Lost Pet Finder: Essential Tools to Find Your Missing Pet

Key takeaways

We know your pet is just like a family member. So, when they go missing, it can be incredibly distressing. However, there are tools to help you find them again.

Utilizing social media, services like PetRadar, and pet detectives can increase your chances of finding your furry friend.

In this article, we'll explore how you can use these tools before exploring the best ways to find your lost pet.

Quick Navigation

  1. Key takeaways
  2. 3 Tools to help you find your lost pet
  3. How to find a lost pet
  4. FAQS
  5. Final thoughts

3 Tools to help you find your lost pet

A lost pet is a heartbreaking situation for any pet owner. No matter how well trained your cats and dogs are, there is always a possibility of them running away and getting lost.
However, you're not alone. At least 15% of pet parents will experience their cat going missing in a 5 year period, and 14% will experience their dog going missing (source). Because of this, certain services and tools have been set up to make sure you find your furry friend as soon as possible.
A lost cat hiding in the bushes in a garden

1. Social media

Social media isn't just useful for snapping and sharing your most recent adventures. In fact, it's a fantastic resource that connects communities and helps spread messages quickly to the people that matter.
The likelihood is that your local area will have a Facebook or WhatsApp group set up for community announcements and notices. Sometimes, they may even have a pet-specific group to help the neighborhood pet owners.
Joining these groups and posting about your furry friend is an effective way to have your neighbors on the lookout. In your posts, be sure to include:

Multiple images: Close-up shots of memorable physical traits, like white socks, a short tail, or specific markings, are just as important as a high-quality full-body shot. If something will help people recognize your pet, then it's worth including!

Description of what they look like: While photos are essential, a physical description can also be very helpful. Some things can't be captured on camera, like a limp, and can be useful in identifying them.

Description of their personality: The last thing you want to happen is for someone to approach your timid dog or shy cat and cause them to run away further or hide. Make sure people know your pet's personality traits, like aggression, confidence, sociability, or shyness.

Contact details: Providing information so people can contact you with sightings is essential. Rather than relying on them finding you through the post again, make sure your neighbors have an easy way to contact you, either by phone, email, or at your door.

Location: Ensure you share information about where your pet frequently explores and where they were last seen. This will help people know where to look and whether they need to check their gardens and houses.

Social media isn't just useful for snapping and sharing your most recent adventures. In fact, it's a fantastic resource that connects communities and helps spread messages quickly to the people that matter.

Photo of a lost dog on a phone ready to be posted on social media

2. PetRadar

There is another way to utilize social media, and that's through sponsored posts or ads. This is how PetRadar can help.
We create a digital missing pet poster that holds all the information about your situation and then share it as a sponsored post on Facebook and Instagram. This means it will pop up on over 4000 of your neighbors' feeds, where they can report a sighting, send it to a friend, or save it for later.
This means there is no need to divulge any private information like your phone number, which can often invite prank calls and misuse of your data. Instead, people who see the post can simply click on it, which will take them to our website, where your missing pet is listed.
You set the radius of the search area, and we'll do the rest. We also:

Provide you with a personal dashboard where you can manage the search, keep an eye on sightings, and expand the search area if you'd like.

Send you free, expertly designed, and personalized missing pet posters that you can print and distribute around your neighborhood to increase the chances of finding your furry friend.

Offer personal support and guidance throughout the whole process so you can navigate your way through this stressful period.

