How to Prevent a Lost Pet

One in three pets get lost in their lifetime. That’s a nerve-wracking statistic!

Your pets are part of your family. It is devastating to come home and see that your pet has gotten out of your yard. Pets often have a hard time finding their way home without proper identification and training.

Did you know that it is National Pet ID Week? Pets have little to no chance of finding their way back home to you without proper identification and an up to date microchip! This list of tips on how to prevent a lost pet can help ensure that your furry friends stay in your home, or are returned home if they get out.

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Tip #1: Get your pet a microchip

This is the best thing you can do for your pets. Microchipping your pet is a cost effective and permanent way to ensure that your pet always has identification. We never want to lose a pet, of course, but it happens! Some animals are great at wiggling out of collars, escaping underneath fences, or even jumping walls. If your pet doesn’t have identification, there’s only a 10 percent chance they will get home. With a microchip, those rates go up to 52 percent for dogs and 38 percent for cats, according to a study by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Because one out three pets get lost in their lifetime, getting your pet a microchip and making sure it’s up to date is the best thing you can do for your furry friend!

Microchipping is a quick, safe procedure. A rice-sized microchip is inserted between your pet’s shoulders. It cannot be removed, and must be updated digitally. It is not a tracking device, but if someone finds your lost pet, they can have someone scan for a microchip. Virtually all shelters and veterinarian’s offices have a scanner. When the microchip is scanned, it shows a unique ID number. Then, the microchip registry is contacted, and they use the ID number to access your name and address. Your information is not stored in the microchip. Due to the importance of microchipping, HSSA is offering a free microchip ($20 Value) with full price spay or neuter (or $20 credit towards full price spay or neuter if your pet is already microchipped) for the month of May! Don’t miss out on this life-saving deal!

Tip #2:  Make sure your pet has a collar and up to date tags

“Years ago I found ID Collars for dogs and cats. I have a leather or nylon collar on every animal I own that has their name embroidered in big contrasting letters along with my telephone number in big contrasting numbers. My dogs have gotten out from time to time and I always receive a call within an hour and can go pick up my dogs. They also have chips, of course, too. Although I try to never let them out, once every year or so the collar saves their lives and mine.” –Frederica Adkinson, HSSA email recipient.

Frederica couldn’t be more right when it comes to the importance of pets wearing collars. A collar is a signal to the public that this animal does, in fact, have an home, and needs help finding their way back to that home. Collars that are reflective and easy to see at night are also a great idea! Another option that HSSA loves are embroidered collars, since tags can get caught easily and break off. You can include your pet’s name and your contact information, like the collars below!

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Also, make sure you keep your pet in a collar at all times. Some people take collars off when they’re at home to give pets time without it on. If you do opt to remove your pet’s collar, be sure that you are actively watching them.

Tip #3: Crate and contain your pet

When you are away from home, you want to make sure that your pets stay safely inside. Dogs benefit immensely from crate training. Some people worry that containing dogs to crates is cruel, but it can be a soothing and comforting experience, as long as it is introduced the right way and worked on over time. This is a sure way to know that they will be right where you left them, safe and sound! Leave your pet in the crate for short amounts of time at first, and over time you can work up to a full day. Make sure you never leave an animal crated for too long, and make sure they go potty before entering the crate. Patience is key when crate training, and it will be so worth it to have peace of mind knowing your dog is safe.

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Tip #4: Keep cats indoors

Cats need stimulation and room to exercise, that’s for sure. But that doesn’t have to mean letting your cat outside. Outdoor cats are less likely to be returned home. Keeping your cat indoors protects them from getting hit by a car or taken into another family’s home. It also greatly helps our cat population by preventing the spread of contagious diseases like Feline Leukemia Virus or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. If you are worried about your cat becoming bored or overweight, make an effort to set up fun activities inside. This can include obstacle courses, cat walks, or even a screened in catio. You can also check in on your kitty while you’re away from home using Petcube. This fun and interactive app is a great way to keep your cat (and yourself) entertained!

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Tip #5: Teach your dog commands

Sometimes dogs do get out of the yard or get away from you while on a walk. It is a scary moment, but don’t panic! You’ll need to rely on your pet’s training to get them to come back to you. This is when it is most important that your dog is bonded to you and knows commands like “come,” “stay,” and “sit”. Practice commands with your dog so if you are ever in a stressful situation, your dog will look to you for direction.

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Share these tips to keep your pets happy, healthy, and in your possession! Special thanks to Frederica for commenting on this important subject.

What measures have you taken to keep your pets safe? Let us know in the comments below!

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