From 6 April 2016 it becomes law in England and Wales that all dogs have to be microchipped by eight weeks old and registered to an approved database.
Chipping is seen as an important part of responsible pet ownership, helping to increase the chances of a missing pet being returned safely to its owner.
It can also help enable veterinary surgeons to contact dog owners for emergency procedures.
Anyone breeding dogs will be responsible for microchipping their puppies before they sell or give them to new keepers. All imported dogs will need to have a microchip.
The RSPCA welcomed the new law, but said it doubted that it alone would “make owners more responsible or ensure fewer dogs bite people”.
But Beverley Cuddy, editor of Dogs Today magazine, said the scheme was flawed: “People don’t know how to update their records. The chip is invisible - once it’s in there people forget it’s there.”
The small chip, the size of a grain of rice, is inserted between the shoulder blades of a dog using a sterile needle and does not require an anaesthetic being no more painful than a standard vaccination.
£500 fine for non-compliance
Under the regulations, if a dog is not microchipped or the keeper’s details are not registered on an approved database, then it will be considered as not complying with the regulations and a notice may be served.
If the keeper does not microchip their dogs within 21 days of the served notice, then they will be liable to pay a fine of £500.
Update keeper details
The Dogs Trust has advice to all dog owners, referred to as ‘keepers’ under the law: “Don’t forget to update your details; if you do not, then the microchip is useless.”
“It’s simple to update the details for your dog’s microchip, you can do it online, by telephone or by post – depending on which database your chip is registered to.
“Charges for updating your chip details also vary across the microchip databases.”
You will need to know which microchipping database your pet is registered to in the UK. Then you can contact the database directly to make your changes.
Check your chip now at petlog.org.uk.
More microchipping information and a list of UK Microchip Databases at dogstrust.org.uk.