PetRadar's Expertly designed and free to download missing dog poster

3. Pet detectives

While pet detectives may seem like the stuff of movies, they are actually a very real option to help reunite you with your best bud.
This service combines excellent knowledge of animal behavior with traditional search methods, making it often successful. It can be a great option for:

People who don't have time to search for their pet

People who don't have the mobility to actively look for their pet

People who feel they have done all they can

Pet detectives will often work closely with you to figure out a plan that works for your situation. For example, they may focus on distributing posters and searching while you take care of spreading the message on social media. However, if you want, they can take over every element of the search.
Although they can't guarantee finding pets, it will increase your chances of having your cat or dog return home. However, this does come at a cost.
Expert Insight: Every company differs in price, but the services are usually paid per hour, and as you can imagine, you'll need them for a few days. This means you can quickly rack up hundreds of dollars worth of bills without knowing if your pet will come home or not.
A cat dressed up as a detective

How to find a lost pet

while lost pet finders are excellent options for helping find lost pets, there is plenty you can do yourself to help bring them home. Whether it's a lost dog, missing cat, runaway ferret, or loose parrot, try the following methods to get them back.

Physically search

Studies worldwide still conclude that a thorough physical search is the most effective way of finding lost pets. Be sure to check the following places:


Outbuildings (garages, sheds, bin stores)

Under cars

In houses (under or in furniture, trapped in wardrobes and cupboards, trapped in bedrooms)

Abandoned buildings



In the woods

Quiet backstreets

Town centers

Animal shelters

During your search, follow these top tips:

Bring familiar-smelling toys and clothing

Bring toys that make sounds

Call their name gently

Bring food and treats

Bring a way to secure them if you find them

A pet owner searching for their lost pet at night using a flashlight

Lure them back home

Many animals, like cats and dogs, have impressive homing abilities, meaning they are able to find their way home after getting lost. However, it's important to remember this isn't guaranteed. So, instead, help them find their way back by luring them home in the following ways:

Leave food and treats outside

Leave toys and blankets outside

Leave litter boxes outside

Open doors and windows so familiar sounds can travel further

Keep calling their name gently from the house

A lost dog sat next to a food bowl after being lured by the smell

Report them missing

It's also important to report your pet missing to the right people. Remember to notify:

Microchip company: Alert your microchip company and update your contact details to make sure your pet is accounted for if they are handed in or found.

Veterinarians: Updating veterinarians and pet stores about your missing furry friend will mean they can be on the lookout and know who to contact if there is a reported sighting.

Animal control: Dog wardens and other animal control organizations will have a long list of found pets and will be able to give expert advice on your next steps.

A dog having their microchip scanned after getting lost


What are the chances of finding a lost pet?

The chances of finding a lost pet depend on the type of animal you own. 90% of lost dogs are found, whereas around 70% of lost cats are found. So, the chances of finding your missing pet are high.

What to do if I lost my pet?

If you have lost your pet, the first thing you should do is report them missing to local animal shelters and your microchip company. Then, you should start a thorough physical search.

How long can a missing dog survive?

A missing dog can survive for a long time. However, it does depend on the breed. For example, German shepherds and Huskies can withstand cold temperatures and have a high prey drive, which means they'll be able to find shelter and hunt. On the other hand, smaller dogs may struggle to survive without a warm house and food.

Where is the best place to find lost pets?

Most lost pets will be found in neighbors' houses or gardens, local animal shelters, or in nearby parks or woods.

Where do most lost dogs go?

Most lost dogs stay within a 2 mile radius of their home. Depending on your dog's personality, they may be hiding in fields or quiet backstreets, or they may be trying to make friends in the local park.

Do lost pet signs work?

Yes, lost pet signs work when trying to spread the message of a missing pet. By making missing pet posters bright, clear, and eye-catching, you should be able to attract as much attention as possible and make your neighbors aware of your lost pet.

Final thoughts

A lost pet finder is an invaluable tool for lost and found pets. We know just how distressing it can be if your furry friend has gone missing. We can feel useless and hopeless, but we don't need to. There are tools out there to help us!
If you're currently missing a pet, start a PetRadar search. We'll support you every step of the way and make sure no stone is left unturned in the search for your best bud.

Written by

Image of the author
Lauren Jeffries

In this blog, I combine my two areas of expertise: pets and writing. I share my personal experiences alongside plenty of animal behavior research to help owners look after their pets. I have always lived with furry friends and am now a loving cat mum to two orange kitties.

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