A French bulldog with a microchip, and a leash sitting on a polished floor, with people's legs in the background.

Your Need-to-Knows About Dog Microchipping in NZ


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Not so long ago, the idea of microchipping pets still seemed like sci-fi and gave some pet parents the shivers. The dog microchip these days is not only normal but for NZ dogs it’s also mandatory (and in some regions, for cats too). The microchip register in NZ is a win-win situation for everyone.

Since our dogs can’t explain what it feels like to be microchipped, we’ve decided to share the ins and outs of what’s involved. So at the very least, you can rest assured that Woof is traceable via the microchip register in NZ if he or she goes wandering… or is stolen. Which is unfortunately not as uncommon as you’d think.

What is a dog microchip?

A dog microchip is a computer chip about the size of a single grain of rice. It has a unique number that’s stored on the national dog database together with the pet’s registered details.

All anyone needs to check the microchip number is a microchip scanner – something most, if not all, vets have. This unique serial number links to the dog’s full ownership details on the dog database.

Although you register your pup every year, a microchip is permanent, so you only ever need to get it placed once (though it will probably move around a little). In other words, it’s a permanent method of identification for your pooch.

If you’re a cat mum or dad, also read all about cat microchips.

The Dalmatian is a purebred dog breed that deserves a microchip dog door.

Does it hurt to microchip a dog in NZ?

Placing a dog microchip is a quick and relatively painless procedure that only takes a few seconds. The vet surgically places the microchip just below the skin between the dog’s shoulder blades.

The chip is so tiny that it can be implanted via injection. As you know, although injections can sound scary beforehand the actual procedure is much simpler. And given pup won’t be expecting the injection, they’ll be saved the worry.

In fact, this procedure is so minor your pup won’t need anaesthetic, which also means no recovering afterwards. If you’re planning to neuter or spay your dog, you might want to double up and have it done at the same time. That way you can save your friend the added visit to the vet.

Watch this video to see how tiny a microchip is and how easily it’s implanted.

The rules for chipping a dog in NZ

According to the Department of Internal Affairs, it’s a legal requirement for all Kiwi canines to be microchipped. The exception is working dogs.

The two main reasons dogs must be microchipped are:

  • Dog safety. Any pup who goes wandering and gets lost can be scanned for their info and easily reunited with their pet parent. That’s why if you hit an animal while driving in NZ, one of the first things you should do is take it to the vet to check for a microchip. This also applies if a pet is stolen, and the thief tries to re-register them. Read up on how to find lost pets.
  • Public safety. Some owners try to conceal their dog’s identity if it’s vicious or has attacked a member of society. Microchips help eliminate this bad practice, so dogs who are dangerous to the public can be classified as menacing. This can help prevent avoid further attacks. Read why do dogs bite to find out more about this situation.

The microchip register in NZ

When your pup gets microchipped, you’re issued with a microchip certificate. You can either take your dog or the certificate with you when you go to record the information on the National Dog Database.

Note that until you do this, you’re out of step with the law. Read our article about this – Why You Should Register Your Dog and Cat.

This kiwi pups have both got their dog microchips.

The good news is that microchipping works to help return your pet to you!

PD did an interview in 2023 about keeping dogs and cats from wandering with Dr Imogen Bassett, Principal Advisor for Biosecurity at Auckland Council. She told us that after the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes, “85% of microchipped pets were reunited with their owners. This compared with only 15% of non-chipped pets.”

Is a dog microchip safe?

Maybe you’ve read stories about microchips not working or moving around. Nothing to worry about here…

When a microchip is placed incorrectly, it may not be readable. However, your trusted vet will be familiar with the correct way to insert it. And you can always ask them to scan and check during your regular check-up visits.

Secondly, although there have been some instances of the chip ‘moving around’ or causing problems, these are very rare. The danger of not having your dog returned to you because it’s not chipped far outweighs this risk.

According to a British Journal of Small Animal Practice survey, from approximately 2.3 million microchips placed only 165 chips moved around. The same survey reports only 122 instances of an adverse reaction such as the microchip not working or an infection.

Also note that if a microchip moves around, this usually won’t stop it from being picked up by a scanner.

How much is it to microchip a dog in NZ?

The cost of a dog microchip in NZ, with all admins related costs included, can range up to $100. Some vets will discount it if you combine it with another procedure.

It’s not something our pet insurance will pay for, but our insurance will cover a wide range of medical care like unexpected vet visits, tests, treatments for illnesses and accidents, third party liability and more.

Basset hound with a dog microchip peeking through a dog flap.

What is a microchip dog door?

We’re hearing more and more about microchip dog doors in NZ. And it’s no wonder – this helps keep your pet and your home safe.

It’s essentially a smart access system for your pet. Think of it as a security checkpoint specifically tailored to your dog or cat. This door comes equipped with a scanner that reads the unique ID from your pet’s microchip.

When your pet saunters up to it, the door scans for the microchip. If the ID checks out with what’s stored in the door’s system, it unlocks or opens, allowing your pet access. It recognises your pet as a verified user while keeping the neighbourhood’s unwelcome critters out.

One in, all in

Microchip dog doors are super convenient because it means your pets can enter and exit your home whenever they want, without you needing to play the role of doorperson. And if you’re a multi-pet household these doors can be programmed to recognise several microchips, so all your pets can enjoy this freedom.

In short, it offers you peace of mind in knowing your pets can roam freely and safely while your home stays secure. The microchip dog door is a neat solution for giving your fur kid a bit of independence, without compromising on security.

Greater safety for your dog and your finances

When you own a pet, you never know when they’re going to get ill or injured. It’s the unanticipated vet bills that will likely trip you up financially – one reason why it’s a good idea to get pet insurance before you need it. Another is that insurance doesn’t cover conditions that start before you take out a policy (read about pre-existing conditions in dogs), so getting it ASAP means when problems arise your soft landing is already in place.

Choose the level of cover most suitable for pet and pocket from PD Insurance’s multi award winning dog insurance and cat insurance plans. Plus, we’ll give you one or more months of pet insurance FREE.

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