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How To Prevent Your Pet From Getting Lost

Author: DVM cVMA Dana Hogg

Did you know that about one in three pets will go missing in their lifetime (1)? July is National Lost Pet Prevention Month, and rightfully so, as some sources report more dogs go missing on the 4th of July than on any other day of the year (2).

Losing a pet for any length of time is frightening and devastating for their owners. The anxiety of not knowing where they are, whether they are safe, and if they will be found is enough to make one go crazy.

Below are some helpful tips to help minimize the risk of your pet becoming lost.

Steps You Can Take: 

  • Spaying and neutering:Intact males are more likely to roam in search of a companion due to their strong sense of smell which can detect an in-heat female from miles away. Spaying and neutering pets will not only help prevent unwanted pregnancies and certain cancers but will also decrease their desire to roam.
  • Microchips and Identification Tags:Identification collars and ID tags are important for every pet. They don’t need to be collared at all hours of the day and night; however, it is good practice to have a collar on anytime they are outside whether on a walk, a car ride, or just in the backyard. If you have a pet that likes to dart out anytime the door is opened, it is probably a good idea to leave their collar on. Microchips are another highly recommended form of identification and are especially handy if your pet’s collar somehow becomes detached. If your pet is lost, any shelter or veterinary office will be able to scan your pet and obtain your contact information. To that end, it is important that you keep your contact information updated with the microchip company should you change addresses. It is also recommended to contact the microchip company right away when your pet goes missing. 
  • Tracking Devices:Of course, there are tracking options you can take advantage of, too. A GPS tracker uses real-time tracking to relay information about your pet's whereabouts no matter where they are and is one of the most reliable tracking methods. Another tracking device is the Air Tag which uses a Bluetooth connection to send a signal to nearby iOS devices. Those devices will then send the information to you. The Air Tag was designed to help people locate items; however, it is only useful if there are iOS users in the area when tracking the whereabouts of a lost pet (3).
  • Frequent walks:Walking is great exercise and enrichment for both our pets and us. It engages their minds and tires them out, lessening their desire to escape outside. Another added benefit is that frequent walks around your neighborhood helps your pet learn the area and establish a familiar route which increases their chance of successfully finding their way home should they accidentally wander off. 
  • Minimize stressful events:Knowing your pet’s anxieties and triggers can help you improve their safety at home. Many pets suffer anxiety when it comes to loud noises, so it is no surprise why so many go missing around the 4th of July holiday. People often start setting off fireworks well before and even after the 4th. Another summer stressor tends to be loud thunderstorms. Talking to your veterinarian about the use of anxiety supplements and/or medications for trigger events may be beneficial. Also, quite helpful is ensuring your pet feels safe and secure during these events and getting them outside before noisy and overstimulating events. Create a safe place in the house for them with comfort items such as a favorite blanket or toy. While we all enjoy having our furry friends celebrate holidays and other special occasions with us, spare them the anxiety and keep their celebration inside in the safety of their home.   
  • Secure enclosures:If you have a fenced-in yard, it is a good idea to get into the habit of inspecting your fence daily. This doesn’t mean you need to inspect every inch, but a general once-over before putting your pet outside is a good idea. Unexpected accidents can happen such as a branch falling, a stray animal damages the fence, or maybe your routine landscapers accidentally left a gate open at the end of the workday. Doing a daily once-over will help avoid any possible escapes by your pet.
  • Recall training:Good training goes a long way! Training helps an animal gain confidence, improves socialization, increases adaptability to new surroundings, and improves overall safety for both humans and animals. Most importantly, it helps strengthen the human-animal bond. Recall training is a training method in which your dog responds to a certain call when off-leash and is tremendously helpful in situations where your dog may find itself in an unpredictable situation or escapes your immediate control. It can take time to train new cues and may even require the assistance of a professional trainer; however, the end result will so be worth it!

Practicing these tips year-round will help ensure maximum safety for your pet. We hope you and your furry family members have a very happy and safe summer!  

Sources
  • Helpline, Pet Poison. “What To Do When Your Pet Becomes Lost.” Pet Poison Helpline, 6 Mar. 2020, www.petpoisonhelpline.com/blog/pet-becomes-lost/#:%7E:text=One%20in%20three%20pets%20will%20become%20lost%20at,situation%20to%20be%20in%20as%20a%20pet%20owner.
  • Jacobs, Ben. “July Is Pet Loss Prevention Month - Tips For A Great Summer.” HuffPost, 6 July 2017, www.huffpost.com/entry/july-is-pet-loss-preventi_b_10774936.
  • “GPS Tracker vs Apple AirTag for Pets: What’s Best?” Tractive Blog, 16 May 2022, tractive.com/blog/en/tech/apple-airtag-vs-gps-pet-tracker.

Dr. Dana Hogg graduated in 2015 from North Carolina State University. She grew up in Wilson, North Carolina. Growing up with several animals, Dr. Hogg was drawn to the field of veterinary medicine at a young age. She completed her undergraduate degree at NCSU in 2009 and her master's degree in 2011.

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