There are so many choices available for identification for your pets including microchips, engraved tags, tattoos, and even GPS collars. With all of the available options, how do you choose the right one for your pet?
- provide pets with at least one ID method
- list any life threatening illnesses on the ID tag
- keep your pet’s information current
- your research to determine the right ID form
- seek expert advice if you still have questions
- neglect to ID even an indoor pet
- remove the ID tag
- forget to keep the ID information current
- use anyone but an authorized expert
- forget to do periodic scans
At the very least, even if your dog or cat doesn’t spend much time outdoors, always make sure they have an engraved identification tag attached to their collar. This way, if they suddenly find themselves out on their own, they can be readily identified by whoever may find them. Please keep in mind that collars can sometimes become detached. A microchip or tattoo are more permanent, though not readily noticeable by someone who finds your pet.
If your dog or cat is diabetic or has another medical condition that requires regular medication to be administered, please list the condition(s) on your pet’s ID tag. For example, a dog who is both blind and diabetic should have both of these conditions on his ID tag as a precaution so that anyone who comes in contact with him (i.e. veterinarians, groomers, pet sitters, etc.) will be aware.
No matter what form of ID you choose for your pets, please ensure that your pet’s information is current. A dog tag that says the dog’s owners live in Michigan will be very confusing to the person who is trying to locate the owners if the owners moved out of Michigan two years ago and never updated their dog’s tag.
The right form of ID for identifying one pet may not be suitable for another pet. For example, there are GPS collars that have been on the market for a while but, surprisingly, they are only suitable for animals weighing more than 10 pounds. This is due mainly to the width of the collar on which the GPS tracking device must be attached.
If you still don’t know which method of ID would be best for your pet, seek out the advice of an expert. For example, if you have questions about microchips and the various microchip readers on the market, ask your veterinarian which microchip he or she recommends. You may not realize that not all microchip readers are universal. So, even though your cat or dog has a microchip, if the reader doesn’t recognize it, it may be assumed that your animal doesn’t have a microchip at all.
Just because your cat never goes outdoors, don’t assume that will always be the case. After all, accidents do happen and cats sometimes get curious about the great outdoors. Of the many cats and dogs that have been missing, many times the pet owner didn’t put an ID tag on the cat simply because the cat was strictly an indoor cat.
Don’t remove the ID tag just because the pet is indoors. Many times, pet owners will remove their pet’s collar when they come indoors. This is appropriate if you are bathing your cat or dog. However, their collar and ID tag should remain on them all the time except for bathing. You never know when your dog or cat will inadvertently run outside.
Always keep the information on your pet’s ID current. This is especially true if you take your pet with you on vacation. There have been a number of lost animal cases where the dog or cat escaped from the camper, car, or hotel while the family was on vacation. If your pet is located, even if away from home, you can be contacted more easily if the phone number listed on your pet’s ID or microchip is current.
If you decide to have your pet tattooed or microchipped, ensure that the person doing the tattoo or inserting the microchip is either a veterinarian or an authorized agent.
If you decide to go the microchip route for your pets, ask your veterinarian to scan the chip at least a couple of times per year. Microchips that are placed between the animal’s shoulder blades can sometimes migrate from their initial location, such as to the upper left side of the arm. Your veterinarian can remove it and insert a new microchip between the shoulder blades again.
There are a lot of options available for finding a reliable ID for your pet. Consider all of them and implement at least one of them. Also, keep your information up to date and check them frequently to ensure they’re still functional. When it comes to your pets, you can never have too much of a good thing!