Pets are sometimes like little four-legged Houdinis. They find the tiniest gaps in fences and can slip through almost any gate. The scent of a fox, or the backfire of a car, can send your pet to the hills before you get a chance to call its name.
With thousands of cats and dogs lost in the UK every year, it’s a good idea to follow our top tips, to keep your pet by your side.
Tag your pet
Make sure your pet has an up-to-date ID tag on its collar. Use a telephone number that you can be easily reached on, and make sure the collar is a good fit and won’t slip off.
Microchip your pet with Petlog, so all is not lost if it runs away. When the chip is scanned, your information is flagged on a national database — sending your pet back to you with its tail between its legs.
Get the app
You can go one stage further and opt for a premium service with Petlog. If your pet goes missing you can use mycat or mydog — free apps for Android and iPhone that let you place alerts on the Petlog database and messages on the Lost and Found Facebook page.
An alert is also sent to the DogLost website, which has volunteers to help you find your pet.
On the move
Moving house with a pet increases the likelihood of them getting lost. Keep cats and rabbits in suitable boxes or carriers, and ensure they are warm enough with plenty of food and water. Then put them somewhere safe and quiet while you finish packing up.
At the new house, it’s a good idea to keep your cat inside for a few days, so she can familiarise herself with her new surroundings, then go with her to explore the garden.
Dogs do best in a quiet room with the door closed. Give him water, familiar bedding and toys to help him settle in. Check the fence is too high for him to jump over and look for breaches in the perimeter before you allow him out and about in the new garden.
We might like to see the view from the car, but chances are your pets don’t.
For cats, boxes are ideal — especially if partly covered with a blanket, to calm them down.
Dogs will need to be correctly restrained in the back of the car, or in a travel cage. In the event of a door or window suddenly opening, you don’t want them making an impromptu dash for freedom.
Check your fence is too high for your dog to jump over and look for breaches in the perimeter before you allow him out and about in the garden
Can you trust your dog off the lead? If you’re not confident he’ll come back to you, try walking him on an extendable or flexible lead instead. These keep the tension tight at all times and allow you to lock your preferred length.
If you really want to let him have a run, find a safe and enclosed field and then practice some recall training. A pocket full of treats normally brings them running back to you without much persuasion.
Make sure your pet insurance provider includes the loss of your pet in their policy – this can help pay towards advertising costs (producing ‘Missing’ posters, for example) and a reward.
If you take these preventative measures, your pet should never be far from your side — and if they do wander off, it shouldn’t be too long before you get them back again.