White terrier getting vacuumed by someone

On 6 April, it became compulsory for all owners living in England, Scotland and Wales to microchip their dogs and get them added to an approved database. Failing to do so could lead to a £500 fine and criminal prosecution.

Microchipping isn’t something that was cooked up overnight; many animal support groups, including the British Veterinary Association, the Kennel Club, the Dogs Trust and the RSPCA, have been campaigning for compulsory microchipping for years.

If you’re wondering why your dog needs to be microchipped, then read on to find out.

Why does my dog need a microchip?

There are three main reasons why microchipping is such a good idea and has been made compulsory…

  • Firstly, if your dog is lost or stolen, you’ll be able to find it quickly. Gone are the days when you could simply trust a nametag on your dog’s collar - technology has moved on, and so should you.
  • Secondly, the old saying ’a dog isn’t just for Christmas’ is just as relevant now as it’s ever been. Owners are abandoning their dogs at alarming rates because they can’t deal with the responsibility they signed up for. We get it, sometimes circumstances change and situations can’t be avoided – but it’s an owner’s responsibility to rehome their dog. Microchips are expected to stop ’dog dumping’, as pets can now be traced back to their owners.
  • Thirdly, some dogs are bred and reared for dogfights, or to be used as weapons. If a dog is being used for illegal purposes, the microchip makes it easier to track down its owners.

What should I consider when buying a dog?

At eight weeks old, puppies should get their microchip. So it’s the breeder’s responsibility to get it done.

Make sure you ask for proof that a microchip has been fitted before you buy your dog. This proof could be:

  • A microchip certificate
  • Vet records
  • Pet passport

Once you’ve bought the new addition to you family, make sure the pup’s details are all up to date.

What happens when my dog gets microchipped?

The procedure is painless and shouldn’t cause your pet any distress.

Your vet will put a chip the size of a grain of rice in your dog’s dorsal midline, between the shoulder blades. It’s just like getting a routine vaccination and your pet is very unlikely to suffer any discomfort.

What happens if I don’t microchip my dog?

There are an estimated nine million dogs in the UK, with around 1.4 million still to be microchipped.

If you still haven’t microchipped your dog, and you’re stopped by a police officer or a member of the council, they will give you an enforcement notice and 21 days to get your dog microchipped.

After the 21 days, if you still haven’t microchipped your dog, then you’ll face a fine of up to £500. Why take the risk when microchipping is free?

How do I register my dog?

Registering your dog is pretty straightforward.

There are a number of databases available online, and unless your vet has one they use specifically, it’s up to you which one you choose to go with.

Keep track of your dog and stay within the law by registering your microchip to one of the following UK databases:

Different databases have different registrations fees, some are even free, and you can register online, by phone or post.

You’ll also need to update your details on your microchipping database when you move house, otherwise your microchip is useless and you’ll be breaking the law.

What details do I need to enter?

The easiest way to register your pet is online, but be prepared to share quite a lot of details when registering.

Not only will you have to answer things about yourself like your name and address, you’ll also have to enter things about the breeder, your dog’s breed and the unique microchip number. So make sure you have all this stuff to hand.

What about pet insurance?

Insurance companies will often ask you whether your dog is microchipped or not, but it’s rare for them to refuse you pet insurance based on this information.

However, the law has changed when it comes to microchipping, and who’s to say insurance companies won’t follow suit?

That’s it. The bottom line is; microchip your dog to keep it safe and to stay within the law.

Check out this quick video on what the RSPCA have to say about microchipping your dog and keeping the details up to date: