Microchipping Cats and Dogs, What is involved in New Zealand?

Vet getting ready to check Kitten

Microchipping significantly increases the chance of being reunited with your pet, over 80% of microchipped pets are reunited with their families

Pets are an extended member of the family, and losing a loved pet can be devastating. Unfortunately, technology hasn’t quite allowed us to phone our pets to find out where they are, but by microchipping you give your pet the best chance at making his or her way home. Microchipping significantly increases the chance of being reunited with your pet, over 80% of microchipped pets are reunited with their families. Microchipping is a foolproof way of identifying your pet. Rather than using collars or tags that can be removed or lost, microchips are permanent and provided it is correctly inserted by a trained professional, it should last for the life of your pet. Most SPCAs, vets and pounds have microchip scanners to identify your pet’s microchip number.

What is it? How big is it? And how is it inserted?

The microchip is a very small device, only about the size of a grain of rice. Each microchip has a unique number that can be read by a scanner. Each microchip number is logged into the database and can be registered onto the New Zealand Companion Animal Register (NZCAR) website. Contact information of each pet’s owner is included and is easy to update if you move house, change phone numbers or your pet moves to a new family.
Because the microchip is so small it can be inserted via a syringe and needle. It is implanted under the skin of your pet’s neck. The procedure isn’t too painful for your pet and your vet will usually use some local anaesthetic to help reduce sensation in the area. While the actual insertion of the chip only takes a few minutes, allow plenty of time to complete all the required paperwork. We highly recommend that you contact a vet to implant your pet’s microchip as this ensures the microchip is implanted properly and reduces the risk of infections and microchip migration.

Vets are notoriously expensive; how much is it going to cost me?

In the scheme of things, microchipping in generally quite well priced. Most vets charge anywhere from $45 to $80. If you are taking your pet to the vet for another procedure such as desexing, then often it will be a bit cheaper.

Do my pets have to be microchipped?

At present, cats in New Zealand do not by law require a microchip. However, all dogs registered in New Zealand after the 1 July 2006 are required to have a microchip. This generally occurs at 3 months old when puppies are first registered. Dogs that have been classed as menacing or dangerous after the 1 December 2003 must be microchipped. If your dog is unregistered and has been impounded it must also be microchipped and if your dog is registered but been impounded for a second time, by law it must be microchipped. There are a few exemptions to microchipping your dog. If your dog is used wholly or principally for herding and driving stock then they are not required to have a microchip, animal management officers may stop by and ask for a demonstration of your dog working to prove it is used for stock. However if your working dog is classified as menacing or dangerous, been impounded while unregistered or impounded twice after 1 July 2006, this exemption will not apply.

What should I do if I lose my pet?

Firstly, report your missing pet to NZCAR and ensure your contact details are up to date. Petsonthenet.co.nz is a website that allows you to place an ad reporting your lost pet, it also has a found notice page you should check. Search your local neighbourhood and ask your neighbours to check their properties, garages and sheds, make sure everybody knows your pet is missing. Get in touch with your local SPCA and pound in case they have been taken there.