Microchipping your dog
Why microchip a dog?
There are all sorts of reasons why your dog might go missing. They might get scared by another dog, a loud firework or a rumble of thunder, or may become disoriented or distracted in a new environment if, for example, you try out a new walk or have just moved house. Of course, even microchipped dogs must legally wear a collar and ID tag but these can get lost or removed, whereas a microchip will always stay safely in place.
As well as helping to reunite you with your lost dog microchip can also help if you ever get into a dispute with anyone about who the dog’s rightful owner is.
What is a microchip?
Microchipping a dog is a simple and fast procedure that could help reunite you with your four-legged friend if they wander away from home. If your dog is found, a vet or animal shelter can scan their embedded microchip to find your details from the microchip database, and contact you to collect your pet.
How do microchips work?
After you’ve had a chat with your vet about dog microchipping, they will then insert a tiny microchip - about the size of a large grain of rice - under your dog’s skin. The procedure only takes a matter of seconds and is relatively painless – the sensation is said to be similar to what we feel when we have our ears pierced. Once the microchip is in place, that’s it - your dog won’t even know it’s there!
Every dog 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. It’s your responsibility to keep your records up to date if your details change or you move address – this is sometimes free for the first change and an admin fee may be incurred after that, but it depends on your provider.
What happens when your dog is found?
If your furry friend does wander off one day and is lucky enough to be found by a kind stranger, all they have to do is hand your dog in to a rescue shelter or veterinary practice where the warden or vet or will use a scanning device to check if your dog is microchipped. The scan won’t cause any additional stress to your dog and is completely pain free.
With a quick scan, they’ll be able to find your unique 15-digit code as well as details of the microchip database your dog is registered with. They’ll run through some security checks and, assuming all’s well, will provide the vet or warden with your contact details.
What is the cost of microchipping a dog?
The cost of microchipping a dog varies depending on when it is done and who does it. In most cases there’s a fixed cost to have the implant put in place but few, if any, further charges. Some charities, such as Dogs Trust, Blue Cross and Battersea Dog & Cats Home, recognise that dog microchipping may be beyond the budget of some dog owners, so offer free microchipping. You may also find that your veterinary surgery runs occasional promotions, so it’s worth doing your research. In terms of price, we recommend you consult your vet, breeder or rescue shelter for specific costs.
Do dogs have to be microchipped?
From April 2016 every dog owner in England and Scotland will have to microchip their dog or could face fines of up to £500. Compulsory microchipping for dogs came into force in Northern Ireland in 2012 and in Wales in March 2015. As regulations are subject to change, we recommend you keep up to date by consulting with your vet and checking government websites.