How to Prevent – or Find – a Lost Dog

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According to the American Humane Association, a staggering 10 million dogs and cats will be lost or stolen in the U.S. this year. If this number leaves you anxious about your own pet’s safety, don’t worry—there are plenty of ways you can prevent your dog from joining that grim statistic.

In recognition of National Pet ID Week (April 16-23),we’re looking at how pet owners can prevent the tragedy of a lost dog as well as the steps you should take if it happens to you.

One of the best ways to increase your chances of finding a lost dog is by having him microchipped. This relatively painless procedure involves placing a tiny chip underneath your pet’s skin, usually between his shoulder blades. Once implanted, the chip can be scanned by most shelters and veterinarians, ensuring your dog’s safe return.

Why is microchipping your dog so important, anyway?

Is microchipping your pet really necessary? The short answer is: yes, absolutely. But if you need further persuasion, we have a few things for you to consider.

1. Collars aren’t infallible

As your first line of defense, a good, old-fashioned dog collar and ID tag is a simple and inexpensive way to keep your dog from getting lost.

But they’re not foolproof.

Collars can break and tags can become lost, damaged, or illegible. A microchip, on the other hand, isn’t going anywhere. If your dog wanders off, the chances of a happy reunion increase greatly when pet owners utilize both tools.

2. It boosts your odds of finding your lost dog

According to a study conducted by Ohio State University, a microchipped dog is 2.5 times more likely to be returned to his owner than a dog who is not.

2.5 times more!

You can’t ignore those odds.

3. It proves ownership

When your dog’s chip is scanned, your registration information will identify you as the rightful owner. For pets who have been stolen, this feature is especially important.

4. Technology continues to improve

As research progresses, chip manufacturers are rolling out enhancements that many pet owners will find useful. Microchip company, HomeAgain, for instance, offers microchip pet feeders that only open for a designated pet. Pet doors can operate similarly, by being programmed to respond only to your dog’s microchip.

5. They last forever

This is a one-and-done deal. Once you get your pooch outfitted with his chip, you don’t need to give it another thought. The microchip will last a lifetime, and it’s not going anywhere.

How to keep your dog from getting permanently lost

While microchipping is an indispensable way to protect your pet, it’s not the only way to do so. A combination of several safety measures will give you the best chances of keeping Fido from getting lost. Read on to discover what you should be doing to keep your dog from getting lost.

1. Keep ID tags up-to-date

Grumble Dog - Grumpy dog with tags on a blue collar

Image by Steve Baker via Flickr

If you’ve ever moved or changed your phone number, then you’re well aware of the many places that need to be updated. But after you’ve updated your address with the post office, magazine subscriptions, club memberships, and billing companies, don’t forget one of your most valuable assets: your beloved dog!

Protect your canine companion by keeping his ID tag accurate and up-to-date. Otherwise, it’s a useless accessory that doesn’t do your dog any good.

2. Keep his microchip up-to-date

Similarly, enter any changes of address with your dog’s microchip registration company. If your pup goes missing and a shelter tries to access his chip info, you’ll want that data to be correct.

3. Keep your dog leashed

Grumble Dog - Dog Pulling on Leash

Image by Jingie Wong via Unsplash

A curious pup is bound to wander—don’t give him the opportunity! Always keep your dog leashed during walks, even if he’s the most well-behaved dog in town. You can never predict what may catch his attention and lure him away from you.

Equally important is finding the leash that is best for your dog’s size and strength. A brawny Newfoundland will need a stronger leash than say, a pint-sized Chihuahua.

4. Supervise all outdoor play

It may not seem like a big deal to let your dog explore the backyard on his own, especially if the yard is fully fenced-in. But, left to his own devices, even the most obedient dog can be tempted to bolt at something on the other side of the fence. A dog that’s motivated enough can find a way to break free, so it’s critical that pet owners keep a close eye on their dogs at all times.

5. Maintain your fence line

Grumble Dog - German Shepard climbing over a fence

Image by Nate Tribbs via Pixabay

Checking the integrity of your fence from time to time is a good habit to get into. Periodically, examine the perimeter of your yard, looking for any signs of damage that could compromise your dog’s safety.

6. Get your pet “fixed”

Where there’s a will there’s a way, and a dog struck with “puppy love” will do whatever it takes to find a mate—including scaling your fence or digging an escape route. Having your dog spayed or neutered will lower his or her urge to roam.

Your Content Goes HereMy dog is lost. What do I do?

The unfortunate truth is that even the most vigilant and responsible pet owner can experience the heart-racing panic that comes with a lost dog. Stay calm and act fast. Here’s what you can do:

  • Start with the basics. Call your pet’s name, using a can of his favorite food to encourage his return. Check any places he could become trapped, such as a shed or a basement. Alert your neighbors of your predicament, and start your search in your own neighborhood.

  • Check local shelters. Daily. In addition to calling local shelters every day, be sure to visit them in person. Even if you describe your dog to the shelter staff with great detail, you’re the only one who can recognize him instantly.
  • Call animal control. These agencies work through the police department, picking up stray animals. Give them a call to see if they’ve picked up your dog.
  • Make flyers. Using the clearest picture you can find of your pet, print up a bunch of “lost pet” signs to distribute around your town. Consider placing them in pet stores, veterinary offices, coffee shops, libraries, grocery stores, and post offices. Don’t forget to take your flyers down once your dog returns home, so everyone knows that he’s safe and sound.