Microchipping your dog and the law – everything you need to know

With 8.5 million dogs in the UK, it’s clear we’re a nation of dog lovers – and being a responsible owner means taking good care of your pet. Here’s the lowdown on the law and microchipping.

What’s the law on microchipping your dog?

If you own a dog, or are a dog breeder, you need to have your dog microchipped by the time it’s eight weeks old. If you don’t, you’re breaking the law and you could be fined up to £500.

A guide to microchipping your pet

What does dog microchipping involve?

The microchip used is about the size of a grain of rice. It contains a unique number to identify your dog and is implanted under its skin, usually between the shoulder blades. Each microchip has a protective shell to prevent it causing a reaction or moving around, and should last your dog a lifetime.

Your dog’s unique identifier will be stored in a database along with your contact details. There are 10 government-approved databases and you’ll need to ensure your details are registered with one of them, otherwise you could be fined.

Why should I get my pet microchipped?

If you move house, it’s your responsibility to update your details by contacting the relevant database. Approved databases will only give out your details to registered organisations, such as a vet practice or animal shelter.

Remember that a microchip is not a tracking device – it won’t help you find your dog if it goes missing, although it will help the authorities to reunite you if it’s found.

Are there any exceptions to microchipping?

There are only two exceptions: working dogs with their tails docked in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act (2006) are exempt, as are dogs whose health would be further compromised by microchipping. You’ll need a vet to certify that either of these is the case.

If your dog is deemed too unwell to be microchipped and a vet has given an exemption, they may also stipulate when that exemption expires. When it does, you’ll need to have your dog microchipped unless another certificate is given.

If you’re a breeder and aren’t able to microchip a puppy for health reasons, you can still sell the dog at eight weeks but it must be accompanied by the vet’s certificate of exemption.

It doesn’t matter how old your dog is, unless it’s deemed to be exempt by a vet it must be microchipped.

How much does microchipping cost and will it hurt my dog?

The cost varies, but expect to pay around £15 to have your dog microchipped; some charities will do it for free.

The process itself is quick and shouldn’t cause your dog any distress – it’s similar to having your dog vaccinated. Mini microchips may also be available for small breeds.

After your dog’s been chipped, there’s no reason why life can’t carry on as normal. There are no set aftercare guidelines and, chances are, your dog won’t even have noticed.

Why should I get my dog microchipped?

Microchipping your dog is a legal requirement and has been since 6 April 2016. But it’s not just about conforming to the law. Around 100,000 dogs wander off or are stolen every year and microchipping is a simple but effective way of reuniting families with their pets. Increasing the chances of matching up lost dogs with their owners also saves local authorities around £33 million a year in kennel costs.

Microchipping also shows that you’re a dog’s ‘registered keeper’ – meaning you’re responsible for its behaviour and liable for any damage it causes.

Will a dog microchip affect my pet insurance?

Because microchipping is now a legal requirement, failure to do so may invalidate your pet insurance regardless of the type of policy you have.

Should I microchip my cat?

Other pets such as cats or rabbits can be microchipped, but this isn’t currently required by the law. However, microchipping your cat can be a good idea particularly if it likes to roam outside. Microchipping increases the chances of your cat being found if it goes missing or is stolen as collars can break or be removed.

Should I microchip my cat?

Like microchipping, pet insurance is another way of guarding against the unforeseen – to find out what’s typically covered, key benefits, how to reduce the cost, and much more, visit our pets hub today.

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