Lizzy DeningPets

How to find a lost dog or cat

Lizzy DeningPets
How to find a lost dog or cat
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If your dog or cat has gotten lost, it can be heart-breaking, but these practical steps could help you to bring your best friend home again

Lost dogs

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What to do when your dog goes missing


Slowly walk or drive around your neighbourhood (or the place your pet was last seen) stopping often to listen for them calling out. Take an old item of clothing, or something else with your scent on, to the place you last saw your dog. Leave it there overnight (pop a note on it so people don’t throw it away) with a bowl of water (but not food, as this will attract other animals) and come back the next day. Hopefully your dog will be attracted to the smell and be waiting for you.

How to report a lost dog


Call your local veterinary surgery and animal shelters to let them know to look out for your pet. They will often have a network that they can alert too.
Register your pet (for free) with Animal Search at www.animal searchuk.co.uk or call 01432 266 900. It’s a volunteer-run company which has been reuniting pets and their owners since 1999. Also join the National Pet Register, www.national petregister.org. Search Facebook for local missing pet groups.

Can lost dogs find a way home?

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Yes, this happens quite a lot. Many animals have a strong sense of direction. There was a story in 2015 about a dog who walked 11 miles from his new home back to his foster owner, even though he’d originally arrived by car!

How far can a lost dog travel?


It really depends on the dog’s character, breed and the environment when it gets lost to how far it will travel. Panicked or nervous dogs can run a long way (many miles) through fear, so if they were anxious at the point of losing them you should be prepared to look further afield.

Can you find a lost dog with a microchip?


If your dog has been taken into a vet or a dog shelter they will scan him for a microchip and give you a call. Make sure your mobile is switched on and charged in case you get a call.

Do lost dog signs and posters work?


Posters can indeed work, particularly if you take them to the last area you saw your dog, whether that’s near your home or a park. Print posters with a clear photo of your pet and your contact details and attach them to lampposts around the neighbourhood. Make a note of all the places you leave posters, so you can collect them up when your pet is back home

Lost cats

What to do when your cat goes missing

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Before you panic, don’t forget to thoroughly check the house – cats are notoriously good at hiding in small spaces. Spaces such as the washing machine, tumbler drier and even the foot well of your car are all appealing sleeping spots for moggies. Before you leave the house, make sure the cat flap is open (if it’s one which can be locked) so that your cat can get back in if it returns.
Slowly walk or drive around your neighbourhood (or the place your pet was last seen) stopping often to listen for them calling out. 


How to report a lost cat


Call your local veterinary surgery and animal shelters to let them know to look out for your pet. They will often have a network that they can alert too.
Register your pet (for free) with Animal Search at www.animal searchuk.co.uk or call 01432 266 900. It’s a volunteer-run company which has been reuniting pets and their owners since 1999. Also join the National Pet Register, www.national petregister.org. Search Facebook for local missing pet groups.

Can lost cats find a way home?


Often! They are wily animals with a great nose for direction. In 2013 a lost cat found its way home over two months, covering 200 miles!

Where would a lost cat go?


Lost cats are often in other people’s houses or garages, either by mistake or because they’ve decided to choose a new family. It can be very upsetting when this happens, and it’s definitely worth putting up posters in your area. Alternatively, it may be nearby but hiding because something has scared it (fighting with another cat, seeing a dog or similar).

Can cats lose their sense of direction?


They can occasionally get confused, particularly if you’ve recently moved house. Leave some dirty clothes which have your scent on in the garden, to help your cat find its way. You could even spray a little perfume if there’s one you wear regularly.

How far can a lost cat travel?


The majority of lost cats are likely to be closer than you’d imagine, but there are rare examples of cats travelling for miles – particularly if their owners have moved. 

Can you find a lost cat with a microchip?


Microchipping is a great tool for identifying lost cats, particularly if they don’t wear a collar. If your missing pet is taken to a vet or a cat shelter the first thing they will do is scan its chip, and contact you. Make sure your veterinary surgery has your most up-to-date phone number and address registered to the chip.

Do lost cat signs and posters work?

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Posters are a good idea for missing cats, as it’s so common that they can be trapped in a neighbour’s garage (or even being fed by a neighbour!) Print posters with a clear photo of your pet and your contact details and attach them to lampposts around the neighbourhood. Make a note of all the places you leave posters, so you can collect them up when your pet is back home

How long can lost cats survive?


Don’t lose hope. If your cat has been missing for weeks or even months, it’s not unheard of for them to turn up right as rain after a long time away.


Stay safe when searching for your lost pet


If someone phones to say they have your pet, be cautious – make them describe your pet in detail and take someone with you if you go to meet them