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Dog Tattoos

By Robin Tierney

NOTE: The content on this website cannot be used in connection with any profit-seeking activity due to agreements with the writers, editors and sources contributing to the content. These articles may NOT be reproduced in any form without author permission. To contact the author, email Robin at Tierneydog@yahoo.com.

A National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy study noted that only 16% of dogs entering the shelters and humane societies surveyed are returned to their original owners. In addition, animal theft is on the rise, with many animals sold to research labs and dog fighters.

Every pet should wear an ID tag at all times. Microchips and tattoos offer added security, since a collar and tag can come off. Unlike microchips, tattoos are usually easy to spot; no special scanners are needed.

Most shelters, pounds, and labs will look for tattoos; however, some shelter personnel miss them, particularly if the dog's fur is overgrown or if the tattoo has faded over time. In addition, a tattoo can be altered or removed. However, research facilities typically won't use tattood animals in experimentation because it's against the law. Tattooing also provides permanent identification that typically holds up in a court of law.

Where to place tattoos:

Tattooing used to be done on the ears and lips. However, ears can be cut off and lips can be clipped to remove a tattoo. Tattoos now are applied to the inner leg or stomach. Frequently, the owner's social security number is used. The tattoo procedure does not require a vet.

The tattooing procedure:

The owner usually holds the animal in place. The area for the tattoo is shaved and disinfected, then the tattoo number is applied. The owner's social security number is typically used. An owner may also use a number letter system if tattooing more than one pet. the area is cleansed with disinfecting soap. The procedure takes several minutes. Your dog can resume normal activities immediately after tattooing. A thin scab forms over the tattoo, and some redness will appear in that area, which will eventually fade.


Keep the area clipped so the tattoo remains visible.

Do tattoos hurt?

Tattoo proponents claim that because a dog's skin has more layers than human skin, the procedure is relatively painless. The tattoo gun noise tends to scare dogs more.


It's vital to register tattoos with a recognized national organization so the pet's identity can be traced if he is lost. The National Dog Registry, which can be reached at 800-NDR-DOGS 24 hours a day, has been finding lost and stolen pets for three decades. You can also email info@natldogregistry.com. A lifetime membership in NDR costs $38. This one-time fee protects every tattooed pet you will ever own.

Another tattoo registry is Tatoo-A-Pet at 800-TATTOOS or info@tattoo-a-pet.com. Established in 1972, Tatoo-A-Pet maintains a worldwide pet recovery network, with participating agents and veterinarians who perform tattooing at a reasonable cost. This service also maintains a 24-hour hotline and claims a 99% recovery rate. There is a $35 lifetime registration fee, with $10 per additional pet.

Last Updated: April 26, 2018 (LET) PawSupport