By Dr. Lidja Gillmeister,
La Jolla Veterinary Clinic
Losing your dog is one of the most difficult things to cope with as a pet owner. The truth is that even the most proactive owner can lose their dog from just one simple mishap. Your dog could dig a hole underneath a fence or it could be human error like forgetting to lock the gate. Fireworks or thunderstorms can spook your dog, causing him to run away from sheer terror. Rain can cause fences to come down. Unfortunately, there are many reasons that thousands of animals get lost every year, but the good news is you can do a lot ahead of time to get your dog back as soon as possible.
Thanks in part to a recent
, here are 5 things you can do today to ensure your little guy (or gal) is quickly found and returned home safely.
- Dog Tags
It may sound like a no-brainer but thousands of dogs go without collars and dog tags – worse, many tags are out of date with old phone numbers and addresses. Make sure to keep your animal’s tags current at all times and have them wear a collar any time they go outside. Many pet owners keep collars on their pets full-time. Just make sure the collar isn’t too tight or uncomfortable. Allow for two fingers worth of slack in the collar for the most optimum fit -- you should not be able to pull the collar off your dog’s head. A breakaway collar might be a good choice if you’re afraid of your animal getting tangled in backyard brush.
One of the wisest investments for any pet owner is microchipping. It’s important to note that a microchip won’t locate your pet using technology like GPS; instead, it provides critical information like your name and address when scanned by a radiofrequency reader. Most veterinary clinics and shelters have scanners to quickly reunite pets with their owners. Make sure to keep your microchip company updated with your most current information as well.
- Inspect your backyard
It goes without saying that the backyard is one of the most common areas where pet loss first occurs. Between loose slats on wooden fences and digging underneath a chain-link fence, the backyard can easily become an unintended escape route. Check your backyard regularly before leaving your dog to roam free. If you have an especially large backyard, you may want to fence off a moderately sized area for your dog which is easily controllable when it comes to preventing loss.
- Consider a GPS device
Some dogs are especially prone to loss – and they become especially good at it! If you have a wanderer on your hands, you may want to consider a GPS device that affixes to your pet’s collar. Unlike a microchip device, a GPS device will show the physical location of your pet should he unwittingly escape.
- Take a current photo
“Lost dog” posters can help, but they won’t do any good if you don’t have a recent photo of your pet. Make sure to keep one handy, even if it’s a quick snapshot on your smartphone. Use resources like Craigslist or your local shelter to try to locate your lost animal, and always take a picture with you to increase the likelihood that you find your best friend quickly and safely.