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How to get your pet microchipped

Why it's a good idea to microchip your pet

A dog at the vet being microchipped

It's heartbreaking to see the posters and internet posts about lost or stolen dogs and missing moggies. Too often pets disappear despite our best attempts to keep them safe. But being reunited with your beloved pet is easier if it's microchipped.

What is microchipping?

A microchip is a small radio device, the size of a grain of rice, that's inserted under the skin between your pet's shoulder blades.

The microchip contains a unique identifying number, which when scanned, shows details of the owner. The identification number is logged on a database so that when your pet is found and the microchip is scanned, you can be contacted using the details that appear on the database.

Microchips are made of a special non-reactive material, so the chip shouldn't cause a problem for your pet during its lifetime. Inserting a microchip is a simple procedure, similar to an injection, so is unlikely to cause your pet any discomfort.

Inserting a microchip is a simple procedure, similar to an injection, so is unlikely to cause your pet any discomfort.

Why should I get my pet microchipped?

The best reason to get your pet microchipped is so that you can be reunited with your pet quickly once it is found and scanned.

And in cases where ownership of a pet is disputed, a microchip registered in your name may help you recover your pet.

If your cat doesn't wear a collar, then it's the best way to formally identify who owns it. With microchipping, you have a much better chance of being reunited with your pet.

Dogs must wear an identity tag when they're out in public, but they can slip their collar or simply run off when they're not wearing a collar. A microchip is a form of identification that is part of your pet, so will always be with them if they wander off.

Since April 2016 it's been a legal requirement to get a dog microchipped and registered on an approved database if they are eight weeks or older. You could be liable for a £500 fine or even criminal prosecution if you don't get your dog microchipped.

Where can I get my dog microchipped?

The microchip should only be inserted by a vet or qualified professional. Nearly all vets will be able to microchip your pet. Some animal organisations, like the PDSA, also offer a microchipping service.

Expect to pay about £10-£15 to get your pet microchipped. In some cases, you can get your pet chipped for free. Speak to your vet who will be able to help.

What else do I need to know?

  • It's not just dogs and cats that can be microchipped. Many types of pet can be microchipped including rabbits and horses. If you're worried about your pet being stolen or lost, getting it microchipped will help you be reunited more quickly.
  • Check your pet insurance policy, as companies like LV= provide cover for the cost of advertising your lost pet and paying out a reward for its safe return.
  • It's essential that you keep your contact details up to date on the microchip database. So, if you're moving home or if you become the owner of a pet, make sure you update your details. Then, if your pet goes missing you can be contacted when it's found.
  • If you own a dog and you don't update your contact details when they change, you could be breaching the legal requirement to have your dog microchipped.
  • When buying or rehoming a puppy, make sure the breeder has microchipped the animal before you take it home. All puppies must be microchipped before they are eight weeks old (unless a vet decides otherwise). The breeder will give you the details of the microchipping service so that you can update the database details with your contact information.

If you're planning on taking your pet abroad, please remember to have your pet's microchip checked and confirmed as working properly no more than 30 days before you leave the UK.

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