Microchipping has been used in the UK since 1989 and still provides the best way for missing pets to be reunited with their owners.
Should I get my puppy microchipped?
Absolutely – it’s the law! Not only is it the mark of a responsible pet owner, but having a puppy chipped and registered by the time they’re eight weeks old has been a legal requirement in the UK since 2016.
Besides, we all want to keep our puppies safe. Sadly, the owners of around 55,000 found dogs can’t be identified every year. Microchipping and registering plays an important role in reuniting missing dogs with their owners and, alongside pet insurance, is all part of responsible dog ownership.
Why did the Government make microchipping a law?
It’s all about improving animal welfare by increasing the traceability of dogs and encouraging responsible ownership.
In my experience, poor breeding practices often lead to health and congenital problems in dogs, so improving traceability back to breeders has helped stamp out abuses of dog welfare and bring owners to account.
On top of this, reuniting missing dogs with their owners saves Local Authorities and charities significant kenneling costs, so there’s a public safety and taxpayer savings aspect to this too.
What is a microchip and how does it work?
A microchip is a small electronic device – roughly the size of a grain of rice – that’s implanted under a pet’s skin near the neck.
I like to think of it as a bit like a car number plate that can’t be lost or tampered with. It contains a unique ID number that can be read by a scanner and links to a database where an owner’s contact details are logged. This means that should your pet ever go missing, it can be scanned, identified and returned home quickly and safely.
Why is microchipping so important? What are the benefits?
Throughout my career, injured pets have been brought into my surgery by people who have found them. But because they don’t have a microchip we have no way of identifying them. As we’re unable to contact the owners, we’re often left in an incredibly difficult position: while we can alleviate a pet’s pain, we haven’t been given authority to perform more advanced treatments such as surgical operations. It’s really distressing for the pet – and for us.
If your dog gets lost, injured or stolen, having it microchipped means you’re more likely to have it swiftly returned to you. And, if your puppy is in an accident when you’re not around, a vet can contact you quickly to discuss any treatment. A microchip tag is also a deterrent to thieves – a collar can just be taken off but a microchip is far more permanent.
Will it hurt my dog?
I always say that it’s a bit like a human having an ear pierced – it’s a very simple procedure with minimal discomfort to the dog. Using a specially designed implanting device, the chip is inserted between a dog’s shoulder blades, and because the microchip is so small there isn’t even a need for anaesthetic.
Do all dogs need to be microchipped?
Yes – all puppies in the UK must be microchipped by the time they’re eight weeks old by law. It’s also illegal for breeders to sell puppies that aren’t microchipped and registered on an authorised database.
Are there any exemptions?
In my experience, only medical grounds can exempt your dog from getting microchipped. If you’re concerned about an adverse reaction then speak to your vet before moving forward. If your vet believes it could impact your pet’s health, then they may be able to give you a letter to exempt your pup from being microchipped.
How much does it cost?
Microchipping typically costs around £20. Any vet can do it, as can some dog groomers, dog walkers and pet sitters who have become qualified. Always make sure that the person who microchips your dog is fully qualified.
What happens after microchipping?
When you microchip your pet, your details and the number of your dog’s microchip will be added to a database.
What do I do if my contact details change?
I always say that the most important thing to remember is to keep your details –including your current address and phone numbers – updated on your microchip’s database at all times.
If you move house then you need to let your microchip provider know and pay a small fee to update your address details. Not only is it vital that this is done to ensure you’re reunited with your dog if they get lost, it’s also a requirement of law.
Remember that a breeder must be the first recorded keeper of a puppy on the database and must provide transfer documents to the new owners.
The UK Microchip Databases are:
What happens if I don’t get my dog microchipped?
My advice to any new puppy owner is to get their pet microchipped as soon as possible.
If a dog without a microchip comes to the attention of the authorities, an owner can be served with a notice requiring the dog to be microchipped, face criminal prosecution and a £500 fine if they don’t comply. If the owner continues to take no action, an enforcer can seize the dog and microchip them at the owner’s expense.