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Pet care and behaviour help topics

Pet care & behaviour

Bringing a new dog into your home is an exciting time. For a dog going into a new home, it will be stressful. You know where everything is and you’ve been through your home lots of times. For a new dog this will be the first time he’s seen your living room, your kitchen, or even seen your cat.

Remember everything is a first for him in your home. Think of it being like when you moved into a new home or got lost in a new town. Have patience, understanding and be forgiving if your new dog doesn’t know something.

To make it easier on your new dog and to help him get use to your home, it’s best to plan for his arrival and his first few days. Think of what you will need, what he will need and make a plan.

Before you bring your new dog home

Dog supplies needed

  • Food: Make sure you have some of his previous food so you can mix it with his new food if it is different. Switching to a new food without a slow transition can cause diarrhea.
  • Food & water bowls: Have the right size bowls for your dog. Check with your veterinarian to see if your dog’s bowls should be elevated off the ground.
  • Collar & harness: Put a collar on your dog even if you only walk him on a harness. Collars will have his I.D. tag and license on. Do not use a choke, prong or any collar that causes pain, stress or injury.
  • Dog toys: Toys are an important part of helping your dog engage in normal dog behaviour. Get toys that are appropriate type, size and safe for your dog.

Husky dog playing and biting down on a toy with a man indoors

  • Dog puzzle feeding toys: Also known as smart or work to eat toys, they’re a fun way for your dog to work to get his food. These feeding puzzles engage your dog in doing natural scavenging behaviour. Some dogs will need to be shown how to use them at first.
  • Kong: Kongs that are the right size for your dog are great smart feeding toys. You can fill them with food and freeze them for your dog.
  • Bed: Get one or two comfortable beds and have them ready for when he comes home. Don’t forget his bed from the shelter, other home or rescue. It might be used however its familiar and will help when he moves in to lower stress.
  • Crate: Make sure the crate you get is the right size for your dog. A puppy will need a smaller one and as he grows, he’ll need more space. Your dog must be able to stand up, turn around and lay so he can stretch out comfortably in his crate.
  • Pee pads/puppy pads: If you have a puppy be prepared. Where will you put the pee/puppy pads, how will your pup know where they are?
  • Exercise pen: It’s always a good idea to use an exercise pen for puppies or new smaller dogs. These are idea when you can’t supervise and you’re working housetraining and chewing issues.

Things to plan for before your new dog comes home

Where will he…

  • Sleep
  • Go to the washroom – if it’s a puppy where will the puppy pads be, where will he go when outside?
  • Stay during the day – crate, dog proof room, day care, with you
  • Stay during the night – crate, dog proof room, with you
  • Crate – will his crate be in the kitchen, living room or your bedroom
  • Walk – where will you walk him, can he go to the dog park, what if he doesn’t like other dogs?

How will you…

  • Housetrain an adult dog or puppy – what’s your schedule? Puppies need out more often.
  • Reward him – for going to the washroom outside, where will you keep treats so they’re handy.
  • Train him – yourself or hire a qualified humane trainer.
  • Crate train – not all dogs are crate trained, you’ll need to train him & crate train puppies.


  • Much food – should you feed him, when and how often
  • Long in crate – how long will your dog or pup be in a crate, too long is cruel and not fair
  • Dog proof room – setup a room with safe dog toys, bed, food & water when you can’t supervise
  • Trainers – how do you choose a qualified humane trainer

Merch shot of pro trainer wearing treat belt feeding a treat to a dog

What about…

  • His things from shelter, other home, rescue – take as many of his things as you can. His bed and toys will help when he has them in his new home.
  • Routine – set up a schedule so your dog learns your routine, this will help make things predictable for him
  • Veterinarian – when will he go for first visit, which veterinarian will you use?
  • Daycare – should your new dog go to daycare, which one?
  • Behaviour problems – What will you do if there are some you didn’t expect?
  • Elevator – has he been in an elevator before? How can you help him if he’s scared?

