British vets are condemning the sale of DIY microchips online because they flout Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) regulations.

Following pressure from the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) and the RCVS last week, Amazon removed its £3.99 Animal Guard pet microchip — which is marketed to be syringed into dogs, cat, birds and horses.

But there are still DIY microchips available through other online shopping websites, such as eBay.

Keith Chandler, president of the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA), said that microchipping horses is a potentially dangerous procedure. It contravenes veterinary legislation if carried out by non-professionals.

“With dogs and cats the microchip goes under the skin, but with horses DIY insertion can go very wrong — risking abscesses or infection.

“It has to be inserted directly into the nuchal ligament [thick connective tissue running along upper part of spine].”

The RCVS confirmed that it had received complaints from the public and vets.

“The sale of the product itself might not be illegal, but we are concerned that it is being advertised as a ‘do-it-yourself’ product and have written to the listed seller to express our concerns and remind them of the legislative position in the UK,” said Ian Holloway of the RCVS.

Insertion of a microchip into a horse is an act of veterinary surgery, protected under the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (4 July 2013)