Probably the most common, but also the most fallible means of identification that our Vancouver Animal Hospital has learned is a pet collar with an identification tag attached. Unfortunately, all too often the collar falls off, and it is impossible to locate the pet’s owner.

At present, there are two more effective means of identification.

The first is a series of numbers and letters which are tattooed into the pet’s ear when he or she is under general anesthetic, usually when they are being spayed or neutered. The numbers and letters are unique to that particular animal, and only the veterinary clinic which carried out the tattooing will keep a record of the pet owner’s contact details.

A tattoo is an inexpensive means of identification, and is immediately visible to anyone finding the pet. Any veterinary clinic in Canada would then be able to locate the particular clinic which has the owner’s details.

The main disadvantage to a tattoo is that it fades over time, and after several years it becomes impossible to read all the numbers and letters clearly, thus losing the ability to locate the owner. In addition, if your pet is taken out of the country, it is not possible to immediately recognize the tattoo as emanating from Canada merely by looking at the numbers and letters.

Microchips are slightly more expensive than tattoos, but they are permanent and are recognized internationally through an online database. In order for the microchip to be read, the animal will have to be scanned at a veterinary clinic or shelter which has the appropriate scanner. Until the animal is scanned, there is no discernible way of knowing that a microchip has been implanted.

It has been known for a microchip to fall out or move from the site of its original placement, but this is a rare occurrence. In addition, a microchip can be inserted when the animal is conscious, with the use of a numbing agent applied to the skin.

At present, microchips for pets do not have tracking location abilities, but that cannot be too far off in the future.

For both tattoo and microchip systems to assist owners in being reunited with their lost pets, it is vital that all contact information be kept updated whenever a change of address or telephone number occurs. For more information on these identification services please feel free to contact us.

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