More than 10 million pets go missing each year. One in 3 will get lost in their lifetime. In addition to the trauma experienced by owners, the bewildered pets face stress, too.

Pet tendencies

First and foremost, remember pets “get lost” in different manners, says Cory Smith, director of Pet Protection and Policy at The Humane Society of the United States. Cats tend to stay close to home (unless driven somewhere), while dogs might be more likely to roam.

From high-technology tracking systems to basic lost dog posters, there are several steps experts advise to make sure you are quickly reunited with your furry friend.

"Changes such as pet sitters, loud noises or other new developments could cause a pet to flee."

Technology is indeed having an impact on pet safety. After Janeen Conforti found her lost dog last year, she joked she wished she could put a GPS on him. That’s not a fantasy, thanks to innovations allowing owners to use special devices on collars linked to a mobile app. They can quickly locate a pet’s whereabouts, but also have the added benefit of tracking pet activity while monitoring long-term health trends.

Tools of the trade

Identification tags are a must. Be your cat or dog’s hero by making sure they have tags with names and contact phone numbers. Smith recommends noting on the tag if the cat is not intended to be outside. Another line of defense: microchips, which in many towns and cities can be scanned by animal control when animals are found rather than taking them to a shelter. Make sure you update your records, especially if you move.

Take to social media. Alert friends on Facebook, Twitter or Listserv if your animal is lost. When Conforti’s dog wandered off last year, she immediately posted on her Facebook to aid in her search.

Lost and found

The Internet is a great resource to be your own sleuth. Kathy “Kat” Albrecht, a former police officer and K9 dog trainer turned pet detective, provides tips on a website, including the most effective format for missing pet posters.

At the Humane Society, Smith adds, using erasable chalk on car windows to spread the message of a missing pet is effective, too. The upcoming holiday season, experts caution, could be disruptive to pets. Changes such as pet sitters, loud noises or other new developments could cause a pet to flee. “Make sure you are doing all you can to avoid having a missing pet,” concludes Smith.

Where would your dog go if it had a day out on the town? Let us know in the comments below for a chance to win a GPS Pet Tracker from Whistle!