Everything you need to know about microchipping your pet

Microchipping your pet can help get them back to you if they get lost or are stolen. Microchips can be loaded with your contact details so that when they are scanned, it is possible to see who the pet belongs to.

It’s currently a legal requirement for dogs to microchipped by the time they are eight weeks old and failing to chip them can mean a fine of up to £500. However, it is a good idea to microchip all of your pets, if possible. A lot of different animals other than dogs can be microchipped, including cats, horses, rabbits, birds and ferrets.

Why should I microchip my pet?

Any animal – from dogs to rabbits and even horses – can easily get lost in many situations. Whether they get out of their enclosure, get scared when you’re taking them for a walk or are stolen, microchipping provides an easy way to identify your pet and hopefully get them back home.

If you don’t microchip your pet, it can be much harder to trace them back to you. This can mean a lot of heartache and could result in them being rehomed. Both microchipping and keeping your contact details up to date are important when it comes to keeping your pets safe.

How does microchipping pets work?

To microchip your pet, your vet will insert a tiny microchip under the animal’s skin, most often between the shoulder blades or on the neck – depending on the animal. This chip gives every pet a code that is unique to them.

When scanned, the chip can be matched to the owner’s contact details, which are kept on a database. It is a good idea to keep a record of the database your pet’s details are on, as well as the microchip number so you can update the details if you move.

If you need to update your contact details but don’t have this information, you can check if your vet has the information on file or ask them to scan the chip so you know what the number is. You can then use a service like PETtrac to update the details.

Microchipping your rabbit

Does microchipping hurt?

Microchipping your pet is very similar to giving them an injection. In most cases, it causes little discomfort and is over quickly with no lasting pain. Your pet may yelp or flinch during the procedure but they will be absolutely fine afterwards, especially when you give them a bit of a fuss.

Because the procedure is so quick, it can easily be performed during a normal check-up with your vet. As it isn’t a surgical procedure, no anaesthesia is needed, however, if they aren’t yet chipped and are having surgery – such as being neutered or spayed – you can ask your vet if it is possible to microchip then when they are still under anaesthesia.

What information is on a microchip?

The only information on the microchip is the unique identification number. This is why it is important to register this number with your details. Registering your contact details means that the ID number can be matched to them when the chip is scanned – such as if your lost animal is found.

The chip can’t be used to track your animal so can only reunite them with you if someone scans it.

What happens if my pet gets lost in another country?

If you take your pet travelling with you and they get lost in another country, their microchip can still be used to find you. This is because the International Standards Organisation (ISO) recommended a global standard for microchips.

This means that ISO standard scanners are still able to read microchips of pets from different countries, allowing someone who found your pet to locate your contact details.

microchipping your cat

What should I do if my pet goes missing?

We always hope our pets won’t get lost, but if they do, having a microchip will be a big help. You should start by making sure that the microchip database is up to date with the correct information so people know how to get hold of you if they find and scan your pet.

It is a good idea to contact your vet and others in the area, as well as any rescue shelters near you to give them a description of your pet. If possible, give them the ID number on the microchip as well, as this can make it easier to get your pet home to you.

Letting your neighbours know that your pet has gone missing and asking them to keep an eye out for them is also a good idea. Often, animals don’t go far or manage to find their way back to your local area, so having your neighbours look out for them can be very helpful. If you have recently moved, asking people in your old neighbourhood to look out for your pet can also be very helpful.

Nowadays, social media can help track down lost pets, with local groups and pages often helping to reunite owners with animals. See where you can post and get pictures of your pet online, as well as printing off posters to put up in your area.

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