With the forthcoming UK law that all dogs must be microchipped there are still plenty of dog owners who don’t understand the basics of how microchipping actually works.
We therefore decided to interview a qualified UK microchipper, to find a little more about how dogs are microchipped, what the risks are, and what you need to do afterwards as the owner.
What Are The Benefits of Microchipping Your Dog?
Putting aside the forthcoming legal requirements to microchip your dog, microchipping makes a lot of sense for dog owners. For example, if your dog ever ran away (or got stolen) then possessing a microchip can help the police, vets or dog wardens to safely return your pet to you. Having your pet microchipped can also be useful for proving “ownership” of your pet if ever there is a disagreement over whether a certain dog really is yours.
In essence microchips offer a valuable safety-net in the case of problems. Don’t assume that just because your dog wears a collar with a tag that they are fully protected. Collars can get lost or damaged – or even be maliciously removed – while removing a microchip after insertion is almost impossible. As a result it is a far more secure solution to identifying your pet.
How to Pet Microchips Work?
In contrast to what some pet owners think, standard microchips aren’t GPS trackers. If your dog runs away, you certainly won’t be able to tap the microchip number into a computer and track his or her exact whereabouts.
Only when a dog is caught by a professional will the data be read. This is done by scanning a dog using a simple handheld scanner. As microchips are always fitted in the same places, it is a quick and simple job to check whether or not a dog has a microchip and – if it does – to reunite it with its owner.
Microchips don’t require a battery to work, and normally have a lifespan much longer than that of a dog. Therefore the chances of needing to replace a microchip are almost minimal once it has been fitted.
How and Where Are Microchips Inserted?
In dogs, most microchips are fitted between the shoulders. There is plenty of tissue and other “meat” in this area, while the skin is relatively loose. The microchipper simply “pinches” the skin gently, inserts the microchipping gun (essentially a needle, with the chip inside), presses the button to eject the chip under the skin and removes the needle.
In time the dog’s body will grow fresh tissue over the microchip, helping to support it and so preventing it from moving around the body.
How Long Does Microhipping Take?
The process of microchipping a dog takes mere moments. In essence, once the dog is calm and in position, the process of actually adding the chip takes mere seconds. The process is over almost before the dog realizes what is happening. All that is required thereafter is to calm the dog and fill in the necessary registration paperwork.
Does Microchipping Hurt?
It is best to think of microchipping as rather like having an injection. For a moment or two your dog will of course feel a small pinch, but the discomfort is typically minimal. Furthermore its very short term. If anything, it is more the shock rather than the pain that might make more nervous dogs yelp.
As mentioned, the whole process is over in a matter of moments. There may be a small amount of blood, but especially on larger dogs microchipping may draw no blood. The area may remain a little sensitive for a few days but soon enough both you and your pooch will have forgotten all about the operation.
Then for the rest of your dog’s life you’ll be able to relax knowing that he or she is fully protected if anything should happen.
Are There Different Sizes of Microchips for Different Pets?
Most vets use a single size of microchip, irrespective of the size of the dog. For this reason, microchipping larger breeds is often easier than smaller breeds.
What Do I Need To Do After My Dog is Microchipped?
The microchips used for dogs don’t house specific information about your pet. Scanning the microchip won’t tell anyone that his name is “Bouncer” or that he lives in Windsor. All it will give is a microchip number.
Where the magic happens is when this number is entered into a database. The unique number then calls up all the relevant data.
After microchipping it is therefore essential to get your dog registered on the database as soon as possible. Typically there will be some forms to fill in, though you should ask your vet whether they will send off the forms on your behalf or whether you need to do it.
Once the forms are done then you should be safe, and with nothing else to worry about. Just remember that if you move home in the future, you should update the database with your new address as soon as possible.