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Microchipping: The Facts

The government has announced that as of April 2016, all dogs in the UK must be microchipped by law. Many owners don’t necessarily know how microchipping works though and this can lead to the system breaking down, so Hill’s has laid out the facts in one easy reference guide.

The new laws regarding compulsory microchipping for dogs in the UK have been introduced with the hope of reuniting more lost or stolen pets with their owners, reducing the number of stray animals and helping with the prosecution of more owners of dangerous dogs. This is to the delight of organisations such as The Blue Cross, who have been campaigning for such a move for a long time. Laws have also been changed to ensure that dog attacks on private property can no longer automatically go unpunished, encouraging more responsible dog ownership and hopefully reducing UK dog attack statistics.

Authorities such as the The National Dog Warden Association and Dog’s Trust warn that owners need to be aware that microchipping their pet is only the first step towards the system working though. So how does microchipping actually work and what do owners need to do to make sure that their pet is protected in the long-term?

How A Microchip Works

  • Each chip is programmed with a unique number that is transmitted when the chip is scanned by a specialised microchip reader.
  • This number is associated with the owner’s details in a national database. Because it is a number rather than actual contact details that the chip transmits, any changes to owner details can be made easily and data is protected.
  • All vets, council run dog kennels (where strays are taken by a dog warden) and many rescue centres have microchip readers/scanners.
  • Regardless of chip manufacturer, all UK readers will scan all UK microchips and the various UK pet owner databases work together to share information when trying to locate a microchipped pets’ owner.

“When our dog Bella went missing and we had heard nothing after a week of desperately trying to find her, we started to lose hope. Then we got a call from a vet saying that they had scanned her microchip after someone had brought her in to them and she was back home within the hour!”
Mr Fairweather, Devon

How A Microchip Is Fitted

  • A pre-loaded sterile syringe allows the microchip to be inserted just under the skin, between the shoulder blades.
  • Insertion is a quick and straightforward procedure that does not require an anaesthetic.
  • Insertion can be performed from as young as one day old.
  • The insertion procedure is no more painful than a usual vaccination injection and rarely bleeds. If there is any bleeding, it can be stopped quickly by applying a little pressure.
  • Microchips are coated in a special type of glass identical to that used in human pacemakers, so the dog’s body does not try to reject it.

“I was really worried about having Scooby microchipped as a puppy because he was so small. He didn’t bat an eyelid though and was more interested in eating a treat and sniffing the table whilst it was inserted! It’s now been in there for five years with no problems.”
Mrs Francis, Surrey

Making Sure A Microchip Stays Effective

  • Microchips only work if the contact details associated with the unique chip number are kept up to date by owners. This is usually done by simply phoning the microchip database company – check any microchip paperwork or ask your vet for details.
  • Microchips can sometimes move from where they were originally inserted and (rarely) even come out altogether (usually soon after insertion). Very rarely, they stop working entirely, so regular checks are important. Annual vaccinations are a good time to do this, but ‘chip checks’ can also often be done at the vets without an appointment or charge.

“Owners of microchipped pets must remember to keep their contact details updated. 40% of the dogs we pick up that are chipped have got incomplete or inaccurate data, meaning they can't be returned."
The National Dog Warden Association

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