By Cheri Galatiuk, veterinarian
It’s travel season! Families are hitting the road with their dogs and a lot of dogs are hitting the road without their families. Identifying your dog is very important in in your dog’s successful return, in case you have the misfortune of being separated from him or her. Follow the following guidelines to ensure your dog is properly identified.
All dogs should be permanently identified. This means either receiving a microchip or a tattoo. Some people choose to do both for their dog, but one or the other should be considered mandatory.
A microchip is a small piece of metal, about the size of a grain of rice that is embedded under the skin between the dog’s shoulder blades. It is inserted with a large needle and can be done either when the dog is awake or anesthetized. Once the chip is inserted under the skin, it will be there for the dog’s life. If a lost dog is brought to a veterinary clinic or the shelter, it is always scanned for a microchip. The number that is scanned can be traced back to the owner.
That being said, always make sure you update your microchip information if you move and be sure you have an emergency contact registered on the microchip in case you are travelling and aren’t available at your home number.
A tattoo is another method of permanent identification. A tattoo can only be put in dogs' ears when they are anesthetized. An advantage of a tattoo is they are visible to anyone that could pick up your dog however they do fade over time and may become illegible. Tattoos can again be traced back to an owner through their veterinary clinic within the province they are done.
Aside from being permanently identified, all dogs should be wearing a collar with one or more tags. If the dog has received a rabies vaccine, they should have a rabies tag with a number that can be traced through their veterinary clinic. When a microchip is inserted, you are also given a tag with a number for your dog’s collar.
Another good idea is to have a tag with your (and maybe another emergency contact) phone number on it. If your dog is found and your veterinary clinic is not open, this can be used to contact you. Remember, a collar can be removed, so it should not be the only identification your dog should have.
If your dog goes missing, the above guidelines will help your dog have the best chance of being returned to you as soon as possible. It also gives you peace of mind knowing that you have done your best to get your pooch home. Keep your dog by your side this summer but also keep them identified for the just-in-case situation.
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