Tips for Dog Identification

Dog identification is one of your primary responsibilities as a pet owner. Dog identification can help reunite you with a lost pet, even when traveling. Most owners choose to identify their dogs with a dog tag; other options include microchips and tattoos for dogs. Microchips and tattoos can help identify your dog, even you lose him far from home or he's stolen.

Dog Tags

Dog ID tags are an inexpensive way to identify your pet. A dog tag hangs from your dog's collar and carries your name and phone number; some owners include email and physical addresses.

Dog tags have their drawbacks. They can easily come off or be removed by someone who wants to keep your dog for themselves or claim he is a stray. They must also be updated when you change your address or phone number - something many owners put off in the midst of a move. Unfortunately, moving time is when your dog is most likely to escape and get lost.

Nevertheless, dog tags are an easy way for others to identify your dog. You might choose to add a microchip or tattoo for extra identification, but a dog tag saves anyone who might find your dog the hassle of visiting a vet or animal shelter to have it identified.

Choose a collar with a buckle for everyday wear. A choke collar could harm your dog if it gets snagged on something. A collar and tag with a distinctive, unusual appearance can become part of your dog's description and set him apart from other dogs should he get lost.

Choose a stainless steel or plastic tag that won't rust. Plastic tags jingle less, which might be important for owners who find the sound of jingling tags irritating. An engraved metal plate can be attached directly to a flat collar. Some nylon collars can have ID information woven into them.

Tattoos for Dogs

Tattoos are a permanent form of identification that can be placed on your dog's belly or inner thigh. Don't tattoo the ear, as professional dog thieves have been known to cut off ears in order to remove the tattoo. Professionals at shelters and veterinary offices know to look for tattoos, and laboratories are prohibited by federal law from experimenting on tattooed dogs.

Tattooing can be done by a vet, and it requires anesthesia. The procedure is not terribly painful, but it is noisy and could scare your dog. Tattoos need to be registered with a registry, and if your information changes, you'll need to update it.

Microchips for Dogs

Microchips for dogs are placed under the skin at the scruff of the neck. The procedure is virtually painless and the chip stays in for life. Veterinarians and shelter professionals can identify chipped animals with a scanning device. If your microchipped dog is lost and someone finds it, that person will have to visit a vet or shelter to have the dog identified. If you choose a permanent form of ID for your dog, include an ID tag as well, to make it easy for the average person to identify him.