Microchip, Identichip and ID Chip are all the same thing. It is an implant placed under the skin, usually on the back of the neck between the shoulder blades.

It is a one off procedure and one microchip should last a lifetime. It has been a legal requirement to have your dog microchipped since June 2016 and from 10 June 2024, cats in England will need to be microchipped and registered on a database by the time they are 20 weeks old.   Microchipping makes reuniting a lost pet much easier, so long as contact details remain updated on the database.   The same microchip procedure is used on all species, cats, dogs and horses, and it is recognised internationally.

You must make sure your dog and/or cat is fitted with a microchip and registered on a database by the time it’s 8 weeks old, 20 weeks old for cats.

The chip is a small plastic pellet, about the size and shape of a grain of rice. Inside the pellet is a tiny electronic circuit with a copper coil wound around it. The electronic circuit contains a unique 15 digit number (for example 981000003429887).

We read the microchip using a handheld unit that looks like a television remote control. We sweep the reader over the animals back and the reader emits a small magnetic field which activates the chip, then the chip transmits its number as a radio signal. There is no energy source contained within the microchip. When the magnetic field from microchip reader passes over the chip it creates a very small electric current which provides just enough power to send a tiny radio signal with the chip number back to the reader.

The microchipping procedure is straight forward and well practiced at the veterinary surgery.  Microchips are implanted by the veterinary surgeon or veterinary nurse.  How quick and easy the procedure is, often surprises owners!  Essentially the microchip pellet is injected under the skin at the scruff of the neck, and is similar to many other injections such as vaccinations.

It is not unusual to get a little hiss or yelp when implanting a chip due to needle size and it can sting a bit, but no more so than any other vaccination or injection – and it is a one off procedure! Also it is not unusual to get a small spot of blood after implanting an microchip.    Applying gentle pressure to the area and leave the resulting scab to heal for a few days and they should be fine!

It is not unusual over time for the microchip to move about a bit under the animal’s skin. Every pet is uniquely different and in some have more room under the skin for the chip to migrate before settling down. This is not harmful to the animal and you may notice when we are scanning for microchips we will take large sweeping circles with the chip reader all the way down the back and both flanks.

The hard part is done, now what do you have to do?

Once we have implanted the chip a registration form is completed online, which registers the number on to a national database.  The number on the chip implanted into your pet has no connection to you unless your contact details are registered! Ideally we like to take a full name and address, at least two easily contactable phone numbers (home, work and mobile) and these days email addresses are also very useful.

If you move home and need to change your contact details there is a telephone number you can call and a website that allows you to change your details.  It is a legal requirement for owners to ensure contact information is up to date at all times.  

What if your pet gets lost?

So how does the system spring into action on the (hopefully) rare occasion our pet takes an adventure to explore the big wild world?

When a ‘found’ pet is bought to the surgery, we scan them for an microchip.   If there is a microchip present, we check our own computer records, as often they are one of our patients! If we have the owner on record we contact them directly and arrange a suitable collection time.

If we do not have records of the chip number at the practice then we phone the database directly to report a missing animal.  The information you logged on the database is private and protected by the data protection act.  Veterinary practices and registered local authority animal shelters are given a password that allows the database to give us your contact details so we can contact you directly.

It does not cost you to use the database if your pet is lost.

If your pet is lost and arrives at the vets and has no means of identification we will try our best, through social media and local knowledge, to find their home. Unfortunately as a working practice we do not have facilities to keep ‘lost pets’ for any length of time as we need the space for our poorly patients and for this reason we will contact Aylesbury Vale District Council Dog Warden to arrange collection.