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Microchips Or ID Tags? What You Need To Know About Finding Lost Pets

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How much do you worry about your pet running away or getting lost? The statistics on lost pets may surprise you. According to the American Humane Association, more than 10 million pets will be either lost or stolen every year. One in every three pets will get lost sometime during their life. That means there's a good chance that your pet could get lost at some point. Luckily, there are several things that you can do to improve your chances of having your pet returned to you safely, including microchipping and customized ID tags. What's the best way to protect your pet? Take a look at what you need to know about microchipping and ID tags and how they can help you find a lost pet.


Microchipping is becoming a more and more common choice for pet owners. There are some great reasons why microchipping is popular. Implanting the chip is quick and painless for your pet. You can't lose the chip or forget to put it on them. Your pet may not be wearing ID tags when they unexpectedly run out the door that you opened for some other reason, but they'll have the microchip on them.

However, there are some definite drawbacks as well. For example, sometimes microchips can travel inside your pet's body, which means that the chip may not be found even if your pet is scanned for microchips. Older microchips aren't necessarily compatible with new scanners, which can also lead to chips not being detected. And depending on where a lost pet winds up, they may not ever be scanned – not every shelter or vet scans for microchips routinely, and if your pet is found by someone who assumes it's a stray and decides to keep it, they may not think to have the pet scanned to search for an owner first.

ID Tags

ID tags are a tried-and-true way of ensuring that your pet is returned to you. The biggest advantage that ID tags have over microchips is that they're immediately visible. Having your pet returned to you when they're lost largely depends on whether or not you can be found. An ID tag puts your contact information where anyone can find it and makes it clear to anyone who finds your pet that it's not a stray.

ID tags are also low-cost and very accessible. If your pet isn't due for a vet appointment for a while but you want to make sure they're protected now, a visit to your favorite pet supply store or website can quickly get you the ID your pet needs to identify their owner if they become lost.

On the downside, ID tags can become unfastened or damaged and get lost before anyone finds your pet, so they're not a permanent form of ID. What's more, an ID tag can also be removed, which means that if someone is intent on stealing your pet, just taking the ID tags off can remove any indication that you are the pet's owner.

The Best of Both Worlds

One thing is for sure: given the statistics on lost pets, you definitely should do something to make sure that your pet is returned to you if they become lost. Instead of choosing between ID tags and microchipping, your best bet may be to opt for both.

Giving your pet customized ID tags that list your contact information gives anyone who finds your pet a visible indicator that your pet has an owner that's searching for them, and also gives them an immediate way to contact you, without having to contact a veterinarian or shelter for scanning.

The microchip works well as a backup – if by some chance your pet's ID tags are missing, there's still a way for anyone who finds your pet to track you down. Both ID tags and microchips increase your chances of having your pet returned, so utilizing both methods may give you the best chance of finding your pet if they become lost.

Make an appointment with your pet's veterinarian to talk about microchipping, and visit your favorite pet supply store to find out about having custom ID tags made for your pet. You can't be too careful about making sure that your pet can be returned to you if they get lost.