Following the announcement of new legislation requiring all dogs to be microchipped, more dogs than ever before are being implanted. This could offer an opportunity for dog groomers keen to develop a new income stream.

For, although many people have their dog microchipped by their veterinary surgeon, the procedure is relatively simple and does not require a veterinary professional to inject the chip.

Earlier this year, as the prelude to the introduction of new legislation being introduced in 2016, Government Ministers announced that dog owners will face fines of up to £500 if they don’t get puppies and dogs microchipped.

This has generated an increase in the number of dogs being microchipped. In fact it is estimated that microchipping figures have rocketed to around 8,000 new registrations each week.*

Because it is classed as an invasive procedure, all professionals  need to demonstrate a level of competence before they can offer a service to pet owners. Microchip companies provide training along with the necessary tools of the trade – scanner, microchips, implanter syringes or guns with needle screws and full promotional material – as well as organisations such as PIF and Heavenlyz.

On average, training takes around an hour or two depending on the competence of the groomer.  Most microchip companies will visit groomers at their premises to conduct the training, making it an easy step to take. There are also courses available at some colleges.

Microchipping facts:

Why microchip

It is commonly agreed that the best chance of finding a lost dog is through a microchip.

What is a microchip?

It is a small electronic device about the size of a grain of rice that is coded with a unique number that can be read by a scanner that energises the microchip using a radio signal.

The process: most pets are microchipped at the time of their first vaccination at about eight weeks of age.

It is a simple and relatively painless process that involves a tiny chip being inserted by a fine needle usually into the skin around the neck area usually between the shoulder blades.
A unique number is provided to the pet owner together with a registration form which they have to complete and forward to the microchip providers who keep their own database. It is the pet owner’s responsibility to keep the information up-to-date with any changes of address or ownership details.

In the event of the pet going missing and subsequently found, a scan is conducted and the unique number is searched for on the database until the pet’s details are found and then the owner can be contacted and reunited with their pet.

Vanessa Cunningham scanning Wood Green rescue dog, Tilly

As it is not a surgical procedure, any person may implant the chip providing they have been properly trained and proven to be competent. Although veterinary practitioners commonly conduct the procedure, many rehoming charities also microchip and now pet retailers and dog groomers are also conducting the procedure.

Costs to pet owners vary, depending on who implants the chip, but are generally in the region of £10-£25.

So, are microchips a sure-fast method of recording a pet’s details?

Very few adverse reactions have been reported. On occasions a microchip may move or migrate around the pet. Even if this occurs, it won’t affect the functioning of the chip. Even rarer will this affect the welfare of the dog and the number that fail to work is very small indeed.

Richard Cratchley, sales manager of Avid plc – producers of microchips and managers of the PETtrac UK database – says it is the best form of identification.

There are several different suppliers of microchips and four national databases which log the pets’ details. Richard explains: “Although we compete with each other on the chip sales, we all co-operate with each other in terms of the databases. As a result, it doesn’t matter which chip provider is contacted in the event of a pet going missing, we all pull together and put the owner in contact with the correct database.”

Most of the leading microchip producers and database operators conduct training on this basis.  Many groomers offer microchipping services and believe success as an income stream is based on the amount of competition in the local area.

Chelmsford based, Pooches Grooming Parlour invested £350 in training and products three years ago and have been reasonably satisfied with their investment. Eve Cook said: “We get a steady number of requests for microchipping. Unfortunately, we have a lot of competition around us from vets and pet retailers who are able to under-cut us. It is basically ‘another string to our bow.’ It would definitely be worthwhile for groomers who operate in areas with less competition.”

Thanks to their microchips, many dogs have been reunited with their owners after having been missing for many years.  Last year Poppy, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, was found by a dog warden service approximately 30 miles from her original home after being missing for eight years. The circumstances leading up to Poppy’s disappearance led her owner, Claire Hackett to believe that her lovely dog had been stolen: Poppy had been happily playing in their secure back garden, but when Claire returned just a short while later she found a fence panel had been removed and her dog was missing.

After almost a decade without their dog, many people would have given up hope of ever finding them. But Claire always felt she would one day be reunited with Poppy and her optimism was rewarded when she received the call she had longed for.

Dog warden, Nigel Stephens was called out to a busy by-pass by a member of the public who had found Poppy at the side of the road. When collecting the dog he scanned her as a matter of course and was pleased to discover she was microchipped and could be returned to her delighted owner Claire.

Useful contact information:

Four current databases for microchips implanted in dogs in the UK:

Petlog – 0844 4633 999.

PETrac – 0800 652 9977.

Anibase – 01904 487600.

Pet Protect – 0800 587 0660.

* From UK’s Microchipping Alliance.