How to Prevent Losing Your Pet and What To Do If Your Cat or Dog Goes Missing
Every pet parent can relate to the fear of losing a beloved animal. Where are they? Are they ok? Will they ever come home?
If you’ve ever experiencing that sinking feeling, you’re not alone. Half of all pets will go missing at some point in their lives.
National Lost Pet Prevention Month was created by PetHub in 2014. During the month of July, this awareness campaign aims to help owners reunite with their pets and prevent them from getting lost in the first place.
Millions of cats and dogs go missing every year in the U.S.
According to the National Humane Society and the National Council of Pet Population Study & Policy, a family pet is lost in North America every two seconds. That’s more than 10 million each year.
Sadly, only 1 in 10 of these lost dogs and cats will be reunited with their family. According to the ASPCA, about 6.5 million stray animals wind up at local shelters each year.
Why do pets go missing?
Cats and dogs go missing for many different reasons. These furry little Houdinis may escape out an open door, jump a backyard fence, or slip out of their collar while on a walk. They might panic at the sound of 4th of July fireworks or thunder and run away. Some simply get wanderlust and go out exploring, then lose track of how to find their way back home.
How to prevent your dog or cat from going missing
I.D. tag and collar. Make sure your animal is easily identifiable, so if they wander away a good Samaritan can return them home. Get a collar with ID tags for your dog or cat. ID tags on the collar make it easy to know where they belong.
Make sure the collar fits correctly. If the collar is too loose, it’s easy for it to slip off. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you can slip one or two fingers between collar and neck. For an extra precaution, you can write your phone number on the collar itself.
Microchipping. Most vets and shelters recommend microchipping your dog or cat. A microchip is a tiny chip, about the size of a grain of rice, that gets implanted under the skin using a needle. The process is painless and the animal won’t be able to feel the microchip, which stays implanted for life.
If your animal ever gets lost without their collar, a veterinarian, animal shelter or law enforcement can scan for a microchip. If someone else tries to claim your animal, the microchip proves they’re yours.
The microchip company has a pet database with owners’ contact information, so you can be reunited with your lost animal. The Internet is full of happy stories of long-lost dogs and cats returning home thanks to microchips. Make sure to update your contact information with the microchip company if you move or change phone numbers, otherwise it’s useless.
Basic dog commands. Teach your dog the commands “Come” and “Stay.” These two commands will help you stop your dog if they run off. The younger you train these commands, the better.
Secure your yard. Sometimes animals are mistaken for strays when they wander out of their own yard into the neighborhood. Secure fencing can help solve this problem.
Be aware. Make sure that when your pet is outside, you’re aware of their location. Even at home in your yard, unattended dogs can wander off, get hurt or even get stolen. Keep them within eyesight, so you know they’re safe.
Remember to spay or neuter your pet
Bob Barker was right! Spaying or neutering your pets is important for preventing pet overpopulation. It’s also crucial for keeping male pets at home. Male dogs and cats that aren’t neutered will follow their natural urges and seek out females for sexual behavior.
If a female animal, especially an un-spayed female, wanders near your yard, your unneutered male may try to follow her and wind up getting lost.
How to find your pet if it goes missing
The Humane Society of the United States has a list of 10 helpful tips including how to search your neighborhood, engage your community, use social media and contact local resources.
Need more help?
Anxiety from fireworks, storms and other loud noises can contribute to pets running away and getting lost. Popular natural anxiety remedies for dogs and cats include PetCalm™ and Scare-D-Pet™.
10 Signs Your Dog is Stressed https://petalive.blog/2020/10/01/10-signs-your-dog-is-stressed/
Seasonal Stress and Your Pet https://petalive.blog/2018/12/03/seasonal-stress-and-your-pet/
- “Post Pandemic: Bringing the Pet Community Together.” PetHub. Accessed July 10, 2021. https://www.pethub.com/LostPetPreventionMonth
- “July is National Lost Pet Prevention Month.” For Otis Sake. Accessed July 10, 2021. https://forotissake.org/fos-blog/f/july-is-national-lost-pet-prevention-month
- Greenwald, Sarah. “National Lost Pet Prevention Month: 10 Tips To Make Sure You Won’t Lose Your Dog.” Dogtime. Accessed July 10, 2021. https://dogtime.com/how-to/pet-safety/40223-lost-pet-prevention-month-july
- “Reuniting Lost & Found Animals With Their Owners.” The Humane Society. Accessed July 10, 2021. https://www.thehumanesociety.org/lost-found/
- “What to do if you lose your pet.” The Humane Society of the United States. Accessed July 10, 2021. https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/what-do-if-you-lose-your-pet
- Sashin, D. “When Your Dog is Afraid of Storms.” Fetch by WebMD. Accessed July 10, 2021. https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/features/dog-storm-phobia#1