What is a microchip?
A microchip is a small electronic device (approximately the size of a grain of rice) which is inserted under an animal’s skin. Each chip contains a unique number which, when scanned with a microchip reader, allows the person to identify the pet’s details. Microchipping provides a permanent identification solution for animals – unlike a collar and tag which could easily be removed. Therefore, if a pet is lost or stolen, a microchip could be the only way to reunite the animal with their owner.
A microchip should last the animal’s lifetime and the details are held on a database so, it is important to ensure that they are up-to-date at all times. It is very frustrating to have a stray or missing pet come into us that has a microchip but then we find it has old information and we’re unable to locate the owner.
Since April 2016, it is now compulsory for all dogs in England, Wales and Scotland (over 8 weeks old) to be microchipped. Usually this is done by the breeder and then it is the new owners responsibility to update the database with the new details.
Although it is not a legal requirement to have cats (and other pets) microchipped, they can still go missing easily and therefore, it is recommended to have them chipped. Cat collars are designed to come apart if the cat gets stuck or caught somewhere and so, are often lost. A microchip may be the only method of identifying the animal. Also, as cat’s like to wander (and often have a second home) it can help with ownership disputes.
It is not only cats and dogs that can be microchipped, we can also chip rabbits, ferrets, birds and reptiles.
The pet passport scheme states animals must be chipped in order to travel so if you’re planning a trip abroad with your pet, they must have a chip implanted prior to travel.
What to do should your pet goes missing?
It’s a stressful and horrible experience when a pet goes missing, but here’s our advice in case it happens to you:-
Inform the relevant microchip company (different manufacturer’s hold different databases, this information will be on the microchip paperwork)
Contact your vet and other vet practices in the area
Contact any rescue shelters, the local dog warden and anyone else relevant in your local area
Put posters up and ask neighbours to check sheds, garages and outbuildings
Consider social media
Microchipping is also a legal requirement for animals travelling abroad under DEFRA's Pet Travel Scheme.
Visit www.tracer-microchips.co.uk for more information.