What To Do When You Lose Your Dog | That Sick Feeling

Raising a dog, is a huge responsibility that takes a lot of time and patience. When you raise a dog from a puppy you see them grow up so fast right in front of your eyes. All the new things they learn and how they make you laugh with the crazy things that they do.

My boy Finn is the never ending clown, he is a labradoodle with such a sweet temperament. The little things he does, without trying I am sure, makes him behave like a bit of a class clown.

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I love him so much, that even the thought of losing him and never seeing him again is something I can’t think about.

Anyone that has had a pet in their life, whether it be a cat, dog or anything else, has had that moment where your pet has gone missing. Maybe someone left the gate open on the fence, or you had people over and the dog got loose out the door. Experiencing that feeling is the scariest and sickest feeling you can feel as a dog parent.

Then the situation starts to really settle in and you realize your pet is lost. This post is going to help you know what steps to take and really answer the question of what to do when you lose your dog?

Unfortunately for many people finding their dog quickly, doesn’t always happen as easy as it did for us.

First steps

The most important first step when you realize your pet is gone, is to stop what you are doing and start searching immediately. Look in the area around where the dog was lost. Walk around the area, calling your pets name and looking in places that they could be hiding in closest to the area where the dog was last seen.

If it’s in a neighborhood, you can try knocking on doors and asking them if they have seen your dog. Make sure to have a recent photo of your dog handy, to show people.

Lots of times when dogs first escape or run away, they run in the area that they last were in. A residential area say, generally has people out walking around, or out in their yards. Sometimes they see the lost dog and either get them into their car, or home, even say in their backyard. Just hoping that someone will come by looking for them.

Hopefully your dog has a collar with an ID tag on it, but sometimes they can get lost without their collar, or it can get broken along the way. If your dog does have an ID tag then make sure to take your phone with you wherever you go. Just in case they are found and the rescuer tries to call you.

I remember one time when we were living in a small town in Ontario, somehow the back gate got left open and we didn’t realize. Before we noticed it, both our dogs where gone.

Right away we scoured the neighboring houses and calling their name. Boo was found pretty quickly and came when called. Finn on the other hand was gone, and we couldn’t see him at all. All of a sudden the phone rang and the lady 3 doors down, says I think I have your dog here.

It was a huge sigh of relief, and we were lucky that the ID tag had the right phone number on it for her to reach out to us.

That catastrophe was averted. We still had that pit in our stomach for the rest of the day though.


Next steps

Now that your pet has been missing awhile, that feeling of helplessness starts to creep in. Try not to panic too much, as there are still many things that you can still do to try to find your lost dog.

Next you should call the SPCA, check lost dog networks, any animal shelters in the area, and put it on FB and anywhere else on social media that may help. Some neighborhoods, have a FB group set up, so if you have that, post a picture and description of your dog. Hopefully someone on FB may recognize your dog and contact you.

You need to start checking any local rescue groups, local veterinarians, pet stores, dog parks and even groomers. Anywhere where someone would have taken your dog if they find them.

Making up posters with a picture of your dog, and any relevant information pertaining to where and when your dog was lost. Offer a reward if you can afford it, that may give people even more incentive to bring your dog home, if they have seen your dog, or have your dog.



Plaster the posters everywhere in the area that your dog was lost. You may even want to really expand your search to areas that are adjacent to where your dog went missing.

These posters should be put in local stores, schools, any traffic posts and also everywhere a poster can be put up.

Surrounding areas and hiding spots

Dogs that go missing or lost, have a tendency to hide from being alone and scared. Checking more in depth in the surrounding area where you lost your dog, like sheds, open garages, and anywhere that they could be hiding.

When you are out searching, make sure to have their favourite treats with you in your pocket or just handy in case you do see your dog.

They also say that you should put out food and water outside of your home if that is where your dog went missing. The hope is that they will smell something familiar and come home.

It may even help to put out a shirt of piece of your clothing outside the door again, just in case they can smell your scent.

If your dog has gone missing from a some place other than your home, there are some other things that you can do, to try to find them. Let the word out that if they see your dog, not to approach or try to catch him. The goal is to try to get them to come to you.

Chasing a scared and lost pet, is not the answer. You will only scare them more and potentially have them run away even farther. You don’t want your dog to be running into traffic or put them in anymore danger than they already are.

The best approach that you can do is if you see your dog, sit down and pull out the treats to see if you can get the dog to come to you.

dog tracking collar

Be vigilante

Even though you still haven’t found your lost pet, you need to be vigilante in your searching. Stay hopeful and continue to go back to the same places that you already have.

Keep calling your local pet rescues and SPCA’s daily just to see if your pet has been turned in. The other difficult thing that you need check for is any dogs that have been found deceased in your area and if they have photos to go through.

