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Microchipping FAQ

What are the 2016 Microchipping changes?

As of the 6th of April 2016 in England microchipping will be compulsory for all dogs over 8 weeks old*. Any owners whose dogs are discovered not to be microchipped will be given an opportunity to rectify this. However, if they fail to get their dog microchipped they may face criminal prosecution and a £500 fine.

Both Scotland and Wales are also making microchipping compulsory in spring 2016. In Northern Ireland microchipping is already compulsory as part of the dog licensing legislation.
*Unless certified by a vet to say otherwise or unless the puppy has had its tail docked.

What is a microchip?

It is a small, electronic chip in a glass cylinder approximately the size of a grain of rice. When activated by the scanner the chip will transmit the unique identification number to the scanner which then displays a code number.

What information is stored on the microchip?

The microchip itself will only contain a unique code. This code when entered into a microchip database will bring up details on the owner. Some databases will allow the owner to store any medical information relating to the dog.

It is important that any change of information (e.g. address of owner) are given to the microchipping database.

Do I have to go to the vets to get my dog microchipped?

No. Dogs can be microchipped by other qualified technicians such as at organisations for example The Dogs Trust and Battersea Dogs Trust offer microchipping.

Is it painful? How is a dog microchipped?

The microchip is injected under the skin and is no more painful than a typical injection. It can be carried out during a routine vet appointment.

Do I have to register with a database? What databases are available?

Yes. The microchip itself only contains the unique code which links to the details stored on a database. It is important that if whoever is chipping your dog does not submit the paperwork to a database, then you should check to make sure it is completed and sent. It is a good idea to always follow up and check with the database to make sure the chip has been registered correctly.

UK Microchip Databases

What happens if my dog is registered and I lose the registration documents?

The microchip number will be on the confirmation letter or email sent by the microchipping database you chose to register with.

However if these have been misplaced then the easiest way of recovering your details is to contact the vet or company who carried out the procedure as they should have a record of the microchip number. The other option is to take your dog into the vets or an animal shelter and have the microchip scanned.

I am already registered on a microchipping database. Do I have to pay to change my address?

Databases usually charge a premium cost that will cover any change to the microchip details over the lifetime of your dog (whilst in your care) but you should check with the database operator.

How are the owners traced? Is it safe?

When a pet is found, the animal professional (e.g. vet or a dog warden) will scan for a microchip. The unique code will be read and contact will be made with the database the pet is registered with. The staff at the database will perform security checks before releasing any contact details.

Does microchipping replace the existing collar and tag law?

No it doesn’t. Your dog will still have to wear a collar and a tag that has the name and address of the owner when in a public place.

What happens if the microchip fails?

Any adverse effects such as microchip failure, microchip migration or reactions to implantation should be reported to Veterinary Medicines Directorate’s Microchip Adverse Event Reporting Scheme. The microchip should then be replaced.

Do I have to microchip old dogs?

The law states that “microchipping doesn’t have to happen as long as a veterinary surgeon certifies, on a form approved by the secretary of state, that the dog shouldn’t be microchipped for reasons of the animal’s health”.

This means that a dog needs to be checked by a vet to determine whether it is fit enough to be microchipped or not and is entirely at the vets’ discretion. Its age will not automatically disqualify it from the microchipping scheme.

Can I choose to get my dog tattooed instead of microchipped?

No. A dog could be tattooed alongside the microchip but the microchip still has to be present.

If my puppies have been docked does the 8 week old microchipping limit still apply?

No. In accordance to the Animal Welfare Act 2006, if a certified working dog has qualified for tail docking then the owner needs to ensure that it is microchipped before it is 3 months old rather than the 8 weeks for other dogs.

Can I change which database my dog is registered with after microchipping?

No. The microchip is aligned to a specific database. It is important you research the databases available and check with the implanter (e.g. vet) as to which chips they use and which database they are aligned to.

Where can I find more information?

The Dogs Trust website holds a range of information on the new microchipping rules and how to find centres offering free microchipping.

The British Veterinary Association has a range of information on microchipping and your responsibilities

For more information on the microchipping legislation in your country please use the following links:

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