It’s important to try and think of everything you might need for your new dog. Getting your home set up so when your dog does come home you can focus on him and helping him move in.

dog tilting head on floor

New dog moving in

Day one

  • Bring him in the house on leash and let him sniff – let him get use to your home
  • Take him out regularly for bathroom breaks – don’t forget to reward him with a treat after he goes
  • Remind kids how to approach him and that the house is all-new to him
  • Take him for a walk – bring treats and let him sniff the neighbourhood
  • Teach family, neighbours and strangers how to approach your new dog for petting
  • Put his bed and some toys from his previous home out
  • Your goal during his first day is to help him learn about your home and have good experiences

Note – don’t bring your new dog or puppy home and just leave him alone while you go out.

What should I expect to do after day one with my new dog?

  • Veterinarian visit – take your dog to the vet for a checkup and a microchip if he doesn’t have one.
  • Learn about basic dog care.
  • I.D. your pet and get your dog license – visit your local animal control and get a license. It’s the law and it will help get your dog back to you if he ever gets lost.
  • Contact the shelter, previous owner or rescue with questions.
  • Have fun!

Happy mixed breed dog lying down being pet by smiling woman

Tags: dog, puppy

The beauty of dogs is that they are social animals who adapt to our lives. They come in every shape and size you can imagine. Our job as a guardian is to care for them, train, understand their behaviour and protect them. Dogs are wonderful companions who we need to keep happy & healthy. Learn the best way to welcome a new dog into your home.

Typical dog life span

Medium to large dogs: 8 – 14 years
Small dogs: 10 – 16 years

How to keep your dog happy and healthy

Dog food and feeding

Puppies need good quality puppy food. Adult dogs will thrive on a quality dry kibble. Consult the feeding guidelines provided on the bag or can for how much your dog should eat in a day. It is common for most dogs to eat twice a day — in the morning and at dinner time. Puppies may need three meals a day.

Some dogs need special diets. Talk to your veterinarian about the best diet for your dog.

Husky dog eating from a bowl being held by a person


Dogs love treats. They’re important when training your dog. Use treats to reward your dog when he gets something right. It’s like saying thank you or paying him. You can even use your dog’s kibble as treats- they won’t know the difference. Save the yummy treats for things like calling him back to you or when he’s at the vet and nervous.

Merch shot of treat bag clipped on woman hip getting treat out to feed curious dog outdoors

Your dog must have access to fresh water all the time. Change the water daily and wash out the bowl regularly.

Dog grooming, teeth and nail trimming


All dogs, whether short or long hair, need grooming. Longer haired dogs need to be brushed daily to keep mat free. Some might need to go to a dog groomer for grooming. Regular brushing will help you detect fleas or any lumps, bumps or skin conditions your dog may have.


Just like humans, dogs need their teeth brushed for good oral hygiene. They can’t do it themselves so we have to brush their teeth. Use a soft tooth brush and dog tooth paste and try to brush every day. Never use human tooth paste. Go slow and make sure you have treats to give your dog after his brushing.


When standing, your dog’s nails should not be touching the ground. On average, nails should be trimmed once every month by a vet, dog groomer or yourself at home. Talk with your vet or local dog groomer for tips on how trim nails. Great care must be taken that you don’t trim too much. You can cut the blood vessel in the middle of the nail called the “quick.”

Exercise your dog

All dogs need exercise, no matter how big or small. Different breeds of dogs need different amounts of exercise but they all need to run and play every day. One or two short walks for a bathroom break is not enough. Leaving a dog in a back yard is not enough. Playing fetch, or taking your dog to an off-leash park where he can run around safely is best. If you’re not sure how much exercise your dog needs talk to your vet.

A golden retriever being walked on a leash down a paved sidewalk

Things to do with your dog


  • Feed your dog in a dog food puzzle (feeding toy / smart toy)
  • These toys get him to work to get the food and make him think


  • Dogs need to chew
  • Chewing something safe and yummy for dogs is like us getting into reading a good book


  • Let your dog sniff on walks – they’re born to sniff
  • Hide treats and encourage your dog to sniff them out – this game will tire them out


  • Walk at least 30 minutes twice a day – older dogs may need short walks
  • Hike with your dog, give him lots of time to sniff things


  • Play one-on-one games with your dog like tug-a-war or hide & seek
  • Rotate through their toys so old toys become new ones to them
  • Set up play dates for your dog to play with a dog friend
  • Take your dog to the dog park for play with lots of dogs – if he’s good with other dogs
  • Even dogs who don’t play may enjoy a visit to the dog park – make sure the other dogs don’t bug them and they’re not scared

Husky dog playing tug of war with a ball toy with a smiling man indoors

Identification (ID) for your dog

Nobody plans to lose a pet. Prepare for the unexpected and ensure your dog has two forms of identification.

