Every year, more than 10 million pets are lost in the United States alone, and that's a situation no pet parent wants to find themselves in. Accidents happen and pet behavior is often unpredictable. While you can't always plan for what happens next, you can put safety precautions in place.
In honor of July being National Lost Pet Prevention Month, here are eight tips to help keep your pet safe and at home.
1. Get Your Pet Microchipped
One of the most important safety measures you can take is to microchip your pet. While this won't prevent them from getting lost, it will make it 2.4 times more likely that your dog will be returned to you and 21.4 times more likely for your cat.
Unlike a collar, a microchip is impossible for your pet to remove by themselves. The tiny chip is injected under your pet's skin and contains all of your contact information.
When someone finds a lost pet, their first instinct is typically to take them to a local vet or animal shelter. Both of these places are equipped to scan for a microchip, making it that much more likely that your pet will be returned.
2. Use Up-to-Date Pet ID Tags
Even though your pet's ID tags aren't as reliable as a microchip, they're still important for your furry friend to wear at all times.
Pet tags can see a lot of wear and tear, especially if you have an active dog that loves outdoor activities. Keep up with regular tag maintenance, making sure that your contact info is both still correct and clearly visible on the tag.
As an added safety precaution, you can also use a GPS-enabled pet tag to help make finding your pet easier if they escape.
3. Work on Your Dog's Recall Training
A reliable recall is one of the best commands you can teach your dog. It's helpful in so many scenarios to keep your four-legged friend safe, from keeping them off a busy street to luring them away from a dangerous animal.
Work with your dog on recall training regularly to make sure the command is reliable, and they come to you when called. This will help prevent your dog from running away while you're out.
4. Pet-Proof Your Home
Preventing your pet from getting lost starts with at-home safety. If your home is well-secured with no escape points, your pet is less likely to slip out and get lost.
Make sure that all windows are securely shut, especially when you're not in a room to supervise. Double-check all doors before leaving a room to make sure they are shut and latched and look for any other gaps that can lead to the outside.
Cats are especially skilled escape artists and can use small openings, like a fireplace or exposed vent to get out.
In addition to pet-proofing the inside of your home, you'll want to make sure your yard is secure as well. That means having a fence that's the proper height to keep your dog from jumping over and ensuring there are no holes dug under the fence for a potential escape route.
5. Keep Your Pet Leashed While Outside
While a reliable recall is a great safety precaution to have, it's not 100% effective. If you're in an unsecured area, always keep your pet on a leash.
Not only is it the law in many places, but a leash can keep your pet safe and give you better control over your pet and their surroundings. Cats can also be leash trained if you want them to experience the outdoors in a safe, secure, and controlled way.
6. Plan Ahead for Noisy Events
One of the most common reasons pets run away is to escape from a stressful situation. The Fourth of July, for example, is the most common day of the year for pets to go missing, with a 30%-60% increase in lost pets every year from July 4th - July 6th.
To prevent your pet from being one of these statistics, it's important to plan ahead for these events. While you can't always know when loud noises will happen, you can often plan for fireworks displays or thunderstorms.
Make sure your pet is inside your home in a secure room before the event starts. Use music or the TV to help drown out the noise, and try to make the room they're in feel as safe as possible with distracting toys and comforting blankets.
You can also try pet-safe essential oils or pheromone sprays to help naturally calm your pet's nerves.
7. Supervise Your Pets at All Times
As much as you love your pets, they can't be trusted to keep themselves safe and out of trouble without supervision.
Whether you're in your backyard, at a dog park, or visiting friends or family for an outdoor get-together, supervising your pet at all times will prevent them from escaping as well as getting injured.
If your pet can't be supervised constantly where you are, consider bringing them inside to a secure room to ensure that they remain safe.
8. Spay and Neuter Your Pets
Spaying or neutering your pet has many benefits, but when it comes to keeping them from getting lost, spaying and neutering can be an important safety measure.
Male dogs and cats that haven't been neutered are more likely to escape their homes in search of a mate. They can also experience behavioral issues that make them less likely to recall or listen to commands.
Having your pet spayed or neutered will calm their desire to mate, keeping them safe and secure inside.
Keep Your Pet Safe with National Lost Pet Prevention Month
For pet parents, keeping your pet safe, happy, and healthy is the most important thing you can do. This July for National Lost Pet Prevention Month, review what safety measures you have in place and take extra precautions to make sure your pet doesn't wander away from home.