How to find your lost pet like this Weimaraner dog, on a holiday road trip.

Tips to Find Your Lost Pet on a Holiday Roadtrip


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If you’ve ever lost a pet during a holiday road trip, we’re sorry. Hopefully, you’re reading this as a precaution, but either way, you’re in the right place. This article is all about how to find a lost pet – in case yours ever does go missing.

Our research shows that more and more pet parents are taking pets along for holidays, making losing them an increased risk. Not to worry, here’s what to do should that ever happen.   

More pets are going along for the holiday

Our pet ownership research shows more pet owners take pets on holiday than don’t. In fact, the numbers are pretty awesome with 62% taking pets along these days, compared to only 25% in 2020.

Having said that, as pet parents we worry about our pets whether they’re at home or away, and this isn’t all bad. We’re of course concerned about losing our animal bestie while on hols. Animals bolt when you least expect it and the holidays can be full of surprises that make them take fright.

A little bit of healthy worry that’s put to good use could help us be prepared – and quickly when needs be. So, what to do if you find yourself in this situation…?

The quicker you can let local people know about your lost pet the better.

What to do if you’ve lost your pet on holiday 🤔

If the worst happens, and your pet goes wandering or is spooked and bolts in an unfamiliar area, Google maps is your friend.

Go with what they know

Take note of local landmarks, parks, buildings and yes, highways. You know your pet best so try to consider the types of structures and other places that might appeal to them.

Think about what might seem familiar to them. Trust your gut.

Also consider that they might return to the spot you last saw them. Is there a way to divide and conquer? One of your travelling companions stays put at the spot of loss and you head off to spread the word among locals while searching different areas?

Tell the local community

The quicker you can let local people know about your missing pet the better. Contact these channels with your missing pet’s name, description and any tips on approaching your pet that might work for them.

Read our article on how to find lost pets that takes you through all the channels. Just research those that are local to your holiday spot or wherever it is you lost them.

Share with your hometown too

Also consider the possibility your dog or cat may find their way back to your hometown. Some animals’ sense of smell and direction can be amazing. So, be sure to contact the channels that article provides in your hometown as well!

A missing pet poster will help locals search for your tabby cat like this one.

How to make a missing pet poster in 7 steps

We’ve got your back with some tips on how to create a missing pet poster that’ll have the locals searching high and low for your little Hou(nd)ini…

#1. Choose a clear photo

First things first, let’s talk about the photo. Choose a clear photo, not the one where your pet cat, dog or rabbit looks like a blur. You want a picture of your lost pet that’s clear enough for passersby at your holiday destination to view and say, “Yep, I saw them!”.

#2. Get creative with the headline

Remember, you want something attention-grabbing. How about “Wanted: Master of Escape – Last Seen Chasing Seagulls on the Beach!” Okay, maybe that’s a bit over the top but you get the idea. If not, plain old LOST PET or MISSING work as headlines.

#3. Include important info and describe key features

It’s important to add the area last seen, lost date and gender of your pet. When it comes to describing your fur baby – highlight their most unique features. Is your doggo a proud Pug with a curly tail? Is your kitty a sassy Siamese with eyes that could melt icebergs?

What’s your pet’s height and weight? Coat colour? Hair length? Do they have any health complications? Don’t forget to mention any quirks or unusual behaviours too.

woman puts up a poster for her lost pet dog that's bolted during a roadtrip holiday

#4. Provide your contact details

Now, let’s talk about contact details.

You don’t want to plaster your phone number all over town, attracting odd calls from randoms. Instead, set up a dedicated email address for your lost pet.

Or maybe you don’t mind because finding your pet is more important than batting away a few weird conversations. Either way, make sure you are quickly available via whatever contact channel you choose to make public.

#5. To reward or not to reward for your lost pet on your holiday roadtrip?

Alright, let’s talk about the big question: to reward or not to reward? Offering a reward on your missing pet poster is like putting a juicy steak on the table for those pet detective wannabes.

