how to find your lost pet on a holiday road trip

Tips to Find Your Lost Pet on a Holiday Roadtrip

Our pet parent research shows more than 25% of New Zealand’s pet owners are choosing to take their dogs, cats, birds, rodents and even fish (!!) on their road trip or away on holiday. Seriously.

And our research shows this is increasing. Which means the chances of a lost pet while on holiday are increasing. Except for the fish, probably 😜

In fact, 17% of the Kiwis we surveyed said this was a concern they had about pet parenting – losing their animal bestie while on hols.

So, what to do if you find yourself in this situation…

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.

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.

Also consider that they might return to the spot you last saw them. Is there a way to divide and conquer, whereby 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 (and your hometown)

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

We’ve created this ‘how to find lost pets’ blog post to take you through all the channels – just research those local to your holiday spot, or wherever it is you lost them.

Also consider the possibility that they may find their way back to your hometown. Some animals’ sense of smell and direction can be amazing.

Be sure to contact these channels in your hometown as well!

What to do if you find them

Chances are your pet will be more anxious and stressed 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 come across your 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.


  • 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 (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

They’re more likely to come to you willingly if you take this cautious approach.

Prepare for the worst and hope for the best

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

So, best to get pet insurance before you go – then you know you can get quality healthcare for them immediately. Wherever you are.

Know that PD Insurance policies cover advertising and reward costs up to a certain amount, too. That can be put to really good use in returning your loved one to the family.

Lastly, to further avoid any issues while holidaying via road, also read our article on pet safety while driving.

Over to you – lost pets on holidays

Ever lost a pet while on a road trip? Any tips for others who fear they might experience a lost pet while in holidays? We’d love your insights.

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