It is also important to have your dog licensed – it’s the law. The license number will help people find you if your dog is lost. Check with your city, municipality or regional district about licensing and where to buy one.

Curious husky dog indoors wearing collar and id

Where should your dog sleep? Indoors or outdoors?

Dogs should be kept inside with their family. They are social animals who like to be around people. Set up an area with a comfy bed or blanket that your dog can call his own.

If you let your dog outside in a yard, it should only be for short periods of time. He should have a warm, covered place, away from wind, sun and rain. He must also have a dry place to lie down and fresh water. Best never to leave your dog outside unattended. If your dog is outside, learn what kind of shelter he needs.

Medical care for your dog

When you first get your dog, take them to see a vet. After the initial visit with the vet, you should plan to go back at least once a year for a check-up and vaccines. Puppies will need to go back more often at first for vaccines.

It is also important to have your pet spayed or neutered to prevent unwanted litters. There are also many behavioural and health benefits to sterilization. Learn more about the benefits of spaying or neutering your pet.

Always watch for lumps and bumps, your dog not eating or a change in their behaviour. If you notice anything different talk to your vet. Find a veterinarian in your area.

Learn how to make your dog or puppy’s vet visit less stressful.

Dog at vet getting checked out

Training your dog

A dog needs to learn what we want him to do or not to do. Learning about his behaviour and how to teach him what you want is one of the best things you can do for your dog. If he knows exactly what you want he’ll be happier and safer.

Training a dog:

  • Takes time
  • Patience
  • Should be fun
  • Works best when you use treats – it’s like saying “yes” you got it right
  • Takes practice – like people learning to play an instrument like the piano or guitar

Never use harsh verbal or physical corrections training a dog. Hire a force-free humane trainer who follows the BC SPCA Position Statement Animal Training.

Overcoming your dog’s behaviour issues

Some dog behaviour is normal for a dog but we find it annoying or think it’s bad. Other times dogs have behaviour issues. Jumping up, being afraid of people or things and reacting are just a few issues we see regularly.
We can help dogs, by better understanding and managing dog behaviour and ensuring they get enough exercise, enrichment and training.

Managing an aggressive dog

Preventing and reducing excessive dog barking

Preventing or reducing excitable dog behaviour (PDF)

Preventing and reducing dog behaviour problems (PDF)

Preventing and reducing dog anxiety when alone

happy golden retriever lying on a cushion couch indoors getting pets from a man

Spaying or neutering your dog, cat or rabbit doesn’t just help prevent accidental litters. It also has health and behavioural benefits for your pet.

Tired happy dog lying down on side with eyes closed outdoors being given a belly scratch rub

Benefits of spaying and neutering your pet

Generally, neutering decreases aggressive behaviours in pets

  • Neutered dogs are calmer and less likely to bite, attack or get into dog fights.
  • Neutered cats and rabbits don’t have the drive to mark and protect their territories and are less likely to spray or get into fights, resulting in fewer injuries.

Spaying ends the heat cycle in females

  • Heat cycles are usually twice a year for dogs, and result in many unwanted behavioural changes including possible aggression.
  • Cats generally go in and out of heat every three weeks between January and November.
  • Female cats in heat can howl relentlessly, may try to escape to mate, spray or urinate inappropriately and attract unwanted male cats.

Spaying and neutering lowers the chance of reproductive health problems

  • Studies show that spayed/neutered pets, on average, live longer.
  • Spaying eliminates the risk of ovarian and uterine cancer and pyometra (life-threatening infection of the uterus) in dogs, cats, and rabbits. Up to 80% of unspayed rabbits will develop uterine cancer.
  • Spaying reduces the risk of mammary cancer in cats, dogs, and rabbits.
  • Neutering eliminates the risk of testicular cancer in all species and lowers the risk of prostate problems in male dogs.

