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Avoid heartbreak by hooking your pet up with a proper, personalized ID tag. These days engraving technology has gotten so much better that you can fit a lot on your dog’s ID tag. There are also unique considerations for what to put on your dog’s ID tag based on your lifestyle, location, and preferred method of contact.
And luckily, technology has improved our odds of finding a lost dog with devices like GPS dog trackers, microchipping, and social media. Still, the best plan for finding a lost dog is preparing for the what ifs.
What to Put On Your Dog’s ID Tag
So, your dog needs an ID tag. Got it. But—what do you put on it? Tags have limited space (four lines of text, averaging three to four words per line). And not all tags have space on the back of the tag. This means choosing the right info carefully.
What you put on your dog’s tag should be a combination of what will get your dog returned (needs medication, is spayed, etc.) and contact information that’ll stay up to date. For example, you’ll see a lot of address recommendations out there. But if you move around a lot, an address may end up being outdated information that delays getting you and your dog reunited.
11 info-upgrades to your dog’s ID tag:
- Your name or your dog’s name: This seems like an obvious, but whether your name or your dog’s, we recommend putting only one name on the tag.
- Your phone number: This is for people who are more likely to answer a call, but if you are a texter, include the word TEXT before your phone number. You might want to add a friend or neighbor’s number as well to boost your chance of being reunited.
- Your dog’s medical needs or history: If applicable, adding the phrase “Needs Meds” can add a sense of urgency.
- Your social media account: Be pragmatic about the accounts you want to include. Social media handles are easy to understand and check, especially Instagram.
- Your email address: Like phone numbers and social media accounts, your email is less likely to change over time.
- A personal message: “I’m friendly” or “Please call my mom” or “If I’m alone, I’m lost” are all good options.
- Vaccine information: If you have a reactive or mouthy dog, this information will help people stay calm as they interact with your dog.
- Reward notice: If you can swing it, offering a reward could encourage someone to return your dog.
- Microchip information: It’s not a bad idea to include a line that states your dog is microchipped so that whoever finds them can take your dog to a vet and get the most up-to-date information.
- Spay or neuter confirmation: If you have an expensive dog breed, or a popular dog breed, including this information may deter people with ill intentions of breeding your dog.
- Your address: This is optional depending on whether you rent or own a house. If you move frequently, leaving your phone number or social media on your dog’s tag may be more reliable than an address.
Should You Get Two Dog Tags?
Of course, you won’t be able to include all of these items in the few lines you have to work with. Take what’s applicable to your situation and customize your dog’s tag to make it work for you. Or get two tags.
You can also get two tags in case one gets lost. Replacing your dog’s tag becomes easy when you have another one.
Most vets will also give you a tag after your dog’s rabies shot to indicate they are up to date on vaccinations. If you register your dog with the city, they’ll also send you an animal license tag. Both rabies and animal license tags are good sources of information.
Pros & Cons of a Dog’s ID Tag
Benefits of a dog ID tag:
- Reduce dog mixups in populated areas. If your dog goes to doggy day care or has a regular walker, making sure that they have a collar with dog ID tags will help with identification. Dog mix-ups happen! ID tags can help diffuse confusion.
- Non-invasive identification. Unlike microchips or tattoos, dog ID tags are cheap, lightweight options to identify your dog.
- Easy to read and find. Everyone is familiar with a dog tag. It’s the first thing people check for if they believe a dog is lost.
- Low cost. Dog ID tags are one of the cheaper alternatives to dog tracking and identification.
Addressing concerns around dog tags:
- Tags are noisy. Try “tag silencers,” which are plastic pieces that go around the tag to minimize sound. If your dog is still super resistant, consider having a custom collar embroidered with your contact info.
- Information can change. It’s best to keep information that won’t change (phone number, email) on the tag over information that has potential to change in the future (home address, city, etc.)
- They do not last. Cheaper dog tags get easily scratched up, making it hard for people to read the important information. We recommend getting tags that have been plated for protection.
- Not enough space. Dog tags are meant to be functional, but with all the cute options around, you may encounter a tag you like that doesn’t have enough space. If your dog is okay with the noise, two tags will solve this issue.
There are no serious drawbacks to a dog’s ID tag. Rather, there are considerations to factor for are whether your dog enjoys wearing tags at all—and how a tag may help ease your anxieties. Tags can’t track a dog, but there are options, such as Apple AirTags and GPS trackers that can help.
What Is the Best Dog Tag?
The quickest place to get a dog tag is at your local pet store or any major pet retailer, like Petco, Chewy, or PetSmart. Most pet stores have a dog tag engraving machine that’ll personalize tag for you in less than four minutes. Tag machines can be found at Walmart, too.
Dog ID tag materials we recommend:
- Stainless steel: Less likely to deteriorate but makes a lot of noise
- Aluminum: Lightweight and easy to find but also the least durable
- Brass: Beautiful and holds up better than aluminum but may get water stains
- Gold-plated: Holds up against intense wear and tear but likely more expensive than an average dog tag
- Hard enamel: More realistic color options and durability but harder to find at a store
- QR tags: Laser engraved into a tag, these codes allow anyone to scan and identify how to bring your dog home
Ways to attach your dog tag:
- Hanging ID tags: These tags attach to your dog’s collar by a keyring. The risk of these falling off can be high, depending on the quality of your tag and the ring.
- Slide-on tags: Also known as fixed dog tags, these tags slide onto your dog’s collar. You can adjust it so the tag is in a spot where it’s less likely to get banged up or scratched.
- Embroidered: Technically not a dog tag, this method of etching your information onto a collar is a workaround for tags that may fall off their rings.
Where to Find Customized Dog ID Tags
You can also order a custom tag online if that’s more your style. Amazon offers loads of different designs, colors, and shapes to choose from. Just fill in your info and voila!—you’ve done one easy thing to keep your dog safe!
If you’re looking for something extra special, Etsy is a great place to find adorable, unique tags for your stylish pet.
With so many simple and affordable options available, there’s no reason to avoid getting a custom dog tag. This simple purchase will keep your dog safe while giving you peace of mind.
A wise investment, if there ever was one.
FAQs: Why Are Dog ID Tags Important?
A dog’s tag is only one of many tools that keep your dog safe. In fact, a good old-fashioned ID tag is a faster and more convenient way for people to contact you. You can have your dog’s ID tag embroidered onto a collar or engraved on a metal tag.
Do I still need a tag if my dog is microchipped and wears a GPS tracker?
While microchipping your pets is certainly advisable, they can delay communication. To access the chip, your dog would need to be brought to a vet clinic or a shelter, and—let’s face it—some people just won’t bother with the hassle.
Similarly with any gps collar. Dog gps collars can only help you find your dog. They can’t tell the person whose found your pet how to get in touch with you as there is no identifying information. Plus, an out-of-battery or malfunctioning tracker can’t help you find your dog. An ID tag makes for a stronger backup plan.
My dog doesn’t run away. Do I still need a dog tag?
Even if your dog isn’t likely to run away, tags help during surprise scenarios like natural disasters or accidental separations. Roaming dogs who wear identification are also more likely to be spotted and stopped by strangers.
An ID tag indicates your dog isn’t a stray, which may spur someone to take protective action. If your dog has tags, they’re more likely to be returned to you. It’s that simple.
More Resources for Pet Parents
Dog tags and trackers are a great way to keep tabs on your dog. But they can’t tell you how much fun they’ve had, especially if their dog walker is stopping by. Stop relying on miles as a marker for your dog’s fun and ask dog sitter or walker instead. One of the benefits of booking a dog walker through Rover.com is the detailed care updates you receive about your dog’s time.