Pet Identification Options

  • By Kathy McRoberts
  • 02 Dec, 2013

It's time to renew your dog license again!  Not only is it the law to keep your dog's license current, keeping some form of identification on your pet will greatly increase the chances of a lost pet finding their way back home. This month I thought we'd take a look at some of the different options for pet identification.

There are several options for owners seeking to provide their pets with identification: Microchips, Collar and Tags, Tattoos, and GPS Collars. Each identification method has benefits and drawbacks, so let’s examine each of them so you can decide which is best for you and your furry friend.


Collars and tags are the “old-fashioned” identification option and provide an instant visual source of identification. whether your pet wears a designer diamond-studded collar with a sterling silver tag or a simple nylon collar with an aluminum tag the most important features of your pet’s collar and tag is safety and information the tag carries. The collar should fit snugly, but not be too tight. You should be able to slide two fingers between the collar and your pet’s neck. If you can’t fit two fingers in, the collar is too tight. If you can fit more than two fingers in, the collar is too loose.

A license tag, a requirement in most counties in Ohio, assigns your pet a number which is tracked in a computer database. If a stray animal is found wearing a county license tag, the number can be looked up on the internet by accessing the county's website. Refer to the Dog License Information links on the left side of this page for more specific information.

Along with the required County license tag, you dog should wear tags that contain your pet’s name and up-to-date information for contacting you. If you travel a great deal with your pet, it is best to include your cell phone number on the tag. Including your animal’s rabies tag and license on his collar is also a great idea. Not only is it law in many states, but your pet’s rabies tag also contains a great deal of information that can help get your pet home. Many pet stores offer instant do-it-yourself tags through vending machines in the store. There are also companies that will make tags and ship them to your home through mail order or Internet sales. Some higher-tech tags even include USB drives that attach to your pet’s collar and can contain all the information needed for you and your pet.

Collars and tags do require a bit of maintenance and they must be replaced when they become worn. A worn collar may fall off after your pet gets lost and the vital information for getting your pet home will be lost too. Tags also get worn and eventually the engraving will become unreadable. Also, as your contact information changes, remember to update your pet’s tags. These simple steps will ensure that you and your pet will be reunited quickly.

A good habit is to be sure your pet is wearing their collar and tags at all times, and never let them outside without it.


Microchips are a reliable and increasingly popular identification option. A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and is embedded in the pet’s skin, usually in between the shoulders, through an injection. The microchip contains information on the pet’s owner and is stored in a database. The microchip emits a radio frequency that can be read using a hand-held scanner. Microchips are extremely reliable. They do not get lost and they are made to last for twenty-five years or more. However, not all microchips use the same radio frequency; therefore, your pet’s microchip might not be able to be read by all scanners. Most shelters have the ability to read multiple microchip frequencies, but it might be something you look into before deciding on which microchip to use. Another drawback to the microchip is that in order for the chip to be read, the pet must be taken to a scanner. If your pet is taken into someone’s home, and not taken to a veterinarian or a shelter, the information on the microchip would never be found.

Microchips are fairly inexpensive and many shelters offer discounts or free microchipping when pets are adopted. Microchipping is usually offered as part of a new pet’s initial veterinary examination. Remember, a microchip is not only for expensive or purebred animals; it is an investment to insure the love you have for one another.

In order for a microchip to be effective, the information must be kept up-to-date, so remember that if you move or change ownership of your pet, the microchip information needs to be updated.


Tattoos may strike some people as a barbaric method of identification, but they can be an effective, albeit less popular identification option. Tattoos are often applied when an animal is very young and the tattoo usually consists of a series of numbers. The numbers usually correspond to an animal’s registration papers when that animal is purchased from a breeder. Tattoos can be placed inside the ear, or on the tummy or inner thigh. Tattoos are a good way to permanently mark your animal to identify him. However, the tattoos can fade over time or be hidden by the animal’s fur.


The latest in pet identification is the GPS collar. This is the most expensive option, but as the technology improves, we expect prices to go down. The GPS collar can also be a little bulky compared to more simple collars, but again time will improve the technology and size. The GPS collar offers pet owners a real-time look at where their pet is located. The GPS collar does require the owner to maintain a monthly subscription in order to use the tracking service and using this service requires a computer or mobile device.

