Dr Hannah Godfrey BVetMed MRCVS.
This month it’s Chip Your Pet Month, so what better time to check whether your furry family members are microchipped and their microchip details are up to date?
But what if you find that your canine companion or feline friend doesn’t have a microchip? Do they really need one? Let’s find out why microchipping your pet is essential.
What is a microchip?
A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice. Each microchip has a unique number and emits a constant signal. This signal can be picked up by a microchip scanner, which will display the microchip’s identification number on its screen. The microchip number correlates with an online database corresponding to the pet’s details, including the owner’s address and contact information.
Why should your pet be microchipped?
In Britain, it’s the law for dogs to be microchipped by eight weeks of age and before they leave the breeder. However, being a law-abiding citizen isn’t the only reason to comply. Getting your pet microchipped gives you peace of mind that you’d be much more likely to be reunited if your fur baby went missing (heaven forbid). Dog wardens, animal charities, and veterinary surgeries are just some of the places that have access to microchip scanners, so if a kind member of the public found your pet wandering, they’d have a few options of where to take them.
Microchips also come in handy to prevent unwanted home visitors and ensure that the right pet gets the right food. Microchip scanning cat flaps can be programmed to allow resident cats in while keeping next door’s moggie out. Particularly advanced ones can even keep one cat in while letting others out, ensuring that missed vet appointments are a thing of the past! Microchip feeders can allow you to safely hide medication in your pet’s food because only the pet with the corresponding microchip will be able to eat it.
How is a microchip implanted into your pet?
You might be worried about the process of microchipping your cat or dog. After all, won’t they find it painful? Most cats and dogs tolerate microchipping really well, and many don’t notice it at all! To microchip your pet, the veterinarian (or another qualified person) will insert a needle containing the microchip into the skin at the scruff of your pet’s neck. Once the needle is in place, they’ll press a button to push the microchip out of the needle. Then the needle can be removed, and a scanner can be used to confirm that the microchip is in place and is working. Your veterinarian will be able to provide you with your pet’s microchip number for your records and instructions on how to register the chip and store your details.
Where can I get my pet microchipped?
Your veterinarian is one of the most obvious people who can microchip your pet. If you’d like your pet microchipped, you should give them a ring for an appointment. On the other hand, some animal charity workers, dog wardens, breeders, and rescuers are also trained to implant microchips. Before you decide where to get your pet microchipped, make sure you do your research to ensure you use someone who is suitably qualified.
So, your pet is microchipped… what next?
You might assume that your work is done once your pet is microchipped. It’s true that your pet’s microchip will continue to send out its signal throughout their life, and it’s very rare for a microchip to fail. However, even when a microchip is working correctly, it’s still not useful if the associated owner details aren’t kept up to date. Therefore, if you change your mobile phone number or move home, you should remember to let the microchip company know. It’s also worth keeping a date in your diary every year to check that the records are still correct. In fact, why not use a date during Chip Your Pet Month?
Losing a pet is a stressful and emotional time. That heart-wrenching, stomach-churn-inducing moment where you realise they’re not where you thought they were is a feeling that nobody wants to feel. However, if the worst does happen, at least if your pet is microchipped, you have a little more peace of mind. Ensuring that your pet is microchipped and your contact details are up to date will mean that when someone finds your little adventurer, they’ll be able to find you too.