A guide to microchipping your pet
A guide to microchipping your pet
With 8.5 million dogs in the UK we’re clearly a nation of dog lovers. Today, showing you’re a responsible owner now includes making sure your dog is microchipped – and microchipping can benefit your cat too. Here’s the lowdown on the law and the advantages of microchipping.
What is pet microchipping?
Pet microchipping is when a small microchip implant is inserted under the skin of your pet, usually near the scruff of their neck, to identify your pet should they go missing. If your pet is found and taken to an animal shelter or vet clinic, their microchip will be scanned to check for the registration number. Vets will then be able to contact the registry to get your name and phone number, in order to reunite you with your pet.
What's the law on microchipping your dog?
Since April 2016, it's been compulsory for owners to make sure their dog is microchipped. This needs to be done by the time the dog is eight weeks old.
Fortunately, owners will be able to get their dog microchipped for free at any of the 18 Dogs Trust centres across the UK. Free microchips will also be available at housing associations and veterinary surgeries. The microchip requires no care and has an operating life of 20 years.
If your dog is found by the police or local authority not to have a microchip, you'll be given the chance to have it done – but if you don't comply within a short period of time, you could be fined up to £500.
Is it compulsory to microchip your cat?
No. You can get your cat – or rabbit – microchipped if you want to, but unlike dogs it’s not a legal requirement.
It can be a good idea to microchip your cat though, particularly if they like to roam outside, as it increases the chances of them being found if they go missing or are stolen.
How does microchipping work?
Microchipping won’t hurt your pet – and it can help reunite you with them if they get lost.
- Your vet will implant the microchip under your pet’s skin, usually between the shoulder blades. It’s only the size of a grain of rice. Each microchip has a protective shell to stop it causing a reaction or moving around.
- The microchip has a unique 15-digit number, which can be easily revealed by a reader if your pet gets lost or stolen. You’ll need to register the number of the chip and your contact details with one of 10 government-approved UK databases. Remember to update your contact details if you move house.
The microchip should last your pet’s lifetime.
Will the microchip track my pet if it gets lost?
No. The microchip isn’t a tracking device, but because its unique number will be registered along with your details it can help the authorities find you and reunite you with your pet.
Are there any exceptions to microchipping your dog?
There are only two reasons why you shouldn’t microchip your dog:
- you have a working dog with a tail docked in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act (2006)
- your dog’s health would be compromised by microchipping
If your dog’s too unwell to be microchipped your vet can give an exemption certificate. You’ll need to have your dog microchipped once this expires 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 8 weeks but it must be accompanied by the vet’s certificate of exemption.
How much does microchipping cost?
The cost varies. Some charities will do it for free but otherwise expect to pay around £15.
These dog charities will microchip your dog for free:
The process is quick and shouldn’t cause your dog any distress – it’s similar to having them vaccinated.
Why else is microchipping useful?
Apart from it being a legal requirement, there are several good reasons to have your dog microchipped.
Microchipping is a simple way to find your dog – 60,000 dogs wander off or are stolen every year, according to The Kennel Club.
It can save local authorities around £33 million a year in kennel costs – by increasing the chances of matching up lost dogs with their owners.
And last, but not least, it’s important for your pet insurance. In fact, not having your dog microchipped may invalidate your pet insurance policy.