June is microchip awareness month! As a dog owner and qualified microchip implanter I am always eager to make sure owners of any animal in their care that has been microchipped and that these details are accurate and always kept up-to-date.
What is a microchip?
A microchip is a tiny grain of rice size that is injected into your pet, just under the skin, between their shoulder blades. It holds a unique number, similar to a bar code, which unites you and your pet should he/she become lost or stolen.
Who can microchip my pets?
You can have your pet microchipped by a veterinary surgeon or a qualified implanter such as myself.
How does it work?
Each microchip is encoded with its own unique number; similar to a barcode. The microchip is implanted just under your dogs’ skin between its shoulder blades. When the chip is scanned with a special scanner you can read the barcode and this barcode is registered under the dogs’ owners’ details.
Will it hurt my dog?
The majority of dogs (and kittens) that I have microchipped haven’t even noticed I have chipped them. Some don’t like the high pitched noise the scanner makes when it checks the implant but that is all.
Is it also a tracking device?
No. It’s purely for identification purposes.
Do I have to have my dog microchipped?
Yes, under the Microchipping of Dogs (England) Regulations 2015 every dog owner must have their pet microchipped. There are 2 exceptions to the rule such as puppies under 8 weeks of age and certified working dogs but in general, yes, you must have your dogs’ microchipped. Failure to do so could result in a fine of up to £500 plus court fees.
What if I refuse to have my dog/s implanted?
If your dog/s are found not to be implanted with a microchip then the Local Authority; a Police Officer and/or; a Community Support Officer can issue a notice on you as the “keeper” of the dog requiring you to arrange for the microchipping to be undertaken within 21 days from date of service. If you fail to comply with the notice then they can arrange for the dog/s to be microchipped and recover the costs from you. But honestly, I have no idea why anyone would not want to microchip their pets – when they have reunited so many lost or stolen dogs with their owners’ even years after the dog has gone missing.
My dogs are microchipped so that’s it right?
Not entirely. You must make sure that the details registered against your dogs’ microchip are kept up-to-date. So if you move home or change your telephone or mobile phone numbers you must make sure the data base where your dogs’ microchip is registered is advised and the new details recorded. Alternatively, if you adopt a rescue dog or buy from anyone else you must transfer the current details into yours. There may be a small fee for this dependant on the data base.
How do I find out which data base holds my dogs microchip details?
You will need to know your dogs’ microchip number. This can usually be found in your dogs’ vaccination records but if you don’t have these your local vet can scan your dog to establish its number. Once you have this information click here and follow the instructions.
Can I change my dogs' data base?
Yes you can. When I adopted one of my dogs his microchip was logged on a different data base to all of my other dogs data base and I wanted to make my life simplier by having them all logged on the same one. All you need to do is contact the data base you want to move from and advise them you want to switch data bases. Give them the details of the one you want to switch to and they will do the work for you. I am told there may be a small fee but I have never had to pay one.
What to do in the event of adverse events.
There are three categories under this heading; implantation reactions, microchip migration and, microchip failure. It is extremely rare for your pet to have an adverse reaction to being microchipped but if he/she does you should consult your vet immediately.
If you become aware that your pets microchip has migrated from the implant site then this has to be reported. There is a £500 fine for failure to do so. It is very simple; I have had to do this when I checked one of my dogs’ chips. He was microchipped by my vet and several years after the procedure I found it has migrated in his left shoulder. It is doing my dog no harm and is still working but such things must be reported to the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs. They have directed the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) to collate this information and it’s important that you do so because if the VMD find they have a reports on chips migrating that have been implanted by the same implanter then they can request that they undertake further training or desist from continuing to microchip pets. The VMD may also establish certain types of microchips may be migrating and will be able to work with the manufacturer to address the issue. You can report any migration issues by visiting www.vmd.defra.gov.uk/microchipeventreporting/
An implanted microchip should continue working for the whole of your pets’ life. It is very rare for a microchip to cease working however, it has happened. Before assuming the chip has stopped working you should first ensure the scanner being used is not faulty; is fully charged and compatible with reading your dogs chip. However, if you are sure the chip has failed you should consult with your vet immediately.
Hope you have found this information useful.