pet emergency preparedness


One of the saddest things to me after a disaster is the number of pets roaming around lost.  Although many are reunited with their families, others are taken to shelters.  When no one comes to claim them, in all probability they will be euthanized.

I think I would freak out if all my furry friends – 7 cats – were lost.  Two of them are in-an-out cats, and they would probably be okay.  The five who live indoors, though, would probably be at huge risk, as they have lived inside all their lives.

Hey, They Are Members of the Family!

Although I’m a little creeped out by the term ‘pet parents’, they are part of your family.  As with the people who live in your home, you need to keep that 72-hour window in mind.

Have an Evacuation Plan

First and foremost, sit down and talk with your family about an evacuation plan.  If everyone has a job to do, it will make it easier to get your pets to a safe place.

Identify a place where your pets can shelter until you can return to your home.  Check with local hotels or talk to friends or family who are out of your immediate area.

If you can’t find shelter that accepts pets, try to find a kennel or other location where your pets can stay until you can return home.

Develop a buddy system with neighbors so that you can work together to insure that you pets are safe and cared for.

Make a list of emergency pet medical services and make two copies – one to put on your refrigerator and one to put in your kit.

Food and Water

Your pets need a three-day supply of food and water, just like you do.  Be sure to pack food that your pet will eat.  And if it comes in a can, don’t forget to throw in a can opener.

You will also need to pack water for you pet, in addition to what you pack for your family.  Both cats and dogs need ½ to 1 ounce of water per day for every pound of body weight.  If they eat canned food, it will be closer to ½ ounce.  Just don’t let them get dehydrated.

Last of all, you will need a water-proof container to hold your food and water supply.

Medical and First Aid

If you pet needs to take medication on a regular basis, talk to your vet about getting a 3-day supply for your pet’s 72-hour kit.  Actually, this is going to be a WHOLE lot easier than getting a 3-day-supply for yourself!  Knowing you have your pet meds tucked away will add to your peace of mind.

While at your vet, get a copy of your pet medical records.  That way, if you pet needs emergency treatment you will have the record with you.

You also need a pet first aid kit.  If you put one together yourself, you will need:

  • Cotton bandage rolls
  • Bandage tape
  • Scissors
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Flea and tick prevention
  • Disposable gloves
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Pet first aid reference book

If you would rather not get all that stuff together yourself, you can purchase a ready-made kit, like the AKC Pet First Aid Kit.  This kit is so handy you’ll want to keep it close by when you take your dog on a walk or to the dog park.  You never know when your dog is going to step on broken glass or get bitten by another dog.

If you don’t know anything about giving your pet first aid, this handy little book will fit right inside your first aid kit.  It’s spiral bound in flip-chart format and has lots of other helpful information, such as how to break up dog fights and what plants are poisonous to your pet.

Pet Paraphernalia

Pets, especially those who live indoors, have a lot of ‘stuff’.  You don’t need to take everything you have, but here are important items to have in your kit.

Add an extra leash and collar in case of breakage.  Be sure that the collar has duplicate tags on it.

If you don’t already have one, buy a pet carrier.  It will make evacuation much easier.

You will need food and water dishes for your pet.  These collapsible dishes are perfect for a pet emergency kit.  In fact, they are so popular that you might want to get an extra one to keep in your car.

pet emergency preparednessDon’t forget to pack your pets favorite treats, a couple of toys and special bedding.  Like your family, your pet will be uneasy with evacuation.  Having some familiar things from home will help your pet to feel calmer.

Sanitary Needs

During an emergency, your pet will still need to pee and poop.  Bring a litter box and litter for your cat and newspapers for your dog, as well as plastic bags for picking up doggy doo and disposing of litter.

Also, be sure that you have disposable gloves for yourself and a small bottle of bleach to use when cleaning up messes.  You don’t want to get an illness from touching animal feces.

Identification: How Will Rescuers Know It Is Your Pet?

After every disaster, the internet has lots of videos of people who have saved dogs and cats in the aftermath.  If your pet gets left behind or you become separated, you need to make sure that you can be reunited with your pet(s).

The surest way is to identify your pet is with an I.D. microchip, but be sure the information is up-to-date.  A little dog recently rescued by a shelter near me had a microchip, but the owner had failed to update the information after changing phone numbers.  Fortunately, it wasn’t difficult to place the dog for adoption.

A collar with tags is another good way to identify your pet.  The collar should have a rabies tag and an identification tag.  Also, your kit should have a blank tag that you can write your evacuation location on.

Be sure to have a recent picture of your pet so that you can make posters or put it on the internet if your pet is lost.  In addition, have a picture of you and your pet together.  It may come in handy when you go to pick up your pet and need to prove ownership.  This is especially important with cats. Your dog will probably be so happy to see you that you won’t need to prove ownership!

Don’t Suffer the Pain of Having Lost Your Pet

If you have pets that you love, you need to think ‘preparation’.  You have to do for them what they cannot do for themselves.

It’s easy for your pet to get overlooked or to get away in a disaster situation.  With a little smart preparation, however, you can avoid a lot of heartache.

Get Your Pet Prepared Quickly

If you’d like to fast-track your pet preparation, you can do it for only 99 cents.  You’ll receive a PDF of this article, as well as a detailed checklist that will help you quickly prepared to take care of your pet in an emergency.

Do you have an emergency plan for your pets?  Have you had an experience with a disaster situation that involved your pets?  Please let us know all about it by leaving a comment, and please share this with your friends.

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