Written by Emily Bayne
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 07/01/2021, edited: 07/14/2023
A pet goes missing every 2 seconds in America, yet only 1 in 10 families ever find their pet. These sobering statistics are a sad reminder of how easy it is for pets to become lost.
July is National Lost Pet Prevention Month since animal shelters see an increase in pets in July. This increase is partly due to pets running away from Fourth of July fireworks, but fireworks are just one reason pets run off. Some run away searching for a mate, whereas others do it out of fear or simply for the thrill.
You may think your pet is too well-behaved to run away, but you’d be surprised. Even the most vigilant pet parents can benefit from these tips and tricks for preventing lost pets.
Spaying or neutering is one of the easiest ways to keep your pet from getting lost. Most dogs who end up in shelters aren't spayed or neutered, and a big reason for this is mating-related roaming. Female animals tend to roam when they're in heat, and intact males will seek them out even from miles away. Besides preventing roaming, sterilizing your pet can also minimize aggression and territorial marking.
If you're like most pet parents with a fenced-in backyard, you probably let your pet potty outside unsupervised, thinking they can't get out since it's fenced. But dogs and cats are particularly adept at slipping through cracks, both figuratively and literally.
Make sure to mend any broken boards in the fence as you find them, and walk your fence line regularly to check for areas where your pet could crawl underneath. You may also want to install an underground fence for added security.
It's just as important to secure the inside of your home too. If possible, block off entryways with doggy gates to keep dogs from getting away when someone comes in or out. It may be tempting to install a doggy door for convenience, but these give dogs an easy escape route, especially if your backyard isn't secure.
Training a pet to have reliable recall is so important for preventing runaways, especially if your pet is prone to chasing other animals. Reliable recall is the consistent reliability of a pet to come when you call them — regardless of distractions. What's more, reliable recall can be a lifesaving skill, protecting pets from being hit by cars or getting in a fight with other animals. Here’s a helpful how-to guide on training a dog to come with distractions.
No matter how careful you are with your dog, there's always a chance your pet could get lost. Here are a few ways to make your pet more easily locatable should they become lost.
Have up-to-date ID and rabies tags
One of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to make your pet
identifiable is to put ID and rabies tags on their collar. Most states
require vets to issue pets a rabies tag when they get their vaccines.
Rabies tags include a traceable number that's linked to the pet parent
in the vet database.
ID tags are just as, if not more, important, since they have your contact information directly on them. When designing your pet's ID tags, be sure you have your phone number, as well as a backup number, and update them any time your contact information changes.
Invest in a GPS collar
A GPS collar is exactly what it sounds like: a geo-location
transmitter attached to a collar. Depending on the type of transmitter, the collar will send signals to satellites or cell phone towers, and the signal
is then redirected to your phone.
Typically, GPS collars are connected to an app where you can see your pet's location on a map at any time. These devices are particularly useful for pets that are prone to running away. The only downside to GPS collars is they tend to be expensive, but it's a small price to pay to keep your fur-baby safe.
Microchip your pet
One of the first things vets and shelters do when they find a pet is to scan them for a microchip implant. Microchips contain essential data, like the pet's health conditions, primary vet, and most importantly, the pet parent's information.
Microchips are injected just under the surface of the skin, usually on the dog's shoulder, but the injection site can vary. Pet microchips are similar in size to a single grain of rice and cause little to no pain for pets.
Tags and engraved collars can identify your pet, but these may slip off your dog. On the other paw, a microchip is impossible to lose. Microchips aren't perfect, though. They can't show you your dog's location as of yet, but technology is constantly evolving.
ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that goes for lost pet
prevention too. Keep your pet safe by sterilizing your pet, securing
your home, and training your pet to come when you call. Issuing your pet
a set of ID tags and a microchip can help you to locate them faster
should you get separated. Keep an eye on your pet at all times when
you're home, and use a leash when you're out and about. If you follow
these simple rules, your pet's chances of getting lost are much lower.
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