Be Careful Putting An AirTag (Or Your Pet’s Name) On Their Collar. Here’s Why

Trust us; we know it makes sense to make your Pet easily identifiable or even trackable in case they get lost. Having your Pet’s name on their collar is an old standard. Affixing an Apple AirTag or similar tracking device can make finding their location as simple as opening your laptop and clicking a few buttons.

Recent studies, however, have shown that the cons of these identifiers may far outweigh the pros.

Let’s start with the most obvious danger of hanging a small, battery-operated electronic device on your Pet’s neck: they might eat it.

Sources ranging from Reddit to The Wallstreet Journal have reported Pets swallowing AirTags. If this happens, your Pet may experience vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, constipation, and abdominal pain. Depending on their size, they can experience varying discomfort trying to pass it and may require emergency surgery if the device gets lodged in their GI tract.

In addition, the device’s battery contains toxic chemicals, so the situation becomes more dangerous if they pierce the tag. Most ingested batteries will pass through the digestive tract without incident, but if you’ve ever seen what happens when a Pet gets into and eats something they aren’t supposed to, you know how messy things can get.

From the Pet Poison Helpline:

A more serious problem arises when a battery has been chewed or otherwise destroyed and is leaking but not swallowed. Cylindrical or rectangular batteries are the usual culprits in this instance. Early at-home intervention includes confirmation that all battery pieces are present and gently washing the mouth and skin with warm water. [Inducing vomiting] is not recommended; a veterinarian should examine the pet carefully. Care is primarily symptomatic and supportive and may include, as indicated by the physical examination, irrigation of the mouth including the gums and tongue, clear liquids, soft diet, antibiotics, stomach protectants, and pain medication.”

There are social dangers to be considered, too. An Apple AirTag becomes useless if not properly unpaired from your iPhone or iPad (and it takes a certain kind of genius to steal a tracking device), but not everyone knows this. Persons in bad faith may think no further than an Apple logo on your Pet’s collar.

That brings up a point many people don’t consider when giving their Pet a name tag. If your Pet is lost, their name could be used to lure them into a trusting situation with an untrustworthy stranger. It’s uncommon, but there are several stories of Pets, even just in the Portland metro area, being stolen from vehicles and even held for ransom. Even Lady Gaga has had to deal with her dogs being stolen. If it can happen to Lady Gaga, we reason it could probably happen to anyone.

One Positive Thing To Remember

If your Pet is lost and found by local animal services or a pound or shelter, the finder will scan it for a microchip. Their primary care provider will have chipped Your Pet, and every Hannah Pet gets a chip with our hospitals’ information included.

A common misconception is that microchips in Pets work like GPS devices, and the administrator can simply bring up their coordinates on a computer. That would require your local vet to have constantly operating orbital satellites. We don’t quite have that kind of budget! What they will do, however, is let the Good Samaritan scan the Pet with a microchip reader to find out where the Pet was chipped and is registered. For example, a Hannah Pet’s microchip will let them know the Pet is signed up for care from Hannah. They’ll reach out to us, and we’ll immediately reach out to you.

Keep these tips in mind when considering tracking and identification for your Pet. Much of this is a “worst-case scenario,” but even in complete confidence, it’s good to know what to do in case of an emergency. Please reach out to either Hannah Pet Hospital if you have more questions, need more information, or have a lost Hannah Pet.