Far from simply being a clever way to identify a lost pet, microchips are now a legal requirement for dogs in the UK.
It is your responsibility to ensure that your pet’s chip is functional, and that the information you have logged with your registry is up-to-date.
Microchips are inexpensive and virtually painless to install, so there really is no reason not to get your pets chipped as soon as you can. You may think that you can only get this procedure for your dogs and cats, but it would seem that there’s barely an animal out there that can’t benefit from this technology! So whether you’ve got a kitten, a puppy or even a tortoise, you should speak to your vet about microchipping.
Microchips are a great way to identify your pets. Typically implanted between the shoulder blades, the chip itself is around the same size as a grain of rice and the procedure is virtually painless; in fact, some humans have even given themselves microchips that are linked to their computer security systems!
In order to crack down on irresponsible pet ownership and to help lost pets return home, the UK government made it a legal requirement for all dogs over the age of eight weeks to be microchipped after the 6th April 2016.
A microchip is a tiny device with a unique number that is inserted into a cat or dog’s skin to help make them easier to identify. Having a pet microchipped isn’t as uncomfortable for a pet as it may seem, it is a similar kind of feeling as having a vaccination jab. A microchip scanner is used to read the number specific to that pet’s chip which is then entered into the national microchip database, meaning that the owner’s name, address and contact information can be retrieved; perfect for identifying a dog or cat’s owner if they have come in to a charity or rescue centre as a lost or ‘stray’ animal.
Owners that have had a pet go missing before know the feelings of fear and concern that come with this experience only too well. The safety of your pet is paramount and for most people a cat or dog is like having another child or member of the family. It is only natural that you do everything in your power to keep them safe from harm. Should your pet ever go missing then having a microchip can reassure you that they should be easy to identify when they are found. Another vital benefit is that should the issue of ownership surface, then you will be able to prove that the cat or dog is indeed your pet.
Longevity is a great bonus of microchipping as unlike other means of identification such as collars or tags, which can wear down, break or need to be replaced every few years or so, a microchip should last for the lifetime of a pet once it has been inserted. The process can arguably also be seen as safer, especially where cats are concerned as they tend to climb under fences and get their collars caught, potentially causing an injury or constricting their airflow.
Keeping your details up to date on the database is easy to do, meaning that if you move home, relocate or change your phone number then you can make these changes without having to worry about your pet’s microchip still having the old details registered; the changes made also take effect almost immediately.
Value for Money
Don’t let the fact that there is normally a fee to pay (between £3 – £30) put you off from microchipping, the money will seem like nothing at all if your pet goes missing and is reunited with you thanks to the chip. If you can’t afford to pay anything then look around on the internet and talk to your vet, there are microchipping programmes run by various animal charities and rescue centres that offer the service for free.
There are no real negatives to microchipping your pet, it was reported that on occasion a few of the old microchips had moved from their original position. However, microchips now have a slightly slanted edge so that they stay in place after they have been injected. The microchip cannot move into a cat or dog’s bloodstream; this is untrue, it is only the skin that the chip is inserted into.
Helpful for the Authorities
Whilst it is true that microchips don’t provide a certainty that your pet will be safe for its whole life, they do give you peace of mind. You can also rest easier safe in the knowledge that a microchip will make it easier for rescue centres, local councils and authorities to work together and return a cat or dog to its right home.
If you haven’t had your pet microchipped yet then it may be a good idea to speak to your vet or local animal charity to see how much it will cost to have done. From 2016 onwards all dog owners have to have their dog microchipped under new plans outlined by the government or face paying a fine of up to £500. Taking your cat or dog to have a microchip inserted will only take half an hour but will provide you with a sense of security and safety for their whole lifetime.
For more information about microchipping, have a look through our guides!