What Are Red Medical Warning Dog Tags?

What Are Red Medical Warning Dog Tags?

In the military, dog tags have been used for generations as a form of identification. The origins of dog tags have roots in the Civil War, but they weren't officially used until 1899. The primary purpose of these tags was to identify fallen soldiers - or those left on the battlefield that were severely injured. While originally in a disc shape, they evolved in World War II to become the rounded rectangular shape we now know today. 

A lot of information is placed on these small tags, but what a lot of people don't know is there are different variants of the traditional dog tag. When you think of army dog tags, your mind instantly conjures up an image of the traditional silver tags. These are widely used and issued to every member of the military, but there are also different colored tags in circulation - such as red dog tags. 

In this guide, you will learn all there is to know about red dog tags, including what they are and why they are commonly used. 

What is a red dog tag?

What Are Red Medical Warning Dog Tags - US Quick Tags


A red dog tag is a dog tag that's been colored red to symbolize that the wearer has an underlying medical condition. For this reason, they are often called red medical warning dog tags. They are the same design and shape as normal dog tags, but with a different purpose. Primarily, their sole aim is to alert other military personnel that someone has a medical condition that requires special attention. 

Why are red medical warning dog tags used?

As mentioned above, their purpose is to notify others of a potential medical condition. However, they can also be used to display if a soldier has a particular allergy. 

Why is all of this important?

What Are Red Medical Warning Dog Tags - US Quick Tags


In essence, red dog tags are used in the same manner as regular ones. They are essential when soldiers have been injured in battle and need to be treated by the medical team. In many scenarios, military personnel that has been injured may be incapacitated. This means they're unable to provide the doctors and medical team with critical information that might impact the treatment they're about to receive. The red medical warning dog tag is instantly spotted by the medics, and they can read the information on it, understanding what medical conditions the person may have. 

For instance, someone might have an allergy to particular pain medication, like ibuprofen. In this case, the medics can see this on their tag and look for an alternative medication - if required. It prevents instances where lives could sadly be lost due to a lack of information. Without a red dog tag, the medic might give the fallen soldier something they're allergic to, which could cause a reaction that sadly kills them. 

The same goes for any other medical condition a soldier might have. The medics can see it on the dog tag and provide the right treatment based on the information they have. It is simply the easiest and quickest way of obtaining vital medical information when someone is unable to provide the information themselves. It is much faster than looking at a soldier's dog tags, finding their name and service number, then looking up their medical records. 

Time is precious in these situations, and the difference between a few seconds and minutes can be the difference between someone making a full recovery and experiencing medical complications. 

Do red medical warning dog tags replace regular dog tags?

To put this another way; how does someone wear red dog tags? Contrary to what you might believe, these tags do not replace the regular ones that are issued to every recruit. You will still wear the normal silver dog tags as they provide the essential information displayed below:

  • Surname, First Name, Second Initial
  • Army Serial Number
  • Tetanus Immunization, Tetanus Toxoid, Blood Type
  • Religion

The actual information and layout of a US army dog tag have evolved over the years, but this is how they are currently set up. So, what does a medical warning dog tag display, and how is it worn?

Effectively, it will display any medical conditions that require extra attention or deserve to be noted down. We've already mentioned allergies a few times, as these are the most common conditions people have red dog tags for. These tags are then worn alongside the traditional silver ones. So, you have all the information of the regular tags, plus the red one with extra medical info that medics may need to know. 

The idea behind this is that the red color makes them really easy for people to spot. You can see right away that this soldier has a medical condition, meaning the medics will react faster to get them the right treatment they need. 

Who qualifies for these dog tags?

What Are Red Medical Warning Dog Tags - US Quick Tags

Not everyone with a medical condition will be issued a red medical warning dog tag. Instead, these tags are primarily reserved for individuals with allergies to any of the following:

  • Drugs
  • Insects
  • Medication

They are also given to people that are G6DP deficiency, and certain serious medical conditions will also warrant one - like heart disease and diabetes. The US army themselves will determine if a red dog tag is necessary or not. For further context, they typically define medical conditions that warrant a red tag as any that are permanent in nature, well established with a defined diagnosis, and critical enough that a lack of knowledge of the condition could cause compromised medical care. 

When were red medical warning dog tags first introduced?

What Are Red Medical Warning Dog Tags - US Quick Tags

These particular dog tags were first issued in 1968 amongst the USMC. Here, they were originally referred to as a USMC Boot Tag, given that they were laced into the left boot laces and tucked into the leather flap. 

Nowadays, they can be worn alongside normal dog tags however the wearer likes. Interestingly, despite being in circulation since the late sixties, some branches of the US Army only started introducing them in the mid-2000s. 

That's all there is to know about red medical warning dog tags. They are used to help identify medical conditions that injured soldiers might have and are worn alongside the regular dog tags the army will issue. 

Blank Metal ID Tags by US Quick Tags