Do Dogs Have to Be Microchipped?

Since April 6th 2016, it has been mandatory in the UK for all dogs over the age of 8 weeks to be microchipped and registered on an approved database. There may be exceptions if your vet confirms in writing that this shouldn’t be done for health reasons. As well as having a microchip, dogs must legally also wear a collar with their owner’s name and address on it when in a public place. If you haven’t already microchipped your dog, you’ll need to do so as soon as possible to avoid the possibility of receiving a notice and fine.

The Benefits of Microchipping

Every year, thousands of pets go missing and are not reunited with their owners. The legal requirement for dogs to be microchipped is intended to change this by making it much easier to return lost dogs to their owners. Microchipped dogs are also much harder to sell on, so it helps to prevent dog theft too.

If your dog gets lost and is found as a ‘stray’, they can be scanned to see if they have been microchipped. As long as your details are kept fully up-to-date on the appropriate database, they can quickly be returned to you. Microchipping is a permanent means of identifying a pet’s owner, whereas collars and tags can be easily damaged or slip off.

As well as dogs, it’s now also a legal requirement to get cats microchipped. Other pets, such as rabbits and even horses can usually be microchipped too, depending on your pet’s health. It’s worth speaking to your vet about getting your pets microchipped if you are worried about them being lost or stolen.

What Does Microchipping Involve?

A microchip is coded with a unique number that can be read by a scanner. It’s roughly the same size as a grain of rice. It is usually inserted under your pet’s skin between their shoulder blades (or in the neck, for horses). It’s not painful for your pet but they may feel a bit of a sting as with any injection when it is implanted.

Can Microchips Fall Out?

It’s extremely rare for a dog’s microchip to fall out. If it does it will usually be within the first day or two of being inserted.

Having said this, a dog’s microchip can sometimes ‘migrate’, or move to another part of the body. If you notice a bump somewhere on your dog, it could be their microchip. Ask a vet to check for you – while it’s not usually anything to worry about, it’s a good idea to know where your dog’s microchip is so that you can direct anyone that needs to scan it!

How Much is Microchipping a Dog?

Microchipping a dog usually costs between £10 and £30. Many vets will also offer microchipping as part of a health plan, such as the The Healthy Pet Club.

Animal charities such as Dogs Trust occasionally offer free microchipping at certain locations, and as part of means-tested financial help with essential medical treatments.

How to Register Your Dog

Once your dog has had their microchip implanted, you will need to register them online at one of the following approved databases:

Registering your dog is essential, as this is how your details can be found. The unique microchip code can be searched in the database and matched to your name and contact details.

What If I Don’t Get My Dog Microchipped?

If your dog isn’t microchipped and registered on an approved database, you could be issued with a notice ordering you to do so in the next 21 days. Once the 21 days have passed, if your dog is still not microchipped, you could be fined £500.

If you’re not sure whether your dog has been microchipped by a previous owner, you can ask for them to be scanned by a vet. You’ll need to change the details registered with the microchip to your own if they currently list a previous owner.

It’s also a legal requirement that the details registered are up-to-date with your current address and telephone number. Remember to change them if you move house or get a new number. Failure to do so could also result in you receiving a notice and a potential £500 fine.

How to Update Your Dog’s Microchip Details

If you need to update your dog’s microchip details but can’t remember who you registered them with, contact one of the databases above. They will be able to tell you who you are registered with.

Or, you can try the UK pet microchip searcher, check-a-chip.

How Do I Find My Dog’s Microchip Number Online?

If you don’t know your dog’s 15-digit microchip number, there are a few ways you can find out.

If you know which online database you registered your dog’s microchip with, you can simply log into your account online to find out the microchip number.

Dogs adopted from reputable rescue centres will usually have been microchipped and registered by the charity you got them from. They should have a record of the microchip number, and it should also be in your dog’s paperwork.

If your dog was microchipped by the vet, you should have received a microchip receipt with the number included. If you can’t find it, contact your vet as they should have a record.

Or, you can simply take your dog to the vet to be scanned to find out their number.

Wrapping Up

Making sure your dog is microchipped is the best way to help bring them back to you should they ever go missing. As it’s a legal requirement, you’ll need to get in touch with your vet as soon as possible if you’re unsure whether your dog is microchipped. Find out about the more recent change in the law with regards to microchipping cats here.