Requirement for microchipping
The microchipping regulations include provision that all dogs are microchipped and their details recorded on a database. Puppies need to be microchipped by the age of 8 weeks and before transfer to a new keeper unless one of two exemptions apply:
- Where a veterinary surgeon has certified the dog as a working dog (England and Wales) and docked its tail as allowed under section 6 of The Animal Welfare Act 2006. In such cases the time limit for the dog to be microchipped and details recorded with a database is 12 weeks. The reason given for this is that the new microchipping regulations are only a Statutory Instrument made under the Animal Welfare Act and therefore cannot amend the Animal Welfare Act itself. However, there is no reason why the dog cannot be microchipped before this time.
- Where a veterinary surgeon certifies that a dog should not be microchipped because it would adversely affect its health (in Wales, the exemption requires certification that microchipping would significantly compromise the dog’s health). In such cases it is recommended that the form of the certification issued by the veterinary surgeon is the form provided here, and states when the exemption expires (it may be permanent if the health concerns warrant it). The dog must be microchipped on expiry of a time limited certificate unless a veterinary surgeon issues a further exemption certificate because s/he still has concerns over the dog’s health. Ensuring that the dog is implanted with a microchip following expiry of the exemption certificate is the responsibility of the owner/keeper and the veterinary surgeon does not have any specific responsibility to enforce this.
Exemption from microchipping
The BSAVA considers that the situations in which exemption would be necessary are limited and would very rarely require permanent exemption. However, the following situations may require exemption:
- Size of dog – while the majority of dogs can be safely implanted with a microchip before 8 weeks of age there may be cases in toy or miniature breeds of dog where, in the professional judgement of the veterinary surgeon, microchipping should be delayed for a matter of weeks to allow the puppy to grow.
- Severe illness – where a dog has a severe debilitating illness it may be appropriate for the veterinary surgeon to recommend that microchipping is delayed for a short period to enable recovery to take place.
- Infection or injury or adverse reaction at the normal site of microchipping – where a dog has an infection or injury at the normal site of microchipping it may be appropriate for the veterinary surgeon to recommend that microchipping is delayed for a short period to enable recovery to take place. If the injury is likely to permanently preclude microchipping at the normal site the veterinary surgeon should consider implanting the microchip at a different site. The implantation site should be as close to the normal implantation site as possible to maximise the chance that the microchip will be located by routine scanning processes. Where a microchip is deliberately implanted at a different site this should be recorded in the clinical records and on any records relating to the microchip e.g. database records or Pet Passport.
- Abnormalities of blood clotting – where a dog has any condition that interferes with blood clotting it may be appropriate to delay microchip implantation until the situation has been rectified or stabilised.
- Behavioural concerns – where implantation of a nervous dog is considered likely to reinforce negative/fearful responses and adversely affect ongoing management and handling of that pet in future consultations, it may be appropriate to delay microchip implantation temporarily until the dog’s behaviour can be suitably addressed.
Although not required on the certificate, BSAVA would recommend that the veterinary surgeon includes the reason for the exemption by noting it on the certificate. It is also important to ensure that the owner of the dog, or person authorised to represent the owner, signs the certificate to confirm that they understand that the certificate is only valid for a certain period.