Lost pets: what should you do?

What can you do to prevent a pet from being lost, and to find a lost pet as quickly as possible?

All pet owners, even if you have not lost your pet:

  • Get some good photos of your pet now, before it’s too late
  • Spay or neuter your pets- both males and females are much less likely to wander if they have had “the operation”
  • Get your pet microchipped and ensure that your details are up to date on a nationwide database
  • Have a collar and ID tag on your dog at all times

Start at home:

Cats, small dogs and smaller pets can easily go ‘missing’ in your house or garden, so start there.

  • Search your home thoroughly. Cats (and small dogs) can get into unexpected places like cupboards, ventilation shafts etc
  • Don’t assume that your pet would never crawl into some tiny space
  • Look behind, under, and inside washing machines, tumble dryers, cookers, fridges and dish washers
  • Look in boxes, under furniture, under beds, under vehicles and inside (and beneath) all garden sheds and outhouses
  • Don’t forget to look in trees for cats

Search locally:

  • Go to every house in the area and talk to your neighbours.
  • Make up a flier with a photo and description of your pet
  • List the date and place your pet was lost, sex, age, size, colour, markings, and your telephone number
  • Hand a flier to each of your neighbours – if they are not in, put it through their door
  • Post as many fliers as possible about your lost pet within a one mile radius of where it was lost. Post the fliers in post offices, veterinary clinics, pet shops, supermarkets, local shops and on community noticeboards such as schools or leisure centres
  • Talk to everyone you see when looking for your pet – the postman, binman, milkman, paper boy, children, people waiting at bus stops. Hand them a flier with your pet’s details
  • Children, especially, can be great at helping to find pets
  • Call your pet, and listen, while walking around looking: pets have good hearing, and will often respond
  • Get different family members to call the pet’s name: sometimes the variety of voices can help
  • If your pet has a favorite “squeaky toy” bring it along and use it to help you make familiar noises
  • Carry a box or tin of your pet’s favorite treats and rattle it loudly while calling your pet’s name
  • Bring a powerful torch while your are searching (even during daytime) for checking in dark spaces

Offer a reward (carefully):

  • Offer a reward, but don’t state the amount
  • Withhold several identifying marks of your lost pet. You may need to use these later to verify that a person has actually found your pet and is not trying to trick you into offering them money

Hit the phone:

  • Phone all local vet clinics in the area in case your pet was injured and taken there for treatment
  • Phone all local animal rescue organizations- even if they have not heard about your pet, they are often linked in to local networks of animal lovers who may be able to help
  • Find out if your pet has been killed on the road: phone your local authority to ask if they keep records
  • Repeat all these calls a couple of days later if your pet is still missing


  • Place an advert in your local newspaper
  • Check the newspaper “found” ads every day. Many newspapers provide free ads to people who have found lost pets
  • Use online lost pet facilities – e.g. www.irishanimals.ie (and there are others)
  • Post details of  your pet online (Twiiter,Facebook etc) and also check and recheck for details of pets that have been found

Get Professional Help:

Finally, if you are struggling to cope with all this, you can employ a professional pet detective to help you – see here


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Please note that I am unable to answer veterinary questions in comments. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health it is always better to contact your vet.

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