Every year, more than 10 million cats and dogs become lost in the United States. One of the most devastating things a pet owner can experience is watching their cat or dog run away, or making the mistake of looking away for a few minutes, only to realize they’ve vanished. At Bayside Animal Hospital, we’re strong advocates of preventative care as part of your pet’s total health and wellness program. Preventing lost pets is an additional way to reduce accidents, injuries, and heartbreak. These lost pet prevention tips will help you keep your dog or cat safe at home with you,  where they belong.

Keep Pets Leashed While Outdoors

cute white dog laying down with a leash on

Many owners train their dogs to walk or run alongside them, but this can be an unsafe idea. Unless pets are in a fenced and secure space, such as the dog park, your pet could be at risk of running away. Running away from you isn’t always a result of poor behavior. Some pets get scared, and others see something that catches their eye. Instinct kicks in and off and away they go.

Always keep your beloved pet on a leash, and use a harness for maximum protection. Pet harnesses are more difficult for your pet to slip out off or break loose from if they do run away from you.

Secure Your Home for Pets

happy, safe, and secure dog with fence in background

Ensure your yard has a protective and effective enclosure or fence to keep your pet inside your yard, and stray pets and animals out. Chain link fences are often far too easy for cats or dogs to jump, and their collars or leashes can get stuck in them, so we suggest an alternative such as wood or block.

Steel fences are ideal for high-energy, large dogs like Golden Retrievers, Labs, Border Collies, and Shepherds. Small dogs have the option of playing in adjustable dog playpens that cost less than installing fencing around your entire yard. Pet exercise runs are typically inexpensive and can be used to secure dogs while outside. Just make sure to identify the appropriate height and width for your pet’s breed if you’re considering these. Be sure to call us with any questions you might have about your pet’s safety.

To keep your cat from escaping the house, make sure your windows, doors, and patios all have screens. If you like to take your cat outside to explore, make sure they’re wearing a well-fitted cat harness and leash.

Microchip Your Pets

Microchips are inexpensive, installed in seconds, and can reunite pet owners even if their pet winds up in a different state. You can easily have your puppy or kitten microchipped when they come in for a routine check-up or vaccines, and no pet is too old to get a chip.

The American Humane Association predicts that one in three pets will go missing in their lifetime, but only 22 percent of lost dogs and less than 2 percent of lost cats in shelters return to their families. The good news is that 52 percent of lost dogs and 32 percent of lost cats who have microchips are reunited with their owners.

Lost pet prevention is an ongoing process, so we highly recommend updating your contact information with your vet to ensure that your pet is always protected. Include your phone number, address, and name on an annual basis.

Always Use Collars With Tags

black dog smiling with tag on collar

Your pet’s collar should have ID tags that allow anyone who finds them to contact you quickly. These tags should be updated whenever your contact information changes. You should also list your veterinarian’s office number on your pet’s tags, just in case someone is unable to locate or contact you.

Pet ID tags are an affordable and extremely easy way to prevent lost pets from being abandoned at shelters or taken in as strays. Pet tags can also fall off of collars on lost pets, which is also why it’s crucial to replace them if they start to wear out. 

Establish a Training Routine

Cats and dogs can both be trained to respond when their name is called. With their enhanced hearing, a well-trained pet is more likely to come running back to you if they ever decide to take off.

Pets thrive on a close bond with their owner, and when you earn your pet’s trust and respect, they’re more likely to obey your commands. Even if they run off, a bonded pet will be more likely to respond to their name or even the sound of your voice. You can also train your pet to follow specific commands that can prevent them from getting lost, including “stop,” “stay,” and “wait.”

Create a Lost Pet Prevention Plan

Losing your pet is devastating, but it doesn’t mean they’re gone forever. By microchipping and having an emergency plan in place, you can prevent lost pets and increase the likelihood of reuniting in a matter of days. Make sure to keep recent photos of your pet on-hand so you can quickly make flyers and post on social media if they do become lost. Talk to our team at Bayside Animal Hospital in Kemah, Texas, or your local veterinarian about microchipping, ID tags, and other lost pet prevention tips to ensure your cat and dog always remain safe.