Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Microchip or ID Tag? The Answer is Both!

Dear Pet People,

Quite often I get asked if pets need both an id tag and a microchip. 

I believe you should take every precaution to make sure your pet is returned home should he or she ever become lost.  This means that your dog needs both a microchip and an identification tag.  

A microchip is a small capsule about the size of a grain of rice which contains a special alphanumeric code that is specific to that particular animal.  The chip is implanted beneath the skin into the pet's tissue and is about as painless as a vaccination.  A lost pet can be scanned at a vet clinic, humane society or animal shelter and owner information can be obtained to help the pet be returned home.

A pet id tag attaches to your pet's collar and contains important information (name, phone number, address, any medical information) that will help your pet be returned home promptly.

Saint Francis of Assisi Tag from

Both microchips and id tags have advantages and limitations. Microchips, while permanent, may not contain the most up-to-date information about your pet.  As well, owners must rely on someone else to take a lost pet to a shelter or clinic to be scanned for microchip information.  If your pet goes missing on a weekend or evening, there may be a delay in getting to an open shelter or clinic for a scan.

Id tags, on the other hand, can provide the person who finds your lost pet with important information immediately, particularly if your dog has a medical condition, allergy or needs medication.

Medical Alert Tag from

Unfortunately, pets can sometimes escape from the house or backyard without wearing their collar and id tag - and this is when a microchip is important for your pet's safety. It's yet another way of ensuring that your pet gets back home.

I've had a number of experiences with finding lost pets. Most recently, a tiny chihuahua was enticed by the smell of the pizza delivery guy one evening and came right into my house! He wasn't wearing a collar or tag and I didn't recognize him as belonging to a neighbour.

After wandering around the neighbourhood with the little guy, I began to wonder what to do him - I knew most vet clinics were closed and I really didn't want to drop him off at the shelter.  After a while, his owner (who was out looking for him), noticed us and I was able to reunite the pair...  

... but really, if the dog had been wearing his collar and an id tag, I  would have been able to call the family and he could have been returned home quickly. I hope that if I had needed to bring the dog to the shelter he would have been microchipped.

Id tags can be a classic bone-shaped tag,

Nickel Bone Tag from

or a fun and fancy designer id tag that reflects your dog's unique personality.

K9 by Igloo Tags available from
Now that the beautiful spring and summer weather is upon us, doors will be open for longer, pets will likely spend more time unsupervised in the backyard, which means more opportunities for pets to escape. Proper, up-to-date identification is a must!

Enjoy your pets,