No one anticipates losing their pet, but you should always be prepared in case it does happen. Having a fenced in backyard is not reason enough to skimp in pet identification. Accidents happen and a gate could be left open or your pet could be an escape artist!
“The only published research study on lost pet rates found that between 11-16% of dogs and 12 – 18% of cats are likely to go missing at least once in five years.”
“The only published research study on lost pet rates found that between 11-16% of dogs and 12-18% of cats are likely to go missing at least once in five years” According to this study, more than half of lost pets will make their way back to their owners in one way or another. There are many things we can do to increase those odds though.
This is the tag you get from your vet’s office after a yearly wellness exam to certify that your pet is up to date on their rabies vaccine. Rabies tags don’t have your pet’s name or any of your personal information, but they do have the name of the vet’s office that gave you the tag. If a good Samaritan finds your pet, they could use the rabies tag to contact the vet and you could be reunited with them that way. However, a rabies tag isn’t the most ideal way of returning a pet to their owner because it presents multiple hoops for the good Sam to jump through in order to find you.
A metal id tag that slips onto the collar or attaches like a key to a keychain is the most simple and straightforward way to ensure someone would be able to contact you if your pet was lost. At minimum, you want to make sure your name and phone number are on the tag.
If you have room on the tag, we recommend your pet’s name, your name, phone number, and address. Many i.d. tags also offer an option to include notification that your pet is microchipped on the tag.
Most of the time, a physical id or rabies tag is enough to connect pet with owner, but in some cases the lost pet could lose their collar. Without the collar, any tags attached to it are useless. If your dog dug out of the backyard, it’s possible their tag could come off while escaping. We recommend as many levels of possible identification as possible and microchipping can be a lifesaving part of this.
Our founder, Dr. Kennedy, offered some info on microchips for us.
“(Microchips) are tiny transmitters (about the size of a grain of rice) that are implanted just under the skin between the shoulder blades. Your pet does not need anesthesia–the needle is very sharp and once placed our patients rarely feel the injection…We have had hundreds of pets find their owners because they were microchipped. Some were lost for more than two years and their home was hundreds of miles away!”
Most, if not all of pets adopted through a humane society or shelter will come microchipped. It would be easy to go on a rabbit trail of the benefits that come with adopting a shelter pet, but we won’t get “lost” here! However, a problem we often come across when good Samaritans bring in lost pets is that the owner didn’t update the info on the microchip when things changed so we aren’t able to reach them or figure out who the current owner is.
If your pet is microchipped and you move or the pet changes owners, be sure to update the information on file for your pet with the microchip company! If you’re not sure how to do that call the clinic or shelter where your pet received the chip and they will be able to help you. If they’re microchipped, you want to make sure that information is correct!
Bluetooth & GPS Pet Trackers
Bluetooth trackers for keys and other items are becoming popular and people have realized that these trackers can be used on anything, including pets. Bluetooth trackers (brand names include Tile, Wonbo, and others) can be helpful, but most of them only have a range of about 40 meters.
GPS trackers are more helpful for keeping track of your pet’s every day whereabouts. The kicker with most GPS trackers is that they come with a monthly fee. It’s a low fee ($6.95 for Whistle) but there is upkeep that isn’t there with bluetooth trackers. The fee exists because the trackers use cellular networks in order to provide tracking. That means as long as you have cell service, your pet’s whereabouts can be known whether they’re half a mile or 200 miles away!
New GPS trackers have recently hit the market and there is currently one (Findster) running about 150 bucks that does not require the monthly fees. However, this potentially comes at the cost of some peace of mind. Findster has one key fob for you and one fob for your dog and you can track your dog in relation to wherever your findster fob is. It can track anywhere from a radius of half a mile to around 3 miles depending on how congested the area is. They also do note on their website that it is “optimized to let you track your pet during walks – it is not indicated for indoor tracking or remote monitoring.”
Some Tips for the Road
All cats and dogs need some type of identification, ideally a visible tag if nothing else, even if you dog is mostly indoors or your cat is only an indoor cat. Indoor cats get loose and lost every day. If you’re a cat owner, you know they’re notoriously sneaky and only need a fraction of a second to slip through a tiny space. Your dog or cat could slip through the door when you’re carrying in the groceries or heading out for work in the morning.
Keep your cat or dog on a leash in all unfenced areas. Even if you’re hiking and your pup usually stays with you, a smell, sight, or, sound could trigger them to chase after an animal in the distance. They could be half a mile away before either of you can do anything about it. If you’re in an outdoor situation where you insist on your dog being off-leash, such as hunting, consider a long-range gps tracker.
Identification can prevent a headache and heartache. You hope you’ll never need it, but if that time comes, you’ll be so glad you were prepared!
Need to get your pet microchipped? Give us a call at 502-966-4104 or schedule an appointment online at NextVetVisit.com!
Jefferson Animal Hospital Regional Emergency Center
4504 Outer Loop, Louisville, KY
Jefferson Animal Hospital Fern Creek Medical Center
6902 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY