I'm lucky to have never lost a pet, but I can't even imagine how I would cope if it happened to me. Microchips and tattoos provide an extra level of protection if a pet becomes separated from you, and from his collar and tags. Providing tags and a microchip or tattoo can help ID him if he is turned in. Both procedures typically cost around $45.
You'll remember, I'm a strong supporter of ID tags – for us pet owners, microchips and tattoos are common knowledge, but those who do not have pets may not even know that these exist. In the chance that your dog escapes, but that his collar remains on, I believe ID tags are the first step in recovery. However, I am equally committed to this additional step of protection.
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Microchips are about the size of a grain of rice. Insertion is a super quick procedure between the shoulder blades like a shot, and is not visible afterwards. Most dogs – North included – go through it without even a whimper. The great thing about microchips is that if your dog is lost and turned into a shelter, vet's office, or animal control, many of these locations are equipped with microchip readers. Nowadays, the technology allows readers to be able to scan the dog (similar to a bar code), and even identify different microchip brands.
The other permanent ID option is a tattoo. While microchips do not require anesthesia, tattoos do. Tattoos leave a visible mark on the animal (usually on the right ear or inner thigh) so it's more obvious he has some additional ID method if his collar comes off. However, if his tattoo tag is gone, it may be harder to figure out where this number is registered. Personally, I'm scared to get a tattoo myself so don't think I could pick that option but it's up to you as responsible pet owners to choose what's best for you and your animals.