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Microchips for Dogs: Everything You Need to Know

Microchips for Dogs

Have you ever lost a dog? If you haven’t, I’m sure you’ve heard of stories or shared ‘lost pet, please help’ posts on social media. Losing a furry friend (or a four-legged family member) is terrible, so it’s a good thing that there’s a solution for that: microchipping.

Microchipping is simple and relatively painless, ensuring your dog can be electronically identified as part of your family. In fact, in Western Australia, dogs at least three months old are required to be microchipped so that they can be scanned, identified, and returned to their owner. 

It’s easy to assume that your dog will never get lost, and so identifying your pet will never be an issue. However, experience shows it’s never that simple. A dog can potentially get out of the yard with a visitor or delivery person, be accidentally let out of a dog park or even go missing while in the care of a pet sitter. 

All of these scenarios are things we’ve encountered in our veterinary career. The answer is clear: microchipping your dog is always the safest option. It’s also a legal requirement to microchip dogs in Western Australia.

However, many pet owners have questions about microchipping their puppy, including the cost to expect and whether microchipping is safe. Luckily, we have answers for these questions and many more.

Read on for everything you need to know about dog microchipping in WA. 

What Is a Microchip for Dogs?

A dog microchip is an RFID chip that is painlessly implanted in puppies that contains an identification number that can be scanned, and that number can be traced back to you in case your dog gets lost.

A dog microchip is inert or stationary and is about the size of a grain of rice. Without moving parts, it doesn’t require energy or a battery. It also lasts as long as your dog’s lifetime, making it permanent.

The purpose of a dog microchip is purely for identification. There is a common misconception that dog microchips can be used to track the location of lost dogs, which is not the case. However, if a lost dog is brought to a vet, they can use the information on the microchip to reunite you and your dog.

Dog microchips are usually made of a silicon microchip, tuning capacitor, and copper antenna coil, all inside a biocompatible glass capsule. The casing is a biocompatible glass capsule to make it suitable for a live animal. It is non-toxic and pain-free, so your dog will have no allergic reactions.

Some dog microchips have a polypropylene polymer cap, which connects the chip to tissues or cells so that the microchip stays in place and doesn’t get lost. And, yes, that is also safe and pain-free, like the less high-tech microchips.

How Do Dog Microchips Work? 

Microchips are tiny devices with unique identification numbers that can be scanned like barcodes. With a microchip scanner, the pet microchip will return that unique identification number, which can be cross-checked against a database of owners and contact information.

It uses radio frequency identification technology or RFID, which means that it can transfer information using radio waves. In pet microchips, the information is stored in the silicon microchip.

Dog microchips are essentially passive RFID tags, meaning they won’t do anything unless they are read or scanned. The power to move that data is electromagnetism from the copper antenna coil, which is only activated by a scanner (also called a reader or interrogator). A vet or animal shelter can use this microchip scanner to check a pet’s microchip number

Can I Track My Dog With a Microchip?

No, you cannot directly track your dog with a microchip because it is not the same as a GPS tracker. The microchip in your dog is only active when a vet scans it, and the only information shown is your contact details, not your dog’s location. 

A microchip helps dog owners find their lost dogs when the animal is found and brought to a vet to scan. Afterwards, the dog will be scanned and checked against the registry to get its owner’s contact information. That is the only time that you will know where your dog is.

Do Dog Microchips Need Batteries?

No, dog microchips do not need batteries since they do not require energy. Dog microchips are passive and simply contain a microchip number. The ‘power’ that transfers that number to a scanner is done through electromagnetism activated by a microchip scanner.

One concern many dog owners have is if the microchip has a battery that can affect the dog if the chip is somehow damaged. However, with no real battery, nothing can leak or harm your dog, and there’s no reason not to have your dog chipped. 

How Are Dogs Microchipped? 

Dogs are microchipped by injecting and transplanting the transponder under the loose skin between their shoulder blades. The injection process is fast, pain-free and very safe for your dog. 

The dog microchipping process looks like this:

  1. A sterile microchip is scanned to check the identification number. It should be the same as the one written on its packaging.
  2. The microchip is then loaded into an application gun or syringe. 
  3. The dog is positioned (standing or lying on their stomach) for implantation. Expect the vet to pinch the loose skin between your dog’s shoulder blades and neck.
  4. The vet injects the microchip.
  5. Your dog is scanned to make sure that the microchip works.

