Seasonal Care

Why Pets Get Lost During the Holidays

Why Pets Get Lost During the Holidays

Traditionally the winter season is a festive time, yet the disappearance of a pet can turn joy to sorrow. To avoid that happening in your family, be aware of the most common reasons why pets get lost between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.

  • Strangers at the Door. Whether you open your door to receive deliveries or friends who your pet has not met, there are more people coming to your home now than at other times of the year. Since some won't know there's a cat or dog inside, your pet could use this as an opportunity to explore. To avoid that happening, post a prominent sign on the door asking people to not let your pet escape.
  • No Collar. Does your cat hate wearing a collar or your dog need a bath before company comes? Be sure to put the collar back on and make it tight enough so she can't slip out.
  • Distracted Humans. Perhaps you are at home cooking or wrapping Christmas gifts... or the pet sitter is ignoring your furbaby. Using a human's momentary distraction and an open window or door, an opportunistic dog or curious cat can be gone in a flash.
  • Gift of a New Pet. It's generally not a good idea to give a pet as a gift, even if you believe that he will be warmly welcomed. Amped-up household activity during the holidays could lead a new four-footed family member to go astray.
  • Theft. If you leave your dog tied up while you run into the store, she may not be there when you get back. A desperate person could steal your pet with the intention of selling him, ransoming him or giving him to some stranger as a Christmas gift.
  • Temptation. With a nose 50 times more sensitive than a human's, a dog can easily be seduced away by scents of holiday fare such as chestnut stuffing... deep-fried turkey... honey-glazed ham... and warm pumpkin pie coming from another kitchen.
  • Unfamiliar Places. Traveling with a pet exposes him to new places where he might lose his bearings. Then he can't find his way home if he strays. Keep smaller pets in a protective carrier and keep larger ones tightly leashed.

What to Do if Your Pet Gets Lost

Immediately contact a HomeAgain Lost Pet Specialist at 1-888-HOMEAGAIN (1-888-466-3242) and ask the operator to send out an alert. Customer Service Representatives can talk you through steps to take to be reunited with your beloved family member for a holiday to truly celebrate. Note: your pet must be microchipped and pre-enrolled with HomeAgain.

Susan Breslow is the former Head of Publications for the ASPCA and the author of the children's book "I Really Want a Dog." She writes about pets and people and cares for two rescued cocker spaniels.