Microchipping and ID Tags for Pet Safety

Published: April 18, 2020

Academy Animal Hospital

Your pet’s tag or microchip could save their life someday, reuniting you with them if they get lost. Does your pet have tags? Is their microchip up-to-date? Are you providing enough information?

Here’s what you need to know about pet tags and chips.

Collar ID Tags

Vets and pet safety organizations recommend a collar for every pet to show they’re someone’s pet and to provide a place for an identification tag. The tag should include basic information about you and your pet, with emergency contact information:

  • The pet’s name
  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Your phone number
  • A backup phone number
  • Any urgent pet medical information

If your pet is frequently left in someone else’s care, like a dog walker or house sitter, consider creating an alternate tag with extra contact information in case you’re unavailable. This is particularly important when you’re traveling, whether with or without your pet.

Even indoor pets need ID tags - in fact, you could even say that indoor pets especially need ID tags. If they slip past you and run out the door, they could easily become disoriented and need someone to help them find you.

Consider using a safety collar that can break away if it gets caught on something in their environment. These collars save pets’ lives because they’re naturally inclined to pull strongly away from anything that makes them feel trapped, even to the point of strangling themselves.

Microchip Implants

The main questions most people have about microchipping are: Does it really work? And does it hurt my pet? So let’s look at how microchips work.

Microchips absolutely save pets’ lives and reunite them with their owners. Although only about 5% of all animals that arrive at animal shelters have microchips, 52% of microchipped dogs are returned. Only about 21% of non-chipped dogs are returned.

For cats, about 38% of microchipped cats make it back to their owners and only a tiny fraction of unchipped cats are returned - just 1.8%. As you can see, microchipping makes a big difference.

But does it hurt your pet? That’s an important question because you certainly don’t want your pet to suffer. The truth is, microchip implantation hurts them no more than a regular vaccination.

Here’s how it works. No surgery, anesthesia, or special visit to the vet is needed. You can request microchip implantation during a routine visit, just like a vaccine. In fact, if your pet will already be under anesthesia for another procedure, it’s the perfect opportunity to have microchipping done at the same time.

The chip is usually implanted under the skin of the back of their neck, which is some of the loosest skin on the body. They’ll feel a brief prick from the implantation needle, then it’s over. The microchip is now under their skin, enclosed in a tiny glass cylinder about the size of a grain of rice.

No recovery time is needed and adverse reactions are rare. If your pet is ever lost, an animal shelter or vet can easily scan their microchip using a wand that waves over their body.

What About Tattoos?

People sometimes ask their vets about skin tattoos, which are commonly used on livestock and were once more popular for pets. These tattoos are no longer recommended for a variety of reasons - they’re more likely to cause a skin reaction, they fade over time, and they are made obsolete by microchipping.

In addition, most people don’t know where to look for a tattoo and wouldn’t be able to locate it under your pet’s fur. The safest choice is the duo of a visible ID tag and a scannable microchip implant.

Current Contact Info is Crucial

Finally, we’d like to stress the importance of maintaining the accuracy of your pet’s ID information. An outdated tag makes it much more difficult to contact you if your pet is lost.

In fact, let’s go back to that statistic about only 1.8% of cats being reunited with their owners. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, that low figure is due to missing and inaccurate owner information in the microchip database. Keep your info up to date, and you’ll protect your pet for a lifetime.

For More Information

To learn more about pet tags and microchipping, contact your vet. Academy Animal Hospital is always here to answer any questions you may have.