Why Do I Need Dog Tags?

By Sarah Jeanne Terry
Black, Mixed-Breed, Female Dog
credit: katrinaelena/iStock/GettyImages

Just a few weeks ago, my roommates and I found a stray dog in our yard. He was an adorable, sweet-tempered chihuahua with a cute, spiked collar. He was clearly someone's beloved pet, but he didn't have any tags. After going all around the neighborhood looking for an owner, my roommate took him to her vet to see if he had a chip. He did, and the chip company immediately contacted the owner.

But chips aren't as technologically advanced as they sound, especially if owners don't keep their information up to date, which the owner of the dog we found had not. It took more than 24 hours to get the pup back to his family, and some people might not hold onto a found dog that long. So it's really important to make your dog as easy to identify as possible. And if you're not convinced by that story, here are some other important reasons to make sure your dog has tags.

Pets get lost all the time.

The whole reason for having a collar or any identifying information on your pet is because you never know when or how they might get lost. If you think just because your dog is an inside dog that they're safe, then think again. Accidents happen, doors get left open, and dogs escape.

Goofy Dog Portrait with Copyspace
credit: joshuajfrost/iStock/GettyImages

Contact info on tags is the easiest way for someone to contact you.

Make sure to put your pet's name and your cell number, also your city and address (if you feel comfortable, and all that fits in the space). Or you could add an email address. Whatever info will help someone get in touch with you as fast as possible.

Chips aren't always that helpful.

It used to be a major problem that there are MANY different microchip companies, so it was tough for shelters to know which brand was used on a found dog. These days, most shelters and vets have universal scanners that can read most any chip. However, sometimes, the owners' info is out of date.

When someone finds a missing dog, the chip manufacturer doesn't hand out private information directly because of safety concerns. They'll typically serve as an intermediary by contacting the owner on behalf of a found pet using phone or email. If, however, attempts to reach an owner are unsuccessful after several days, the process is closed and needs to be started all over again. While the system is understandable, it's not a very efficient way to make sure a dog returns its owner.

Your dog probably needs a license tag anyway.

Most states require you to license your dog, which involves proving proof of rabies vaccine and paying a fee, usually about $20. You will get a license number and a secondary tag that your dog is required to wear. It's the law, but also it's just another way to locate your dog's home if they do get lost from you.

Black and tan Rottweiler puppy holding collar in its mouth
credit: cynoclub/iStock/GettyImages

There are solutions for the noise.

Many pet owners site the noise dog tags make as a reason to avoid providing them for their pet. If the jangling of collars bothers you, know that there are solutions. You can get your info added directly to the collar itself. There are services that either embroider collars or engrave information onto the buckle of the collar. You can also get a slide tag that slips onto the collar. Tag silencers are an option that wrap around tags and keep them from bumping into each other, creating that jangling sound.

Check your dog's ID regularly.

Dog tags can wear or fade, so make sure to check their condition regularly. Even though it may seem annoying or unnecessary, you really shouldn't shy away from updating your dog's tags. Because even though our pups might be able to heroically find their way home like in the movies, it's best to protect them, just in case.

Would you like to learn more more about making sure your pet is safe? Start with this tutorial on the first five things to do when a pet goes missing and then scroll through this DIY about assembling your own emergency disaster kit.