Each year, thousands of dogs go missing and some are taken from their owners. We all like to think that it’ll never happen to us, but it’s important to take steps now so that your dog can easily be traced back to you. If your dog does go missing, the best chance you have of being reunited is to make sure that they’re microchipped, and that your contact details are up to date. Whether you’re an owner or a breeder, it’s essential that you know about microchipping.
What’s a microchip for?
A microchip is a simple and safe way of permanently identifying a dog. This type of identification is not visible on the outside and can usually only be accessed by professionals who work with animals.
Having your dog microchipped can help you to:
- Be traced and contacted if you’re ever separated from your dog
- Demonstrate that your dog is yours
- Show that your dog is the right dog, and not another one you own
How does a microchip work?
A microchip is a tiny computer chip, or piece of silicone, that’s injected under your dog’s skin. This ‘chip’ has a unique 15-digit code that must be registered with a pet reunification database which is compliant with Government regulations, such as Petlog. The microchip itself doesn’t hold any of your personal details; these are kept separately on the microchip registration database.
If a dog is found, their microchip can be scanned with a handheld device that reads the microchip number. Authorised individuals, such as vets, veterinary nurses, local authorities, police or welfare/rescue organisations, can use this 15-digit code to search any database that holds your contact details. They can then use these details to let you know that your dog has been found.
Why should I get my dog microchipped?
You should make sure that your dog is microchipped because:
- It’s a legal requirement for dogs
- Microchipping is one of the simplest, safest and quickest ways to help your dog be reunited with you, if they ever go missing
- It’s a permanent form of identification that can’t be changed, altered or easily removed. Collars and tags can break or fall off, but your dog’s microchip can usually always be accessed by certain professionals
- As long as your contact details are kept up to date, then, providing that your dog is scanned, your contact information can easily be accessed
- If your dog is found, with no way of identifying a current home (or if the details held on the database are incorrect and you cannot be contacted), they may be rehomed or may even be euthanised
- It gives you the reassurance that you can be easily contacted if anything happens to your dog
Find out more about getting your dog microchipped on the Petlog website.
What information does a dog’s microchip contain?
The microchip itself doesn’t hold any of your personal details; these are kept separately on the microchip registration database. Each microchip has a unique 15-digit code that must be registered with a pet reunification database The details that are kept on a microchipping database include:
- Your dog’s unique ID number
- Your name
- Your home address
- Your mobile telephone number, landline and email address
- The breeders licence number (optional)
- Your local authority (optional)
Do dogs have to be microchipped by law?
Yes, all dogs in England, Scotland and Wales must be microchipped by the age of eight weeks old and must be registered in the breeder’s name first. There are a few exceptions, such as a vet certifies that a dog should not be microchipped for health reasons. Microchipping is a requirement of dog licensing in Northern Ireland.
It’s also a legal requirement that the microchips unique number is registered with a government compliant microchip database, such as Petlog. For dogs, this should be done at the time the microchip is implanted by the person implanting the microchip. These authorised databases are privately run and not managed by the government. Not all microchipping databases comply with government regulations.
As well as being microchipped, any dog that goes out in public must also wear a collar with a tag that has the owners name and address on it.
Find out more about compulsory microchipping.
When did compulsory microchipping become the law?
Microchipping for dogs was made compulsory in England, Scotland and Wales in April 2016. It has been compulsory in Northern Ireland since January 2015.
How to register a dog’s microchip?
The person that implants your microchip in your dog will pass your details onto one of the registered databases. Within 24 hours, you should receive confirmation from the database your pet is registered on, usually via email, but some may send a text or letter to the address provided at the time of registration. If you haven’t received any notification, you will need to contact your vet to ensure that your information has been uploaded correctly.
All microchips must be registered with a government approved pet reunification database.
How much does it cost to microchip a dog?
Having your dog microchipped usually costs around £10 to £15, depending on where you get it done. Some databases may charge an administration fee to update or transfer details, for example when a dog is rehomed from breeder to first owner.
How do I find an implanter?
Most dogs are microchipped by a vet or a veterinary nurse, but the microchip can also be implanted by other professionals, so long as they are appropriately trained (e.g., some dog groomers, dog walkers or pet sitters). If an implanter is not trained or qualified, they could do the procedure incorrectly and it could hurt your dog or may not work correctly.
What age can a dog be microchipped?
Although a dog can be microchipped at any age, most vets will suggest that puppies are Microchipped around seven to eight weeks old. If they are too young, it may be uncomfortable for them or could cause issues with the microchip migrating. The law says that dogs must be microchipped before they are eight weeks old, unless a specific exemption applies.
