There are many reasons for microchipping your pets – it is a legal requirement for dogs and some exotics, can allow access to cat flaps and feeding, but most importantly helps if your pet goes missing.
From April 6th 2016 all dogs over 8 weeks old which are not certified working dogs, or the subject of a veterinary health exemption must be implanted with an appropriate ISO chip and the details of the dog and keeper recorded on an approved database. While most chips are produced to ISO standards , the legislation states that only ISO 11784 and 11785 microchips may be implanted in dogs. The responsibility of ensuring the database details are up to date lies with the keeper to the dog, and in the case of puppies with the owner of the mother.
Although there is no legal requirement to have your cat microchipped. The fact that cats tend to wander and frequently lose their collars means that it is the only way of ensuring that the owner of any cat can be instantly identified and notified. Should a cat become lost, any veterinary clinic or rescue centre can scan it and if microchipped retrieve the contact information of the owner. In addition, clinical information can also be stored alongside the cat’s unique microchip number, meaning any urgent medical treatment can be administered while attempting to contact the owner. It is crucial to ensure that if any contact information changes, that this is updated on the database.
Another benefit of microchips in cats is the availability of microchip cat flaps and feeding bowls. These can be programmed with the individuals microchip number, and then will only open when the animal approaches. This gives complete control over the cat’s movement and feeding.
Microchips have become the standard way to identify individual animals, especially within groups that look similar.
Many exotic species are controlled by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and as such must be legally certified (e.g. tortoises excluding Horsfields must be identified and licensed).
Microchipping is central to identifying the animals and ensuring that any animals sold are captive bred. Some captive bred birds may have a solid leg ring to identify them. These rings are applied when they are less than 10 days old. If they ever require removal (e.g. for medical reasons), a microchip must be implanted by the vet to maintain proof of identity.
In a survey it was found that nearly 20% of pet rabbits had escaped or gone missing, but only 20% of pet rabbits are microchipped in the UK. For other exotics it is even less, only 1.5% of small mammals and 2.5% of small birds are microchipped.
With the development of smaller lighter microchips, even very small patients can now be chipped.
Want to know more about microchips?
Microchips are composed of a ferrite rod, wrapped in copper. Some are covered in glass, others plastic. The chip is only activated when the scanner is passed over it, which produces enough energy for the chip to send back a signal. The scanner then decodes the signal and displays a number. Every microchip is individually programmed with a unique 15 digit number, with the first 3 numbers representing either the country or within the UK it may be the manufacturer’s code.
Microchips come in 2 sizes, standard 12mmx 2mm, and small 8mm x 1.4mm. The smaller chip, although implanted with a smaller needle, has a shorter antennae and so the read range is reduced. The implanting needles are specifically manufactured to fit round the chip and precision engineered to ensure sharpness and strength.
The implantation of a microchip should cause little or no discomfort, if performed by an appropriately trained individual. Reported side effects most commonly involve migration of the microchip away from the implant site, and failure of the microchip. Many companies manufacture microchips of varying quality and price. At the Ark Veterinary Centre we only implant Tracer microchips due to their high quality and low chances of failure.