Scotland will need to ensure their dog is microchipped by the 6th April and their details are kept up to date with an approved microchip database.
Do dogs in Northern Ireland have to comply with this law as well?
Microchipping dogs is already compulsory in Northern Ireland and has been since 2012.
Is there a fine/penalty if I don't get my dog microchipped or keep my details up-to-date?
Once the new rules come into effect, if a dog without a microchip comes to the attention of the authorities, its keeper may be served with a notice requiring the dog to be microchipped, and may face criminal prosecution and a £500 fine if they do not comply with the notice. If the keeper continues to take no action, an enforcer can seize the dog and microchip it at the keeper's expense.
In addition, if the breeder or subsequent keepers of the dog do NOT update the dog’s details on a database that is compliant with the regulations, then a notice may be served requiring the keeper to microchip the dog within 21 days of the served notice.
How will the microchipping law be enforced?
The Microchipping of Dogs (England) Regulations 2014 will be enforced by local authorities, police constables, community support officers and any other person which the Secretary of State may authorise to act as an enforcer of the regulations.
What is a microchip?
A microchip is a small electronic chip, around the size of a grain of rice, which is implanted under the dog’s skin and contains a unique number that can be read by a scanner.
The dog owner’s contact details are logged on a central database, so should the dog ever go missing or be stolen it can be scanned by the authorities and returned to its owner swiftly and safely. It is vital that the owner takes responsibility for updating their details with the database should their circumstances change.
How and where is the microchip implanted?
Using a specially designed implanting device, the microchip is injected through a sterile needle under the dog’s skin between the shoulder blades.
Will it hurt my dog?
No, it does not hurt the dog. No anaesthetic is required and the procedure should cause no more discomfort than a standard vaccination.
At what age must a puppy be microchipped?
All puppies must be microchipped by the time they are 8 weeks old. It will be illegal for breeders to sell a puppy that is not microchipped and registered on an authorised database that meets the legal requirements.
The breeder must always be the first recorded keeper of the puppy on the microchip database and must provide transfer of keepership documents to the puppy buyer to ensure the new owner can update their details in order to comply with the law.
Do older dogs still need to be microchipped too?
Yes – all dogs will need to be microchipped.
Where can I get my dog microchipped?
You can get your dog microchipped at your local veterinary practice or in a range of other places such as pet retail stores or animal rehoming centres. The Dogs Trust offer free microchipping across the UK through its network of rehoming centres and community events. Visit www.chipmydog.org.uk for more details.
How are dog owners traced?
If a stray dog or a dog that is believed to be stolen is found to have a microchip, the local authority, vet practice or animal welfare organisation will contact the national 24 hour database to find the owner’s details. The owner can then be contacted and reunited with their dog.
My dog is already microchipped – how do I update my details or check they are correct?
It will be a requirement under the law that you must keep your dog’s microchip information up-to-date; if you do not, then the microchip is useless. It’s really simple to update the details for your dog’s microchip, you can do it online, by telephone or by post – depending on which database your chip is registered to.
You will need to know which microchipping database your pet is registered to in the UK. Then you can contact the database directly to make your changes.
UK Microchip Databases
- Anibase 01904 487600
- PetIdentity UK 01744 733229
- PetLog 0844 4633999
- Pet Protect 0800 0778558
- Pettrac 0800 6529977
- Smarttrac 0844 5420999
If you don't have the chip number, ask your vet to scan your dog's microchip!
Do I have to pay to update my details?
Yes, you will have to pay to amend your contact details on the database as the fee that is paid at the point of microchip implantation does not go to the databases. Most databases offer a premium service which often works out cheaper over the course of your dog’s life - check with your provider for more details. Whilst it might seem like an additional cost you could do without, it’s important to ensure that your contact details are up-to-date at all times so that if your dog went missing or was stolen the authorities can re-unite you with your dog as quickly as possible.
How can pet insurance help?
Like microchipping, pet insurance is an important part of responsible pet ownership and can help cover the cost of advertising and reward if your dog is lost or stolen. In addition to helping re-unite you with your pet, pet insurance provides valuable financial support if your dog requires any unexpected veterinary treatment. Petplan’s signature Covered For Life policies pay for ongoing conditions for the life of the pet providing the policy is renewed each year without a break in cover. To find out more click here.