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Answers from vets about your pet:

Finding Fido

Posted January 29, 2013 in A Vet's Life

Dr. Ruth Macpete offers advice in the event your pet becomes lost.


As a shelter vet I see lost pets on a regular basis. Sadly, many of these animals are never reunited with their families. It is especially heart-wrenching to see animals wearing collars but not wearing an ID tag because we know they belong to someone, but without an ID tag or microchip, it is IMPOSSIBLE for us to contact their family. We can only hope that their family comes to the shelter to claim them.

Losing a pet is every pet parent’s worst nightmare, but there are steps you can take pre-emptively and things you can do if your pet gets lost to increase the odds that you’ll get your pet back.

To improve your chances of a successful reunion, your pet should always wear a collar with identification tags. Better yet, microchip your pet. Though collars and identification tags are important, they can break or fall off. Microchips are permanently implanted under your pet’s skin and store identifying information linked to a database to help reunite you with your pet. Just make sure you keep your contact information up to date. In my opinion, every animal should wear a collar with ID tags and have a microchip, and this holds true for indoor-only cats as well. All it takes is an open door or window for an indoor-only cat to get out and become lost. Why risk losing your beloved pet? Take advantage of this technology and microchip your pet today!

Unfortunately, even with the best precautions, pets can get lost. A door or window can accidentally get left open; animals can slip outside when people are coming and going; dogs can jump, climb over, or dig under a fence in an attempt to get out of the yard. The fact is, accidents happen and animals become lost everyday. In the event that your pet gets lost, here are some tips that can help reunite you with your lost pet:

1. Immediately make a flyer with your pet’s picture, a description of your pet, and your contact information. Plaster these signs everywhere, especially where your pet was last seen, at local pet stores, and dog parks.

2. Go to the local animal shelters to look for your lost pet. Even shelters that list their animals online may need a few hours to a few days to update

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Ruth has more than 15 years of experience in the veterinary industry as a companion animal veterinarian in private practice. Along with being a writer and media personality, she is also a founding member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.

Opinions expressed are those of the writer:

The opinions and views expressed in this post are those of the author's and do not necessarily represent the beliefs, policies or positions of all veterinarians, Pet Health Network, IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. or its affiliates and partner companies.