For most animal clinics, that’s where the vet’s responsibility ends. However, some vets do register the pet’s microchip themselves, so check with your vet to see if this is the case. 

Otherwise, you’ll need to register with one of Australia’s pet registries to connect the microchip number and your contact details. You will need to provide some personal information, such as your name, address and contact number. Without registration, your pet’s microchipping isn’t complete and your pet won’t be reunited with you if lost. 

Is Dog Microchipping Mandatory in Australia? 

Yes, legislation in most Australian States and Territories requires pets to be microchipped before the point of sale or adoption.

The microchip will allow your pet to be identified if they are ever lost. Although the chip contains a unique number, it does not contain any contact information. 

Below are the relevant rules and regulations concerning microchips in Australia:

STATECOMPULSORY MICROCHIPPING LEGISLATION
ACTYES. Under Section 84 of the Domestic Animals Act 2000 and Regulation 7 of the Domestic Animals Regulation 2001, the microchipping of dogs before sale or transfer and by 12 weeks of age is required. Regulations 7 and 9 under the Domestic Animals Regulation 2001 contain provisions for the information that should be recorded in the microchip database.
NSWYES. Section 8 of the Companion Animals Act 1998 requires dogs to be microchipped before a sale or transfer and by 12 weeks of age. Regulation 8 of the legislation above highlights the information that has to be recorded within the microchip database.
NTNO.
QLDYES. Sections 13 and 14 of the Animal Management (Cats and Dogs) Act 2008 provides for the compulsory microchipping of dogs before a sale or transfer and by 12 weeks. Schedule 2 of the abovementioned legislation and Schedule 4 of the Animal Management (Cats and Dogs) Regulation 2009 outline which information should be kept in the microchip database.
SANO.
TASYES. Section 15A of the Dog Control Act 2000 stipulates the compulsory microchipping of dogs by six months of age.
VICYES. Section 10C of the Domestic Animals Act 1994 contains provisions for the compulsory microchipping of dogs as a condition for registration (which is also compulsory for animals at least three months of age). But it is important to note that the requirement to microchip the animal before a sale or transfer under Section 12A is only applicable to domestic animal businesses.
Additionally, Regulation 12 of the Domestic Animals Regulations 2006 highlights the information required to be kept in the microchip database. Section 12A (2) of the Domestic Animals Act 1994 also requires that the animal’s microchip number be displayed in the advertisement for the animal, not at the point of sale.
WAYES. For dogs, an amendment to The Dog Act 1976 has specified that all dogs over three months of age must be microchipped from November 1, 2015.

Is Dog Microchipping Mandatory in Western Australia? 

Since 2015, it has become mandatory to microchip your dogs in Western Australia. By law, three-month-old dogs must be microchipped and registered. They should also be microchipped and registered earlier should a change of ownership occur.

The Western Australian Dog Act Amendment 2013 stipulates that all dogs over three months of age must be microchipped by November 1, 2015, in Western Australia. Failure to do so will result in an on-the-spot penalty of $200, or fine of up to $5000.

Dog owners in WA must also contact their local government to request a registration form and pay the applicable registration fees.

Why is Microchipping a Dog Legally Required? 

Making microchipping dogs a legal requirement is to increase the welfare of dogs across the country, by identifying stray or lost dogs, and increasing accountability for owners and breeders. 

The benefit of making microchipping a legal requirement is that it reduces the amount of money that governments and charities spend on housing lost dogs. If lost dogs are microchipped, they can be returned home quicker and easier, instead of being taken care of by shelters for days or even weeks while owners search for them manually. 

Dog microchipping also helps the government look out for the wellbeing of dogs. With mandatory microchipping before a puppy is sold, breeders keeping dogs in poor living conditions are easier to identify and shut down.  

Microchipping helps connect dogs to owners in all scenarios, as well as keeping track of when ownership of a dog is transferred. If a dog is stolen or there’s any dispute over a dog’s owner, having an up-to-date microchip clarifies who is responsible for that pet. 

Whose Responsibility Is It to Microchip a Puppy?

It is technically the owner’s responsibility to ensure your pet is microchipped. However, in many states across Australia you cannot legally sell or give away a puppy that is not microchipped, so the breeder is required to microchip a dog. 

