Microchipping Your Cats & Dogs

A Guide for UK Pet Owners

Why Microchipping is so Important

As a responsible pet owner, ensuring your cat or dog is microchipped is now more important than ever. The teeny tiny computer chip (about the size of a grain of rice) is inserted just under the skin, normally between the shoulder blades. It contains a unique code that matches up to your pet’s details, which are registered on an authorised database.

Microchipping is a safe and effective way to identify your pet, increasing the chances of being reunited if the unthinkable happens and they become lost or stolen. Collars and ID tags with contact details can fall off or be removed, so a microchip is a permanent way for cats and dogs to be identified.

Each year, hundreds of pets are unable to be reunited with their owners due to not being microchipped or having out-of-date contact details, and they find themselves in rescue centres, or they remain unclaimed from dog pounds and suffer the worst possible scenario. This can be heartbreaking for all involved which is why G&W are so passionate about spreading the word of the importance of microchipping and owners keeping contact details up to date.

With the recent introduction of the Cat Microchipping Law that came into effect this week, this blog post will guide you through the process, answering some common questions and helping you to ensure your pets' microchip details are up-to-date. 

The New Microchipping Law for Cats

With new legislation from 10 June 2024, it is now mandatory for all cats over 20 weeks old to be microchipped in England. Feral, some farm, and unowned cats are exempt from the new microchipping rules. This new law aims to improve cat welfare and help reunite lost cats with their owners more easily. Failure to comply could result in a fine of up to £500.

The UK Microchipping Law for Dogs

Dog owners have been required to microchip their pets since 2016. All dogs over 8 weeks old must be microchipped, with few exceptions. It's a criminal offence for a dog to be transferred without a microchip. Before sale, it's the breeder's responsibility to ensure their puppies are microchipped (with the breeder's details). You need to make sure that you are given the relevant information and certificate regarding your puppy's microchip when it comes to you taking them home. You will then need to update the microchip with your details through the database it is registered with. Dog owners who don't comply could face a fine of up to £500.

Where Can You Get Your Pet Microchipped?

Your cat or dog must be microchipped by a professional, qualified to do so. Your local veterinary practice, or certain animal charities and organizations can offer this service. Many offer microchipping services at low costs or special events. Contact your vet or local animal welfare groups to find out more.

The cost of microchipping typically ranges from £10 to £30 per pet. Some councils and charities offer free or discounted microchipping, so be sure to check what financial support is available in your area if the cost is a concern.

Whilst the vet, rescue, or animal welfare organisation will insert a microchip assigned to a registered database, you must contact the database to ensure that your current address and contact details are registered on that database. 

I Don't Know if my Pet is Microchipped?

If your cat or dog is microchipped, you should have a confirmation letter or email, including an ID or reference number as well as a microchip number. If you're unsure whether your pet is microchipped, your vet can scan them to check. and provide you with the microchip number. If they aren't microchipped, your vet can implant one during the same visit. It's a simple, routine procedure.

How to Update Your Microchip Details & the Importance of Keeping them Up-to-date

There are many different microchip database companies in the UK, therefore it’s important to ensure that your dog or cat is registered with one approved by the UK Government.

If you don't know which database your cat or dog is registered to,  your vet should be able to find information for you, by scanning your cat or dog. You can also find the details on your original registration paperwork or by entering your pet's microchip on this useful website:  Check-a-chip.

When you get a new pet, move house, or get a new mobile phone number, it's crucial to register your new contact details with the microchip database company. Out-of-date records are a leading reason why microchipped pets can't be reunited with their owners. Most companies allow you to update your details online or by phone for a small fee which will depend on the database. Most microchip databases charge an admin fee of between £6 and £20 to change and update your pet's details. Some databases have a one-off fee that will cover all changes over your pet's lifetime. For others, this fee will be the same each time you change the details. You can always check with your database to find out more.

Although paying admin fees may be costly, it does offer you peace of mind, knowing your contact details are correct. Unfortunately, it can be near impossible to reunite pets with their owners if the owner cannot be contacted. 

What to do if You Find a Lost Pet

If you come across a lost cat or dog, take them to a local vet, police station or contact the local council's animal warden service, so they can scan for a microchip. Up-to-date records will help reunite the pet with its owner. You can also report the found pet to national databases like PetLogYou could also check for missing pet adverts in the local area or on social media groups.

There are also networks of volunteers who are available to assist with scanning found pets for a microchip. Known as Scan Angels, they are helping to reunite pets with their owners. 

"Scan Angel's are unpaid volunteers that own a microchip scanner, and can be called upon to scan lost pets and help reunite them with their owners. There are now three times as many Scan Angels in the UK as dog wardens and most can be called every day of the year, some 24 hours a day. Local authorities, dog wardens and vets are mostly closed after 5.30pm and at weekends and bank holidays. Our Scan Angels are often the only means to help return lost pets quickly and easily 247"

"Scan Angels are a great way to help get lost pets home quickly without the need to pay huge fees or send local lost pets to the council pound or rescue centres unnecessarily.

If the dog is not microchipped or the owner cannot be contacted, the local authority must be informed. Scan Angel's have a list of all local authority contact numbers."

Click here to locate a Scan Angel in your area.

 

 

Other Facts!

  • 1 in 3 dogs will get lost in their lifetime! It's vital that microchip details and ID tags are kept up to date. Please don't reduce the chance of being reunited with out-of-date or incomplete contact details. 

 

  • If you have a dog, it must still wear a collar and tag with your name and address when in a public place - even if it's microchipped.

  • Occasionally, a vet may decide that a puppy should be microchipped when they are older and bigger. If this is the case, the breeder must give you a certificate signed by a vet to prove this, instead of the certificate of registration.

  • It's not very common but microchips can migrate from their original insertion point! It's always worth asking your vet to scan your pet at their annual check-up to make sure it's still in an identifiable position.

  • Cat microchips can also keep other cats out of your house if you have a microchip-activated cat flap!  There are also microchip-activated food bowls available if you need to restrict other cats from feeding from your cat's bowl.

  • Some pets may have two microchips!  If one is inserted too deep under the skin and is unreadable, a second may be inserted. in a different location. However, it is important to ensure both chips are registered in case the first chip migrates and can suddenly be found with a scanner. (One of the G&W Team members is speaking from experience here, so it's worth being aware!) 

  •  If a dog with multiple microchips has an unregistered chip that's located first but with no details, it's not a given that the dog will be scanned all over to check for any further microchips! 

    Protect Your Beloved Pets

    By complying with the laws, you'll increase the chances of being reunited with your cat or dog should the worst happen and they go missing. Consider making and keeping a Pet Record Sheet with your pet's microchip company contact details, and microchip number (plus anything else that's important like their pet passport number) to ensure you have the vital information available if it's ever required. It's also worth adding your pet's Microchip database phone number to your contacts in your phone - just in case you should ever need it.

    Microchipping gives every pet the best chance of getting home safely. As a responsible owner, please make sure to get your cat or dog microchipped and keep the details up to date. Check with your family members and friends to ensure they all know how to update their pet's microchip details. That tiny chip could make a big difference.