With the advancements in social media, never before have we seen so many posts about missing and lost or found dogs in our community. Facebook pages like Chautauqua Missing Pets and Erie Animal Watch are wonderful pages set up to help owners reunite with their lost dogs. In this article, I am going to discuss tips on ways to prevent losing your precious pups in the first place.
1. Leash: Never let your dog off the leash! As tempting as this may be, and even if your dog is always at your side, you never know when something like a squirrel, another dog or a scary noise might scare them and cause them to run off.
2. Collars and ID tags: Always have a collar and proper identification on your pet's collar current license, rabies tag and ID tag. Ensure that the collar is a snug fit and that your tags are up to date with current information.
Keep your pet on a leash at all times.
3. Microchip: Especially if tags tend to get lost, have your pet microchipped. This is a simple and inexpensive procedure that can be done at your veterinarian's office. This will permanently link your pet to your specific name and address. A small chip is implanted with a needle beneath your pet's skin and instructions are given on linking your pets name to your name and address in an online database. The chip can be found by a microchip reader, which gives microchip brand and a phone number to call. For the month of May, our clinic is offering 50 percent off all microchips.
4. Proper containment: Even if you take all the necessary precautions, your pet may still get loose. Be careful of doors, especially with children in the house. Doors are constantly being opened and closed in my home, therefore I use a wireless safety fence system for my dogs. These systems however can fail at any time and it is very important to test them regularly by carrying the collars around the perimeter to test that they are still working. Be sure to check the collar batteries often as these may need replacement every other month. Also, my wireless fence central box gets bumped regularly by the small hands of children, so I have to check the boundaries on a regular basis. Be careful with regular fencing especially in the winter when snow drifts can create ways for your pet to climb over the fence. Many dogs get lost even in the cold winter months. Always be vigilant in checking your fences, making sure your dogs aren't digging holes or finding weaknesses in your fence which enables them to escape from your property.
5. Avoid loud noise events: It is recommended that you avoid loud noise events with your dogs such as holidays (i.e. the Fourth of July and fireworks), parties, moving to a new home or construction on your current home. Many times the noises associated with these events can frighten your dog and cause it to run away. If you know your pet has a fear of loud noises outside of their normal routine, we recommend you board your pet in a safe facility during these times. Our clinic can provide a great boarding option for your dog or cat under the watch of a professional veterinarian. Call us for more information.
6. Use caution when traveling: Be very watchful of your pet when traveling. Many pets are lost on vacations because of new surroundings, new territories, new sights, sounds and smells. Some dogs may wander from curiosity and others may be scared by all the changes. Always have your dog on a leash when traveling. Bring along pictures of your pet and proper paperwork which will identify your pet in case the dog is lost while traveling.
Even after following all of the above advice, your dog may get lost. If this is the case, you can print flyers to post around at businesses and homes in your area. Go door to door asking home owners if they have seen your pet. Form search groups in areas where you think your pet may have gone. Put out your pet's treats and food where your pet may have been lost to lure them back to the area. Post notices in the newspaper or on websites. Use social media to your advantage, such as the Chautauqua Missing Pets Facebook page. Leave your phone number and description of your pet with local veterinarians, dog control officers and humane shelters.
Finally, be sure your pets are spayed and neutered. Pets that are spayed and neutered do not have the urge to roam and will not become one of these lost pets. Be sure to call our clinic today about microchipping your pet at 366-7440.
Dr. Rebekah Frost is a veterinarian at the Dunkirk Animal Clinic. Send comments on this column to firstname.lastname@example.org