The worst feeling as a pet owner is not being able to find your furry friend. Here's some tips to prevent losing them, and what to
27 August 2013| Last updated on 2 August 2017
We get so many threads from desperate people on our forum saying that they have lost their pet. We’ve had everything go missing from parrots to rabbits, cats to dogs and hamsters to tortoises. We’ve some top tips for you here on how to try and make sure your pet dog or pet cat doesn’t escape or get lost and also what steps to take to try and find a lost pet.
Your dog or cat should always have the following:
- Municipality tags
- Snug fitting collar
Why dogs run away:
- Loneliness, boredom or curiosity
- To find a mate
- Loud noise or any event that can startle them
- After a move to a new home they try to go back to the old one
To try and prevent your dog escaping you should keep it in a fenced garden when outside, with the fence being high enough that it cannot jump over and strong enough that it cannot knock it down. There should also be no gaps it could squeeze through or dig under.
When you take you dog out you must always keep it on its lead and make sure its collar fits snugly so it can’t slip away. This will also help trace your dog if it does manage to escape, so keeping the collar on at all times is very important.
Most dogs wander away from the home in search of a mate, so make sure your dog has been spayed or neutered to prevent this running away urge cause.
Also make sure your dog is paid lots of attention every day and is well exercised to prevent loneliness and boredom setting in. If they get loose and someone makes a fuss over them, they tend to go off with them for a while, so the chances are your dog could be at someone else’s house! Dogs want company, comfort and food and if they can’t find you, they’ll take it from a well- meaning stranger. Older, shyer dogs tend to hide; try checking under bushes and under cars.
Make sure you take regular photos of your dog one because it’s a cutie and two it will help you if you need to make lost dog posters and also inform vets.
How far can they go? Big, strong dogs can run away up to and over 5 miles away but smaller dogs tend to found within half a mile of where they were lost.
Why cats go missing:
- Indoor cats get outside, get scared and hide
- Outdoor cats get chased into unfamiliar territory and get lost
- Thorough physical search of the surrounding area not done properly- cats who are sick, injured or petrified will not make any noise
Cats are naturally curious animals and love to go and explore things. This is not too bad if you have an outdoor cat but many people have cats in flats here in Dubai, so you need to take special measures with indoor cats, as their natural instinct is to roam and explore.
With indoor cats, door and window control is key. Make sure you don’t leave the front door or balcony doors open as they will wander out. Don’t leave windows open either, as they may jump out.
Take regular pictures of your kitten or cat and make sure you take pictures of any distinguishing features like coat markings, in case you do lose your cat as this will help in your search.
If you are going to let your cat outside try and keep it in a fenced in garden but remember cats are great climbers, so the likelihood is it will get out your garden. Cats are territorial though, so once they have established their territory, they don’t often stray. Their territory could include several neighbours gardens though! Moving house is when you need to take extra special care with your cat and introduce it to its new territory after 2 or 3 weeks, as it may try and make its way back to the old house.
Kittens should not be let outside within the first year and when you are letting your cat out for the first time, do it before breakfast, so they will be hungry and come back to you quicker. Don’t be surprised if they go for a couple of hours though- they like to explore their territory thoroughly. If you live near a busy road it is best not to let your cat out at all; cats and busy traffic do not mix. Neutered or spayed cats are more calm creatures, so by having this procedure done, their tendency to roam far will reduce.
If you think your cat has gone missing you are going to have to check your home and garden very carefully first- cats can hide in the most amazing places- cupboards, wardrobes, boxes! Conduct a thorough search before you start to panic. If you don’t find it in your house or garden go for a walk in the nearby area calling your cat’s name and listen for a response and conduct a thorough search of possible hiding places.
How to find a lost pet
Conduct a search in the surrounds of where you live or where the pet went missing. Get out there and call your pet’s name. Get friends or family to help and ask your neighbours if they have seen your pet- take photos along with you and leave with them to remind them to keep an eye out. The more people that know you have lost your pet the more chance that someone will spot it. The best time to call out for your pet is at sunrise and sunset.
Contact local vets so they can all be on the look- out for your pet in case it gets brought into them too- give them a picture and your pet ID microchip number as they have scanners to check. Also go and visit the local shelters and municipality pound to check your pet is not there.
Put flyers on local shop noticeboards and ask them if they will put flyers in their shop. If you have community noticeboards pin them up there too. Put flyers in the lift of your building if you live in a flat. Put a flyer on the outside of your villa if you can. On the flyer there should be a bold title like Lost Cat with a photo a description of your pet with its name, mention a reward but not the amount and a couple of contact numbers.
Use the web too- put a shout out on Facebook and Twitter and a photo too on as many local pages as you can, as well as your own and friends- ask people to spread the word for you. You should also post a thread on our ExpatWoman.com Forum- we’ve had some great success reuniting owners with their pets as we have so much traffic to the site. Write an email to local newspapers along with a pic too- they may print it in their letters column.
Don’t give up some pets can be away for weeks and months and then turn up out of the blue, whilst others are found within an hour. Remember that most pets never run away. For those that do, only a tiny percentage fall into harm’s way- most are returned to their owners, normally within 24 hours, sometimes within a week.
Once you have been reunited with your pet make sure you let everyone know, take all flyers down and reply on any social media forums- so people know to stop looking and you should also thank them for their help.