Whanganui-based New Zealand Companion Animal Register is helping to identify pets with potentially faulty microchips.

Animal health product provider Virbac has identified potential failure in three batches of its microchips used between 2009 and 2012 and has requested veterinarians replace them. Virbac is one of several microchip providers in New Zealand and about 15,000 animals may be affected.

Nygllhuw Morris, of Animal Register Ltd which hosts and administers the New Zealand Companion Animal Register (NZCAR), said theirs is the largest database of microchipped companion animals in New Zealand.

"There are 1.8 million cats and dogs in New Zealand and we have more than 580,000 in our database," Mr Morris said.


The database can identify registered animals that have been chipped with the potentially faulty microchips.

"The important message is that the chips may - only may - fail and Virbac will cover the cost of replacement to be safe, and that will include updating NZCAR if the animal is registered with us," Mr Morris said.

"If your pet goes missing, it is better to have two working chips than one failed one. While this situation is unfortunate for Virbac, it doesn't reduce the value of having your pet chipped and registered."

After the Canterbury earthquakes, NZCAR received more than 25,000 calls and faxes in a 12-week period and placed more than 800 adverts for lost and found pets.

"Of the unregistered pets we got 25 per cent home within three days. Of the microchipped and registered pets we got 85 per cent home within three hours of being found. Microchipping works.

"If people are concerned that their animal may have one of the potentially faulty microchips and they are registered with us, they can call us during business hours or email us and we can advise them.

"If the current chip may have a fault they can take the animal to a vet or the SPCA and they will do a free scan to make sure it's working."

Mr Morris said a failed chip does not mean a pet will be automatically euthanised if trapped.

"No council in New Zealand is advocating this action and it is disappointing that people are using this chip issue to worry pet owners with this scaremongering," Mr Morris said.

The failure rate of microchips is exceedingly low, the New Zealand Veterinarian Association says.

"These three batches of Virbac BioTec microchips have not been used since 2012 after they were recalled. They represent less than 0.7 per cent of all microchips in New Zealand."

How to find out if your pet's microchip needs replacing

If your pet was microchipped between 2009 and 2012 they may have a chip that is at risk of becoming unreadable sometime in the future.

Microchip numbers can usually be found in your pet's vaccination record booklet.

If the 15-digit microchip inserted in your pet starts with 900088, 9000088 or 9000010 make an appointment with your vet to have another microchip inserted and registered. Virbac will arrange with the vet to cover the cost of placing the second microchip.