5 ways to prevent your pet from getting lost

Loving pets want to be right by their owners' sides as much as possible. As a result, a boisterous puppy may follow underfoot while a cute kitty will snuggle on the sofa with its owner.

Even though pets prefer to stick close by, there are times when distractions, events or noises can cause a pet to roam. Animals that do not know how to find their way back home can quickly become disoriented and lost.

The number of pets that go missing can be staggering. The American Humane Association estimates that more than 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the United States every year. One in three pets will become lost at some point during their lives. The following are five steps pet owners can take to prevent them from getting lost.

1. Get a collar and identification tag. Collars may seem "old school" in a digital world, but a dog tag is an ideal way to identify a pet and provide contact information should he or she get lost.

2. Invest in microchipping. Microchipping is an effective way to ensure current contact information always accompanies the animal, whether he or she is wearing a collar or not. Microchips are small identification devices about the size of a grain of rice that are painlessly inserted just under the skin of a pet. The microchip gives off a signal that can be read with a handheld scanner used by animal shelters and most vets. A study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, examined information from 53 animal shelters across the U.S. and confirmed the high rate of return of microchipped dogs and cats to their families.

3. Ensure your pet is spayed or neutered. Animals that have not been spayed or neutered have a tendency to roam because they are looking to fulfill the instinct to mate. Neutering removes this desire, and the pets may be more content to remain at home.

4. Leash pets outdoors. Even the most well-behaved and trained animals may dash off after a squirrel or other distractions from time to time, especially if the animal is scared. These issues can be prevented by using a leash outside at all times.

5. Escape-proof homes and yards. Check to see if any potential escape routes are around the house and outside in the yard. Dogs that dig can be derailed by burying chicken wire around the edges of the fence. Make sure gates are self-latching as well. Indoors, check that windows are secure. Exercise caution when opening doors and check that pets have not squeezed through, advising visitors to do the same. If you have a Houdini on your hands, supervise outdoor play.

Attention to detail can help prevent lost pets.

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