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Bare Bones: Microchipping vs. Tattooing

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.

Want to learn about the differences, click here to

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.


Join The Conversation
lisafrank lisafrank 9 years
I think chips are a wonderful idea, but a collar with a tag that will stay on is most well as keeping your dog contained so he cant get loose. I should look up the costs for chipping in my area. Thanks for the ideas!
MandyJoBo MandyJoBo 9 years
The thing about micro-chipping is that there are several different brands, and if the facility the found pet is taken to doesn't have that brand of scanner, it won't detect the chip. I live in a decent-sized city, and our shelters don't even have micro-chip scanners at all! I called to see which brands they use. The vets around here all offer micro-chipping, but it won't do much good.
megw06 megw06 9 years
Oscar was microchipped when he was neutered. I hope we never have to use it!
lovekailua lovekailua 9 years
yep my greyt doggy is tattoed from her racing days. it did help me find her birthdate and kennel mates but other than that, it's useless. she came chipped and im getting a name/address/# tag too.
sashak sashak 9 years
Cool thanks! I need to get her a new "I'm micro-chipped" tag for her collar, she slipped the old one at the beach :oy:
kiddylnd kiddylnd 9 years
sashack - some vets will register for you, some won't. Check with whomever implanted the chip to see if they did or not. If not, get the contact info for the national registry and get your info in there. :)
telewyo telewyo 9 years
My airedale is microchipped. It was fast, easy, he didn't even notice, and you can update your contact info online if you move. If you're considering it, you might want to check with your humane society...ours offers it for only $25 to encourage owners to do it.
gruaig_rua gruaig_rua 9 years
I'm with Kiddylnd but for a different reason. Here it's mostly racing greyhounds that are tattooed. To many times the owner decides the dog is of no more use to him and he'll dump it on a country road. But not before getting rid of any evidence - he'll cut the dogs ear off. Horrific but unfortunately true.
sashak sashak 9 years
My pup is microchipped with 24 Hour Pet Watch. I had the vet check that it worked the last time I was there. Kiddy-shoud I give that # to the National Registry or is that something they do?
kiddylnd kiddylnd 9 years
DO NOT GET YOUR DOG TATTOOED! There is NO universal tattoo tracking system, there is NO universal tattoo number or sequence system (some breeders even use the owner's Social Security number!), and animal shelters and vets have NO way to identify a dog based on a tattoo. Tattoos are also not put in a universal place as a chip is (between the shoulder blades in the scruff of the neck on ALL animals). Some breeders tattoo on the inner thigh (left OR right, again no universal), belly, or ear (again left OR right). Although there are several chip companies in the US (Avid, Home Again, and Crystal Chip/ISO) and about 7 world-wide, almost all Shelters and Vet clinics now have scanners that can check for every kind of chip. One call to the national registry and the owner is contacted. The most important thing is to GET YOUR CHIP REGISTERED in the National Registry. A chip is like your pets SS #. If not registered, someone else who comes across your pet can register it and then claim ownership. The chip record CAN be used as proof of ownership in a court. I have seen microchips re-unite dogs that have been missing for YEARS on numerous occasions. Not ONCE have we been able to re-unite a dog with a tattoo based on the tattoo.
cubadog cubadog 9 years
Cuba has a chip but I do not put a collar on him unless we are outside or go to dachshund meet-ups. He hates it.
akrsouth akrsouth 9 years
Pippi is chipped and each of her collars had a tag. I think of it as an accessory, just as much fun to shop for a collar as it is to add a tag (you are get very creative).
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
My rents dogs are both chipped and tattooed.
mbrown81 mbrown81 9 years
I'm getting both dogs micro chiped. I already have one in the cat. ID Tags are still really important though because not everyone is aware of the chip implants. However most vets and shelters will check.
Renees3 Renees3 9 years
My pup is micro chipped, he came with it ( we got him at the humane society) but I would've gotten it anyway. I can't imagine losing him!
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