Spaying and neutering eliminates the drive to reproduce

  • The likelihood of your male pet wandering away or escaping will be decreased.
  • Male dogs can smell a female in heat up to a kilometre away.
  • Once neutered, your pet will be less frustrated and may become a calmer companion.

Spaying and neutering provides an opportunity to have other important procedures performed

  • Other procedures, as necessary, can also be done at the time of the operation.
  • This includes procedures such as an identification tattoo or microchip, teeth cleaning, hernia repair and baby teeth removal.

Spaying and neutering prevents accidental pregnancies

  • Research shows that the majority of cat pregnancies are unintended.
  • Pregnancy is hard on the mom physically. Prenatal care, birth complications, and puppy/kitten care can be costly.

Happy relaxed black cat wearing a collar and id being held by woman

Spaying and neutering helps your community

  • Research shows that, as an individual, you help reduce overpopulation issues in your community when you spay or neuter your pet.
  • Spaying and neutering your pet helps reduce the number of stray or unwanted animals in your community.
  • Reducing the amount of stray animals helps prevent other pets and wildlife from being injured or killed in fights.
  • Fixing your pet helps lessen the amount of stray animals getting into or causing car accidents, getting into garbage cans and damaging property.

Learn how fixing your cat helps combat the cat overpopulation problem and how you can take action in your community.

But aren’t there also some risks to spaying and neutering?

Yes, any surgical procedure carries some risks. However, the overall benefit outweighs the risk for most animals. Talk to your veterinarian about the best choice for your pet.

  • Risks of surgery and anesthesia include pain, bleeding, infection, the incision opening up, or a bad reaction to the drugs used.
  • Spaying and neutering removes reproductive hormones from your pet’s body. This has many benefits but also has minor effects on bone development and other body systems.
  • Several recent studies show higher rates of some bone and joint problems and cancers in purebred dogs spayed and neutered as puppies. These studies have attracted a lot of attention.
  • The studies involved small numbers of dogs who were already predisposed to the problems being studied because of their breeds. More research is needed to understand these risks.
  • If you are concerned about risks of spaying and neutering, don’t just consult the internet. Talk to your veterinarian about what is best for your pet.

Happy mixed breed dog lying down being pet by smiling woman

I still have questions about spaying and neutering

kitten looking up from cat tree

Shouldn’t a female cat/dog have a litter before being spayed?
Will spaying/neutering change my pets personality?
Will my pet become fat/lazy once it is fixed?
What does spay or neuter mean?
When should my cat/dog/animal be fixed?
What does it cost to spay/neuter my cat/dog/animal?

Find out more about the benefits of sterilizing your pet and how February is spay/neuter awareness month.

What is the rabies virus?

Rabies is a viral disease of warm-blooded animals that can be transmitted to humans. It is caused by a virus of the Rhabdoviridae family, which attacks the central nervous system and eventually affects the brain. Rabies is almost always fatal in animals and people once symptoms occur.

How is rabies transmitted between animals and humans?

The virus is transmitted through close contact with the saliva of infected animals, most often by a bite or scratch. It can also be transmitted by licks on broken skin or mucous membranes, such as those in the eyes, nasal cavity or mouth. In very rare cases, person-to-person transmission has occurred when saliva droplets became aerial. Bat bites can inflict small wounds and go unnoticed.

Who is at risk of being infected by rabies?

The rabies virus can infect any mammal. In North America, it occurs mainly in foxes, skunks, bats and raccoons, and can spread to domestic livestock and pets. In B.C. however, the only carrier of rabies is bats; no raccoons or skunks in B.C. have ever transmitted rabies.

Photo: Liron Gertsman

How common is rabies in bats in B.C.?

It is estimated that 1 percent of bats in the wild in B.C. carry rabies. In June 2004, four skunks in Stanley Park in Vancouver tested positive for the rabies virus. However, it was discovered that they all carried the bat strain of rabies; likely they had all been in contact with a rabid bat.

Cases of human rabies infection in Canada

In 2000 and 2003, two people in Canada died of rabies infection, one in Quebec (2000) and one in British Columbia (2003). These were the first cases of human rabies in Canada since 1985.

The most likely sources of infection for both individuals were unrecognized bat exposures. Without wound cleansing or post-exposure vaccinations, the potential incidence of rabies in exposed humans can be very high.

Does my pet need a rabies vaccine?

