June 2015 is national microchipping month and many vet practices and charities are offering discounted or free microchipping. Rosie Martin, a Vet at Goddards in Fulham, explains the reasons why you should have your pet microchipped.
Every day in the UK 900 pets go missing; sometimes they slip the lead or escape from the house, other times a scared pet may run off. Male dogs especially can run off if they smell a bitch in season. Sadly pet theft is still an issue, especially desirable breeds where they may be stolen for breeding purposes. Microchipping your pet gives you the best possible chance of being reunited with them should they wander off or escape from the house or worse, get stolen.
From April 2016 legislation will come into force which requires all dogs in the UK to be microchipped. The introduction of compulsory microchipping will encourage responsible ownership, prevent puppy farming and aid in the reporting of hereditary health problems in dogs. This legislation also requires owners to;
- Have their dog microchipped and registered on one of the authorised commercial databases available;
- Register the details of any new owner before they sell or give the dog away;
- Keep their contact details up-to-date on the microchip databases. (see http://www.bva.co.uk/activity_and_advice/Compulsorymicrochippingofdogs.aspx for more information)
A microchip is a tiny electronic chip just larger than a grain of rice which is made from an almost indestructible material. Implanting a microchip is simple; your vet or vet nurse injects the microchip under your pet’s skin between the shoulder blades. Although the needle is large compared to those for routine vaccinations, it only needs to be done once and special numbing cream can be applied to the skin beforehand to reduce discomfort for your pet.
Most cats and dogs can be microchipped from around 8 weeks, although your vet may recommend waiting until they are a bit bigger if they are a particularly small breed (e.g. Chihuahuas). It is recommended that puppies and kittens are microchipped as soon as possible, especially if they are escape artists!
Each microchip contains a unique code which corresponds to your contact information and the details of the vet practice that implanted it and is held at a central database (Petlog, tel: 0844 4633 999, www.petlog.org.uk). Should your pet be found, their microchip can be scanned at any vet practice or rescue centre and you can then be reunited quickly. It is vitally important that you keep your contact details up-to-date; if the phone numbers stored on your file are out-of-date there is little chance of you being reunited with your pet.
Almost any animal can be microchipped, the most common being dogs, cats and rabbits. Birds, horses, reptiles, snakes, fish, small mammals and tortoises can all be microchipped.