• The law is designed to help dogs and owners
  • How to register your dog's chip
  • Protect your dog at home and abroad

The microchipping law, which was announced in late 2014, aimed to help take the burden away from animal charities and local authorities, who were having to search for lost pets and track down strays. It was also designed to make it easier for owners to find their dogs should they get lost.

The law could also help dog welfare, by encouraging more dog owners to act responsibly.

However, according a recent report by the Dogs Trust, only 34% of the total number of stray dogs taken in by dog wardens were already microchipped. Compare this to the previous year (29%) which suggests a significant number of dog owners haven't had their dogs microchipped.

Here are Lee Paris' answers to the key microchipping questions that owners might have.

What is a microchip?

A small electronic chip, around the size of a grain of rice. It contains a unique number that can be read by a scanner.

The owner's contact details are logged on a central database. If your dog becomes lost, is picked up by the dog warden, or turns up at a shelter or vet's office, the microchip can be scanned and matched to your contact details, which are kept on a database, and returned to you swiftly and safely.

How and where is the microchip implanted?

Using a specially designed implanting device, the microchip is injected through a sterile needle under the dog's skin between the shoulder blades.

Will it hurt my dog?

Not at all. No anaesthetic is required and the procedure should cause no more discomfort than a standard vaccination.

Do I need to register the chip?

If the vet, or whoever is chipping your dog, does not submit the paperwork for you, make sure you complete the form and mail it to the relevant company.

Even if the chipper submits the paperwork, it's a good idea to follow up with the database to make sure the chip was registered correctly.

How do I update my details when I move?

It's really quite simple. You can do it online, by telephone or by post – depending on which database your chip is registered to. Charges for updating your chip details vary across the microchip databases.

You'll need to know which microchipping database your pet is registered to in the UK, then you can contact the database directly to make your changes. Check your chip now using petlog.

From April 2016, it became a legal requirement to keep your dog's microchip information up-to-date – otherwise the microchip is useless. The Dogs Trust survey indicated that 69% of the dogs taken in by wardens last year with microchips still couldn't be returned to their owners because contact details were out of date. 

How else will microchipping help dog welfare?

Microchips make it easier to identify dogs that are at-risk – dogs in properties during emergency situations, for example. It's a deterrent to dog theft and makes it easier to identify the owner of a dog that has been treated badly.

If you take your dog on holiday microchipping will also help protect it, as pet insurance companies won't cover dogs that go abroad without a microchip.

Is there a fine/penalty if I don't get my dog microchipped?

If you do not comply with the notice, you could face a fine of up to £500 on conviction. Alternatively, an enforcer, such as a dog warden, may seize your dog, microchip it, register the details and recover the cost from you.

Don't forget, by law, dogs still have to wear a collar and tag, with their owner's name, address and telephone number on it. Dog tags and collars can fall off or be removed, though – a microchip is a more permanent way of identifying your dog.