A pet microchip is a tiny computer chip about the size of a grain of rice. It contains a unique code, used as a permanent form of ID and security for your pet.
Once your pet’s been microchipped, you’ll receive confirmation from a registered database containing an ID or reference number, plus your pet’s microchip number.
If your pet goes missing and is later found, it simply needs to be scanned by a device a vet or animal shelter will have. This will recognise the microchip’s unique code and identify your pet.
Microchipping your dog is simple and speedy. The chip’s usually inserted around the scruff of your dog’s neck. It’s done in a matter of seconds, and while it may be slightly uncomfortable for some dogs, others don’t notice it’s happening.
Since 6 April 2016, it’s legally required that all dogs in England, Scotland and Wales be microchipped by the age of eight weeks. Owners who don’t get their dog microchipped and registered face a fine of up to £500.
When you buy or adopt a puppy, your new pet needs to be microchipped before you take it home. Your breeder should pass on the correct microchip paperwork to you – if they don’t, and can’t give you a valid reason for the delay, something is probably wrong.
Your cat can be microchipped from the age of five weeks. Ideally, they should be microchipped before they’re let outside for the first time.
While it’s very quick and relatively painless, some owners may ask for their cat to be microchipped while they’re being spayed or neutered so they’re under anesthetic. This is a common practice, but if you have the opportunity, we recommend you microchip your cat as early as possible, without delay.
While cats don’t need to be microchipped by law, it’s still essential you microchip your cat as a responsible pet owner – cats are prone to roaming and may go missing. While collars can be easily lost or removed, a chip is very reliable and designed to last a lifetime.
Rabbits often try to escape and are at risk of getting lost. As they don’t wear collars, a microchip’s a good way to make sure they can be identified and returned to you.
Your rabbit should be microchipped as soon as you get them. Your vet will insert the microchip in a quick, relatively painless procedure.
Although you have the option of waiting for your rabbit to be microchipped while they’re being spayed or neutered (so they’re under anesthetic), this does run the risk of your rabbit not having identification if they’re accidentally let out of the house before then. We recommend you get your pet microchipped as early as you possibly can.
Changing your pet’s microchip details
If you move house or change your phone number, you’ll need to contact the database where your pet is registered to change your contact details. If you know the database your pet is registered with, you can simply check your details are up to date by contacting the database team over the phone.
If you don’t know the database your pet is microchipped with, take them to your local vet or rescue centre. They'll be able to do a scan and give you the number.