Microchipping your dog is a simple and quick procedure. Once it has been done, your details are stored in a microchip database along with your dog’s details. This gives your dog the best chance of being identified and returned safely and quickly to you if she gets lost or stolen.
Pets can go missing for a number of reasons. They can become scared and run off, or become disoriented or distracted in a new environment, for example if you have just moved house. Even if your dog wears a collar and an identification tag, this could get caught or removed, whereas a microchip stays safely in place.
As well as helping to reunite owners with their lost pets, microchips can also assist when the ownership of a pet is in dispute.
How it works
After a consultation with your vet, a tiny microchip about the size of a large grain of rice is inserted under your dog’s skin. The procedure is very quick and so is considered relatively painless. Once it is in place, your dog will not be able to feel the microchip is there.
The microchip has a unique 15 digit code, which is logged in a national database along with your details including your name, address and emergency telephone number. If you later move or change your contact details you must remember to update your records by contacting the microchip company.
When a dog is found and handed in to a shelter or veterinary surgery, the vet or warden will use a scanning device to see if the dog is microchipped. If it is, the unique 15 digit code will be displayed, and the microchip database the dog is registered with can be contacted. After security checks have been carried out, the owner’s contact details will be given to the vet or warden, enabling them to reunite the dog and owner.
When to get your dog microchipped
Many rehoming shelters have dogs in their care microchipped automatically, and some breeders also arrange microchipping as part of the service to new owners. Depending on their breed and size, most dogs are able to be microchipped from the age of 10-12 weeks onwards. You may decide to have your dog microchipped at the same time as her second vaccination or at the same time as neutering. Your breeder, vet or vet nurse can discuss the different options with you.
If you are planning on travelling with your dog, it is a very good idea to have your dog microchipped. In fact, if you're going overseas under the British Government’s Pet Travel Scheme (PETS), it is compulsory. Once your dog has had a microchip implanted, it will - in the vast majority of cases - remain in place for life.
Cost of microchipping
The cost of microchipping your dog varies depending on when it is done and who does it. In most cases it usually costs between £10 - £40 to have the implant put in place, after which there is normally no ongoing charge. We would recommend that you consult with your vet, breeder or rescue shelter for specific information about costs.
At the time of writing (July 2012), it is not mandatory in the UK to microchip your dog. However, as regulations are subject to change we recommend you keep up to date by consulting with your vet and checking government websites.