• Over 10,000 dogs are lost every year
  • New laws coming into effect in 2016 mean that every dog needs to be micro-chipped
  • Details of your pet will be stored on a 24-hour database, making it easier to reunite owners to their lost pets

Whether they don't come back through the cat flap after a night out, or they get scared and run off, the worst thing for any pet owner is to lose their pet. However, by micro-chipping your pet, you can be reunited quicker and easier.

It is astonishing to take in the number of dogs that go missing or are, sadly, abandoned – according to government data, approximately 10,000 dogs end up displaced every year. This costs taxpayers and animal welfare charities a whopping £57 million.

That's the logistical downside. From a personal point of view it's just as damaging – losing our pet is not only a heartbreaking experience, but often a costly one if your beloved pet gets injured on their travels (however, often this is covered when you insure your pet).

The government are now taking the measure, under the advice of charities and animal organisations, to introduce compulsory microchipping in England. Announced last year, this will come into effect on April 6th 2016. This will transform the current situation, the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs explained in early 2013.

It said that the new law "will help reunite owners with lost or stolen pets, relieve the burden on animal charities and local authorities and protect the welfare of dogs by promoting responsible dog ownership".

At present there are around eight million dogs in the UK. Of these 60 per cent are already chipped. For those of us you have yet to do this – and this includes owners of cats – you can visit various centres of established charities like the Dogs Trust and Blue Cross and get your pets chipped for free.

Are you nervous at the idea of getting your pet chipped?

Worry not - the procedure is surprisingly simple and, in terms of pain, no different to that of a prick of an injection during a routine vaccination. It tends to be performed by a qualified vet and if not, then a specially trained individual. The chip, which is no bigger than a grain of rice, is inserted under the skin of a cat or dog, usually between its shoulder blades.     

It now means, should your dog or cat go missing, if it is found, it can be scanned at a vet practice or animal welfare organisation. The details will then be uploaded to a 24-hour database to identify the owner, after which they will be contacted and reunited with their pet.

It is important to note, that for now at least, compulsory microchipping is only applicable to dogs. Needless to say, feline organisations like Cats Protection is lobbying the government to make this so.