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What To Do If Your Dog Goes Missing

1 in 3 dogs will go missing in their lifetime. Hopefully this never happens to you, but if it does here are some tips to help!


First, look in the most common places in the home your pet spends the most time

Does he love your cool basement in the summer, hide under your deck or in a crawl space during thunderstorms, or nap in your child’s closet? Some small dogs can even fit under sofas and in cabinets. 

Have someone stay behind

When searching for your lost dog, have someone stay home. 20% of lost dogs will return on their own. 

Verify microchip info

If your pet is microchipped or electronically identified, call the company and make sure all contact information is correct in case he or she is found and scanned.

Give your pet the personlaized care. Get the app!

Search your yard or common outside areas that your dog frequents

They will often go to areas that have a familiar scent. 

Contact neighbors and those in close proximity to your home

Have a recent picture of your pet to show, so your neighbors know what to look for. 

Visit local shelters

Oftentimes, when animal control or a good samaritan finds a lost dog, the pet is brought to a local animal shelter. Bring a recent picture or fliers and leave your contact info in case anyone brings your dog in. Check shelters outside of your normal radius in the event that your dog ventures far from home. 

Call your local animal control

Animal control is often contacted first when a stray or lost dog is found. Ask if they have picked up your dog and give them a specific physical description of your pet so they can be on the lookout if he or she has not been located yet.

Talk with local animal hospitals and clinics in your area

Take a picture or flier with your contact info and pet’s details.

Post on social media

Post info of your missing pet on every social media and local neighborhood app you have. Provide details on where he or she was last seen, a recent picture, and his or her name.

Hang posters and fliers

Print poster sized pictures and fliers of your dog and pertinent information. Hang in highly trafficked areas of your town. Use brightly colored, large signs to draw attention. 

Check local marketplace websites

Craigslist and Facebook marketplace, will sometimes have pets for sale (which is technically illegal, but happens anyway), up for adoption, or pets that are found. Your dog may be listed.

Beware of scams

Unfortunately, scam artists will take advantage of those looking for their missing pets. Do not go alone to meet someone who claims to have found your pet or wire money to people. Also do not give anyone money who claims to have your pet or says they know who has your pet. Avoid truck drivers who say they saw your pet and will turn around to get him or her after you have paid them. Some may also falsely state your pet has been found and is at the vet. The scammer will demand you pay the fake vet bill before your pet is returned. 

Remain hopeful!

The ASPCA found that 93% of lost dogs are eventually found and reunited with their owner(s)! There also is a 90% chance, if your dog is lost or missing that you will find him or her within 12 hours. Don’t give up!


Once your dog has been found, here are some ways to help in the event he or she goes missing again.

    1. Have your pet microchipped

A microchipped dog is 2.5 times more likely to be returned to its owner if  he or she is lost than a non microchipped dog! A microchip is an electronic device, smaller than a grain of rice, that is placed under your dog’s skin, usually between the shoulder blades. The procedure is very quick, does not involve sedation or anesthesia, and is quite painless. The microchip holds a unique code that is specific to only your pet. Once this code is registered, you can add your contact info to be associated with your pet’s specific code. If your pet is lost, he or she can be scanned at a shelter or vet’s office. The microchip company is then contacted, who will then contact you. Microchip placement is inexpensive and only needs to be done once in your pet’s lifetime. 

     2. Use a One Pet ID tag

It’s a free pet finder solution that helps quickly reunite lost pets with their loved ones. The ID is scannable by any smartphone and your profile stores important, detailed information about your pet. Pet parents will have a network of support, including updates to their phone, to help their pet get home safe and sound. If you’re already an AskVet member, One Pet ID syncs with your app to store your pet’s information. And if you don’t have a membership, AskVet is offering the One Pet ID service absolutely FREE! So excited to share this with everyone! You can check it out, and get one for your pet, here:

     3. Place a collar on your pet with identification tags.

Collars can hold Rabies licenses tags and personalized tags with contact info. These tags can be attached from a metal loop or can be embroidered or embedded into the collar material. 

    4. Introduce pets to neighbors and those close by.

If you are new to an area, have a new pet, or have neighbors that recently moved in, introduce your pets to nearby folks. This can be done in person or with pictures. If your dog decides to wander to the neighbor two doors down, you will more likely be contacted  instead of animal control. 

     5. Consider fencing if you have a frequent escape artist.

There are traditional fencing options as well as many companies that install underground fencing. These companies will also work with you to help train and acclimate your dog to his new fence. 

     6. GPS collars and wearable trackers are great.

These wearable devices will allow you to know where your pet is at all times within a certain radius. This is a great tool for dogs that frequently are on the go. 



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Written By: Dr. Jessie Herman

Dr. Herman grew up in many places as a child of a Marine. She started her veterinary career at 14 years of age working at various farms and animals hospitals. After graduating from Auburn University College of Veterinary medicine in 2010, she worked as a general practitioner in multiple locations in the southeast US. Her professional interests include soft tissue surgery, geriatric medicine, and pain management. She also has a passion for rehabilitation which lead her to start a cold laser therapy program in 2 different hospitals. She currently resides in northern Kentucky with her husband (also a vet), children, cats, dogs, chickens, and cattle.


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