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The goal of animal identification for pets is to ensure that the pet can be reunited with their owners if lost. Identification can also include proof of vaccinations for travel. 

A sturdy collar can hold current ID and rabies tags. The ID tag should include contact information for the pet, including a phone number for an emergency contact. 

Some municipalities require identification and registration for all pets, including, in some places, the implantation of an encoded identification device called a microchip.

Dogs need people who keep track of their pets and maintain good records.

What does the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association’s Code of Practice for Kennels say about identification?


  1. All adult dogs and non-nursing puppies have easy to read, humanely applied, unique identification. Examples include, but are not exclusive to, a labelled collar, microchip, tattoo, or nose print. Nursing puppies can be uniquely identified by coat markings, or, where necessary, use of a visual marking.
  2. In premises housing multiple dogs, enclosures are labelled to indicate which dogs are housed within them.
  3. All records are kept current, readily accessible by personnel either on-site or by a veterinarian, and maintained in legible written and/or electronic format.
  4. Individual animal records include changes in appetite, food type, thirst, urination, defecation, or behaviour.
  5. Individual animal identification records include:
    • date of birth, breed, gender, colour, markings.
    • nose print, tattoo, tag, and/or microchip number if present.
    • name, phone number, email and physical address of dog’s owner.
    • for temporary care: date of arrival and departure.
    • for transfer of dog ownership: date and source of acquisition or departure, including name, physical address, telephone number, and email of new or previous owner and contracts/agreements regarding sale or purchase of animals.
    • if applicable, date of death and suspected or confirmed cause of death.
  6. Individual animal health records are kept and include information on:
    • dates and test results for common infectious diseases, at a frequency schedule deemed appropriate by the veterinarian (i.e., fecal testing for intestinal parasites, blood testing for heartworm).
    • dates and name of individuals performing medical procedures for breed cosmetic or conformation purposes where permitted (i.e., dewclaw removal, tail docking, ear cropping)
    • vaccination/deworming treatment, including dates of treatment, name, and dose of medication administered.
    • date of spay or neuter if altered.
    • date of diagnosis of illness or injury and diagnostics and/or treatment provided.
  7. Individual whelping records for:
    • sire – include dates bred, dams bred to, successful/failed breedings, pre-breeding testing, and applicable test results for hereditary defects.
    • dam – include dates in heat, dates bred, sires bred to, successful/failed breedings, whelping dates, number per litter including live/dead births, birthing complications, and applicable test results for hereditary defects.
    • offspring – include weight measured weekly until weaned, or more frequently as required if showing signs of illness/injury or weight loss. 
  8. Keep records of maintaining fire extinguishers, and smoke and CO detectors in good working order for two years.
  9. Records for all animals are kept for a minimum of two years after the animal leaves the premises or dies on the premises.


  • Provide permanent identification for each dog using a microchip implant that is ISO compliant as required by the National Companion Animal Coalition (NCAC). When required by the provincial governing body, this act is performed by a licensed veterinarian or a qualified technician under veterinary supervision.
  • Keep paper records in a moisture and fireproof container.
  • Back up electronic records.
  • Maintain cleaning schedules noting dates/times the facility was cleaned and by whom.
  • Keep premises maintenance records of equipment and building maintenance, repair, replacement, and renovation.”
Excerpts obtained from the Code of Practice for Canadian Kennel Operations (pgs. 25-27), Canadian Veterinary Medical Association.


Cats need people who keep track of their pets and maintain good records.

What does the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association’s Code of Practice for Catteries say about identification?

“Identification of each cat as well as the maintenance of individual records is essential to good management practices. 

Ideally, cats should be permanently identified by means of a microchip implant. 

Record-keeping is essential. Individual records should be developed by the time each litter is weaned. New owners should be provided with copies of the cat’s individual records. 

The cattery should maintain and keep records for a minimum period (i.e., 5 years) and in such a way as to facilitate the diagnosis and surveillance of heritable or infectious diseases, such as polycystic kidney disease, sudden death, or other problems that may be genetic or transmissible. 

Records for all litters should include a daily record of each kitten’s progress, such as weight gain of neonates, weakness, supplemental feeding, etc., as well as numbers and sexes. Ideally, each kitten has its own record at the time of birth.

Kittens should be weighed at birth and then daily for at least the next 4 weeks. Desirable and non-desirable traits should be noted. The records should specify individual birth weights, condition, and vigour. 

Individual records should include breed, sex, date of birth, the name and description of the queen and tom, tattoo or microchip number, and FeLV/FIV status of the queen, tom and kitten, colour, and markings. 

Both individual and litter records should include information concerning the nature of the food provided, any medications, vaccinations, and examinations for internal and external parasites and the results thereof.”

Excerpts from the Code of Practice for Canadian Cattery Operations (2009) by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association have been used with permission. 

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Activity 5.1 – Animal Identification

Farms, animal shelters, kennels and stables are part of communities. Issues that affect the management and care of domestic animals can affect everyone within these communities. Answer the questions about animal ID in the Module 5 booklet.

When you are finished, move on to the next topic.

Photo courtesy of Erica Cheung

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