Implantation of an electronic microchip under the skin has become recognised as the most secure and reliable way to identify an individual animal. Implantation is quick and painless, registration is cheap, there is no scarring or disfigurement, and it cannot be removed or tampered with. We wholeheartedly recommend microchip identification for all dogs, cats and rabbits, and any other valuable animal.
Why would my pet need a chip?
There are several circumstances when a microchip is invaluable:
- it is likely that more and more official schemes will require individuals taking part to be microchipped. All Guide Dogs are now chipped, as are many other organisations’ dogs. It is also likely that before long, Kennel Club registration will require chip identification.
- an injured stray animal is likely to end up at the vets surgery - and we need to be able to contact you urgently to find out how you would like us to look after your pet.
- if there is any dispute over the ownership of an animal - for example if a valuable animal is stolen - the microchip provides conclusive proof of ownership.
- if you wish to take your pet to Europe on holiday, the first requirement of the Pet Travel Scheme is identification by microchip.
How are chips implanted?
Implantation of a chip is done by giving a simple injection. In the common domestic species, no anaesthetic is needed, and no stitches are required. In some birds and reptiles, the implantation site may need to be stitched, and occasionally, local anaesthesia may be given.
Any species of animal can be implanted with an identification microchip. The commonest are dogs, cats, horses, parrots, birds of prey, tortoises and rabbits.
Where does the chip go?
In dogs and cats and rabbits, the chip is placed between the shoulderblades. In other species, different sites of implantation are used. There is an international agreement regarding the recommended sites for implantation.
Who can implant chips?
Any suitably trained person is permitted to implant a dog, cat or rabbit. Only veterinary surgeons or nurses are allowed to implant birds and reptiles etc. In skilled hands, it is perfectly possible to implant a microchip into small kittens and puppies, but non-vets may be reluctant to do this.
Who can read chips?
All vets, dog wardens, police forces, RSPCA, Dogs Trust, Cat Protection and many other rescue organisations are equipped with scanners to read chips. Being scanned for a microchip is one of the first things that happens to any stray animal.
What information is stored on a chip?
The chip contains nothing more than a unique 15-digit code. This code is registered on a national computer database, to which everyone who has a reader has access. Stored on the database with the chip number are the details of the animal and contact information for the owner.
How can I tell if an animal has been chipped?
It is usually not possible to feel a chip with your fingers, and there are no visible marks, so the only way to tell if there is a chip is to scan the animal. Some dogs wear a collar tag that tells finders that they have a chip. Chips can be seen on xrays.
Are there any dangers?
The chip is just an inert piece of bio-compatible glass. The body tissues react to it with a mild painless inflammation which results in the chip being embedded in some scar tissue. It does not emit any radiation or microwaves, etc. And there are no known effects on health.
I have heard of chips getting lost, migrating, or failing to work
In the vast majority of animals, the chip stays where it was implanted, and because there are no moving parts or batteries to wear out, it remains functional for the whole of an animal's life. On very rare occasions, a chip may move to a different position under the skin - usually it slips down to the side of the chest or lower. It has also been known for chips to work their way out of the implantation hole several days after implantation. There are also a few reports of chips actually failing to work after a period when they were ok. For this reason, we recommend you occasionally ask us to check your pet's chip when you are visiting the surgery.
Where are the chips registered?
The unique microchip number in your pet is stored in a national computer database. There are at least two of these, and which one is used depends on the manufacturer of the microchip that you have. The largest database is run by "PetLog", and this is the one with which our chips are registered. There is one central enquiry point for "found" chips, which is currently maintained by the RSPCA. This has links to all the databases in the UK, so it is certain that a chip can always be identified.
Do the chips work abroad?
The microchips used in the UK conform to international standards and scanners in all foreign countries should be able to read them. The central ownership database is UK-based; foreign-origin chips will not automatically be identified here, and our chips will not always re-unite pets with their owners abroad. However, a european-wide registration database is envisaged. Animals moving to the UK can be registered with PetLog for a small fee.