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NancyH, Dog Expert:Rescue, Train,Breed,Care
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 31958
Experience:  30+ yrs dog home vet care & nursing, rescue, behavior&training, responsible show breeding, genetics
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Our dog of 16 years old disappeared at the end of her walk

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Our dog of 16 years old disappeared at the end of her walk 48 hours ago. My husband noticed she was not with him after only a few minutes and immediately looked for her. We have searched the woods for 2 days and not found her. She was only a short way from home and usually could find her way home. A friend has suggested she may instinctively have run away to die. Is there any evidence that this does happen
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Terri Riba replied 8 years ago.

Hi there,


I am so sorry your girl is gone.


What breed and weight is she?

Has she been ill?

Was she eating?


Have you tried animal control and neighbore homes?


Has she ever run off before?






Customer: replied 8 years ago.

yes we have tried everyting

she was eating and well

no she has never run off before

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

can you tell me if old dogs do disappear to die

our dog is 16 and disappeared at the end of her walk and despite hunting widely in the woods have not found her

she disappeared 48 hours ago

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

can you tell me if old dogs do disappear to die

our dog is 16 and disappeared at the end of her walk and despite hunting widely in the woods have not found her

she disappeared 48 hours ago



Expert:  NancyH replied 8 years ago.

How frightening this is when any dog gets lost but worse when it is a senior.

With an older dog like this they can get confused and lost much like a senior person could.

I am not 100% sure animals 'run off to die' as much as they might have a sudden medical incident while away from their usual area, or that they might get confused and not be able to find their way home even from a familiar area.

She may have pursued that delicous smell and then realized she was lost. She could have gone into the woods and become stuck (collars can do that) or had that be the time an aneurysm burst or a blood clot hit her heart or lungs etc. causing her to pass in an out of sight area. Accidents such as a fall into an area a dog can't get out of (an old well for example or a rocky area) or being locked in a building by someone who didn't know she had entered are other possibilities.

If you have a friend with a dog that she knew you might find her by running another dog in the area. She might respond to the dog or the dog might find her or her body.

I'd suggest making up a picture poster of her if you can and give it to all the neighbors plus post it at the local store area and with local vets, mail carriers, and police in your area asking to be notified if she is seen.

Post a lost notice on in the pets area and check it for any found notices. has an area where you can post missing pets in the classified ads area too.

As she is deaf and can't hear your calls you might try making some strong scent posts to try to lure her to them so you can find her. Take sweaty socks or t-shirts and soak in a bucket of water overnight. Then use the water to make scent marks along a trail to help her nose find you if she is out there wandering.

But with her heart issue it may be that she passed on while out there enjoying herself but out of your view.

I would keep the search up for another week and then if there have been no sightings of her you may have to decide she passed on while out having her fun walk with you.

I can tell you I got one dog back after she was missing three weeks in the country side (scent markers kept her in an area where we finally found her 3 miles from home) and posters got me back my missing cat after 6 weeks when she was 5 miles from home!

Even out in the country neighbors may see what you miss so the more you notify the better odds that someone might see something to help you find her or at least find her remains so you don't have to worry any more.

I hope this helps you!



Customer: replied 8 years ago.


am soaking undies right now!

how much water is needed to leave a scent and how far apart should one drop the scent?

Expert:  NancyH replied 8 years ago.

What I would do is scent areas with a good spritz of water along the ground. You might scent areas or lay a trail.

Its better to leave scent along a shadier part of a trail as it will stay longer than in the direct sun. You can probably do a scent at least 20 feet apart and you can also step in the damp spot and walk towards home leaving the scent from your shoe along the track.

Some people crush a hot dog to make an aromatic scent trail and walk along and drop a small bit of hot dog along the trail. Dogs have a great abilitly to scent odors and you'd want to scent the furthest out spot first and then add scent spots on your way home. That makes the scent stronger in the direction of home as it will be on the ground less time in the homeward direction.

You might make a soaked spot along a couple different trails you can check back to to see if the dog will hang around there where your odor is.

