pooch identification 270Even though it doesn’t feel like it right now, Spring is just mere weeks away. The Spring season is a personal favourite of mine, and it’s not just because of the birds, the flowers, or the balmy temperatures.

With Spring comes one of favourite times of year, puppy season! Traditionally, pet owners are more likely to welcome puppies to their forever homes when the weather is warmer; it certainly makes outdoor potty training more tolerable for both pup and person.

Right now, many new pooch-parents-to-be are doing their due diligence by researching dog breeds, house-training techniques, dog food brands, and more. However, one of the most often overlooked things that pet owners should learn about is this: how will their dog be quickly identified if it gets lost, especially if their collar (with ID tag) comes off? While the majority of reputable breeders will insist on microchipping pups, others prefer tattooing as a means of reliable identification instead. There are pros and cons to each method, so let’s have a look.


Since its earliest beginnings in 1989, the microchip has long been considered the best option for identifying missing pets. In fact, microchipping is required by law in all European Union (EU) member countries. Microchips contain all the necessary information needed to quickly contact the appropriate person. But did you know that microchips can move around the body? A microchip is intended to bond within a pet’s subcutaneous tissue, however a small fraction of microchips can move from the injection site. Moving microchips are not common, yet many dogs go unidentified each year, despite being microchipped, because the chip was unable to be located. As a preventative measure, have your dog’s microchip scanned at every veterinary checkup to ensure it hasn’t moved.

There are also concerns about whether or not a microchip, which the body may treat as a foreign object, can lead to health problems, including cancer. These concerns are heavily unfounded, and multiple studies have shown that microchips are extremely safe.

More than 10,000 lost animals are reunited each month in North America because of their microchips.


Tattooing has traditionally been the method of identification for lost pets, long before microchips existed. Each new puppy that is registered with the Canadian Kennel Club is given a unique identification number, which is then tattooed on the dog, usually inside of the ear, on the belly, or inner thigh. While it may be tad uncomfortable to apply the tattoo, the process is quite brief and causes no long term effects. One of the downsides is that, for some dogs, the tattoo may wear over time and become difficult to read.

Whether you choose tattooing or microchipping, neither should be considered a pet’s primary means of identification. Reading a microchip requires a special scanner, which means a lost pet needs to visit a veterinary clinic or shelter to be scanned. A tattoo is simply a number belonging to a registry, so it may take some time to properly identify a lost pet.

If you were to change addresses or phone numbers, immediately update your information with either tattoo or microchip registries.

Either way, if a lost dog is found and not brought to a shelter or veterinary clinic, it would be rather difficult to locate the owner without a simple identification tag. The ID tag is still the best means of immediate identification. To prevent it from coming off, make sure your pet’s collar is well adjusted and in good working order. Also, ID tags can take a beating, so be sure to regularly inspect the tag for wear and tear. Inexpensive aluminum tags can wear out rather quickly, so consider going with a stainless steel tag for better durability.

A lost pet is a pet lover’s worst nightmare, but in the event it were to ever happen, take comfort in knowing you have the ability to increase the likelihood of a speedy recovery by using the best means of identification.

Brandon Forder – also known as The Pet Expert - is vice-president of Canadian Pet Connection, a family-owned and -operated business located in Meaford. He has over twenty-five years of experience specializing in pet nutrition, behaviour, and healthy pet lifestyles. Canadian Pet Connection is an industry leader committed to providing their clients with the highest levels of personal, attentive service. Learn more at