Pets are precious members of the family, and when they get lost it can be distressing for everyone. It’s a sad fact that a pet gets lost every two seconds in the US. Ten million pets are lost every year and, even worse, only one in ten return to their owners. In July we’re celebrating National Lost Pet Prevention Month to raise awareness and help owners keep their pets safe at home.
Cats are particularly fond of wandering and exploring new territories to mark out. Just last week, a neighbor put a note through the door asking if anyone had seen their young cat, missing for three days. It turned up the next day sitting proudly on top of a car in a locked garage like a lion surveying its territory — hungry but unrepentant. And, we probably all know about those agile dogs that love jumping fences or finding open gates.
How Technology Is Impacting Lost Pet Prevention & Recovery
Keep your pet close to home
There are many traditional ways to keep your pets from straying away, but technology is adding many new ways to find and recover lost pets, so use the month of July to find out how you can keep risks to a minimum.
Let’s go traditional first. How obedient are your pets? Have you trained your dog to obey your rules, return when you call and respect its territory, especially if you’re out walking in an unfamiliar place and your dog is off the lead?
How about making the home and garden environment more pet friendly? There are some great toys to keep pets active and alert so they’ve no reason to wander and see if the grass is greener somewhere else. Don’t forget to check your ‘pet security’. Are your gates locked? Are the fences high enough to deter leaping dogs and are there any gaps under the fence that a determined pet can use as an escape tunnel? So technology can also help prevent or discourage them from wandering away.
If you’re regularly away from home for several hours during the day and your pet is housebound, think about a dog door or cat flap leading to the garden. That way they can go into the garden – secured of course – without asking someone to come over and let them out.
There are downsides to the pet flap – think drafts in cold weather or potential security risks from burglars. And, you have to be confident that your pet won’t disturb the neighbors while it’s unsupervised.
Train your pet with technology
If that’s not enough technology comes to the rescue.
At DOGTV, for example, is a special channel that shows programs developed in conjunction with scientists to help stimulate and relax dogs as part of their essential training.
There are programs to stimulate pets featuring animated sequences that are designed to be playful, prevent boredom and provide mental stimulation. Other programs feature calming scenes and soothing sounds to keep your dog relaxed and make them feel more at ease during the day, important if you’re not around part of the time.
Dogo is a smartphone application to help you train your dog. It features more than 50 commands, step-by-step instructions, personalized training programs and links to training experts if you need advice. PlayDate is a phone app that lets you activate a play ball for your pet when you’re away. And, you can watch the play and respond with short messages.
Track and trace your pet
But, if the worst should happen and your pet escapes, how can you be confident of recovering it? An ID tag is a starting point, with the name of your pet and your contact details.
These days, pet collars have gone high-tech. Smart collars like Garmin tracking collars, TrackR Bravo Pet Tracker or Link AKC feature tracking devices that make it easier to locate your pet. PetHub offers a tag that attaches to a collar and features a barcode that can be read by a smartphone or typed into a computer. You have to register your pet as lost with PetHub and any finder can retrieve your contact details.
There’s no guarantee the collar will stay on, so microchipping is a more permanent solution. Veterinary surgeons implant them under the skin in a painless operation and the microchip contains all the identification information needed. But, don’t forget to register the microchip, otherwise a finder might have no information to work with!
The only downside of microchipping is that a finder needs a special scanner to read the chip – and there is no universal scanner for the many brands of microchip. Dog wardens, veterinary surgeries or pet shelters will probably have a selection, but a private citizen finding a loose pet is unlikely to be carrying one.
If you’re fortunate to hear from someone who has found and identified your pet, make sure you’ve got up to date records and proof of ownership, particularly if your pet is a valuable breed.
We hope these tips will help you keep your pet safe, not just for National Lost Pet Prevention Month, but for the lifetime of your pet.
When your dog is home alone (or even if you’re home and working) turn on DOGTV — canine entertainment technology. Sign up for a FREE trial today.
Guest post by Emma Williams