Tagg - The Pet Tracker   uses advanced GPS and location technology to help people find their lost pets. The lightweight dog GPS device attaches to most collars and lets you locate and track your dog using a computer or smartphone. The simple set-up procedure allows you to create your very own Tagg zone, the area where your dog spends most of his time. If your dog isn’t in the zone, you’ll know quickly and precisely where he is. One review of their system reads as follows... "I absolutely love this product. I once took my dog to a friends house without taking off the tracker, just to test it, and within 3 minutes I got a text telling me exactly where she was, I was so impressed. It also comes with an amazing app for your phone or in my case iPad that not only let's you track your pet but gives you directions to nearby vets, pet stores, dog parks, and even pet friendly hotels."

There are other companies that offer the technology of GPS pet tracking including Amber Alert GPS, PocketFinder, Spark Nano, and others. You can read reviews on the internet. Iif your budget allows, GPS technology could be a reliable identification solution for your pet.

No matter what identification option you choose, you are helping to increase the likelihood that a lost pet will find its way home again. Keeping identification on your pet at all times is part of being a responsible pet owner. A combination of them is best just in case one form of ID fails.

Sources: ; ;

Originally Compiled by Kathy McRoberts, December, 2013

Cincinnati Dog Knowledge Center

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By West Chester Pet Resort & Spa 20 Jun, 2017
Now that summer is just around the corner, family vacations are about to be in full swing. While traveling with your pet certainly has its benefits, there are things that you need to know before jet-setting with Fluffy in tow.

First and foremost, having your pet as your co-pilot completely alleviates the worry of who is going to care for them while you're away. This question is always an anxiety for pet owners. The option of traveling with them is especially beneficial if your pet has behavioral issues such as separation anxiety.

Crating your pet while driving to your destination is never a bad option. They're confined and safe, and you as the driver are less distracted. Just be sure to remove collars and leashes to prevent a strangling incident and keep the air flow on them.

If your pet has never been crated, you can find a great video here  by "Dog Guru" Cesar Milan on tome tips and tricks to crate training.

While the car is in motion, feeding your dog is one big "Don't!" If you are on an extended road trip and your pet needs a meal, the next time you stop, feed a small snack- preferably high in protein. And remember to never leave your furry friend in the car, especially during these warm months!

Now, traveling with your pet in an airplane is a much more complicated process as you will more than likely want to book a direct flight. Communicating with the airline prior to travel dates is absolutely imperative. Many airlines have strict regulations for canine and feline travel and their regulations may vary based on the airline and the destination.

However you decide to travel, always remember that if you are taking a not-so-pet-friendly vacation, we would love your pet to stay with us while you are away.  West Chester Pet Resort offers a variety of services to make your pets stay a fun- filled adventure. Call to book your pet’s adventure today!

-West Chester Pet Resort & Spa
By Kathy McRoberts 03 Dec, 2014

Original article by Marybeth Bittel, Tails Magazine

When I was a young music student growing up in Chicago’s western suburbs, my family adopted an Airedale puppy we named Beethoven. I picked Beethoven out at the shelter because all the other puppies rushed forward to greet me, while he hid shyly in the corner. Most trainers agree that’s not necessarily the ideal benchmark for selecting a furry friend, but we got lucky. Beethoven matured into an outgoing, even-tempered, fun, and affectionate family member who sternly guarded our front yard one minute, and romped through our sprinkler the next.

But then came the Fourth of July. Fireworks went off at random intervals around the clock. We discovered that when it came to loud noises and ear-popping explosions, Beethoven was absolutely terrified.

At first we wondered how this could have happened. After all, we’d never left our beloved boy outside while pyrotechnics peppered the sky. He hadn’t been exposed to extreme noises as a puppy. In all likelihood, Beethoven’s fireworks aversion, like so many pet fears and phobias, was just one of those things that took hold when his sensitive hearing encountered a sudden trigger he could neither see nor anticipate.

So we did what numerous pet parents do when their cherished companion is struggling: we cuddled him, coddled him, and cooed comforting words of reassurance. We also sat, feeling helpless, watching him cower and hide as the problem held steady each year. In fact, through all the years of Beethoven’s life, he never overcame this disabling sense of distress, no matter how soothing or supportive we attempted to make his surrounding environment.

When my husband and I began working with abused rescue dogs, we noticed that most arrived with an array of deep-rooted anxieties acquired over time. One Bichon was terrified of rotary fans. A Shih Tzu mix became a jittery mess during thunderstorms. A sweet and docile Foxhound routinely hid from houseplants. These fears ran the gamut, but they had one thing in common: They were exceedingly real to the dog, and they had a great impacts on the entire family.