Selling or giving away a puppy without a microchip is a finable offence in most Australian states. As a buyer, you also need to ensure that the puppy you are buying or receiving is microchipped. Although the responsibility is on the seller to have it done, it’s important to do your due diligence and check that the puppy is microchipped before offering payment for the puppy. 

Are There Exemptions to Microchipping a Dog? 

Microchipping exemptions are only given if a vet has provided a certificate that your dog’s health and welfare would be at risk if they were microchipped. Reasons an exemption would be provided include old age and extenuating health issues.

Why Should I Microchip My Dog?

There are many reasons to microchip your dog, including:

It’s required by law – In most states of Australia, you are legally required to have your dog microchipped. Not doing so is a finable offence. Because microchipping is quick, easy, affordable and safe for your pets, there’s no reason not to avoid unnecessary fines because of a dog that hasn’t been microchipped. 

Microchips are tamper-proof and permanent – Microchips are tamper-proof and accurate. They are permanent and cannot be transferred to another dog. Unfortunately, dog tags and collars can get lost or be transferred so that a dog may be seen as a stray or be misidentified. Microchipping your dog will ensure it’s always associated with you.

Ensures dogs can be traced back to owners – Lost dogs are sometimes euthanised by animal welfare when their owners cannot be tracked down. With a microchip, there is a guarantee that the dog will be reunited with its owner. Lost dogs that are microchipped are reunited with their families 69% of the time, proving that this painless process really does help when your dog is lost. Sadly, more than 200,000 dogs and cats are euthanised yearly in shelters according to the RSPCA, many of which were unable to be returned home due to having no microchip. 

Protects from dog theft – In cases when a dog is stolen, the dispute over ownership can be resolved by scanning the microchip. When a pet is stolen, it can be very difficult to resolve. However, if your dog is microchipped, a quick scan will prove undeniably that your dog is in fact yours. 

Avoid contributing to pet shelter overcrowding – If your dog is microchipped, you save animal shelters the additional expense of housing and feeding the animal by reuniting them with you faster. If your pet has been lost before, you know how much stress and suffering you experience until you find them. If your dog is microchipped, the amount of time they are stuck in an animal shelter waiting to be found by you is significantly reduced, as vets can scan the chip and get in contact with you immediately. 

Helps track your dog’s vaccination record – In some countries, a microchip helps cross-reference the dog’s vaccination record. This will be a make-or-break for your dog to enter some countries. Having your vet able to track your pet’s vaccinations is also very important for their health, as they will be able to monitor when vaccinations need boosters. The parvovirus for example is a deadly and contagious disease for puppies that can be protected against with timely vaccinations and boosters. 

A one-off procedure that provides peace of mind – Because the procedure is a fast, relatively painless injection that only needs to happen once, why wouldn’t you get your pet microchipped? Considering it can be done at the same time as other vaccinations, there’s no reason a responsible dog owner wouldn’t get their dog microchipped, except in incredibly rare situations where a dog may not be healthy enough to be microchipped. 

What Happens if I Don’t Microchip my Dog? 

If you don’t microchip your dog, you can be subject to an on-the-spot fine or court-imposed fine in most states of Australia. Other than legal repercussions, if your dog is not microchipped, you won’t be contacted if your dog is lost and brought to a shelter or vet clinic. This means stray dogs can be adopted out or even euthanised when their owner can’t be identified.

How Old Should Dogs Be for Microchipping?

A puppy should be microchipped as soon as they are three months old. In Western Australia, it is mandatory to have your dog microchipped at three months. However, it can be done earlier if the dog will be sold or rehomed.

Having your dog microchipped when it’s older isn’t a health risk for your dog, as the process is completely safe and pain-free. However, the longer you go without having them microchipped, the more chances you are fined for not having them chipped. If your dog is lost before they are microchipped, it becomes incredibly difficult to find them again and prove they are yours. 

Is Microchipping Safe for Dogs?

Yes, microchipping is safe for dogs. Because the RFID is incredibly small, it won’t hurt or irritate them, nor will it affect their ability to walk, run and play. Microchipping is very safe for dogs, there are almost no side effects, and those that exist are incredibly rare. 

Is Microchipping Painful for Dogs? 

Microchipping is not particularly painful for dogs. The application needle can cause surprise or momentary discomfort, which may lead a puppy to yelp, but don’t worry –  the implantation is over in an instant. Microchips are very small, so they don’t cause lasting pain and the procedure doesn’t require anaesthesia. 

