Feeling lost about what you’d do if your furry friend was? Don’t worry, help is at hand with the wonderful world of microchipping. It’s an essential if you want to insure your pet, so read on to learn more about what it is, what it does and how to get it.

What exactly is pet microchipping?

Put simply, microchipping is a hidden, electronic way of identifying your pet, which is painless and permanent. It has numerous benefits, not least if your animal goes missing.

It works by implanting a tiny microchip (smaller than a grain of rice!) directly underneath your pet’s skin using an ultra-sharp needle. Because of the depth of fat and skin in the scruff of the neck, this is the usual place for siting the chip. A unique code is assigned to each chip, making it specific to your animal. A central database stores both this code, details of your pet as well as your personal details as the owner: meaning that if your pet is found elsewhere and taken to a shelter or vet’s clinic, a quick scan of the chip will reveal the code which can then be entered into the database to retrieve your details and reunite you!

Is microchipping my pet compulsory?

Both the microchip itself and subsequent registration in the Municipality database is compulsory by Federal law for dogs and cats living in the UAE. This is a good thing as it reduces the number of stray animals since they can be traced and reunited with owners, as well as demonstrating that they have received the required vaccinations protecting them against diseases that could also affect public health.

Who can do microchipping?

Veterinary clinics are the usual place for microchipping services as they can provide a safe, sterile and painless service: plus, they can record the details of your animal in their own database. This means you are doubly-protected since you will have details stored in their records as well as the Municipality database (you are responsible for completing the government database yourself). The vet’s clinic should link the chip code to your account, meaning they have a full and accurate record of your pet’s medical history easily to hand.

Why should I microchip my animal?

Stray cats in particular are commonplace in Dubai, as are feral animals that live on the streets and have bred, increasing their numbers. It can be heart-breaking if your pet domestic cat strays and an almost impossible task to locate them if they’re not chipped.

Microchipping your cat (and dog) is also a key requirement for taking your pet with you if you’re travelling overseas. We’ll explain more below.

Expat with a cat (or a dog) and planning to travel?

If you’re relocating, or just temporarily travelling to a different country, and want your pet to be your travel companion, it’s mandatory for them to be microchipped as it proves they have had the universally-required vaccinations (for example, rabies). Note that the animal should have been microchipped before they had their vaccinations or else this information won’t be stored electronically and could cause problems later. The other benefit is of course that the animal can be traced back to you in the event of loss or issues whilst in transit. Just like luggage labels, collar tags can work loose but a microchip is a permanent fixture.

What happens if my pet goes missing?

It’s important to understand that microchips are not tracking devices so can’t locate your pet, but it will help trace you as the owner. If you’re pet wanders off and is found, it’s likely the finder would take to a vet’s clinic, animal shelter or police station. In such cases, the microchip would be checked and the code number shared with other vets, clinics and the Municipality to see where your pet was chipped, where it is is usually treated and to call up your owner details. No personal details are shared: only the chip number.

Any other reason why I should I get my animal microchipped?

As well as it being a mandatory legal requirement, pets should be microchipped for the following reasons:

  • Buying a pedigree animal – pedigree animals are generally expensive so it’s important to know their full history. Those bred by a professional must be microchipped and registered by them before their sale to you as this gives your animal what’s known as provenance. Always make sure the breeder provides you with the microchipping paperwork and certificate before you take your new pet home, and update the registered database to show you are now the official owner.
  • Traveling with your pet – if you’re taking your pet overseas, they must be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies. We’d also advise getting a special Animal Health Certificate from your vet if you can which confirms their microchip and vaccination status as this really assists with Customs regulations in the destination country.
  • Pet Insurance– in the UAE, your pet must be microchipped to get pet insurance and whilst the costs of microchipping are generally excluded, most policies offer dedicated ‘lost and found’ cover to help fund adverts and appeals to help locate your lost or stolen pet.

What if I move home, how can I update the chip details?

It’s vital you keep your pet’s microchip details current and up to date. Notify the administrators of the databases on which your animal is registered (vet’s clinic etc) as well as updating the Municipality register to ensure you are legally compliant.