The best ID options for your dog

The best ID options for your dog

From traditional tags to GPS, there are lots of ways to ID your dog, so if he ever gets lost or goes missing, you have a much better chance of finding him again.

Having your dog go missing is probably one of your worst nightmares. But it doesn’t have to end badly if your canine companion is equipped with the proper identification. From tags to microchipping to GPS, there are numerous ways to ID your dog, and using more than one product or system adds another layer of protection and improves the chances that he’ll be found and returned to you. Take a look at some of the best ID options out there, from traditional to high-tech.

ID tags

Tags have long been a go-to way to provide dogs with ID, and they’re still a good choice. A dog with a visible identification tag will generally appear more approachable to whoever finds him since they’ll assume he’s a friendly family dog and will be more apt to help him get home safely.

ID tags come in an assortment of sizes and shapes, with a split ring to attach them to your dog’s collar or harness. They’re made of metal, silicon and plastic. You can also get ID tags that are part of the dog’s collar, so you don’t have to worry about them falling off.

So what should you put on your dog’s ID tag? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Your phone number
  • Your address
  • Have “microchipped” added if your pooch has been microchipped
  • Any important health problems your dog currently has – e.g. “hearing impaired”
  • A personal message, such as, “Please help me, I’m lost. Could you get me back to my family?” This kind of message usually touches the heart of the person who finds your lost friend, motivating them to return your dog quickly.

Tip: Don’t put your dog’s name on his ID tag. This can make it easier for a thief to steal your pooch because he’s more apt to respond to someone who knows his name.


A microchip uses radiofrequency to identify lost animals. The chip resides inside a tiny rice-sized capsule and gets activated when it’s scanned. The microchip is injected under your dog’s skin with a needle. To your dog, it feels like getting a regular injection. Your vet can implant the microchip during a routine check-up. Once the microchip is inserted, you will need to register it with your information on the microchip registration database.

Your dog’s microchip contains a special registration number along with the phone number of the registry. Most veterinary offices provide microchips to dog parents at a reasonable cost. Depending on where you live, the cost could be anywhere from $45 to $60. Shelters and vets have microchip scanners for checking all lost animals that are brought in to them. The chip is scanned and the registration number appears on the scanner.  The vet or animal shelter can contact the registry to get information about your dog. Microchips themselves currently don’t contain phone numbers or other information. Hopefully, in the future, the technology will allow this info to be placed on the chip.

Microchips provide a certain amount of safety for your dog, but they only work if your dog’s microchip gets scanned. So if your dog runs away, it means someone must take him to an animal shelter or veterinarian so he can be scanned. If you’ve moved or your contact information isn’t up to date in the registry, your dog won’t be identified as yours, so he won’t be returned. If you choose to microchip for your dog, be sure to keep your information updated with any address or phone number changes.

Tip: Many vets suggest both a microchip and an ID tag to increase the chances that your dog will be returned to you if he gets lost. Most people who find a lost dog look at the ID tag first, and only take him to a vet or animal shelter if they can’t locate his family.


GPS systems are growing increasingly popular for canine ID, since you can track a dog’s whereabouts in real time. They’re good for walking your dog off-leash since you’re always aware of his location. The trackers have an antenna that gives the device the ability to locate a GPS satellite. Dogs with a GPS system are the most likely to be found since they can be located, tracked, and discovered quickly. If your dog goes missing, all you need to do is use your smartphone to open the app that’s linked to your dog’s device, and find his current location.

When shopping for a device, don’t go cheap. You want a durable quality product with a long battery life. Also, look for a system that will give you a transmission of your dog’s location in real time, not just periodically. It’s important to know that some devices work by Bluetooth, which means your phone has to be in the device’s range to receive any data.

Tip: Consider your dog’s size when buying a GPS device, and make sure not to get one that’s too large for him.

Despite our best efforts, our dogs sometimes run away or get lost. The best thing you can do is be prepared in case your own pooch ever goes missing. Have him wear an ID tag with your contact details and other pertinent info about your dog. Getting him microchipped adds extra ID protection, while a GPS system allows you to track him down quickly. No matter which route you go – and using two more is best — you’ll know you’re equipped with the best tools for finding your dog again.

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