How To Prevent Your Pet From Getting Lost

How many of us have experienced pet loss before? And, I’m not referring to grieving over a pet who has passed away (this is terribly sad too, see my post on losing a pet here) but has had a pet who has run away or disappeared. It’s a terrible feeling to be helpless and unable to find your friend. 

cat-hunting-in-bushes
An orange tabby hiding in the bushes

Despite the research and stories that animals have an innate homing ability or the ability to navigate back to their original location if they find themselves in an unfamiliar area (due to a variety of reasons), we can’t always rely on them to do this. This survey interestingly found that an animal’s ability to find it’s way back home varies from animal to animal and can be affected by the animal’s state of mind, age, distance from the original location, whether they’ve lived outdoors or indoors-only, and if they encounter other people or obstacles along the way. (source)

Sadly, The American Humane Association estimates that over 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the U.S. every year. Furthermore, one in three pets will become lost at some point during their life, which is especially sad. (source)

Preventing pet loss from happening to your pet is just one aspect of responsible pet ownership, just like providing proper food, clean water, animal enrichment, and veterinary care when needed and shouldn’t be taken lightly. 

July is National Pet Loss Prevention Month, and in honor of it, I’d like to share a few tips for preventing pet loss. This is a timely topic since the Fourth of July is also fast approaching. And the Forth means fireworks, which instill fear into many of our pets and can be a cause for them to run away. During this holiday, please consider these tips but also take extra precaution to comfort your pet while fireworks are going off. 

Here are some ways to prevent pet loss from happening to your pet:

A collar with updated contact information: Having your pet wear a collar with up to date contact information can save their life. If you change your phone number, be sure to print a new tag for them!

Microchipping your pets: Microchipping should be done by all pet owners. It is the insertion of a small chip, the size of a grain of rice, that gives your pet a unique identification number that can be scanned and used to reunite them with their owner. I use Foundanimals.org to register both of my cat’s microchips, which I had done at a Los Angeles area low-cost spay and neuter clinic, Spay Neuter Project Los Angeles. Be sure to register your pet’s chip after they are microchipped. Only 58% of microchipped animals are registered with their owner’s up to date contact information – which defeats the purpose of having them microchipped! Microchipping dramatically increases the chances of a lost pet being returned to you. It increases the return-to-owner rate from 2% (without a chip) to 38% in cats and from 22% (without a chip) to over 52% in dogs. (source)

Spaying and neutering your pet: Spaying and neutering your pet will not only prevent intact males and females from roaming the streets in search of a mate, but will also prevent the possibility of more puppies or kittens being born and reduce the chances that your pet will get into a fight or become lost or stolen. 

Enclosed, secured spaces for cats and dogs: If you have cats and have built outdoor spaces or catios built for them, Purrfect Fencing is a great option for allowing them to safely be outdoors. Their patented design prevents cats from climbing the fence and escaping. If your pets go outdoors at all, make sure their enclosures are always secured. This will prevent them from escaping, potentially encountering traffic and/or getting lost. 

Tips specifically to avoid pet loss during the 4th of July include:

  • All of the above tips!
  • Using anxiety chews or thunder jackets.
  • Being around your pet to help calm them during fireworks.
  • Making sure your animals are in a secured home and/or yard.

Resources if your pet is lost:

LostMyKitty.com and LostMyDoggie: These websites allow you to make a free lost or found listing that is sent to 25 local shelters, vets and rescue groups in your area. You have the option to boost your post as well to access more tools. They’ve had over 97,000 reunions since 2009.

Also using social media like Facebook and Instagram to make posts and run sponsered ads for your area are other options.

Use these tips to help protect your pet from becoming a statistic and ending up at the shelter this summer season!

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