10 Things to Do If You Lose Your Pet

Start looking immediately, use social media—and other helpful tips to search, find and keep them safe. 

Posted in

A missing cat poster taped onto a wooden post.

It can happen in the blink of an eye. Your dog is playing outside and is suddenly nowhere to be seen; your kitty slips out the door when you’re greeting a visitor. Summer brings more risks: Fourth of July fireworks scaring pets into running off, family vacations where furry companions escape an unfamiliar place or feel tempted to explore new surroundings. Here’s how to find a lost pet as soon as possible.

1. Canvas the neighborhood. Start looking right away. Call your pet’s name in a happy tone. Shake a box of treats. Knock on doors and ask people if they’ve seen your pet.

2. Don’t chase! Running after your dog could turn into a game of chase, driving her farther away. Instead, get down on the ground and cheerfully call the dog to you. Lure her with food.

3. Contact shelters vets and rescue groups. Someone may have turned your pet in to an animal shelter, rescue or veterinarian. And it may not be the one closest to you; call or visit as many as possible and leave your name and number and information about your pet. Check back often.

4. Use social media. Post a lost-pet notice on your Facebook page and ask friends to share. Then post on local Facebook pages and sites like Craigslist. A television meteorologist in Albany, New York, operates Pet Connection, a Facebook page where people post notices and photos of lost and found pets.

5. List on a database. Add your pet’s information to a database such as the Center for Lost Pets, FidoFinder, Missing Pet Network and Tabbytracker.

6. Put up posters. Never underestimate the value of old-fashioned signs. Hang bright easy-to-read posters on lampposts and in store windows. Use your best photo, include contact information, and if possible, offer a reward.

7. Leave out food. Set your cat’s food and water outside the door or on the porch. Your video doorbell, or a baby monitor placed outside, will help you hear and see if your cat returns.

8. Hire a professional. If you haven’t located your pet, try using a professional tracker. Some dogs are also trained to work with a handler in locating missing pets.

9. Consider a Pet Amber Alert. When a child is missing, an Amber Alert is issued. Pet Amber Alert uses the same advanced technology to help spread the word about your lost pet.

10. Set a humane trap. For a pet that is fearful and on the run, set an appropriate-size cage where he has been spotted and bait it with food. Stay close by and out of sight; that way, you can attend to your pet immediately.

Is someone looking after your pet while you’re away? Discuss with your pet sitter or dog walker what to do if your pet gets lost, so he or she can take action immediately.

Keep Your Pet Safe

  • Update the ID. Tags should have your current phone number and address. Make sure the engraving hasn’t worn down.
  • Consider microchipping. These tiny tracking chips are easily inject-ed under your pet’s skin. Vets and shelter workers can read them with a handheld scanning device.
  • Or use GPS. Attach a tag with a GPS device to your pet’s collar. These use the latest technology to pinpoint your pet’s location.
  • Check enclosures. Periodically inspect your fencing for holes or gaps. Install self-closing hinges on any gates.
  • Know your pet’s personality. If your pal is anxious about loud noises, such as those from fi reworks, keep him in a safe room with a TV or radio playing. Use a calming pheromone made for cats or dogs.
  • Travel safely. Always secure your pet in a carrier or a crate on car rides. Or use a harness and tether attached to the seat belt so your pet won’t get scared and run off if you get into an accident.

Did you enjoy this story? Subscribe to All Creatures magazine.

Related Videos

Tags: Cats,Dogs,Pets
View Comments