Fact Sheet

Home / Fact Sheets / Identification Tags & Microchips

Identification Tags & Microchips

The following are common types of identification that can mean the difference between life and death for your best friend. Remember, with each of these methods, it is imperative to keep information up to date.


All cats and dogs need to wear collars with ID tags, rabies vaccination tags and city or county licenses (where applicable). The ID tag should include the owner’s name, address, telephone numbers (day and evening) and the pet’s name. Here are some other tips:

  • If you are traveling, put a temporary tag on your pet with the contact information of someone who knows how to reach you.
  • For cats, use a specially made safety collar that has a short piece of elastic sewn in it. These collars allow the cat to escape if it gets caught on window blinds, furniture, fencing or other objects.
  • Tag your cat even if you never let him outside. He could slip through an open door and quickly become lost in the neighborhood.


American Humane encourages all pet owners to take the added security precaution of having their pets microchipped. Microchipping serves as a permanent identification system that will always be with your pet. Nearly all animal shelters across the country routinely scan every animal upon intake for the presence of a microchip. Most veterinary clinics also have microchip scanners.

How do microchips work? Each chip contains a unique ID number that can be read by a microchip scanner and matched with owner information in a comprehensive database. A microchip is effective in reuniting a lost pet with his owner only when the owner’s contact information in the microchip database is accurate. Therefore, it is imperative that you immediately register your pet’s microchip with the appropriate database, and always update your contact information promptly when you move or get a new phone number.

Are microchips safe? Rare complications following microchip implantation have been reported, such as migration, inflammation, infection, abscess formation and tumor formation. However, American Humane agrees with the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) assertion that “… the risk that your animal will develop cancer due to its microchip is very, very low and is far outweighed by the improved likelihood that you will get your animal back if it becomes lost.”

Join our community of animal advocates

Sign up for our email list and stay up-to-date on the latest animal welfare news and how you can help.

Sign Up