We never want our pets to get lost. We do everything in our power to keep them safe and protected. There are things we can’t anticipate, though. Natural disasters separate us, car accidents occur (is your pet using a car seat or harness?), and cats sneak outside. Suddenly our beloved pet is gone. How are we going to find them? Does your pet have a microchip? More importantly, does your pet wear a collar with an ID tag? Pet ID tags ensure our furry family members find their way home.
Forms of Pet Identification
I know: your pet never leaves the house, right? They’re always within your sight. They hate the outdoors. You always keep a firm hand on their leash. There’s a long list of reasons people use to avoid pet IDs.
And then the unthinkable happens.
It’d be great if we anticipated everything Mother Nature throws at us, but we’re just not there yet. Unfortunately, we also aren’t great at predicting the actions of those around us. That’s why every pet – even indoor pets – needs proper identification.
Microchipping your pet is fantastic, and every pet SHOULD get microchipped. If your cat or dog gets out of sight and finds their way to a vet hospital, shelter, or rescue, that tiny chip is key to bringing them home. (Provided you remember to keep your information current – hint, hint)
But you can’t see a microchip. Also, the average Good Samaritan on the street doesn’t have a scanner. So while you hope that a friendly person will take your pet for scanning, there’s no guarantee. Not everyone microchips their pets (sad but true), so you can’t blame someone if they don’t assume one’s there.
Pet ID Tags
Now, a tag? You can’t miss a tag. Pet ID tags declare to the world, “I belong to someone!” With the variety of identification available these days, you can communicate everything from your contact information to medical alerts to behavioral advisories. That tag is a portable dossier for your pet, proclaiming to the world your love and devotion.
Choosing a Pet ID Tag
The options for pet ID tags are pretty limitless. Materials, size, shape, bling, silencers, artwork, humor, technology – you name it, you can find it. Before you dive into an internet search, though, there are a few things to consider.
- Available Lines: Size, shape, and brand of tag dictate the number of lines and characters you’ll have. You want to consider what you want to say on the tag and then look at what your choice allows.
- Durability: Our pets are active. Even indoors, they play and move around. The ID tag needs to handle the level of abuse your pet is capable of. Think carefully when choosing your material:
- Aluminum: Easily the most common tags out there. Aluminum has the most colors and shapes, but they need coating, so they don’t rust.
- Brass: You won’t find many shape options, but brass is durable and lasts.
- Non-Metallic: This includes everything from plastic to silicone. Plastic scuffs and scratches easily, while silicone holds up better.
- Stainless Steel: You’re back to limited shapes, but it’s the most durable material you’ll find.
- Engraving: If the information wears off or isn’t clear, it’s useless. If you’re willing to pay a little more, embossing lasts longer.
- Security: An ID tag is useless on the floor or ground. It needs to attach securely to the collar. You also don’t want it to catch on other objects and trap your pet.
Information on the Tag
While it’s tempting to write a novel describing how much you love your pet, there isn’t a pet ID tag out there large enough. The fact that you put a tag on your pet shows you adore them. Still, you do want to list some critical information.
Every pet ID tag should have this information somewhere on it:
- Your Pet’s Name: This needs to be the name you use regularly. Sure, her official name is Princess Angelica Caribou of the First Frost, but all she hears around the house is Angie. Using her full name (which will pretty much take up the tag) will hamper a rescuer. She won’t respond to them. (And they’ll have no idea which name to use: Princess? Angelica? Boo-Boo?)
- Your Phone Number: Pick a number someone is likely to answer. If no one picks up the home phone, it’s worthless. If your spouse is always available, use their number. You CAN list a secondary number.
- Your City: Animals DO leave their home turf. If a rescuer reads a tag for a different city, it immediately screams, “I’m lost!”
If you have room on the ID tag, consider adding some alerts:
- Medical Alerts: Sometimes, simple words like “Daily Medications” or “Heart Condition” are enough. You’ll alert rescuers that your pet needs you ASAP.
- Temperament: Does your dog hate cats? Is your cat afraid of loud noises? Is your pet an escape artist? Quick notes tip-off rescuers about essential personality traits. If they choose to bring your pet into their household while they track you down, those alerts might prove valuable.
- Microchip: Don’t list the microchip number. Unscrupulous people can take the number and use it to register your pet under their name. However, a simple “I’m microchipped” lets people know to scan and find your contact information.
Types of Pet ID Tags
Everyone has personal preferences for pet ID tags. What works best for you – and your pet – determines your choice. These are the most common categories available. Each has its pros and cons, and there are multitudes of options within each group (this is just a SMALL selection). But, you’re sure to find one that fits your cat or dog. (Yes, cats need tags, too!)
Maybe you don’t want to deal with an ID tag. Instead, you can find collars that contain pet ID information built in. It’s a great compromise.
Mimi Green offers a variety of designs and patterns in her collars. Your information is engraved directly onto the collar’s buckle. So you get to support a small business, which is always awesome.
The downsides? You only get three lines, with 20 characters per line. If you don’t count your characters correctly, they make their best judgment call on how to shorten your info. Also, the buckle is a plastic material, so durability could be a problem.
GoTags offers a reasonable option if you want to watch your pennies. Their nylon collars provide up to 25 characters. That’s usually enough for a name and phone number (including spaces). The collars are adjustable, and they have a D-ring, so you can attach a leash if desired.
Downside? That adjustable feature sometimes renders the identification difficult or impossible to read.
This category is the most familiar. It’s also the largest. You can find THOUSANDS of tags in any shape, color, and design imaginable. They range in price. These tags jingle a lot as your pet moves, but you can buy tag “silencers” to muffle the sound. Unfortunately, hanging tags are prone to catching in vents and on other objects. So if you have explorer-prone pets, you might think twice.
The lines and characters available on these tags depend on the size and shape you choose.
I’ll be honest – we bought an entire bag of CNATTAGS tags. They were cheap, the size of the tag provided plenty of room to engrave our information, and they look classy on our dog and cats. Of course, they do jingle, but we don’t mind. For us, when our dog hears us lift her collar, she knows she’s going for a walk. And really, it’s not THAT loud.
Slide-on tags slip onto the collar itself. They don’t make any noise, which appeals to a lot of owners. You do need to watch the width of the collar. If you don’t follow sizing, they’ll slide right OFF the collar. (Not so helpful)
GoTags makes a stainless steel slide-on tag designed for single-thickness collars. Each tag holds up to four lines of information LASER-engraved onto the tag. GoTags work with both buckle- and clasp-style collars.
Downside? The collar can’t be thicker than 0.06 inches, which leaves out a lot of leather collars.
Road ID makes a stainless steel tag, but this one attaches to a collar via rubber rings. You get six lines of text, and each one holds a maximum of 25 characters. Road ID backs up their engraving with a lifetime warranty against fading or corrosion, which is pretty awesome.
The downside? Those rubber rings aren’t part of the warranty. They can snap, and the tag then dangles or even falls off if both rings go.
LuckyPet provides an option of stainless steel or brass. Either way, you get a durable tag with a lifetime warranty. The tag attaches to your pet’s collar with rivets. In addition, you get five lines of LASER-engraved text.
So what’s the downside? Those rivets like to fall out. People reported they had to find rivet replacements on their own (warranty doesn’t extend there, apparently).
Unique Pet IDs
Some pet companies think out of the box. Whether that means embracing technological advances or appealing to a different sense of style, these pet ID tags are in a class by themselves.
Dynotag took pet IDs to a new level. This hanging tag features a QR code on the back. Anyone with a smartphone can scan the code and enter your unique identifier. As soon as they do, you receive an email notification. No batteries to worry about, and Dynotag doesn’t charge you a subscription fee. The tag itself has a stainless steel core in a polymer coating, so no concern that it might wear out. Dynotag even understands your need to wax eloquent on your beloved pet – you decide exactly how much text you want to write! It doesn’t even cost much.
Downside? The polymer coating isn’t as durable as the steel core. That means the QR code has the potential to wear off.
Tags for Hope is not only unique and adorable, it supports a good cause. Every purchase donates to a no-kill shelter. (Who doesn’t like that?) These pet IDs resemble a human driver’s license! They’re encased in a transparent, protective shell and come with a lifetime guarantee. You not only have the front and back available for information, but you also get to include a picture of your pet. If you choose, you can also order a wallet-sized version for yourself. Then no one will doubt your pet is yours.
Downside? Lifetime guarantee or not, they’re not made from steel or brass, which means they’re subject to chewing.
Pet Tags Making Finding a Lost Pet Possible
Whether it’s a hanging tag warning a rescuer that Mom or Dad is at home ugly crying or a high-tech RFID providing GPS coordinates, a pet ID tag is the first line of defense in getting a lost pet home. Tags are easy to spot, sharing vital information with Good Samaritans. While a microchip is still critical, it’s invisible. A collar and tag stand out.
So consider the style of pet ID tag that suits you best. Then make sure you get one on your pet.