What to Do if Your Pet Gets Lost

Losing a pet is every pet parent’s nightmare. Before you panic, take these steps to increase your odds of finding your dog or cat before they get too far away.

What to do right away

  • Alert neighbors that your pet has gone missing in case anyone reports seeing them or they make their way to a neighbor’s house.
  • Be sure the pet isn’t hiding in your home. Cats especially tend to sneak into small spaces like the backs of closets, behind the headboard of the bed or in crawlspaces. Look around thoroughly.
  • Walk your neighborhood calling calmly for your pet. For cats, shake a treat bag as you walk around and call to them. For dogs, try treats or carry their leash; call to them and ask if they want to go for a walk or play with their favorite toy. Keep your voice calm and friendly. Lost cats especially may be frightened, so you want to make them feel safe.
  • If you spot your pet, don’t chase them. Dogs see chase as a fun game and are likely to sprint away. Cats are likely to be scared off by you running toward them.
  • Instead, sit down where they can see you from a distance. Talk to them, continuing to offer enticements like a treat.
  • Keep in mind that while a dog might see getting out as a game, a cat may see it as scary. Cats often find a place to hide until dark, so you may need to look very carefully and keep looking until it’s quiet.

If you don’t find your pet within the first hour or two

  • Contact local animal shelters, rescues and animal control to report your lost pet. Visit them daily to ask about your pet in person.
  • Contact the microchip company for your pet and report that your pet is lost.
  • Keep talking with your neighbors and asking around in the community to see if anyone has seen your pet. Pass around flyers with your contact information.
  • Walk around the neighborhood several times a day with a leash or carrier in case you spot your pet. Keep calling for them and enticing them with treats.
  • Post “lost pet” flyers around your neighborhood, including a photo of your pet.
  • Use social media to post about your pet and where they were last seen.
  • Consider a paid service like FindToto or Lost My Doggie to send out e-blasts about your missing pet.

Most of all, don’t give up. If your pet has a collar and a microchip, there’s a good chance they will make their way back to you.

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