Puppy walking along on a lead

What is microchipping and why microchip dogs?

An owner’s worst nightmare is losing their dog or even worse having their dog stolen. Microchipping will help you to get your dog back should they go missing. It acts as a deterrent to potential dog thieves. While the thought of implanting a small tracking device into your dog may put some owners off, it’s done solely with their best interests in mind. 

What is microchipping?

Microchipping involves having a very small computer chip implanted under your dog’s skin. Each microchip is assigned a unique identification number that is linked to you and your personal contact information. The microchip can then be scanned to read the unique number assigned to your dog. This number can then be entered into a national database to track down the owner of a dog. 

Whose responsibility is it to have a dog microchipped?

Microchipping should ideally be done when a dog is a young puppy. It is a legal requirement for a dog to be microchipped once they reach 8 weeks of age and it is the responsibility of the breeder to microchip a dog before it is sold. The microchip number will initially be registered in the breeder’s name. It can then can be transferred to the new owner once the sale has taken place. A vet should be the only person that implants the microchip. The number should then be registered on the official national database. 

Will getting my dog microchipped hurt?

The microchip is about the size of a grain of rice. It is injected at the back of your dog’s neck under the skin through a needle. While the procedure is very fast and simple, your puppy will probably feel the needle going in and may cry briefly. This pain won’t last long and a little local anaesthetic can even be applied to the skin beforehand to minimise it. Be sure to give your puppy lots of treats afterwards to help them feel reassured. 

How can I check my dogs microchip details?

When you purchased your puppy, the breeder should have provided details on the brand of microchip given and the unique identification number. This information may not be available to you, for example with rescue dogs. If that’s the case, take them to your local vet and have their microchip scanned. Once you know the microchip number you can check online which database they are registered with. You can then call them to update any details required. 

What if I don’t want my dog microchipped?

The only reason a dog can be exempt from microchipping is if a vet makes a written record that they cannot be microchipped for health reasons. However, there are few legitimate reasons for this and the emphasis is on having your dog microchipped, as it is for their own benefit should they go missing. 

If your dog is discovered to have not been microchipped then you will have 3 weeks to have them microchipped or face a fine and potential prosecution.   

Dr Alex Crow

Dr Alexander Crow is a RCVS licensed Veterinary Surgeon currently practicing at Buttercross Veterinary centre, a small animal accredited veterinary practice in Nottingham, United Kingdom. He earned his Bachelor of veterinary medicine degree at the Royal Veterinary College London. His special interests include neurology and soft tissue surgery and hopes to start his surgical certificate in the next year. When not working, he enjoys travelling to Europe, painting and staying fit.

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