It definitely grabs attention and gets people motivated to help. But here’s the catch – you might attract some “bounty hunters” who are just in it for the cash. Be very wary of scammers.

So, it’s a personal choice. If you’re feeling generous and want to entice people with the promise of cold hard cash, go for it. But remember, true pet lovers will help out of the goodness of their hearts, with or without the reward.

Putting a reward on the poster for your lost cat definitely gets people's attention.

#6. Think like a pet detective

You need to think like a pet detective and strategically place those posters where they’ll be seen. Coffee shops, community centres and even lampposts near popular dog parks are great options. Just make sure you ask for permission before putting up your poster.

#7. Stay active on social media

Remember, making a missing pet poster is just the first step. Stay active on social media, post updates and reach out to local animal shelters or rescue organisations at the place you’re holidaying. The more eyes on the lookout, the better your chances of being reunited with your fur baby. So, keep calm and stay positive as you try to find your lost pet on holiday.

a lost pet dog who has wandered from his family during a holiday road trip ambles around a neighbourhood he's not familiar with

What to do if you find your lost pet on holiday🌴

Chances are your lost pet will be more anxious and stressed in an unknown holiday destination that’s outside their usual area, so their fight or flight instincts will kick in. This means they might react with aggression, run further away or take refuge in hidden spaces.

If you do find your lost pet and they seem frightened or aggressive, call their name but stay still. Don’t creep toward them, this could be perceived as being threatening and they might bolt.

Best steps forward so they don’t bolt

Here’s how to approach your found fur baby – they’re more likely to come to you willingly if you take this cautious approach:

  • Make eye contact but stay still
  • If you need to speak, use a calm voice
  • Don’t call their name unless they’re calm enough, sing to them instead (it’s less triggering)
  • Be patient
  • Have some familiar items with you like toys and other things they’ll recognise and smell like home
  • Food could be your saviour; the longer they’re lost the hungrier they’ll be and the more likely their favourite dish could coax them back to you

Know that if you’ve taken your pet on holiday, while in unfamiliar surroundings they may also be more likely to eat something they shouldn’t. This could be a poisonous plant, bait or even being given something by a stranger.

It’s a good idea to always keep an eye on them and have local vet numbers stored on your phone. Since you’re on the road your usual vet won’t be available so having the right contacts at hand is valuable should your dog or cat suddenly show signs of being unwell.

More useful info for keeping holidaying pets safe

Now that you have these great tips for finding a lost pet on a holiday road trip, avoid other furry mishaps with these useful guides:

  1. Tips for Travelling with Dogs, Cats and Horses
  2. How to Choose a Pet Carrier
  3. Road Tripping with Your Pet: A Guide
  4. Flying with Pets
  5. Your Ultimate Guide to Pet Safety While Driving

Going beyond NZ and heading across ditch? Read our step-by-step guide for taking a dog to Australia from NZ.

a man takes care of his neighbour's dog while they're away on a roadtrip

Not taking pets on holiday?

If you’re among the 38% not taking pets along for holiday then we’ve some great resources for you as well. While having a lost pet on holiday may not be something to worry about, having them happy in your absence is.

Read about different options for keeping pets safe and content while you’re away:

Now let’s talk about soft landings for pets and pockets, whether at home or while staying at a pet friendly Airbnb or other pet friendly accommodation options across NZ…

Hope for the best and prep for the worst

You know what to do if you’ve lost a pet on holiday and here’s another type of safety net: award-winning pet insurance. Having your pet’s plan in place before you go on hols means then you know you can get quality healthcare for them immediately if something goes awry unexpectedly.

With PD Insurance you can choose from three low cost, value rich pet insurance plans to protect your adventurous furry family member.

Basically you can go to any vet in New Zealand and upgrade or downgrade your plan with no lock-in contract. Sign up online and PD Insurance gives you one or more months of FREE pet insurance. Click below to get your quote.

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