• December 8, 2023

Different Types of Pet Identification

For most of us, our pets are considered a member of the family. Losing one of them even temporarily is devastating. We love, feed, nurture and play with them. We buy them gifts at Christmas, cute sweaters to keep them warm and fluffy soft beds to sleep in. They are our four legged furry children. Being able to identify our lost pets is crucial for there safe return.

There are several types of pet identification methods available on the market today. Depending on the type of pet, you own you will need to decide which method suits you and your pets needs.

Usually when we think of pets, we think of dogs and cats. Many people have birds, rabbits, ferrets and horses as pets. These types of animals need be considered as well for identification, as they too can get lost.



The most permanent popular pet identification is the Micro Chip. Which was created in the early 1990's by a veterinarian with the assistance of the National Companion Animal Coalition. The NCAC describes the Micro Chip as a very small (size of a grain of rice.) That is inserted into the animal's skin using a small needle and local anesthetic. It is placed between the animals shoulder blades, and within a few days, a piece of tissue will have grown over it to keep it in place permanently, even as the animal grows. While nothing is 100%, it is rare but possible it could move but it will still be detectable by scanning a larger area of the animal's backside. The Micro Chip device can be used on all animals including the smallest of pet birds. 

The price is affordable ranging from $30-$60. Your pet can have the chip put in as early as six weeks old. Many animal shelters will put the chip in free when you adopt a pet. While many animal clinics will give you a significant, discount and do the procedure for as little as $10. The most important thing to remember is to register your pet with the "PetFinder" database, or at least verify that the veterinarian gave them the correct information. ALL veterinarian offices, animal control offices, animal shelters and some of the larger chain pet store (Petco, Pet Smart) also have the scanners.


Tattoos are another popular identification for pets. The Humane Society of America is an advocate of this procedure. The tattoos are a code that is tattooed on your pet usually behind the ears or on the stomach. Your pet is given a local anesthetic for the procedure and it may need to be done more than once. Then the information is entered into a database.


Non-permanent identifications come in several forms. From ID tags made of metal, plastic, rubber, nylon and even heat shrinkable tags. Some of them a very pricey and in comparison to the extra peace of mind you get from a permanent type of identification they are a nice added touch. However they can be lost, broken, unreadable and about as useful as putting a rhinestone necklace on your pet.

The information space is limited and tags have been known to get caught on tree branches and other obstacles your pet may encounter especially cats. The only collar an outdoor cat should wear is a break-a-way one, to prevent strangulation. 


DNA is now being used to reunite pets with their families. A simple swab inside their mouth and they are done. Painless, more costly and still in the development stages but has a promising future.


While humans are identified by fingerprints animals are identified by nose prints. NO two noses are alike. The print is then entered into a database.

Another thing to take into consideration, are your pets medical history. If your dog bites someone while lost and the authorities have no way of knowing if your dog has had rabies shots, there is a good chance they will have no choice but to euthanize your pet. If your animal has a medical condition that requires daily medical intervention how will they know? It is very important to at the very least register your pet with the proper authorities such as the animal control offices and of course make sure they are licensed even if it's not required by your local laws it may help bring home your pet.

Whatever means of Pet Identification you choose just be sure to update the information on a regular basis including a picture of your pet.

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