Pet Articles: Wellness

Disaster Preparedness for Your Pets

Sometimes just thinking about potential disasters can make people superstitious and nervous. One way to lessen a case of the willies is to be prepared ahead of time, especially when you’re in charge of your furry family member’s safety.

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family photo with dog

Keeping Pets Safe During Emergencies

Stay calm: Prepare on

Before disaster strikes, keep an easy-to-carry travel bag or crate handy with your pet’s name and contact information on it.

Be sure your pet’s collar has his/her name, family surname, address, phone number, and any urgent medical concerns on it. You may want to include a backup number from someone outside your area in case local phones are down.

Check to be sure your pet’s collar fits properly with his ID tags secured. If your pet loses weight or the collar isn’t tight enough it can slip over his head when the leash is tugged; in a panic, your pet might pull away quickly and become lost.

Micro-chipping recommended

The ASPCA recommends a more permanent form of identification with a microchip in your pet’s shoulder. Microchips should be registered in your name with emergency phone contacts, which can be read by scanners at most animal shelters. Ask your veterinarian for more information about a microchip for your pet.

In case of emergency

Even if you don’t live in an area that’s vulnerable to earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, and other natural catastrophes, designate a safe room in your home that’s free from potential hazards like broken windows and flying objects.

Bathrooms, basements and utility rooms can be good havens if they’re not filled with non-secured items. Choose a room that has easy access to fresh water. In case of electricity loss, fill up bathtubs and sinks with potable water ahead of time.

In flood regions, find the highest location in your home or use rooms with accessible counters and high shelves where your pets can take shelter. Keep emergency supplies with you and consider crating your pets if they become agitated during the event.

If officials recommend staying in your home, always keep your dogs or cats with you. At the first storm warning, bring them inside. If your pet can only relieve himself outside, make sure he’s on a lead.

Pets may pre-cognitively “smell” a disaster before you, panic and wander off or hide. Round up any pets from their favorite hiding spots, indoors and out, and bring them into the safe zone with all family members. If evacuation becomes necessary, you’ll be able to get your pets into their mobile carriers more quickly.

Escape route

Familiarize your family with potential escape routes in case an evacuation is mandatory. Local and state officials will advise which route(s) to take in an actual disaster. Also, consider which relatives and friends can accommodate you and notify them at the first sign of evacuation.

Meanwhile print out a list of phone numbers and addresses for pet-friendly hotels, animal hospitals and shelters along several different routes, in case certain areas aren’t passable.

“Got-it” list

Staking out a safe room, emergency plan and evacuation routes with your family will be easier if you create a checklist to be sure you have everything you need.

Keep in mind that a day’s evacuation could turn into several weeks, so it’s always wise to pack a bit more than you think you might need.

  • Be sure your pet’s vaccinations are current.
  • Keep a month’s supply of your pets’ unexpired medications along with copies of all his/her vaccination and medical records (including microchip and contact info) plus current photos for “lost-pet” signs, in a waterproof container.
  • Have a comfortable travel carrier for each pet within easy reach.
  • Store 3-7 days' worth of canned or dry food in a sealed container; rotate supply to be sure the food doesn’t expire.
  • Keep an extra collar, harness and leash in your kit.
  • Store at least 7 days' worth of bottled water for each person and pet in a cool, dry place; replace every few months so they’re fresh when you need them.
  • Pack pet’s dishes, bowls with a can opener and spoons.
  • Include chew toys, treats, snacks and bones.
  • Pack disposable trash bags and poop scooper bags.
  • For cats, include a small bag of scoop-able litter with a disposable litter tray (Hint: aluminum roasting pans work well).
  • Include household items: Flashlight, sturdy gloves, disinfectant, pet-friendly cleaner, paper towels.
  • Remember first-aid kits (for you and your pet) plus a few blankets.

Your community may even offer an animal first-aid class, so consider having at least one family member take the class.

Although pet parents have no control over the weather and natural disasters, there are ways we can all sleep a bit easier by knowing we’ve prepared emergency kits and escape plans to help protect all of our loved ones.

11 items for your Furry Buddy’s First Aid Kit

1) Your veterinarian and emergency clinic’s phone numbers.
Enter your zip code at and tap the emergency box to find E.R. clinics near you. Animal Poison Control Center: 888-4ANI-HELP (888-426-4435).

2) Pet’s medical records, including all medications and vaccination history.

3) Gauze to wrap wounds or muzzle an injured dog or cat.

4) Nonstick bandages, towels or strips of clean cloth to control bleeding or protect wounds. Avoid adhesive bandages that can hurt when you pull them off fur.

5) Adhesive tape to secure gauze or cloth bandage wraps.

6) Milk of magnesia and activated charcoal to absorb poison.

7) 3% Hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting. Always contact your veterinarian or local poison control center first, before doing so.

8) Digital “Fever” Thermometer for rectal use; regular thermometers don’t register high enough for pets.

9) Eye dropper (or large syringe minus the needle) to give oral treatments or flush wounds.

10) Necktie, cloth, nylon stocking, or small towel to use as makeshift muzzle if you don’t have a real one. Injured and ill pets may lash out when frightened and in pain, this helps prevent biting.

11) A board, door, blanket or stiff mat to be used as a stretcher to stabilize your pet for transportation.