As a pet care services provider, we often get the request to share missing pet posters on our social media channels from pet parents that have lost their beloved family member. To help those that have lost their pet, we will share some additional tips below.
Steps to take when your pet is missing.
If your dog or cat is missing, report this at the databases where you have registered the microchip of your pet. For Dubai, this is Dubai Municipality and any private databases you might have registered your pet with. Notify your veterinarian that your pet is missing and any other veterinarians in the area. Make sure that everyone has your correct contact details and that you are available on the contact details you have provided. If for whatever reason you can’t answer your phone, have someone do it for you, or leave a clear voicemail message asking to leave phone number and details so you can call them back.
Put up posters in the area with a clear picture of your pet, that they are lost, and your contact details. Offering rewards always motivates people to keep their eyes open so consider offering compensation for the “Golden Tip”. The higher the reward, the better. As the UAE has a diverse range of nationalities and not everyone can read English, it will be useful to consider putting the information in several extra languages besides English, like Arabic and Hindi. Besides putting posters in the area, distribute them at vets, pet shops, supermarkets, groomers or other (pet) hotspots in the area. Make sure to cover a large area as lost pets might move away in disorientation. Distribute the missing poster on online channels like social media. A website where you can generate a missing pet poster is on www.microchipped.ae
Ask around in the area where your pet is lost if people have seen your pet. You can ask people to check their yards, sheds, and garages. Talk to everyone, especially those that are active outside in the area like gardeners. If construction is happening in the area ask if you can look around on the construction site, if this isn’t possible ask if the workmen can do it for you.
On Microchipped AE – Social Media Advert Package you can generate a missing pet poster for free, and additionally can choose a supplemental distribution package.
Additional steps for cats
Doing a thorough physical search for your lost cat is a very important step in finding them. Cats are known to hide and sleep in unsuspected and unusual places. Make sure to thoroughly search your house and garden. Check in sheds, cupboards, closets, washing machines, and all other places they may hide. Also check rooms and places which are normally closed, or the access is blocked, as sometimes without us noticing cats do manage to slip in.
Every day walk around in the area your cat was lost and call out for them. If they usually respond to a certain sound, like the shaking of a bag with treats, do this while searching. Even though a cat in survival mode most likely won’t respond to you calling out or make its presence known by meowing, it’s always worth trying. Keep in the back of your mind that your cat might not respond, so keep a very close eye on your surroundings and search in every possible hiding spot.
When searching, determine the time of day that your pet most likely is active. Even though some cats might not move at all after they are in hiding, the heat of the middle of the day in the UAE would prevent most animals from coming out of hiding. The best times to search would be at sunrise, sunset and at night, with the most ideal time being very early morning as the temperature will be the coolest and it won’t be busy outside. You can use a flashlight to look in pipes, under cars, etc.
Another thing that can be considered is putting the litter box (or some dirty litter without the box) of the cat outside. Opinions on this method vary. Some say it’s a myth, for others this did bring their lost cat home. It might also not be suitable depending on where you live as it may attract other animals, or the location is unsafe. Other objects that can be placed outside are a blanket with a strong smell of home, a water bowl and a bowl with their favourite food.
Important to keep in mind is that cats that are used to having outdoor access often get “lost” when something prevents them from getting home. They might have gotten stuck somewhere, got injured, or were trapped while in their own territory. An injured cat will mostly hide away in silence. When searching for your outdoor cat, make sure to thoroughly search the area, including the yards/sheds of neighbours.
Indoor cats that are lost due to them escaping usually stay very close to their home and hide away in fear as they are in unfamiliar territory (as their normal territory is inside your home). Again, a cat in distress most often does not meow nor respond to your voice so make sure to do a thorough search. A successful way to reunite indoor cats with their owners is to hire humane cat traps and put the cat’s favourite food inside and place them in the direct area (own garden, neighbours garden) to catch your cat if they are hiding in fear closeby.
Additional steps for dogs
Even though dogs are less likely to hide in unsuspected places compared to cats, make sure to search the whole house and yard, especially spots where your dog might have become trapped by accident like in a shed.
Every day walk around the area where your dog got lost and call out for them. If they usually respond to a certain sound, like a whistle or the shaking of a treat bag, do this while searching. When searching, determine the time of day that your pet most likely is active. For example, in summer it gets very hot in the UAE during the day and most animals will find shelter. In this case the best time to search would be at sunrise, sunset and at night, as most animals will come out of hiding during that time. The ideal time to search would be early morning as this is the time it’s coolest and it will be quiet outside.
Dogs that wear a collar and/or ran off with a lead attached might get stuck and/or tangled. Make sure to thoroughly search the area.
If your dog got lost on unfamiliar terrain, leave an item with a strong smell of home/you at the spot where you got separated (in a safe spot). This can an object like worn socks, a shirt, coat etc. Also leave a filled water bowl. Make sure to check the spot several times per day.
Prevention and extra safety measurements
Tags/Stitched phone number in collar
Even if your pet is microchipped, it’s advised to have a tag on their collar with your phone number or have your phone number stitched into their collar. As microchips can only be scanned out at places that have a microchip scanner, a visibile phone number on tag or collar will ensure a swift reunion if your pet is found. If you want to know more about the microchip and where to register your pet’s microchip, have a look at our blog “Microchips in Pets: Everything you need to know”
Safety around the house
Even if your pet doesn’t tend to try and escape, it’s advised to make adjustments to your home to keep your pets safe. For cats this can include securing the garden/balcony against escape and falling or setting up a catio. For dogs you can put automatic door closers on doors or gates. Some dogs and cats can jump really high, keep this in mind when choosing fencing for securing your garden.
The options with today’s technology are endless. There are GPS trackers available which you can attach to the collar of your pet. Even though they can break or fall off, they are still a great option to consider, especially if you have an escape artist.
Unneutered animals have the tendency to wander once they reach sexual maturity. For males this is especially the case if they smell a female in heat, and for females when they are in heat. By neutering your pets, you decrease the risk of them wandering off in the search of a mate.
Keep in mind that new fur family members need to get used to their new owners and home. Don’t let dogs off lead that are new to the family or don’t have a 100% recall. As cats are territorial, they will try and go back to their old territory after a move. Make sure that your cat is confined to his new territory for at least 2 to 6 weeks to prevent them from trying to make the journey back to their old territory.
It might be difficult to think clearly once your pet is lost, but following the right steps can be crucial in being reunited with your beloved family member. By providing a step to step guide we hope to help reunite more pets with their family.
If you would like to know more about our pet care services, feel free to contact us. We will be happy to help.