Dogs and cats account for fewer than 5 percent of all animal rabies cases in Canada. However, rabies presents a serious public health risk, and even indoor pets could come in contact with a bat. Some pets also need the vaccine for travel. Ask your vet whether your pet should be vaccinated.

What if my pet brings a bat home?

If your pet brings home a bat you should take your pet to a veterinarian. If the bat is available, your vet may send it for rabies testing. Additionally, your vet may vaccinate your pet against rabies and/or ask you to keep your pet in your home for several months to see if they develop signs of rabies.

If any person in your household has touched a bat with bare skin, seek medical attention from a doctor or local public health unit immediately.

What will happen to the bat?

The bat may be euthanized and sent for testing. As of April 1, 2014, CFIA veterinary inspectors are no longer involved in species collection activities. However, CFIA continues to perform and cover the cost for rabies laboratory testing involving domestic and wild animals and humans. This is vital as once the symptoms of rabies (flu-like including fever, headache, fatigue, progressing to GI and CNS problems) start to appear, there is no treatment and the disease is almost always fatal. However, wound cleansing and immunizations, done as soon as possible after suspected contact with an animal, can prevent the onset of rabies in virtually 100 percent of exposures.

What to do if there has been contact with a bat

Bat-to-person contact?

If treatment is given promptly after being exposed to (any bare skin contact) or bitten by a bat, the illness may be prevented by taking the following actions:

  • Immediately wash the wound or exposed surface with soap and water for 10 minutes and cover the area with a clean bandage.
  • Remove any clothing that may have been contaminated.
  • Immediately call your doctor and local health authority for advice.

Bat-to-pet contact?

Please contact your veterinarian to have your pet vaccinated and discuss whether a period of isolation/ observation is required for your pet. If the bat is available, your veterinarian may send it for rabies testing.

Yes, some BC SPCA shelters may be able to provide temporary care for your pets under certain emergency circumstances. Contact your local shelter to discuss options including how they can help.

Please note that our ability to help you may be affected by the current number of animals in our care and the resources available at the shelter.

Dog looking sad giving puppy dog eyes while being held and hugged by a girl indoors

person holding dog outside sunnyOur sympathies for the loss of your loved one. If there is an animal left after a death, you have a few options including trying to find a new home for the animal. If you need the help with that, a local BC SPCA shelter may be able to help you.

Yes, the BC SPCA recommends pet insurance. In fact, with every dog and cat adoption, you get a complimentary six-week trial of pet health insurance provided by Petsecure Pet Health Insurance.

With pet health insurance, you can lower the stress of paying for large, unexpected or unplanned expenses with a monthly premium.

cat wearing two casts lying down

The cost of spaying or neutering your pet depends on many factors and will vary according to each pet’s circumstances and needs. For example, a large dog will cost more than a small dog. If your pet is overweight or in heat this can also add to the cost. Contact your veterinarian to get a more accurate idea of the costs involved for your pet.

Curious ginger kitten looking down playfully

The cost of spaying/neutering is small when compared to other costs of pet care, such as what you will spend on food for your pet over their lifetime.

Consider the possible costs if you do not spay or neuter. If your pet should wander off in search of a mate, you may be faced with paying fines and impoundment fees. You may also be faced with the additional costs of caring for puppies or kittens for whom finding homes may be difficult. Worse yet, think of the costs should your pet be injured while roaming for a mate.

Spaying or neutering is a one-time investment with life-long health and welfare benefits for your companion.

If you require financial assistance, learn about low-cost spay/neuter programs in B.C.

Vaccines protect your pet from getting diseases that are contagious and possibly fatal. Vaccinating your pet doesn’t just protect your pet, it also protects other pets in the community who may be too young or sick to be vaccinated. Vaccines also protect against some diseases that can be passed from pets to people.

All cats and dogs should receive vaccines. Your veterinarian can help determine which vaccines are necessary and the best schedule for vaccinating based on your pet’s lifestyle and age.

Talk to your veterinarian about vaccines for your pet.

Puppies and kittens should start their vaccines at six to eight weeks of age. Your puppy or kitten will need a series of vaccines before they are four months old. Schedules for adult animals may vary depending on lifestyle and vaccines needed.

