Millions of dogs and cats enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Of these, only two percent of cats and 18 percent of dogs are reunited with their owners. That is why it is important to make sure your dog and cat have identification tags–either on a collar, a microchip, or tattoo.
Collars and identification (ID) tags should include the pet’s name, owner’s name and address, telephone numbers (day and evening), medical problem requiring medication, veterinarian’s name and number, and current rabies vaccination information.
Microchips for Dogs and Cats
While collars and ID tags are essential, you might want to consider either microchipping or tattooing your pet because collars and ID tags can fall off and get lost. Microchipping involves implanting a tiny capsule under the pet’s skin, usually between the shoulder blades. Microchips can be used on dogs, cats, ferrets, birds, and other companion pets. The tiny chip is about the size of a grain of rice.
The owner then sends the information to a registering agency along with current contact and alternate contact information in the event the pet becomes lost. When a pet is found, any agency with a scanner, including many animal care and control agencies, veterinary clinics, and research labs, can quickly identify a code that links the animal to its owner through a national database.
Tattoos for Pets
Tattooing is a permanent ID that involves marking a code on the skin of the pet. A tattoo is placed in the pet’s ear, abdomen, or on the inside of the pet’s thigh. The finder of the lost pet calls a national database that uses the code to obtain the owner’s current address and phone number. Each registry has its own coding system.
To look for a tattoo on the abdomen or thigh, lay the dog on her side. One person may stroke and calm the dog while the other gently lifts the dog’s hind leg to examine the belly and thigh.
A Caution about Tags, Microchips, and Tatoos
All information should be kept up to date. If you move or change phone numbers, make sure the data on your pets’ ID tag is current. Some tattoos fade over the years; so make sure they are visible. Microchips can move. At your pet’s next visit to the vet, make sure the microchip is in the right place.
Does your pet have a tattoo or microchip?