What is pet microchipping?

Microchipping is an easy and pain-free way of keeping track of your precious pets should they wander or get lost.

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.

Dog microchipping

Microchipping your dog is simple and speedy. The chip is 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 a legal requirement 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 may be wrong.

Cat microchipping

Your cat can be microchipped from the age of five weeks. We recommend that all cats are microchipped before they’re allowed out for the first time.

As part of a wide-ranging new animal welfare plan agreed by the Government, it will soon become law to microchip cats.

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 anaesthetic. This is a common practice, but if you have the opportunity, we recommend you microchip your cat as early as possible, without delay.

As a responsible pet owner, we recommend all cats (even indoor cats) are microchipped – 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.

Rabbit microchipping

Rabbits often try to escape and are at risk of getting lost. As they don’t wear collars, a microchip is 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 anaesthetic), this does run the risk of your rabbit not having identification if they manage to escape before then. We recommend you get your rabbit 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 them by phone or online.

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.

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