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Dog Tags 101: What You Need to Know to Keep Your Pet Safe

- Provided by VetStreet.com
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If you’ve ever lost a pet, you know about the importance of ID tags. Having identification and contact information securely attached to your pet’s neck makes it much more likely that you'll get your furry family member back if he decides to take off on a solo adventure.

Yet a recent study published in Preventative Veterinary Medicine revealed that only 33 percent of owners keep ID tags on their pets.

If you’re one of the 67 percent who sometimes, rarely or never puts tags on your pet, consider this: They considerably increase the return-to-owner (RTO) rate if your pet is lost.

“In most communities, the RTO rate hovers between 10 and 30 percent for dogs,” says Dr. Emily Weiss, vice president of shelter research and development for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “But personalized ID tags that contain contact information for the dog owner can help assure lost animals are quickly reunited with their families.”

It’s also important to remember that just because your dog is microchipped, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t also need an ID tag. “Vets and shelters can scan for chips, but collar tags are still the fastest way for someone to reach you in the event that they find your lost pet,” says Dr. Jules Benson, BVSc MRCVS, vice president of veterinary services at Petplan Pet Insurance.

What Info Should Appear on My Pet's ID Tags?

Your pet’s name, your phone number and the city where you reside are essential. “Putting a cell phone number on a tag is a smart way to ensure that you are reachable, no matter where you are,” says Dr. Benson.

You can include your address, but sometimes there isn’t enough room on a tag. Plus, some people may not feel comfortable having that much personal information in the hands of whoever finds their pet, says Cheryl Smith, a dog expert and the author of Grab Life by the Leash.

If your dog is microchipped, which experts recommend, you should attach a second tag to your pet's collar that lists the microchip company’s name and phone number.

Finally, it’s a good idea to also have your pet wear his proof of rabies vaccination to let whoever finds him know that he's up-to-date on his shots. Some states, like Massachusetts, require by law that your pet wear his proof of rabies vaccination at all times. The number on the rabies tag is also another way to identify your pet — and find you — in the event that your buddy is lost.

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