June 2021 is National Microchip Month, and while microchips come in a vast array of different types and functions, dog owners only need to know about one of them: microchips for dogs.
Dog microchips can help to ensure that your dog makes it home safely if they get lost, help you to prove ownership if your dog was stolen and recovered, and even be used to trigger dog doors to open for your dog if you choose to fit one!
It is also the law in England, Scotland, and Wales that dogs be microchipped as well. This article will answer five frequently asked questions about dog microchips from dog owners and prospective owners to cover some of the important things you need to know. Read on to learn more.
Yes, it is a legal obligation in England, Scotland and Wales that all dogs over the age of eight weeks old must be microchipped, and that the microchip database information on the dog’s owner be kept up to date at all times.
If your dog is not already microchipped (or if their microchip is registered to a prior owner, or the information on the database is out of date) you must remedy this or be in breach of the law.
The cost to get a dog microchipped is very affordable, and at the very top end of the spectrum only costs around £20; usually less. Unlike a great many other things for dogs like flea and worming doses and the cost for spay and neuter surgeries, the cost to microchip a dog is the same (at the place that does it) regardless of the size of the dog, and doesn’t cost more for bigger dogs!
There are also a number of circumstances that may allow you to get your dog microchipped for free too. Some dog welfare organisations and charities offer free dog microchipping services at certain times if you are eligible for certain means-tested benefits.
Organisations like the PDSA and Blue Cross sometimes offer microchipping for free if you are also eligible for their assistance with the cost of veterinary care for your dog.
In some areas too where overall uptake of microchipping for dogs is low, even though it is the law, dog owners regardless of their financial situation may be offered free microchipping as well.
Also, if you adopt a dog from a rehoming shelter or charity, or buy a puppy from a breeder, they should already be microchipped.
No, the cost of microchipping a dog is a one-off charge, not a subscription service! Many dog owners who think there is an ongoing cost or fee once a dog is microchipped are mistaking the role of microchips and the technology used for them with GPS technology.
A really common question about dog microchips is whether or not there are GPS microchips or essentially, if a microchip emits a signal that can be followed and used to track a dog, or find out where they are. The answer to this is no, these are not things that a dog microchip can do.
You can get GPS devices that attach to a dog’s collar, but if the collar is lost or removed, so is the device. These types of external devices can be tracked, and generally attract an ongoing running cost.
However, a microchip is different technology that performs a different function, and the cost of a dog’s microchip being placed is something you pay only once and that’s it for the duration of the dog’s life.
Once you’ve paid the cost of having your dog microchipped or bought or adopted a dog with a microchip, there are only a few situations in which there might be any future costs associated with this.
The first of them depends on what company the microchip was sold by, and how they manage their database. There are a number of companies in the UK that sell dog microchips and operate databases of microchipped dogs, and some of these charge a fee to make changes to the information held on the database about the dog and its owner.
For instance, if you wanted to update your address or transfer ownership of the dog to another person (and you’re legally obliged to do this if relevant, as the law on microchipping dogs says that their microchip must reflect up to date keeper details) some microchip companies charge a fee for this.
Generally this is well under £20 for any sort of change or transfer; and some companies also offer a premium service in which you can pay a one-off fee (again, around or under £20) which allows you to make unlimited changes for the duration of your ownership of the dog.
Some microchip companies allow owners to make updates for free. For this reason it can be worth asking your vet or the person who microchips your dog what company they use, and finding out their fees and what they offer before you choose.
Don’t forget too that as it is the law that you must update the dog’s microchip details as appropriate if they change, you can be fined for failing to do so, just as you could if your dog was not microchipped at all!
Yes, there are a few things that can cause a microchip to stop working, although this is very uncommon.
Sometimes the microchip itself can migrate from the place it is inserted (under the skin at the scruff of the neck). Because of this, a person scanning a dog for a microchip will begin to scan at the scruff of the neck, but if they do not find a chip there right away they will then go over the dog’s whole body to be sure before determining that a working chip is not present.
Microchips that are present stopping working or malfunctioning is uncommon, but can happen. Also, some microchips inserted outside of the UK may be picked up on a UK scanner as there being something there, but be unreadable or return an error message instead of a serial number.
Finally, if a dog has a microchip that is working but out of date and the dog’s prior owner cannot be located, the dog might have a second microchip placed to reflect their eventual new owner’s details, as there is no need to undertake a removal procedure for the prior chip and this would be an invasive procedure.