Great news! You’ve successfully been reunited with your missing dog! If your dog has been gone for more than a day or two you will want to get them in to see a vet as quickly as possible to make sure they haven’t suffered any ill effects while out on their own.
Pictured above is Amy, a black lab/German Shepherd cross who was missing for almost three weeks in Waukesha County. She was finally successfully caught by her owner on a wooded hillside that adjoined a marshy field behind some apartment buildings. She had been seen in that area for several days but eluded capture. Amy’s owners immediately made her a vet appointment to have her checked over. Thankfully, other than sore, raw paw pads, six ticks, some dehydration and weight loss of about nine pounds, she was in good shape!
Sore feet and raw paw pads are very common from the amount of travelling the lost dog may be doing. Asphalt roadways and twigs and sticks on paths are especially hard on a dog’s feet. Often the sightings of these dogs will report the dog as limping and the owner might panic thinking their dog has been hit by a car. But raw paws heal pretty quickly and have no lasting damage.
Sore feet may make the dog avoid roadways and stick to softer paths of travel like dirt trails and grassy paths and ditches.
It is very common for dogs to have embedded ticks when they are found. Your vet may feel it is prudent to draw blood and do a “tick panel” to check for any tick-borne diseases. He may recommend a course of antibiotics if any disease is present or as a precautionary measure.
It is also common for a dog to have picked up some worms while out on their own. Remember, their diet may have consisted of roadkill, manure, waterfowl eggs and/or other sorts of nasty things! Your vet may recommend a dewormer if he diagnoses or suspects worms.
Dehydration and some weight loss are also common and are easily treated. Remember to follow your vet’s feeding instructions which will probably be small amounts of food and water at frequent intervals. You don’t want your dog to gorge on his food and risk the possibility of bloat or other stomach problems.
Allow your dog lots of quiet time when he gets home. He has been on an extremely stressful adventure and you will want to let him decompress and rest. It may take several days or more for him to seem like his old self. Schedule another vet visit if you don’t see improvement after the first week.
Most long-lost dogs recover totally and go on to live full happy lives. Enjoy it with them to the fullest!
(Thank you to Amy’s family for providing the photos for this article)