National Lost Pet Prevention Month 2024: The Complete Guide

A lost pet trying to find their way home

Key takeaways

We've dug into our statistics to reveal why National Lost Pet Prevention Month is important for pet parents.

The spike in pet disappearances during the summer is a shocking trend that needs to stop. So, we've put together this complete guide to help pet parents keep their furry friends safe this summer.

We'll explore the stats and the reasons behind them before offering our expert advice on keeping your pet safe and detailing our four-step plan to find a lost pet.

Quick Navigation

  1. Key takeaways
  2. What is National Lost Pet Prevention Month?
  3. Why most pets go missing in the summer
  4. How to keep your pet safe in summer
  5. 4 Steps to find a lost pet
  6. FAQs
  7. Final thoughts

What is National Lost Pet Prevention Month?

National Lost Pet Prevention Month in July is dedicated to educating pet parents on how to keep their pets safe. It comes at the height of summer because we're seeing a worldwide trend of missing pets spiking in these warmer months.
In fact, from the 120,000 missing pets that have been reported missing with PetRadar, the following insights have been revealed:

22,664 pets were reported missing in the summer

Whereas 15,051 were reported missing in the winter

That means there's a more than 50% spike in lost pets during the summer

June 2023 was the month with the highest number of missing pets at 8435

February 2023 was the month with the lowest number of missing pets at 4273

Why most pets go missing in the summer

The data is clear. Summer seems to pose new dangers to our furry friends, but why? After reviewing the stories of those who have used our service and our expert animal knowledge, we've compiled some factors contributing to this spike.

Open doors and windows

In hot weather, it's inevitable for pet parents to open doors and windows to let some fresh air into the house and cool down. However, if your pets aren't used to an indoor-outdoor lifestyle, they may see this as a new and interesting escape route.
They will be particularly vulnerable if they haven't had previous experience outdoors. Dangers like traffic, predators, and other people can threaten your pet's safety. This will likely cause a fight-or-flight response, causing them to run away and hide somewhere isolated and secure.
A cat planning their next escape next to an open window in summer

Pet sitters

The holiday season means facing the familiar guilt of leaving your pet behind. While we try to minimize the distress caused by using pet-sitting services and boarding houses, these can still cause many pets to run away.
Most animals, especially cats and dogs, are creatures of habit. They enjoy a steady routine that makes them feel safe and secure. When this routine is changed, it can cause anxiety and fear. It can be particularly distressing if territorial animals are removed from their usual environment.
There are many reasons why pet-sitting arrangements can lead to missing pets. Some include:

A disrupted routine can lead to stress, causing your pet to run away

Pet sitters may let dogs off the lead or let cats out of the house if they aren't fully aware of the rules

When pets are moved to a different environment, they may try to return to their original environment by running away

A pet sitter looking after a cat


For American pet owners, the 4th of July can cause a lot of stress for their furry friends. The festivities can lead to more pets running away and becoming lost than ever. This is mainly because of:

Fireworks: The loud bangs and flashes of fireworks can be enough to trigger your pet's fight-or-flight instinct. They are a known cause of dogs and cats running far away from home, getting disoriented, and getting lost.

Visitors: Having a stream of visitors coming and going can be distressing for your furry friend. They see your home as their territory to keep safe and protected. This is made difficult when strangers are entering it. They may decide to seek a safer territory outside of the home.

Parties: Celebrations often involve loud music and busy homes, which is the perfect recipe for a scared pet. Similarly to the impact of visitors, parties can often be enough to cause your pet to run away from home to seek a calmer environment.

A scared dog watching fireworks after running away from home

Summer adventures

Naturally, during the winter, cats and dogs like to stay in the warmth of the home, often curled up on the sofa or by the fire. However, the great outdoors are more enticing during the warmer summer months.
Pets will be spending more time exploring, which increases the chances of:

Traveling too far away from home and becoming lost

Getting chased by predators

Being involved in traffic accidents

Being stolen

A cat returning home after a summer adventure

How to keep your pet safe in summer

So, while this all sounds pretty scary for a pet parent, you can rest assured knowing there are plenty of ways to keep your furry friend safe this summer!