Also a food trail may work. Make a scent spot of your odor and then bring some dog kibble or chunked up hot dog bits along and drop some there and make a trail back home with bits of food along the way.

I'm sure you've seen your dog's nose drag her off so you know it works well - the key is to give her some guideposts to find home again if she is lost.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Thanks for this advice

the problem is we are not sure how far from home she has wandered so not sure if she wil pass where we do the scent but will try

She has been on heart tablets - vetmedin - do you know how long she will manage without these?

also there is water in the woods so hope she finds this. But how long can she be without food?

Expert:  NancyH replied 8 years ago.

They can go many days without food but far less without water so looking near water sources if you know them might help.

Vetmedin helps the heart contract more efficiently and so your dog is apt to get weaker without it. You can read about this med here

The scent marking is just one of the ways to try to guide the dog home if that can happen.

This site has some more help in finding a lost pet

I can say what was most useful to me was putting out a flyer asking for people to call me if they thought they saw the missing animal. Having an idea of a direction a pet is moving or an area its been seen can be a big help.


Customer: replied 8 years ago.

thansk again

the temp here in the uk at night is 8-10 degrees centigrade

any idea of how a dog will manage outside overnight when used to being inside - in my daugheters bed at night!!

also we are having quite a lot of disruption as kitchen has been ripped out and house ijn a bit of chaos - do you think this could have upset her? Also my one daughetr set off travelling on her gap year a week ago and wonder if these changes have upset her?


do you think psychics/clairvoyants would be worth considering?

Expert:  NancyH replied 8 years ago.

I try to keep an open mind about anything that might work so while I'm skeptical about the psychic choice it appears to work for some.

Yes all the disruptions might make her stressed and stress could contribute to her being lost or impact her heatlh. Also with the stress on the humans a change in medical condition might have been missed.

But if she normally sleeps with your daughter and your daughter is gone she might be looking for her. You might look in the direction of the transport the daughter took on the first leg of her trip.

Dogs can do pretty well in temps above freezing. They normally know how to curl into a ball in a protected area to stay as warm as possible. Labs are designed to handle cool temps as they are meant to go into pretty cold water to fetch ducks. Yes she is a senior and so more at risk but she is a good sized dog and they do better in the cold than a tiny one might. If it was below zero that would be a bigger concern.

At least in the UK you don't have the worries I have here - coyotes and other predators view housepets as a very convenient nutrition source and this time of year, with them feeding young, they get quite bold!


Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Thanks again

you ahve been helful and your advice seems sound even though you cant work the magic we need!

Am happy to accept so you get your payment but does that mean the end to your online advice?


Expert:  NancyH replied 8 years ago.

You can come back and reply on this question and I'll respond to you even after you accept - barring me being offline which my family and animals all claim I must do from time to time :) and then I'll reply when I'm back on the pc!

I'm hoping you will have good news soon!

NancyH, Dog Expert:Rescue, Train,Breed,Care
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 31958
Experience: 30+ yrs dog home vet care & nursing, rescue, behavior&training, responsible show breeding, genetics
NancyH and other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.


will accept and realise you ned time with your animals

just nice to know someone out there may be able to help

we are all devastated that our darling dog may be lost not far away and we cant find her or help her

we are exhausetd after being up at 6am and walking all day

cant handle never seeing her again

cant handle that after we have looked after her so well and love her so much that her life could end on her own and that she may be distressed

Cant handle that she may be suffering

also seems so starnge that so many people have been out looking for her and covered miles and not seen her

thnaks again for your support

Expert:  NancyH replied 8 years ago.

I know we torment ourselves over any lost pet or one we can't help.

But you know she'd not want you to do that!

You might go out and stay in one spot and call for a while. That will pool your scent in the area and let her zero in if she can hear you at all. And if she is moving and you are moving you could miss each other so staying in a vantage point if you can find one might let you spot her.

Watch also for any unusual wild life activity - some birds like ravens and crows will move in on a deceased animal and be active in the area.