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How Long Can a Lost Dog Survive?

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Dogs are wonderful beings that we should continue to love and adore.

If you have a dog, you know just how much joy they can give you.

So you want to know answers to questions like what happens then when your dog gets lost? What are the chances of finding your lost dog? How long will your lost dog survive?

Your lost dog can survive for days, weeks, or even years depending on the situation.

lost dog walking in a city while snowing

For example, your dog can survive for years if it got rescued by people or days if it is badly injured.

When Your Dog Gets Lost

No one should go through the sorrows felt by a person who has lost a dog.

So many thoughts will go through your mind when your dog gets lost.

One important thing to consider is how long your lost dog can survive without you.

For How Long Can a Lost Dog Survive?

Well, it depends on the available resources and the condition of your dog.

Let us consider some factors that can influence the survival rate of your dog.

1. With or Without Food

If your lost dog has a source of food, it can survive for a long time. Some examples of food that lost dogs eat are:

  • Treats from people
  • Spilled cereals and grains
  • Left-over food from garbage
  • Food scraps from restaurants
  • Outdoor dog food (From people that feed farm or stray dogs)

Even though some food items are available for your lost dog, you should be concerned about the health of your dog.

Some food items may be contaminated with parasites and eggs of intestinal worms.

If your dog consumes contaminated food, it may harm your dog and reduce the chances of your dog surviving.

2.  With or without Shelter

Does your lost dog have a place to sleep at night or run away from the coming storm?

If it does, it has a higher chance of survival.

If, however, your dog does not have shelter, it can still survive for months, but on low chances.

3. In the Woods

If your dog gets lost in the woods, you have to be concerned about its safety.

First of all, most wild fruits and other food items in the woods may not be safe for consumption.

Also, there are wild animals that can fight with and hurt your dog. Some wild animals that your dog may face in the woods are:

  • Bears
  • Coyotes
  • Wild cats
  • Wild boars
  • Birds of prey

Your dog has low chances of surviving in the woods.

4. With or without Help from a Human

When your lost dog is frequently helped by a human, it can survive for a very long time.

Your dog may even get adopted and start a new life.

Humans can give treats and shelter from the rain to stray dogs.

Without help from humans, your dog has to live on its own and look for food scraps.

5. With or without Tags

Tagged dogs have higher chances of survival because people who find them can easily identify them and contact you (or the owner of the dog).

Always ensure that your dog’s tag has the name of your dog and your contact details.

While you worry about the safety and health of your dog, you should also think of ways to find your lost dog.

lost dog wearing a collar tag in near the road

How to Find a Lost Dog

If your dog is lost, here are some tips to help you find it:

1. Assess the Situation

When you are searching for your dog, you need to assess the situation so that you will search better and know the best places to check.

Here are some tips:

  • If Your Dog Ran Away: If your dog ran away, it will likely go as far as it can unless it has a hiding place near your home.

    If your dog has a hiding place, it might return home later, so you need to make your home accessible for it.

    You can open your doors or place some favorite toys of your dog in different locations.
  • For How Long Has Your Dog Been Lost: You can estimate how far your dog has gone when you know the amount of time it was declared missing.

    If your dog is lost in an area it is not familiar with, you should check nearby bends and corners and ask people if they saw your dog.

    Remember your safety while searching for your dog in new places.
  • How Familiar Your Dog is with the Area: If your dog is very familiar with the area, it will most likely return sooner or later.

    If it does not return, it might have been trapped or caught by animal control.

2. Call Your Dog’s Name

While walking and searching for your dog, you should call out its name.

When your dog hears your voice, it will return to you. Do not call out its name with an angry tone or you may scare it away (especially if your dog ran away).

If you are tired of calling out your dog’s name, you can discuss with or talk to the person that you are walking with.

If your dog hears your voice, it may return to you.

3. Report Your Dog as Missing

You should inform local pet or animal control authorities so that they can return your dog to you when they find it.

You may have to go to their office for identification as they may have multiple missing dogs in their care.

4. Print Fliers and Signs

If local laws permit, you should post signs on walls, pillars, and other surfaces so that people who may have seen your dog can report to you or relevant authorities.

Make sure that you use a recent picture of your dog in the signs.

5. Do Not Panic

In everything that you do, do not panic.

Panicking can make the situation worst without achieving a single result.

You should gently access the situation and do your best while you hope that your dog returns in good health.

Now that you know some great ways to find your lost dog, you need to know how to prevent your dog from getting lost again.

woman walking her dog in the park during summer

Tips to Preventing Your Dog from Getting Lost

How do you prevent your dog from getting lost in the first place? Here are some tips:

1. Have Your Dog Wear a Tag

Dog tags are not just for looks.

Dog tags help people to identify your dog and contact you if they find your dog in a strange place all alone.

You should put your dog’s name and your contact details on your dog’s tag.

2. Walk Your Dog Regularly

One of the best ways to prevent your dog from getting lost is to walk with it regularly.

You should walk your dog to the park and other places where pets are allowed.

When you walk your dog to a new place and walk it back home, your dog will know the route and will easily return home by itself (if it ever gets lost).

In simple terms, walking your dog across the city makes it to more familiar with the place. When taking a morning stroll or jugging, you can take your dog along.

3. Put a Dog Tracker on Your Dog

If available, you should install a GPS dog tracker in your dog’s collar.

Trackers increase your chances of finding your dog.

Most dog trackers come with a mobile app for easy operation. You can get GPS dog trackers in pet shops, online, shopping malls, etc.

4. Leash Your Dog in New Places

When you go to a new place, you should put a leash on your dog.

A dog without a leash can get lost while exploring its environment.

5. Take a Lot of Pictures of Your Dog

This tip will not prevent your dog from getting lost but will increase your chance of finding it.

You should have many photos of your dog. Upload some of its pictures on social media and other platforms.

When people (who have seen photos of your dog before) see your lone dog in the streets, they can contact you.

You can also easily print print “missing dog” fliers for easy identification when you have a lot of photos to choose from.

young woman with long hair taking selfie with her Siberian husky dog

Related Questions and Answers

Here are some general questions often asked about lost dogs:

1. Why Did Your Dog Run Away?

If you think that your dog ran away from home, it could be because of maltreatment. Other reasons your dog can run away are:

  • He’s looking for you: Maybe you are not home when you usually return.
  • He’s looking for a friend: Your dog may have other dog friends in the neighborhood.
  • He is playful: If you have a dog that loves to play, you should provide it with toys because it can run away when it is feeling bored.

Maltreatment is just one of many reasons that your dog may have run away, so do not blame yourself.

2. Will Your Dog Come Back on its Own?

If your dog is not treated unfairly and it can locate its way back home, your dog will most likely come back.

Do not give up hope. Keep hoping that your dog returns while you do your best to find it.

3. Can You Find Your Dog in 24 hours?

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), you have about 93% chance of finding your dog in 24 hours.

This figure, however, keeps dropping as the days go by. You should not give up hope in the search for your lost dog.

Final Thoughts

You have a very high chance of finding your dog in 24 hours.

Your lost dog can survive for months or years if the conditions are just right.

To prevent your dog from getting lost, follow the suggestions and tips in this article.