Puppies shouldn’t be sold before they are eight weeks old, so if you’re a breeder, then you must have your puppies microchipped and registered in your name and with your contact details before they are sold. Selling a puppy, or dog, that is not microchipped and registered in the breeder (sellers) name is illegal. If you’re a new owner, your puppy must be microchipped by the breeder before you collect them. If the puppy is not, the breeder must supply you with a veterinary exemption certificate. Your breeder should also give you paperwork (or send you an email) that includes your dog’s microchip number and details of the database it’s been registered with.
Where do they put microchips on a dog?
Your dog’s microchip is injected between their shoulder blades, just under their skin.
Does microchipping a dog hurt them?
Implanting a microchip takes seconds and is very simple to do. Because it’s an injection, it may cause a little bit of discomfort, but most dogs don’t feel it at all. Once the microchip is in place, your dog won’t realise that it’s there.
Are there any side effects from microchipping a dog?
Every dog, by law, needs to be microchipped. This means that there are millions of dogs that are currently microchipped in the UK. Luckily, side effects are extremely rare, and most dogs have no effects at all. A very small percentage of dogs have been reported to have bled at the injection site, developed an infection, had a microchip that stopped working or the microchip may have moved around under the skin.
How big is a dog’s microchip?
A microchip is the size of a grain of rice. The procedure, which is carried out by a vet or trained microchip implanter, takes only a few minutes, but lasts a lifetime.
Can you feel a microchip in a dog?
You can’t usually feel a dog’s microchip when you stroke your dog, but occasionally you might feel a tiny lump between their shoulder blades, or around the scruff of their neck. It may be easier to feel if they’re a small breed or if they have very short fur or are hairless. If you can’t feel the microchip it doesn’t mean that it’s not there. It may be more difficult to find on larger dogs that have dense fur, or it could have moved slightly. If you’re concerned about your dog’s microchip, speak to your local veterinary practice and they can easily check that it’s still where it should be and is working ok.
What happens if my dog is lost?
If your dog goes missing or is stolen, contact your microchip registration database straight away. Check with them that your contact details are up to date and tell them that your dog is missing. You may be able to do this online or over the phone.
If your dog is found, and taken to a rescue home, vet etc., then an authorised agent will be able to scan your dog and read their microchips unique 15-digit number. They can then put this number into a database and access your contact details and let you know that your dog has been found.
Should my puppies be microchipped before I take them home?
Yes. Dogs must be microchipped before they’re transferred to a new owner, unless the breeder can give you a veterinary exemption certificate. This microchip must also be registered on a government compliant database and, initially, must have your breeders’ contact details. Your breeder should provide you with proof that your dog has been microchipped, this should include what your dog’s 15-digit unique code is. If a breeder can’t give you these details, or a vet’s certificate to say why the puppy could not be microchipped, do not give them any money and walk away. They could be a puppy farmer.
Once you’ve taken your puppy home, you should contact the database that has registered your dog’s microchip to change the contact details to your own.
How to find my dog’s microchip number
If you’ve lost your dog’s paperwork, you can find out what you dog’s microchip number is by taking them to the vets, or you could contact the database that your dog’s microchip is registered with. If you’ve forgotten which database the microchip is registered with, you can check on the Petlog website.
How to change my dogs microchip details
If any of your contact details have changed, such as you have a new address because you’ve moved house, or you have a new mobile number, then you must update these with your microchip registration database.
If you’d like to change your details, your microchip registration database will allow you to do this online or over the phone. You may need to pay to update your details.
Also, please be aware that if you change your details at your vets, it does not automatically update your dog’s microchip details, as these are two separate companies.
It’s really important to make sure that all of your contact details are up to date. If your dog does go missing, and your contact details aren’t correct, you won’t be able to be contacted. Also, it’s a legal requirement for these details to be kept up to date. If they’re not, you could be fined.
How to change ownership of a microchipped dog
If you’ve just adopted a dog or have bought a new puppy, you will need to update your dog’s microchip details. You should’ve been given some information by the rehoming centre or your breeder, who should provide you with your dog’s microchip number and the database that holds the current contact details. If you’re not sure which database your dog’s microchip is registered with, you can check on the Petlog website.
The database company should be able to provide you with a form that allows you to be recorded as the new owner. You may be charged for updating these details.
Can a dog’s microchip be used to track a dog?
Your dog’s microchip can’t be used as a GPS tracking device. It only provides information to anyone that is next to your dog and scans them with a special handheld scanner. The only information that is held on your dog’s microchip is a unique 15-digit code. This code is registered with a database that also records your contact details. If your dog is found, the microchip must be scanned and your dog’s microchip number is entered into a database to access your contact details.
Do dog microchips expire?
Your dog’s microchip should last for the whole of their life, unlike a collar or tags, which can be lost. You can change or update your contact information via the microchip registration database at any time.
What is Petlog?
The Kennel Club manages Petlog, the UK's largest pet microchipping database. Petlog Premium gives you the best chance of finding your pet should they go missing. For a single fee of £19.95, Petlog Premium helps you keep your records up to date for the lifetime of your pet