Some people choose to implant microchips into their dogs when spaying or neutering so that their dogs are anesthetised. So, if you’re worried about any pain, you can get both procedures done at the same time.

Does Dog Microchipping Have Any Side Effects?

There are potential side effects of microchipping a dog or puppy, but they are very rare, occurring in less than 0.01% of dogs. These include bleeding, infection, abscesses (pus caused by bacterial infection), and temporary hair loss.

Learn more about the potential side effects of microchipping a dog and their likelihood below.

Infection 

Bacterial infection is the most likely cause if there are any side effects of microchipping your dog. Most often, infection after microchipping a dog is caused by mishandling the microchip with dirty gloves or doing the procedure in an unsterile room.

The infection is caused by the wound created by the needle, not the microchip itself, so an infection is as likely when your dog is getting microchipped as it is when getting vaccinations. Infections caused by injections are usually very easily treatable and don’t cause many issues for your pet. 

Your best chance of avoiding infection altogether is getting your pet microchipped at a reputable, reliable veterinary clinic. 

Minor Hair Loss

Some dogs, especially those with sensitive skin, can experience temporary hair loss after microchip implantation. Hair loss is usually found around the injection site and will quickly grow back. Unlike hair loss in people, hair loss in dogs doesn’t cause pain, discomfort or itchiness. There is currently no evidence to suggest that microchipping has long term hair loss effects on dogs.

Swelling

Some dogs experience small amounts of swelling when having the microchip injection, as is common with other animals and even humans. Swelling does not cause any pain or discomfort to your dog and will quickly subside. 

Microchip Migration 

Another ‘side effect’ is microchip migration, where the microchip moves or ‘gets lost’ and can no longer be scanned. This does not cause any pain or discomfort to your dog, and is more common in certain breeds. 

If microchip migration happens, your dog needs to be microchipped again since it is important to have an accessible and readable microchip. If your dog has previously had a microchip migrate, it can be worth paying more for a migration-resistant chip to help it stay put. 

At your dog’s annual vet checkup, your vet can confirm the location of your dog’s microchip and catch microchip migration early. The most important thing is to ensure your dog can always be identified if it goes missing. 

Can Dog Microchipping Cause Cancer? 

You may also see ‘cancer’ or ‘tumour’ floating around as a side effect of microchips, but there is no conclusive study linking cancer or tumour to microchipping. Of the millions of dogs that have been microchipped globally, only a fraction of dogs develop tumours in general, and none of them have been directly linked to microchips.

There have been several case studies over the years testing to see if there is any connection between implanted microchips and tumours forming in dogs. Despite eight independent studies across a decade, there is no evidence linking tumours to microchips, and any tumours developed by dogs are believed to be coincidental, given the sample size of animals monitored. 

Can a Microchip Get Lost Inside My Dog?

Yes, it’s possible for a microchip to get lost inside your dog. However, a lost microchip cannot hurt your dog in any way. A dog is typically scanned all over its body for the microchip, but if no RFID is found, it is considered lost. This condition is also known as microchip migration.

How Much Does Dog Microchipping Cost in Western Australia? 

Dog microchipping typically costs between $60 and $80, according to the RSPCA. 

Since failing to microchip your dog in WA can incur a $200 on-the-spot fine – after which you’ll have to microchip your dog anyway – microchipping your dog is the most cost-effective choice. You’ll also have the peace of mind knowing your dog or cat can be identified and returned if they ever go missing. 

Pet microchipping is a one-off cost, as dogs only need to be microchipped once, unless the chip migrates and cannot be scanned. Migration-resistant microchips can cost more, but they can give owners peace of mind about getting a second microchip.

Is Microchipping Covered by Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance does not normally cover microchipping. Most pet insurances in Australia only cover accidents, illnesses, consultations, and emergency boarding. However, some providers will offer optional cover for microchipping. You can ask your provider so that you can file a claim when you get your dog microchipped.

Dog Microchip Registration in Western Australia

When your dog is microchipped, the microchip needs to be registered with one of Australia’s pet registries. This means that any time a vet or animal shelter scans your dog, it can be traced back to your contact details on the registry. This ensures you can prove ownership of your pet if they are lost or stolen.