Use a familiar face for pet sitting

Even the best pet owners have to leave their best buds at home sometimes. As much as we'd love to take them on holiday, it's often not feasible. However, there are ways to ensure your pet still feels comfortable and safe while you're away:

Ask a family member or friend: The better your pet knows the sitter, the safer they'll feel. A close friend or family member is also more likely to know exactly how to care for your furry friend!

Keep them at home: Opt for pet sitting rather than boarding houses. Encourage pet sitters to stay at your home rather than send your pet to theirs. Keeping your furry friend in their own territory will help keep them calm and their routines steady.

Go away for shorter periods of time: Vacationing for a couple of days at a time will be much more manageable for your pet than weeks on end.

A friend looking after a dog

Keep your pet in a secure area

While you may think it's cruel to keep your pet in one area, it's actually the safest and most responsible thing to do. Having these boundaries can often help your cat or dog feel secure and calm.
Rather than confining your pet to one room, you can use baby gates and barriers to shut off certain areas. This allows them to still roam freely around the house.
However, this is more suited to dogs, as cats are excellent escape artists and will most likely be able to jump over any barrier you put in place.
A cat sleeping peacefully in a secure area by a shut window

Keep your pet calm

If you plan on enjoying a summer full of parties, visitors, and vacations, there are ways to keep your pet nice and relaxed to prevent their fight-or-flight instinct from triggering.
Some steps you can take include:

Plug-in relaxers: Replicating your kitty's chilled-out hormones can be extremely effective for keeping your furry friend relaxed. A plug-in like Feliway should be used for a few days before you leave or have visitors over so your kitty can adjust!

Keep them company: If your pet is left alone when they are already scared, it's only going to increase their fear. Keeping them company, stroking them, and spending time with them can alleviate some of the anxiety.

Create a safe space: Dedicating a specific room to your pet and filling it with their favorite things, can help them feel secure. Make sure you choose a room with plenty of hiding places!

A calm dog sleeping on the living room floor

Make the outdoors safe!

Many pets can have a perfectly safe and happy life exploring the outdoors, and allowing them to do so is important. It gives your furry friend enough mental and physical stimulation to live a fulfilled life, making you a responsible pet parent.
However, to ensure they are safe during their adventures, do the following:

Get them microchipped: A microchip that sits just beneath your pet's skin guarantees that they are always accounted for. This simple procedure means your furry friend will have your contact details on them at all times, meaning if they do go missing, you'll likely be contacted as soon as they are found. It can also prevent your pet from being mistaken for a stray and being put up for adoption or, in some cases, even euthanized.

Train them: A well-trained pet is less likely to go missing. For dogs, recall training can stop them from running away and can help them find their way back to you. For cats, training them to come back home for dinner time can prevent them from wandering too far away.

Make them wear an ID tag: Clear ID tags clearly indicate to the public that your furry friend is a pet. If someone finds them wandering far from home, they can contact you with information. This will increase your chances of getting your pet home as soon as possible.

Top Tip: Getting your pet spayed can also reduce the distances they roam. Without the urge to find another animal to mate with, they'll likely stay closer to home.

Many pets can have a perfectly safe and happy life exploring the outdoors, and allowing them to do so is important.

A cat sleeping peacefully outdoors

4 Steps to find a lost pet

If you are currently experiencing losing a pet, don't panic. We know trying to find them can feel hopeless, but acting quickly, thinking practically, and getting support can make all the difference.

1. Report them missing

Your first step in finding a missing pet should be to report them missing. This will ensure the necessary organizations are aware and on the lookout.
Report your furry friend to the following places:

Animal control: Official animal control departments will have plenty of resources and expert advice to help you with your search. They'll also be receiving reports of sightings, so it's essential they know about your pet.

Animal shelters: If a member of the public finds a stray animal or lost pet, their usual instinct will be to take them to an animal shelter. By ensuring local animal shelters are aware of your lost pet, you can rest assured knowing they'll contact you if they find them.

Veterinarians: Many lost pets end up in the safe hands of a local vet. Often, people will take a found pet to a vet to get them the care they need, before handing them in to a shelter. Try to report your pet missing to as many local vets as possible!