This is obviously is a very difficult task to do, but you need to know for sure. The unknown is really the hardest thing to go through. Although we don’t want our pet to unfortunately have had a terrible end, we need to know the truth about our dog.

Giving up is still not an option at this point, so stay strong. Dogs have been found far distances away from where they were lost. Miraculously it can be unbelievable how far a dog can get on their own, so don’t under estimate the distance they can really have traveled.

Most cases, dogs are found close to home or where they are lost. Typically the statistics show dogs that are lost are usually quite close.

Statistically 93% of dogs that are lost are returned to their owners. Only 6% of dogs are found at a local shelter or SPCA. Approximately 15% of all lost dogs are found through a microchip or dog tag.

These statistics really show the importance of having your dog wear and ID Tag or to have your dog micro chipped. There is a huge advantage of your pet being found if he has one or both of these important items.


Lost or Found

I know how difficult it can be to have your dog lost and returned, or lost and never found. The heartbreak of losing your dog and not knowing what happened, I think is the hardest part of all.

If you dog remains lost, it’s like everywhere you go, you are looking for that moment when you see your dog again. Losing a pet this way is as painful and real as grieving for a pet that has died.

That constant pit in your stomach that you feel every time that you have a happy memory of your dog.

When I was in my 20s, I had cats and dogs at the same time. Unfortunately I did lose my cat whom was part of our family and she was never seen again. The feeling of what happened to her never goes away completely, it just sits in the back of your mind forever. Yes it does get easier, the longer that time passes, but losing a member of the family just all of a sudden is devastating.

There are many things that you can do to help bring your pet home. A few of those things are a dog GPS for your dog’s collar, a personalized dog ID tag, or micro chipping your pet. These things are all items that if your dog is lost will give you a chance of being reunited with your lost dog.

Do you absolute best to recruit people to help you find and rescue your dog. Don’t give up and I really hope that you are reunited with your dog.


6 thoughts on “What To Do When You Lose Your Dog | That Sick Feeling”

  1. My dog always likes to bolt any chance it gets. I don’t really know why which is one of the reasons I hardly take it out of my compound. Whenever I do I always make sure I make use of the dog chain and hold onto it throughout the time I am outside my house.

    I have actually lost the dog once and went through hell before I could locate it. I did not really know about the methods listed on this post and now that I think about it if I did it would have been a lot easier locating my dog.

    • Hello Jay,

      Many dogs like yours have a tendency to bolt every chance they get. It is unfortunate that it stops you from taking your dog out to much, but I really get it. The fear of losing your pet again is probably fresh in your mind.

      Once you go through that tragedy it is something you never forget.

      Thank you so much for sharing your story and your wonderful comments.


  2. Hi Coralie. I wish I had come across this earlier when I lost my cat – I was desperate. He’s back now but the panic is real. Now I live in a building but I have all of my furbabies microchipped. My local shelters are all high-kill and will put down any strays that aren’t chipped. However the idea of chipping cats isn’t a very popular option here. I will share with my friends & family this article to spread the message. Thanks so much I really appreciate this blog. Cheers!

    • Hi Laureen,

      I really appreciate you sharing your story about your cat and sharing my post with your friends and family.

      Microchipping your cat is a genius idea, I certainly have not heard of many cats getting chipped.  But really why not. If you can chip a dog, why not cats.

      I am so glad that you found your cat and that you have been reunited.

      Unfortunately my niece is going through this difficult situation with losing her cat this past saturday and she is mess. I will mention to her that she get her other 2 cats chipped and hopefully her lost cat Otto will be found.

      Going through that loss is so heartbreaking for anyone. Thank you for your wonderful comments.

      Cheers back to you.


  3. I remember that sick feeling too when my dog disappeared. The dog catcher unit was in town and she was loose. She usually came back on her own after a while but that morning she didn’t return. Nor was she seen in the afternoon or evening. Fearing the worst, I went to the pound, hoping to redeem her but guess what, she wasn’t there. 

    I was relieved yet disappointed. If she wasn’t there, where could she be? Many emotions went through me that day as I feared for her safety. Then out of nowhere, late at night, she appeared on the front door, whining in hunger. We quickly get to her and found dried leaves all over her coat. We guessed she went into hiding when the pound came and her instinct must have told her to stay until it was dark and safe. 

    She has never gone missing after that and stays very close under our observation 🙂

    • Hi Cathy,

      Your story is incredible. I am so happy that you got your dog back. Hard to imagine her just hiding like that. Smart! Dogs constantly amaze me.

      Losing a pet is really a stressful and heartbreaking feeling. Finding them is then the ultimate feeling of joy.

      I am so happy that you shared your story with me. Hearing other people’s journey with their dogs is really the reason I do this site.

      Thank you



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