How to find a lost dog or cat

There are few things in life as distressing and frustrating as a missing dog or cat. It can be almost impossible to sit at home waiting for someone to hand them in. We run through your best options to help you find your pet quickly.

Any animal lovers out there will know the sympathetic twinge that occurs when you see a reward poster stuck on a lamp post.

Losing a beloved pet is incredibly upsetting and can make you feel very helpless. However, posting flyers around your area isn’t the only option anymore.

Here are some more steps to help you recover your pet as soon as possible.


It might be a bit too late if your dog or cat is already missing, but there are many options in terms of tracking your pet.

Since April 2016, it’s a legal requirement for all dogs to be microchipped and it’s not a bad idea to have your cat chipped too.

That means that if your dog is found, a vet can scan the chip to recover your contact details; keep your contact details on the microchip database up to date and notify them in case you change your telephone number or move home.

However, you can’t track a missing dog or cat by its chip, you can only wait for it to be found and scanned. Getting your pet a GPS tracking collar can make all the difference when it comes to finding your missing dog or cat.

Read more tips in our Guide to getting your pet microchipped

Plan your search

Chances are you’ve spent the first day that your dog or cat was missing wandering your local area, calling their name out and searching the places where they’d normally go.

If you now need to widen the search, first think about the size of your pet. A larger dog will be able to cover more ground so you may need to search a wider area.

Get a map and draw a circle around the search area and pinpoint any obvious places they might go, such as parks or playgrounds.

Tried and tested

It may seem old-fashioned in this day of high-tech GPS trackers, but the missing poster is still a valuable tool.

Print them up and either put them in plastic sleeves or laminate them and stick them on lamp posts, supermarket bulletin boards, park gates, shop windows and anywhere else people are likely to see them. Putting ads in local press can also be effective and it’s worth asking any local radio stations if they can mention your missing pet on air.

Make calls

Call local dog shelters and pounds, local authorities with animal control divisions, the RSPCA and all the vets in your area and neighbouring areas to see if your dog has turned up.

If it’s been found, most responsible people will take it to a vet or shelter to get the chip scanned. Cast your net widely as missing dogs can turn up much further away than you would have anticipated.

Go online

There are numerous organisations and Facebook groups dedicated to lost and found dogs and cats. Try websites such as Animal Search UK, National Pet Register and PETtrac, as well as Gumtree’s Lost and Found Pets section.

Animal Search UK also have regional and national Facebook pages to help pinpoint your search.

Search, search and search again

So, you’ve done everything on the list. Time to sit at home and wait for the phone to ring, right?

Wrong! Get out there every single day and go over your search area again and again. Ask everyone you pass – especially people with animals – if they have seen your missing cat or dog, show them pictures, tell them the animal’s name, ask them to keep an eye out. And then do the same tomorrow. And remember to keep your phone on you and charged, in case someone finds your pet and is trying to contact you.

Most of all…

Don’t lose hope. The odds are in your favour, so keep searching!

Find out more about our MORE TH>N Pet Insurance which includes the option to add Lost and Found cover for advertising your lost pet and offering a reward.

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