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

By Pets in Need 08 Jan, 2018

Education is the first step  in pet poison prevention

Pet owners should take the time to educate themselves on the various, sometimes unexpected, pet poisons in their environments. The  Pet Poison Helpline  provides an extensive list of poisonous items for pet owners to be aware of, but here are a few of the most common items seen by veterinarians:

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Outdoor Animals:

Many people believe certain dog breed, such as huskies and malamutes, are capable of living outside all of the time because of their thick coats. However, no dog breed should be consistently left unprotected outside. According to the City of Cincinnati, when the temperature is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, a pet owner should not leave their dog outside for longer than sixty minutes without adequate shelter. For outside dogs, owners should provide a warm, dry, draft free shelter with fresh, unfrozen water. Heated water bowls are a great option to ensure consistent access to unfrozen water. Owners should also feed their outdoor dogs more during the winter because their bodies use more energy trying to keep warm. In 2016, the City of Cincinnati passed an ordinance with further restrictions and shelter guidelines for dog tethering and weather conditions, which can be found by  clicking here

A common winter hazard that vets encounter consistently with cats is engine belt injuries. Cats will climb into cars to keep warm, and without knowing they’re there, people will start their cars and harm the cats. Before starting your car in the winter, it’s advised to give the car hood a few raps to make sure there are no cats cozied up inside.

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Pets start an estimated 1,000 fires per year. While this isn’t a huge number, it’s easily preventable. Pet owners should identify the risks in their home and make sure they’re contained from pets. Risks to consider include, open flames such as candles, space heaters, stovetops, fireplaces, and frayed wires chewed by puppies.

Even if all fire hazards are contained from pets, there’s still always a chance of a house fire. According to the   National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) , there’s a home fire reported every 86 seconds in the United States. So while the hope is that you and your pets never have to face a fire, it’s important to have a plan.

In case of a fire, pet owners should hang window clings that let firefighters know there’s a pet in the home. The   ASPCA offers a free Pet Fire Safety Pack   that includes a window decal. When leaving home, pet owners should know where their pets are and keep them close to exits if possible. Pet owners should also consider investing in monitored smoke detectors that alert homeowners of a fire when they’re not home and automatically dispatch firefighters.

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First, let’s learn a bit of information about pet diabetes. Just like in humans, there are 2 types or diabetes in pets, which veterinarians typically refer to as insulin dependent and non-insulin dependent. One is caused when the body doesn’t make enough insulin, which is a hormone created by the pancreas that allows glucose (or sugars) to move from the blood stream into cells to create energy. With non-insulin dependent diabetes, the body is making enough insulin, but it can’t utilize the insulin efficiently. This can be caused by high body fat content, chronic cortisone administration, and/or certain hormones such as progesterone (produced during a pet’s heat period).
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Getting your dog microchipped is an easy and relatively inexpensive procedure that drastically increases the odds that your pet will find its way home if it’s ever lost. A microchip is a tiny chip that’s about the size of a grain of rice and contains a unique identification number. It’s injected into a pet’s skin between the shoulder blades on their back. When scanned with an electric scanner, the chip will show the unique identification number and manufacturer of the microchip. This unique identification number will be linked to the pet owner’s contact information in the microchip manufacturer’s database.

If a stranger ever finds your dog, a shelter or veterinarian can scan your pet for a microchip. Once they have the identification number and manufacturer from the chip reading, they will call the manufacturer in search of the pet owner’s contact information.  Therefore, if a dog owner moves or changes their contact information, it’s extremely important for them to update the contact information associated with their pet’s microchip identification number.

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