There is a common misconception that all you have to do to register a pet is get them microchipped, which is not the case. Most vets will take care of the microchip registration as part of the process, but it’s worth confirming if you need to do anything further after your appointment.

Once your pet’s microchip has been registered, that microchip number will be linked to your account. That way, the scanned microchip will allow a vet or animal shelter to find your contact details on the relevant animal registry. This ensures that your pet can be returned to you if they are lost or stolen. 

Australia’s top pet microchip registry sites are: 

How Can I Update My Dog’s Microchip Details? 

You can update your pet’s microchip details by contacting the registry and requesting to update your contact details. This can typically be done with an online form. 

Your dog’s microchip details are stored on one of several national pet registries, where the microchip number is connected with your contact information. But if you change your phone number or move to a new address, you’ll need to update this registry entry. This ensures your dog can always be returned to you if they go missing.  

To update your dog’s microchip details, you need to go to the same registry with which you made an account when your puppy was first microchipped. Using your login details and the microchip number, you’ll be able to log in and update any information that may have changed.

Although this may seem tedious, especially if you move often, it’s very important to keep as up-to-date as possible. No one plans to lose their dog, but keeping microchip details up to date drastically reduces the stress involved if your pup goes missing. Up-to-date contact details allow vets and animal shelters to reunite you with your dog sooner if they’re found. 

If you are adopting, rehoming, or selling your dog, the microchip registry details also need to be amended. If you’re buying or adopting a dog, you can request help from the previous owner  or rescue to confirm microchip details and sterilisation records. 

If you are unsure which registry your dog’s chip is registered with, you can use Petaddress.com.au to look up their microchip number. If you don’t know their microchip number or have lost the paperwork, you’ll need a vet to scan the dog’s microchip first. 

Where Can I Get My Dog Microchipped in Western Australia?

You can get your dog microchipped by veterinarians, animal hospitals, or some animal shelters. Most authorised implanters are veterinarians, and there are many vets in WA where you can get your dog microchipped.

If you’re looking for a reliable Perth vet to microchip your dog, consider choosing Paws And More Vet Centre. Located in Canning Vale, they offer cost-effective, simple, and safe microchipping for your pup. As part of your dog’s microchipping procedure, Paws and More will also register your pup’s microchip, making the process convenient & hassle-free. 

Paws and More is a local vet hospital with an extensive, experienced team of veterinary surgeons and nurses dedicated to providing the best care possible for your pets. With decades of combined experience, you’ll rest easy knowing your pet is in the safest hands possible. 

The experienced Paws and More team has treated thousands of pets and have a strong reputation in the local community. If you want to ensure your pet is truly taken care of, then get in touch with the people at Paws and More on 9455 1310 today. 

Can Dog Microchipping Be Done at Home?

Dog microchipping can potentially be done at home by mobile vets, however, it’s recommended to bring your dog to a sterile vet clinic to avoid infection. While infection from microchipping is rare, the risk of complications increases if microchipping is done at home by a mobile service. Having your puppy microchipped at the vet gives you the best chance of avoiding infection. 

Can the RSPCA Microchip My Dog in WA?

No, the RSPCA only provides veterinary services like microchipping for animals currently in their care. If you adopt a pet from the RSPCA, they will ensure they are microchipped before you take them home. 

Related Questions 

Who Can Scan My Dog’s Microchip? 

Vets, animal shelters, and animal rangers can scan your dog’s microchip. Pet microchips cannot be scanned by an app or using a mobile phone, it needs to be done by a professional with a specialised microchip scanner. 

Is My Personal Information Accessible Through My Dog’s Microchip?

No, your personal information is not immediately accessible through your dog’s microchip. The microchip contains a unique identification number. The number needs to be checked against a pet microchip registry to retrieve your contact details.

How Often Do I Need to Microchip My Dog?

Your pet only needs to be microchipped once, as pet microchips are designed to last a lifetime. Pet microchips are incredibly durable and have no battery, so they won’t need to be replaced or recharged. The rare exception is if a dog’s microchip migrates, or moves out of place. This is harmless, but may mean your dog needs to be microchipped again.

Disclaimer:

This article is published in good faith, for general informational and educational purposes only. Paws and More Vet Centre does not make any warranties about the ongoing completeness and reliability of this information. This article should not be used as a substitute for veterinary advice, including for diagnosis or treatment of a pet’s medical condition. A

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