Lost Pet Prevention Month

Summer’s great – vacations, barbecues, and general fun for everyone, but it can be perilous for our furry friends. That’s why July is National Lost Pet Prevention Month. Whether you’re at home or traveling, there are some basic precautions you can take to make sure your pet stays with you and, if your pet gets lost, to get him safely back to you. Since studies have shown that a family loses a pet every 2 seconds in North America and only 1 in 10 is found, knowing and implementing these strategies can be vitally important for you and your best furry friends.

Window screen for pets

This window has a screen insert to keep pests out and pets in. However, it’s important to make sure an insert like this is securely in place and not leave pets unsupervised with them since they can, potentially, be dislodged.

First, we need to think about ways to keep our pets from getting lost in the first place. Let’s start in the house. It’s important to make sure doors and windows are secure and in good repair. A loose or poorly latched window (or window pane!) can provide easy access to the outdoors for a curious cat or dog. Likewise, doors that don’t latch securely may come open (or be opened by Houdini-like pets), letting Fido or Kitty out into a very big world.

Additionally, it’s a good idea for your pets to have a “safe” area inside the house where they can be during stressful times (like fireworks!). This safe area, ideally, is one where the pet feels secure, has comforting items, and blocks out at least some of the outside noise. If it’s hard to have a single safe place for your pet, you could consider using Adaptil and/or Feliway products to help keep your pets calm. Having a safe place inside can cut down the risk of your pet trying to flee from the stress by running out the door. Once outside, unless your pet has made his way into a secure yard, he can go anywhere his curiosity or fear takes him. The New Orleans Advocate has a good article on how to help your pet cope with fireworks, but the advice works for any loud or stressful event!

Assuming you have a yard where your pet can spend time, there’s more to secure. For dogs, this includes making sure your fences are both high enough to prevent Fido from jumping as well as embedded in the ground to prevent digging under. For the diggers it’s important to be sure to fill in cracks immediately, because a determined dog can get out of very small openings. For cats, it’s important to install barriers at the top of the fence to keep Kitty from going over. A good example can be found at Purr…fect Fence, though many companies make these products (and, if you’re handy, so can you!). Once your fence is up-to-par, you need to make sure both it and your yard stay maintained so you can see if Fido or Kitty finds a new way to try to escape!

Of course, many of us like to take our pets for walks in public areas. Not only are leashes usually required by law, they’re a hugely important tool for making sure our pets don’t get lost. But the best leash is only as good as the collar or harness it’s attached to. So in addition to making sure you have a good, sturdy leash, you also need to be sure collars and harnesses are properly fitted. When they are, you should be able to get one or two fingers under them with the harness or collar feeling snug, but not tight. This ensures both comfort and security for your pet.

Yet another aspect of lost pet prevention is ID tags and microchips. Sadly, sometimes even our best laid plans fail us, though, and our pet gets lost. If this panic-inducing event happens, hopefully you’ve made sure your pet has current ID tags and a registered microchip. These two items are critical to increasing your odds of having your pet return home to you. If you have current ID tags on your pet’s collar, with a contact phone number, it’s easy for someone who finds your pet to call you and re-unite them with you on the spot. For those in the New Orleans area, the Louisiana SPCA is giving our free Pet ID tags July 10 & 11, 2015. Be sure you go get them for your pets if they don’t already have them!

Microchip scanner

A dog is getting scanned for a microchip at the vet.

If your pet doesn’t have current ID tags, he or she will have to be taken to a veterinarian or an animal shelter to be scanned for a microchip. If that happens (and not everyone knows about microchips!), then you can be contacted from there… if your pet’s microchip is registered to you and has your current contact information. Information about ID tags, microchips, and a host of other strategies you can use to bring your pet home can be found on the website for Lost Pet Prevention Month.

If you live in the New Orleans area and would like more information on microchipping your pet, please contact us.