As a pet owner, losing a pet is one of the most stressful and traumatic things that can happen to you. No one expects to lose their pet, and if it happens you may find yourself flustered and unsure of what to do. In today’s blog post, we will explore what to do when your cat or dog runs away. These tips are great to keep in the back of your mind in the event that your pet accidentally runs away someday. Staying informed and educated is priority and can help you calmly and efficiently bring your pet home in the event that your pet runs away (we hope that it never happens to you).

1. Look Around

First and foremost, look around! Be sure to do a thorough check around your home and yard. Don’t forget to check under your deck, foundation, and in your shrubbery.

2. Scan the Neighborhood

Next, if you did not find your pet in your home or yard, it’s time to check the neighborhood. Take a walk (or drive) and thoroughly check the surrounding area. It’s a good idea to talk with your neighbors to let them know about your missing pet, and show them a picture of your pet so they know what he/she looks like. Don’t forget to share your phone number with them!

3. Create an Easy Entrance

If possible, consider leaving your garage door (or other entrances) open a crack so that your pet can enter if they return.

4. Keep Familiarity in Mind

Your pet’s sense of smell is very strong and familiar scents are appealing to him/her. Place an item, such as a piece of your worn clothing, a used pillowcase, a used bath towel, or your pet’s bed, blanket, or toy, outside your home. The recognizable scents on these items can attract your lost pet back to your home.

5. Remain Calm

We know it’s hard to not panic when your pet is lost, but try to remain calm. If you spot your lost pet, don’t run toward them, as this could startle them and cause them to continue to run. Instead, approach them in a calm manner and encourage them to come toward you by calling their name in a kind, praising tone. Be sure to not yell; a comforting, familiar tone will keep your pet relaxed and encourage them to come closer to you.

6. Get Stinky

That’s right, get stinky (with your pet food, that is). Leaving “stinky” non-regular pet food outside can help attract pets back home. For cats, this might look like heated up sardines or canned tuna. For dogs, this could be their favorite (pungent) treats.

7. Bring the Right Leash

This tip is for you, dog owners. When looking for your dog, it’s smart to bring a slip leash, and a nylon leash can make a great one. Simply put the end with the clasp through the handle and hold onto the end with the clasp. The loop that is created by doing this can be slipped over a dog’s head, or you can try to persuade your dog to come through the loop by using a favorite treat or toy. Using this sort of leash is easier and safer than simply trying to grab your dog.

8. Watch the Clock

Did you know that most cat owners report their cats coming home during dusk and dawn? Pay special attention to your home and surrounding area during these times.

9. Keep an Eye Out

We understand it’s impossible to keep watch for your lost pet 24 hours a day and seven days a week. To remain vigilant while doing other activities, consider setting up a baby monitor in key locations to keep an eye out remotely. Also, if you have a doorbell camera, be sure to check it often and review any recorded footage to see if your pet has returned at any time.

10. Create Buzz and Check Your Local Resources

One of the most important things you can do is create a buzz about your missing pet. First and foremost, alert your local animal control about your lost pet. Also, be sure to check in with local animal rescues, animal shelters, and vets to see if they have seen or heard about your pet. It’s also important to inform your neighbors about your lost pet, so consider creating flyers to hang around your neighborhood and posting on social media (both on your personal account and in any local groups for your town). If you adopted your pet from a local organization, alert them of your lost pet and ask them to post on social media on your behalf. Chances are, many of their adopters live locally and can help spread the search efforts.

We hope that these tips are helpful, whether you are proactively educating yourself on what to do if your pet someday runs away, or if you are actively trying to get your pet to return home.

Looking for more pet tips? Check out our Resources page for more information on spaying/neutering, pet insurance, pet-friendly rentals, a variety of medical and behavior issues, and more!

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