Each year, about 6 million lost or abandoned pets find themselves in animal shelters. In the case of cats, less than 2% are found by their owners. Additionally, overburdened and under-resourced shelters are forced to euthanize many of the animals in their care.
So how can you prevent your pet from becoming lost during the busy outdoor season? Let’s look at a few ways you can keep your pet safe.
Backyard Safety Tips For Pets
The backyard is a place where your pet should be safe to relax, play, and explore. But some common hazards can put your pets at risk. Here are a few tips for making your backyard a safe place for your pets.
Fences: Often a fence is all that stands between your pet and a busy roadway. An effective fence should be high enough to prevent your pet from jumping out and should have a latched gate to prevent escapes. If your pet is expected to be outdoors for extended periods, it should have access to food, water, and shade.
Electric Fence: If you have a dog that can’t resist the urge to range, electric fences offer an additional security option. These fences emit a series of pulses that communicate with a special collar that your pet wears. If your pet challenges the fence, the collar emits a small shock as a deterrent.
Outdoor Enclosures: Cats and smaller dogs may benefit from an outdoor enclosure that fits within your yard. Cat enclosures (called “catios”) let your feline lounge outdoors in a safe space. Catios also prevent cats from hunting neighborhood wildlife.
Toxic Plants: Remember that backyard pets are going to have access to backyard plants. So avoid planting anything that might be toxic to your pets. Lilies, Chrysanthemums, Rhododendron, Daffodil, Tulip, and Hyacinth are some common garden plants that are toxic to pets.
Summer Safety for Pets
Summer is a time for people and pets to enjoy the outdoors. But spiking temperatures can quickly increase the health risks to your animals. Here are some ways to help your pets beat the heat.
Hot Car Dangers: Never leave your pet unattended in a hot car. Temperatures in a sealed vehicle can climb to 130 degrees Fahrenheit within minutes, resulting in heat stroke and death. Small animals are particularly vulnerable to the effects of heat stroke.
Pool Cautions: A backyard pool is a great place to relax and chill, but pools can prevent drowning hazards for cats and small dogs. Pets should be able to climb safely out of a pool if they fall in, but many pools (like above-ground pools) have only ladders. Pets should be kept clear of any potential drowning hazards.
Leash Issues: If your pet is going to be leashed outdoors, it should have access to food, water, and shelter. Leashes can become tangled and present a strangulation hazard, so it’s recommended that you use a leash and harness combo (rather than a collar).
Microchipping Your Pet
While collars and tags are one way to help ID your lost pet, they are too easily lost or destroyed. Microchipping offers a unique and effective way to reunite lost pets with their owners. The way it works is pretty simple.
Your vet implants a tiny microchip in your pet, just below the skin between the shoulderblades. This chip contains key information about your pet, including name, age, medical history, and your contact information. If your pet becomes lost and is found by a good samaritan, they can simply have the nearest vet or shelter scan the chip and contact you.
- Pets with microchips are more likely to be returned. Because microchipping uses GPS technology, it offers a quick way to track and return lost pets. A recent study found that microchipping resulted in a 75% return rate among pets outfitted with microchips (compared with rates in the teens for non-microchipped animals).
- Microchipping is quick and virtually painless. Microchipping takes just a moment, and it’s a one-time investment that reduces your pet’s loss risk for a lifetime.
- Microchipping is inexpensive. The average cost of implanting a microchip is about $20, a small price for a lifetime of security.
- Microchipping harnesses the power of a national database. Because microchip data are entered into a national database, your pet is never off the grid. Your pet’s information is accessible by any vet or shelter with a chip scanner, increasing the chances that your lost pet will be returned.
- Microchips alert vets to health issues. Microchip data can identify critical health concerns so vets can treat your pet even before you’re reunited.
As we enter the summer vacation season, it’s important we all stay mindful of our pets and their needs. More pets are lost in summer than during any other season.
July is National Lost Pet Prevention Month, kicking off on July 1st with ID Your Pet Day. Why not call your vet and make an appointment to get your pet microchipped? It’s a great way to honor your commitment to your companion animals.