We began working with local animal behaviorists, and that’s when we learned an invaluable truth:  The way we, as caregivers, react to our pet’s anxieties can actually perpetuate the patterns.

Why would this be? As Abe Mashal, owner of Marine Corps Dog Training in St. Charles, explains, “Dogs form extremely solid bonds with their humans. That means most canines are highly attuned to any type of interaction with their human ‘pack’ members.” So when something a dog is doing  earns our attention—whether that attention takes the form of praise, pampering, or peevish irritation— the behavior is often unintentionally reinforced.

“Reinforcement,” a common term in the world of animal behavioral training, is really just another word for strengthening. In reality, a reinforcer can be anything that strengthens a behavior.

So for those of you thinking, “I never reinforce my dog’s non-stop barking! I scold her on the spot,” see if these examples sound familiar:

  • You hear your Husky howling, and immediately storm in to reprimand her. How is this reinforcement? To many dogs, having a beloved human present (even a beloved yet annoyed human) is better than feeling lonesome. Your dog begins to think her howling is prompting you to chime in.
  • Your Lab whines pitifully as you begin to leave the house, so you return to take him with you. Over time, your dog starts believing that his whining causes you to come back for him (Pavlov’s theory, anyone?).
  • Your Westie mix cowers and growls behind the sofa whenever company arrives, so you pick him up and coo “Ohhhh, you’re fine, what a gooooood boy….” Soon, your dog begins to equate hiding and trembling with oodles of TLC.

“Every interaction with your dog has the potential to teach and reinforce, merely because you’re paying attention,” explains Sara Swan, owner of Narnia Pet Behavior & Training in Plainfield. How can you tell if this is happening? Simply observe over time. Dogs continue to engage in behaviors that provide some sort of payoff. If you’re dealing with a fear or anxiety response that’s ongoing—such as Beethoven’s abhorrence of fireworks—some kind of inducement is likely contributing to the pattern. In Beethoven’s case, his reactions earned him almost round-the-clock nurturing.

Fortunately, we as dog parents can leverage these same dynamics when it comes to re-programming undesirable behaviors. Let’s say your 80-pound “lap dog” excitedly jumps on you whenever you come home from work. When you withhold the coveted attention—immediately going back out the door, or turning your back on him—many pups gradually begin to seek out a different behavior.

The same thing can work with a fear response. If your pet is terrified of your Swiffer mop, for example, try propping it against the family room couch and just leaving it there. Then, simply act like it’s no big deal and go about your daily routine, even if your pup exhibits an unsettled reaction. Very gradually, over time, as your furry friend begins to approach the mop with quiet but tentative curiosity, reward that calm behavior with brief praise or a small treat. Keep it up, and eventually your dog can learn that “mop = calm = good.”

Helping your dog manage his stress is one of the keys to having a happy and healthy pet. If your animal companion has specific challenges beyond what you’re comfortable handling, always reach out to a certified animal behaviorist who can help you develop targeted interventional techniques that will work on your pet’s unique needs. It will not only help with unwanted behaviors, but strengthen your bond, as well.

Safe, Drug Free Ways To Soothe Your Pet’s Stress

The Thundershirt. The ThunderShirt leverages the age-old principle of swaddling an infant to promote calming reassurance. Simply fasten this snug, stretchy shirt around your pet’s ribcage. During anxious episodes of panting or hyperventilation, it provides ongoing sensory feedback that suppresses this common panic response. ( )

Music or ASMR. As a musician, I can attest firsthand that deep, resonant tones often work wonders on a nervous pup. You can also try leveraging something called ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), which is promoted by many hypnotists and human sleep therapists. ASMR is a subjective, perceptual phenomenon characterized by a distinct calming or scalp- tingling sensation in response to quiet, seemingly mundane sound triggers. Certain pets appear especially receptive, and may even be lulled to sleep. To gauge effectiveness, try playing low, calming music or ASMR audio with your dog in the room. Use a meditation CD, or visit YouTube to access ASMR recordings by reputable “ASMRtists” such as The Waterwhispers.

Calming Sprays. Help create a relaxing environment for your pet by using a calming spray on their bedding or by plugging in a calming spray diffuser. Many cats and dogs experience reduced anxiety and stress after being exposed to these non- sedating sprays, which use soothing scents such as lemongrass, cinnamon, and lavender to encourage relaxation.

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