A busy animal shelter dealing with reports of lost pets

2. Start a PetRadar search

The next step is to spread the message to as many people as possible. People often use printed flyers and posters to do this, which can be an effective method. However, with PetRadar, you can alert over 4000 neighbors in your area about your missing pet through social media.
All you need to do is report your pet missing to us. We'll then create a digital missing pet poster and distribute it on Facebook and Instagram as a sponsored post or advertisement that targets thousands of people in your area.
This means that when your neighbors scroll through their feeds, an image and description of your missing pet will pop up. They can then report a sighting, send it to a friend, or save it for later.
We also:

Send you a printable poster: We've designed a lost pet poster that uses a unique QR code, instead of publishing your private contact details to the public. This means you won't need to worry about prank calls and scams. This poster is free to download and print, and when passers-by scan the code, they'll be taken to the listing of your missing pet on our website.

Offer constant support and guidance: Our team of animal lovers will be with you every step of the way. We'll send you updates on your search, along with our expert search tips, and you'll have access to plenty of helpful articles on finding lost pets.

List your missing pet on our website: We'll create a listing of your pet on our website, which means if someone does find them and searches for them on Google, your pet's page on our site should come up. From there, they can report a sighting, and we'll notify you instantly.

Our team of animal lovers will be with you every step of the way. We'll send you updates on your search, along with our expert search tips, and you'll have access to plenty of helpful articles on finding lost pets.

PetRadar's sponsored posts on social media to help find missing pets

3. Physically search

A thorough physical search is the most effective way to find lost pets. It may seem like an impossible task when you consider how far they may have traveled, but with practical thinking and by following these top tips, there's a high chance you'll track them down:

Search at dawn and dusk: Most lost pets will be active during dawn and dusk rather than the daytime. This is because it is generally quieter, so they'll feel safer and are naturally more active during these hours. Remember, use a flashlight to see reflective eyes.

Bring strong-smelling items: Cats and dogs have a fantastic sense of smell. This means they can pinpoint exact locations from far away by picking up on certain scents. Use this to your advantage and take food, treats, blankets, and toys that smell like home!

Get help: Recruiting more people to help search will increase your chances of finding your pet. You'll be able to cover a wider search area, search for longer, and have the chance to take a well-needed rest.

A cat owner searching at night for their lost cat

4. Lure them back home

As we mentioned, our pets' noses are pretty powerful. In fact, most dogs can detect a scent from around 12 miles away, and a cat's sense of smell is about 14 times stronger than a human's. (source, source)
Often, our pets rely on this sense to find their way around. So, when they're lost, they try to track down their home using familiar smells and scent markers.
You can tap into this by:

Leaving strong-smelling food outside

Opening up doors and windows

Leaving toys and blankets outside

Leaving a litter box outside

Top Tip: Set up wildlife cameras to see if your pet is in the area. If they are, placing humane traps around your house can help get them back home safely.
A missing dog lured back home by a bowl of food


What is the Lost Pet Prevention Month?

Lost Pet Prevention Month is a month of awareness in July dedicated to educating pet parents about how pets go missing in an attempt to reduce the numbers of lost pets around the world.

What month is National Pet Month?

National Pet Month is held in April, and it's a time to celebrate our wonderful furry friends. This differs from National Lost Pet Prevention Month, which is held in July, and is focused on reducing the number of pets that go missing during the summer months.

Why is July National Lost Pet Prevention Month?

July is National Lost Pet Prevention Month because most pets go missing during the summer months, compared to other seasons.

Do pets go missing in summer?

Yes, pets go missing in the summer because of the hotter weather. This leads to doors and windows being open, creating new escape routes, pet sitters, and general changes in routine that can lead to pets running away.

How do pets go missing?

Pets can go missing in many different ways. However, during the summer months, many pets go missing due to open doors and windows, changes in their routine, hotter weather, and fear of fireworks.

Can pets find their way home?

Yes, many pets can find their way home. They have natural homing abilities and use their excellent sense of smell and hearing to navigate their way around. However, if they travel too far away from home, they can become disoriented and struggle to find their way back.

Final thoughts

We hope this guide has helped prevent pets from going missing this summer. The more pet parents aware of the dangers, the more pets kept safe!
If you're currently trying to find a lost animal, don't lose hope. Over 70% of lost cats are found, and over 90% of lost dogs are found, so the odds are in your favor!
Start a PetRadar search, and we'll do all we can to get your four-legged friend back home. We've already reunited over 12,000 found pets with their owners, so you're in good hands!

Written by

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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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