Shelter or rescue animals may require more frequent vaccines while they are in the care of a shelter due to higher risk of exposure to disease.

Talk to your veterinarian about when to vaccinate your animal.

Allowing a female cat or dog to produce a litter does not have any benefits to the animal. Animals who go through heat cycles and pregnancy are at higher risk for uterine and mammary problems, including mammary cancer, which can be fatal.

There are health risks to the mother during the pregnancy and when giving birth. Proper pre-natal care, emergency care for birth complications, and proper newborn care are expensive and time-consuming.

Learn more about the benefits of spaying and neutering your pet.

A happy smiling dog sitting outside looking up with tongue out

Most unintentional litters (particularly with cats) occur because guardians waited too long to have the surgery done. The usual recommendation is before six months of age for cats, and before six and a half months for dogs. Consult your veterinarian to determine the best time for your pet. Female cats and dogs do not have to have a litter before being fixed.

The BC SPCA supports early age spay/neuter procedures for dogs and cats. Pediatric sterilization prevents excess litters by ensuring animals are sterilized before adoption. This helps combat pet overpopulation and euthanasia of unwanted animals. All major professional, academic, and animal welfare organizations in North America support pediatric spay/neuter for shelter animals.

The BC SPCA will continue to promote other methods of combating pet overpopulation, including education and public awareness campaigns, non-surgical methods of sterilization, traditional spay/neuter initiatives and behaviour training.

The BC SPCA believes pediatric spay/neuter to be appropriate with the following qualifications:

  • The procedure takes place between 8 and 16 weeks of age
  • The animal is judged to be clinically normal and healthy prior to surgery
  • Proper surgical protocols specific to these young animals are employed
  • Post-surgery complications receive special attention

“Spaying” and “neutering” are surgical procedures used to prevent pets from reproducing. In a female animal, “spaying” consists of removing the ovaries or uterus and ovaries. The technical term is ovariectomy or ovariohysterectomy. For a male animal, “neutering” involves the removal of the testicles, and this is known as castration.

In addition to preventing unwanted offspring, spaying or neutering has many health and behavioural benefits to the animal.

A happy dog outdoors on grass being pet by a smiling girl

Before you decide to re-home your animal, look into these alternatives to giving up your pet. We may be able to help you keep your pet with you. If you don’t see advice on your specific situation, please contact your local BC SPCA to discuss your situation. If you are looking at rehoming your pet through the BC SPCA, learn about the steps you will need to take before bringing in an animal to one of our shelters.

Reach out to family members and friends

They may be willing to take on full guardianship of your pet. If your pet is already familiar with them, it may make the transition to a new home easier.

Discuss your pet’s personality and needs with them to make sure it’s a match. If it is a match, it’s a good idea to create a pet re-homing contract for each party to sign. Make a copy for them and keep the original.

Create a pet information posting

Be honest about your pet’s personality and needs. Include important information about your pet in your posting:

  • What was your pet like in your home?
  • What potential issues should a new home should be willing to work on?
  • Is there anything you are working on with your pet that a new home needs to continue?
  • What would be your ideal home recommendations for your pet?
  • What types of homes would your pet not do well in?
  • Any other information about your pet you want to include?

dog being held by person

Post online, at local veterinarians or local businesses

There are several websites where people can post their pet information. Talk to your local veterinarian to see if they have a public billboard for pets that need new homes. Some local stores and businesses may also have public billboards.

Have conversations with potential new guardians

Discuss your pet’s personality and needs to make the best match with potential adopters’ experience and expectations. Use our tips on making the right match to help guide you in your conversations with potential new guardians for your pet.

Transfer your pet’s registered ID

If your re-homed pet has a microchip or tattoo, you’ll need to transfer their records. This will increase their chances of being found if they get lost.

Ownership cannot be transferred without permission from the previous guardian.

  • If your pet’s ID is registered with the BC Pet Registry, you’ll need to complete an Ownership Transfer form (PDF). For more details on transfer of ownership, please call us at 1-855-622-7722.
  • If your pet’s ID is registered with a veterinary clinic or other company, you will need to go through their process of transferring ownership.
  • If your pet has a microchip or tattoo and you don’t know who it registers to or do not have the information available, contact your local BC SPCA shelter for advice.

