A guide to microchipping your dog

Dog microchipping

The government has now introduced a law requiring dog owners to microchip their pets by the age of eight weeks – or face a fine of up to £500. How will this new law affect you?

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How does dog microchipping work?

A dog microchip is a sterile device around the size of a grain of rice, which is inserted into the loose skin on the back of the neck. The microchip contains a 15-digit code which, when linked to a database, reveals details of the owner. 

Dog microchipping

Why do dogs need chips?

If a dog is found without a collar, it can be challenging to reunite it with its owner, particularly if it is found away from its local area and the owner has given up the search. Dogs that escape or are stolen can be identified using microchips that are simply scanned to identify the owner. 

Aren’t most dogs microchipped already?

Seven out of eight UK dogs already have microchips, but that still leaves approximately one million without the identifying tags. On top of this, people who keep their dogs for fighting or those who farm puppies in poor conditions, are unlikely to microchip their dogs. Other owners might simply not get around to it.

Will this reduce the number of strays?

Other countries that introduced compulsory dog microchipping saw a marked reduction of strays. For one thing, microchipping may be a deterrent to irresponsible owners who would otherwise abandon dogs, and to thieves looking to pass off stolen dogs as their own.

It is estimated that the move will save councils and pet charities £33 million a year – not least by making it possible to return dogs without incurring expensive kennel charges while looking for the owner.

Dog microchipping

How much does microchipping cost?

The procedure costs around £10 - £30, although some vets and charities offer it for free. 

Will microchipping hurt my dog?

There is some debate about whether microchipping dogs at such a young age (by eight weeks) could cause harm, particularly for smaller breeds. Most vets agree microchipping is a good thing and poses minimal risk to your pet.

What happens if I am caught with an unchipped dog?

If you are found with a dog that does not have a chip implanted, you will be given 21 days to have one put in. The £500 penalty is only applied if a dog is not chipped within the 21-day period.

Are any dogs exempt?

If you think your dog has a pre-existing condition that makes it unsuitable for microchipping, talk to your vet about whether you can obtain an exemption certificate.

How will the law be enforced?

At present, no organisation has been appointed to check up on whether owners are following the new rules. There is also no duty for vets to check if pets in their care have been microchipped. It is possible that authorities would carry out spot checks in parks, but no plans for this have been announced. 

Would you be able to afford the vet bills, lodging and possible dog replacement costs if your beloved pet went missing? Why not take out pet insurance with Computerquote?

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