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Pet Tag vs. Microchip: Which Is Better?

Pet identification (ID) tags and microchips are two effective ways to keep your pet safe.

October 18, 2022 4 min read
Pet Tag vs. Microchip: Which Is Better?

Did you know that 1 in 3 pets become lost at some point in their lifetime? This scary statistic confirms what many pet owners already know – that all pets should have the proper identification to increase their chance of returning home if they are ever lost or stolen.

If you are considering getting identification for your pet, you may have come across two common pet identification options: pet tags and microchips. Both pet identification tags and microchips are designed to help pets reunite with their owners if they get lost; however, these two options have some distinct differences.

Learn more about pet tags and microchips, the differences between them, and which is right for your pet.

What Is a Pet ID Tag?

Pet ID tags are designed to make it easy for strangers to help your pet return home if they become lost. A pet identification tag makes your contact details quickly available, meaning you don’t necessarily need to bring the animal to a vet to have it scanned for a microchip.

ID tags for pets can contain a variety of essential information, such as the pet’s name, the owner’s phone number and address, and any special needs your cat or dog may have, such as a chronic health condition. Your pet’s ID tag can be conveniently attached to his collar or harness, ensuring that it is quickly seen by whoever finds your pet.

Pet identification tags have advanced considerably over the last couple of decades. Originally, these tags had engraved contact information that could possibly rub away or get scratched up over time. Today, technology enables pet tags to contain custom QR codes that your pet’s rescuer can scan with their phone to find your pet’s details and contact information.

Pros and Cons of Pet ID Tags

If you are considering a digital pet ID tag, consider the pros and cons.


  • Store the most up-to-date pet owner contact information
  • Holds multiple phone numbers and email addresses
  • Update your contact information at any time
  • Choose from a wide variety of ID tag colors and designs
  • Maintain a custom QR code that can be used with any modern cell phone


  • If your pet loses his collar or harness, he’ll also lose his pet ID tag

What Is a Microchip?

A microchip is a tiny, electronic chip inserted in a glass cylinder, no larger than a grain of rice. During a vet visit, the microchip is implanted under the pet’s skin. This microchip contains the contact information of the pet owner, such as their name, phone number, and address.

Despite common misconception, a microchip is not a GPS location device. Instead, it is an unseen chip that can only be accessed using a microchip scanner. If someone should find your pet and bring it to a vet’s office, a staff member could scan the animal for a chip which will display a number that can then be entered into the microchipping company’s database to bring up the pet owner’s contact information.

Some people may think that if they have an ID tag for their pet, a microchip isn’t needed. However, this is untrue. There is always a risk that your pet’s collar or harness could get torn off or be taken off if lost or stolen. If this happens, there is no way for your pet’s rescuer to contact you. A microchip provides a secondary way for strangers to find your contact information if they find your lost pet.

Pros and Cons of Microchips

There are several pros and cons of pet microchips, including:


  • A permanent type of pet identification
  • Provides secondary protection if an ID tag falls off
  • Can be easily inserted at a vet’s office
  • Are fairly affordable
  • Contain contact information that can be updated at any time


  • Depending on the brand, it can take 24 hours to 30 days to update microchip information
  • The person using the microchip scanner must use it properly to detect the chip

Locating Lost or Stolen Pets

Discovering that your pet has been lost or stolen can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. Fortunately, there are many types of pet identification that can significantly increase your odds of being reunited with your pet. In addition to getting your pet both an identification tag and microchip, consider these tips for locating lost or stolen pets:

  • Thoroughly check your property and neighborhood as most pets are found close to home.
  • Put up flyers with your pet’s photo and contact information.
  • Contact your microchip registration company to activate a lost pet recovery network.
  • Call local pet shelters, animal control, and humane societies in your area.
  • Post a picture and contact information for your lost pet on social media websites.
  • Place a lost pet ad in your local newspaper or digital paper online.
  • Contact veterinarians in your area in the event that your pet has been brought in to be scanned for a microchip.

Don’t take the risk of having your pet getting lost or stolen without having proper identification. While having an ID tag or microchip will not guarantee your pet’s safe return, it can drastically improve your odds.

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