If you still want to rehome your pet through the BC SPCA, learn about the steps you will need to take.

Eye contact shot of a dog outdoors giving sad curious puppy dog eyes while being held and pet by a woman

Register your pet’s microchip, tattoo or license with the BC Pet Registry. Submitting your pet’s information to this provincial database ensures your pet is traceable by all participating veterinarians, animal control agencies and humane societies.

Find out more about how permanent pet ID can help ensure peace of mind.

Update Your Information

Have you moved or changed your phone number? Keeping your contact information up-to-date is easy with the BC Pet Registry. Registered users can also add additional forms of ID to their existing pet profile free of charge.

To report a lost pet, please contact your nearest BC SPCA branch.

A lost pet can be a stressful situation for both the animal and their family. Most animals belong in the neighbourhoods in which they are found and their guardians may be out looking for them.

If you think you have found a lost animal, follow these steps to increase the chances of reuniting them with their family.

5 steps to follow when you find a lost/stray pet

1.) Look for identification (ID)

Collar and/or ID tag: A collar or tag may have the animal’s home number or address. For dogs, some tags are municipal licenses and may not have the guardian’s contact information. In this case, call the BC SPCA or your local Animal Control who can help track down where the animal lives.

Microchips: Microchips are a reliable form of electronic permanent ID inserted under the animal’s skin. If you do not see a visible form of ID, the animal may have a microchip. You can take the pet to your nearest veterinary clinic, Animal Control agency or BC SPCA shelter to have the animal scanned for a microchip at no charge.

Ear tattoo: If the animal has an ear tattoo, contact the BC Pet Registry, a local veterinary clinic or animal control agency to trace it. If the tattoo is difficult to read, bring the animal to one of the above locations to read it at no charge. Some vet clinics also keep lost and found pet records and posters.

Other tattoos: Some animals may have a breeder tattoo on their abdomen or inside leg. In this case, contact your local BC SPCA location or Animal Control shelter. Often these tattoos are only traceable through the original breeder.

Curious grey cat sitting on windowsill wearing collar and id indoors

2.) Use the web

Post to social media: Take a quality photo of the animal and circulate it on your Facebook or Twitter networks with the location in which it was found. Encourage your friends to share the photo on their page.

Search online: There are websites dedicated to helping lost animals return to their guardians. These Canadian sites host searchable lost and found animal postings. On each of these websites, you can also publish a “found pet” post:

  • BC SPCA Pet Search (search lost animal posts and create a free “found pet” post)
  • Missing Pets in BC (search lost animal posts and create a “found pet” post)
  • Craigslist (search lost animal posts and create a “found pet” post)

3.) Search the neighbourhood

Talk to people in the neighbourhood: Neighbours in the area, especially other pet guardians, may know the pet you found. Talking with people may help you find the guardian without the animal having to go to the shelter. If you found the animal in a yard or in front of a residence, knock on the door of that home and kindly ask if it’s their pet or if they know the guardian.

Put up posters: Create your own eye-catching poster or make one for free with the BC SPCA Pet Search. Include a photo, description of the animal, where it was found, and a contact phone number. Post these in as many places as possible near where the animal was found (grocery and corner stores; local parks; telephone poles).

4.) Contact your local BC SPCA shelter or animal control

Report the animal as found. Let them know if you are willing to hold onto the animal until the guardian comes forward. If you’re unable to hold on to the animal, please contact our BC SPCA Provincial Call Centre at 1-855-622-7722 for direction on where to take the animal.

5.) Found the pet’s guardian?

If you find the guardian, please remember to contact the groups keeping records and let them know the animal is no longer lost.

What if the animal is not approachable?

Consider your own safety first. If the animal appears unapproachable, do not attempt to catch it. Call your local BC SPCA, Animal Control, police or RCMP.

No. Your pet will actually benefit from spaying or neutering, because he or she will lead a healthier and longer life. Pets become fat and lazy as a result of overeating and a lack of exercise, not from spaying or neutering. Furthermore, spaying a female eliminates the possibility of her developing uterine and/or ovarian cancer and greatly reduces the chance of breast cancer. Neutering a male eliminates the risk of testicular cancer.

Two happy dogs running through a forest trail with a person behind them

Cat playing with woman with wand toy