How can you tell if a dog is a stray?

If you’ve found a dog and are wondering if he’s a stray, there are a few telltale signs that might indicate his origins.

One of the easiest ways to determine whether a dog is a stray is the condition of its coat. Does he look like he’s recently been brushed? Does he smell like he’s freshly bathed?  If the dog has mats and tangles in his coat, and doesn’t smell very good, it’s possible that he is a stray. However, this is not always the case. It could still possibly belong to someone and has been lost for a significant amount of time.

Is the dog malnourished or severely underweight? If so, this is a possible sign that the dog has been on the street for a while as well. The dog is underweight because he hasn’t been properly fed, and may gobble any food that you give him. Do not give a severely malnourished dog lots of food right away. The stray dog’s system will not be able to handle a large quantity of food, and he will vomit or become extremely ill. Feed the dog many small meals a day until he is able to handle larger portions without becoming sick.

The dog’s temperament may also indicate whether he’s a stray. A shy or standoffish dog, or one who refuses to come near you, is most likely a stray. Stray dogs are frequently subject to abuse by strangers, often with weapons, in order to keep them away from homes. Consequently, they are wary of everyone with whom they interact.

Dogs who are afraid to come near you, or who run away from you, are likely to be strays. These dogs may require some time to get them to approach you. Start by leaving food out for them to eat. Then, when they become more comfortable with that, just stand or sit were they can see you while they eat. Over time, they may allow you to approach them and eventually pet them. But, don’t be surprised if this takes a long time to accomplish.

If you believe you have found a stray dog, it is best to take it to a local veterinarian or a shelter to see if the dog is micro-chipped. If so, you will be able to reunite a family with its lost dog. If not, then you have found a new friend!

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