by Michael Trimpe July 13, 2021

You're here, so I'm guessing you've either adopted a new member of the family, or the old dog tag has disappeared or become hard to read. Perhaps your pooch has bolted out the door and you don’t want to spend another night driving around the neighborhood calling for Fido.

It can happen to even the most vigilant pet owner: a gate or door is left open, and their beloved cat or dog takes off. The return to owner (RTO) ratio of a lost pet is around 30%, according to the ASPCA. To increase these odds, wearable ID for your pet is a must. While microchipping is important, wearable ID is the quickest way to be reunited with a lost pet.

You could run to the big box store and watch the giant etching machine carve up a new one for you...but you're thinking maybe there's a better option. You're totally right.

First, I'll share briefly what should be included on your pet ID tag. This may help with your selection. Then, we'll dive into the five custom dog tag options and discuss why each is worthwhile.

What Should I Put on my Pet ID Tags?

Think about what you'd want to communicate to a stranger if he or she found your beloved companion wandering the neighborhood. It's helpful to put them at ease. It's also helpful to warn them. I'll list each element of the ID tag, from most necessary to least, because some pet ID tags only offer so much room for engraved text.

The most basic information will be your pet’s name and at least one emergency contact number.  A secondary emergency phone number is always helpful in the event you can’t be reached right away.

Primary Contact Information
Who's most likely to answer their phone if a strange number calls it? You might be buying the pet ID tag, but your spouse may be the one who always has their phone at their side. This person should be listed first. If you can, list a first name followed by the phone number.

Secondary Contact Information
This is key. Even if you live alone, list a trusted friend or family member who will answer their phone in the event that your phone is down the hall or on the fritz.

Reward Offer
The reality is, not everyone loves dogs like we do. And so they may not be as inclined to help your big sweetie find his way home. Offering cash money may incentivize someone to "do the right thing" and contact you.

Personality Quirks
Is your dog a giant teddy bear without a mean bone in his body? Then you could engrave something like, "I'm super friendly." Does you four-legged pal love humans but detest other canines? Then add "I don't like dogs" to their dog tags. Or, a short combo can accomplish both, like "Loves kids. Chases cats." This will help ensure that if someone brings your dog home, they don't leave him in an environment where there's opportunity for something to go terribly wrong.

Maybe your dog is frightened by loud noises or hates being petted on the left side. They're as unique as we humans, so listing some relevant quirks can make the process less stressful for everyone involved. 

Medical History
Does your furry little buddy need daily medication? Does he have a bad hip or an unusual allergy? You may want to add this if there's room.

Your Dog's Name
It's not something you want to think about, but sometimes, pets are stolen. If this is a concern, leave the name off of the dog tag. This makes it more difficult for a would-be thief to claim the animal as his own. In general, adding the name doesn't do much for solving a lost dog situation.

Instead, you may want to include a message like "I am loved," which tells the rescuer that if your dog appears undernourished, it's not from the owner's neglect - we both know your pooch is a little spoiled.

If you decide you want to add a name, put whatever your dog is used to being called. If she has a nickname, use that. 

County Licensing

Knowing your local government requirements for pet identification is important.  A simple google search of ‘pet licensing in ____ County’ will lead you to your local county website.   Most states require rabies vaccinations.  Rabies is a viral disease most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal.  Listing the rabies tag number and year of vaccination can be done on your pet’s ID.


Microchipping your pet is a safe and effective way to to ensure that you're the first person contacted in the event she ends up in a shelter somewhere. I absolutely recommend doing this immediately if you haven't already. In fact, any reputable breeder will require a microchip before they'll send you home with your canine compadre. 

It's a good idea to engrave "Mirochipped" on the ID tag. This lets any good citizen know that your dog can be traced back to you. It also lets any unscrupulous person know that, well, your dog can be traced back to you.

According to AKC Reunite, pets with microchips are up to 20 times more likely to be reunited with their owners than pets that aren’t microchipped. The microchip is about the size of a grain of rice. Your veterinarian can implant the chip with a hypodermic needle during a routine office visit. Each chip contains a registration number and the phone number of the registry for the particular brand of chip. An animal shelter or vet office can scan the chip and contact the registry to locate you.  If you choose to microchip your pet, this can be added to the pet ID. Simply list “Microchipped” on the ID.

Tracking Technology 

If you have a few extra bucks and you geek out on technology, check out the Whistle 3. It'll allow you to track your pet's location and his activity anywhere in the United States. It's about $80 to purchase, and operates on a subscription fee of $7-$10 per month. Pretty cool, in a James Bond sort of way.

Dangerous Dangling IDs

Dangling IDs are potentially dangerous. They can get caught in the wooden slots of a deck floor, between the grilles of a floor vent, or in the jaws of another dog when playing. This can result in serious injury and even strangulation.

Okay, let's dive into the options. Here they are, in no particular order:

Rectangle Pet Tag

This offering from Overnight Pet Tags is a no frills, all-business solution to your ID problem. For $4.99, you get 5 lines and 20 characters per line. What this ID lacks in style it makes up for in bang for the buck. The Rectangle Pet ID Tag comes in a variety of colors, and it's shaped like...well...your basic rectangle. Lots of room for pertinent ID information.

The product reviews are overall very good. In terms of quality, expect what you get from the box store etching machine, except you don't need to leave your house and have more room for customized text. And at $4.99, you might as well grab a couple of them.

Cost: $4.99
Here's Where to Get It

Tags for Hope ID Card

Tags for Hope supports a noble cause, meaning they donate to a no kill shelter with each ID they sell. These IDs are a little different, in that they aren't stainless steel, and they aren't engraved at all. Instead, they're reminiscent of a pint-sized human driver's license, displaying a photo and other stats.

These mini-ID cards are encased in a clear, protective shell and are backed by a lifetime guarantee. While you're there, you can pick up a wallet card for you (the owner), making it easier to prove that you're really the rightful caretaker.

Cost: $23
Here's Where to Get It

ROAD iD's Dog ID

This laser-engraved, stainless steel ID tag attaches to an elastic material, which easily slides onto any collar via two rubber rings. The Dog ID gets you up to 6 lines of text, with each line boasting up to 25 characters.

The Dog ID tag is solidly backed by a lifetime guarantee against any type of fading or corrosion, is available in several different colors, and eliminates the jingle-jangle of traditional tags. It's also worth mentioning that the Dog ID clocks in at 4.9 stars on Google Shopping.

Cost: $19.99
Here's Where to Get It

Mimi Green's Dog Collar 

If you need a collar and an ID, here's a great solution for killing two birds with one stone. These dog collar IDs come in many fun designs and sizes, and the engraved text lives right on the buckle itself, so no need to add an ID.

This eye-catching solution might not leave as much room for text as the others, but it looks great...and saves you the trouble of attaching something to a collar. Oh, and I should mention it fetches 5 stars on Etsy. 

Cost: $30.36
Here's Where to Get It

Bloomingtails Dog Boutique 

If fashion is a religion in your household, check out Bloomingtails lineup of IDs. They have a large assortment that'll help tout your pet's personality and style. Like the others above, you can customize your text right on their website. They offer up to four lines of customization and the ID comes with a smooth, glossy finish.

If you feel a burning need to accessorize for your little cutie-pie, you can go hog-wild here...this includes a unicorn horn for your pet. 

This ID, while sharp-looking, could take a week or more to ship in some instances, so you may want to plan ahead.

Cost $17.99
Here's Where to Get It

If there are any humans in your life who may need ID, check out What's the Best Medical Alert ID Bracelet for You?


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