Microchipping

adapted from Liam Moriarty’s blog on Pets.ie

We strongly recommend you microchip your companion and make sure that they are registered.

Why Microchip My Companion?

  • Microchipping of animals is a painless and simple procedure.
  • All animals must be Microchipped in order to get a passport.
  • Under current legislation, all guard dogs must be Microchipped.
  • Under current Control of Horses Legislation, horses kept in an urban environment must be Microchipped.
  • Most equine organisations require registered horses to be microchipped.
  • Provides permanent and undeniable proof of identity / ownership
  • Combined with a reunification service, the Microchip implant can help return your lost or stolen animal to you
  • Microchipping your dog will be legally required in Ireland by 2015

Whats & Hows

What is a microchip?

The microchip is a tiny computer chip which has an 15 digit identification number programmed into it. The whole device is small enough to fit inside a needle and can be simply injected under the skin of our companions, where it will stay for the life of the animal. This provides a permanent identification which cannot be lost, altered or intentionally removed – a safe, simple and inexpensive way to protect your companion against loss. When your companion is implanted with a microchip it is essential that you register their details to a suitable database. The vet who implants your companion with a microchip should supply you with a registration form for a database. If you are unclear about whether your companion’s microchip details have been correctly registered check with your local vet.

A microchip that is not registered with your details to an easily accessible database is useless.

How does a microchip work?

The microchip is a sophisticated computer chip which is preprogrammed with a unique identification number. Chips come in a variety of numbering sequences, however the ISO has developed a standard. The chip is encapsulated within a biocompatible glass material, which means that there is virtually no chance of the body developing an allergy or trying to reject the microchip, after being properly implanted. A scanner passed over your companion will trigger a radio signal from its chip. When the chip is ‘energised’ by a reader/scanner, it transmits its unique code to the reader where it is displayed on a screen.

How does the reader/scanner work?

The reader sends a safe radio wave signal to the microchip. When the chip receives this signal, it sends its unique code (the microchip number) back to the reader which displays it in a viewing screen. Readers emit audible beeps when a chip is found. Smaller readers are held close to the implant site while scanning because they have a reading range of about 3 inches. Larger, more powerful readers are also available. Read ranges vary from 6 to 20 inches depending upon specifications.

Does my companion have to be sedated for the injection?

No! Injecting a Microchip is just like any other injection or vaccination. Anaesthesia is not required. However vets will often implant a microchip when an animal is under anaesthetic for other reasons.

Does it hurt?

Not at all. The injection creates only a slight discomfort – most animals don’t even react to it. The reader/scanner operation is likewise painless.

What is the youngest age an animal can be chipped?

Animals of any age can be injected with a Microchip. Many puppies and kittens are chipped during their initial vaccine series. Birds, horses and exotics can be identified at any time.

Could my companion be allergic to the microchip?

The Microchip is inert and biocompatible. There is virtually no chance of the body developing an allergy or trying to reject the microchip afterwards.

How long does the microchip last?

The microchip has no power supply, battery or moving parts. It is designed with an operating life of over 25 years and is guaranteed for the life of the animal. Once injected, the microchip is anchored in place as a thin layer of connective tissue forms around it. The chip requires no care. It does not pass through or out of the body.

In short the microchip should last a lot longer than your companion’s lifespan. Ask your vet to check it every year at your companion’s annual check up.

Where is the microchip implanted?

For most animals (dogs, cats) the chip is implanted in the scruff of the neck (the loose skin between the animal’s shoulder blades).

Can the microchip be easily removed?

No, it would require a veterinarian to surgically remove the microchip.

My Companion Already Has a Microchip

Is there anything else I should do?

Yes – a microchip contains a 15 digit number which is unique to your companion. It is essential that this number is registered on a reliable database along with your contact details.

If you have adopted a companion with a microchip it is essential you make sure that it is registered on a reliable database. Check with your vet.

If you have purchased a dog that is registered with the Irish Kennel Club, you should send in your change of ownership form, complete with your contact telephone number. This form is on the back of your IKC certificate. (Note: We’d encourage you NOT to buy from a breeder with the current state of animal overpopulation in Ireland – please adopt a rescue animal who needs a home, rather than encouraging breeding in this way – see Irish Animals for more information.)

We frequently see stray dogs that have microchips but are still registered to a breeder who may have sold the dog years previously. In many such cases it is impossible for us to identify the correct owner. This is very sad as often owners are unaware that their details are not registered, and will assume if their companion is found it will be returned to them.

I am not sure if my companion’s microchip details are registered on a database – what should I do?

Bring your companion to your vet and have them scan their microchip number. They should be able to check that the correct details that are registered. If the details are incorrect it is essential that you get them updated.

To help simplify searching for pet microchip registrations, Veterinary Ireland lists Irish and other European microchip databases here.

Other Queries

Is a microchip a tracking device?

No, a microchip is not a tracking device. Someone must scan your companion to find out if it has a microchip. This is common practice in veterinary clinics, pounds and animal rescue centres. Provided that your companion’s microchip is registered there is every chance they will be returned safely to you.

My companions never leave my home. Why should they be identified with a microchip?

No one plans to lose their companion but it happens all the time. There were over 5,500 stray dogs killed in our pounds in 2011 – that’s 32% of dogs taken in (more than 15,000). Many more were re-homed both in Ireland and abroad. Theft is also a common occurrence. While a microchip will not prevent theft, it greatly improves your chance of recovering your companion.

How do I know the shelter will be able to check for the microchip?

Anyone with a scanner will easily be able to check for a microchip. If the animal has a microchip and it has been registered on a reliable database then it should be straightforward to locate the animals owner.

How do I know the shelter will check for the microchip?

I’m afraid you don’t. Although it is common practice for many veterinary surgeons, dog wardens and rescue organisations to scan stray animals for microchips, it is not a legal requirement, and many do not. Do encourage your local vets and rescues to scan for chips. Contact your local pound and ask if they do – if not, ask why not.  Help improve the system, and animals’ chances of finding their way home.

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