You typically are seldom, if ever, forewarned when a disaster strikes, so advance preparation is the best way to help ensure you and your pet stay safe. Since September is National Disaster Preparedness Month, our team at Pet Emergency Clinic and Referral Center would like to offer tips to help you be prepared should a disaster threaten.

#1: Identify your pet

If a disaster occurs, your pet will likely be upset, and may panic and bolt during the commotion. Ensure your pet always wears a collar and tags with your current contact information. You should also consider microchipping your pet, which is the best way to have your pet returned if they go missing. Microchipping is a simple procedure that can be performed at your pet’s next wellness visit, and will ensure they have lifelong, permanent identification. Your pet should continue to wear their collar and identification tags, but microchipping is an added safety precaution.

#2: Get a pet rescue alert sticker

Many pet supply stores sell rescue alert stickers to alert rescue workers that pets are in the home. Fill out the information requested, including how many pets you have, and your veterinarian’s phone number, and affix the sticker on or near your front door. If you evacuate your home, write “EVACUATED” across the sticker so rescue workers know they don’t have to search the house.

#3: Prepare an emergency supply kit for your pet

Keep a kit ready near the door or in your car that has your pet’s necessary supplies, in case you have to evacuate. These include:

  • Water — A seven-day supply is recommended. Tap water that is not suitable for humans to drink is also unsafe for animals. A 10-pound animal requires about one quart of water per day, and a 40-pound animal needs about one gallon per day.
  • Food — A seven-day supply is recommended. Use your pet’s usual brand to ensure they don’t experience gastrointestinal upset. If your pet eats canned food, bring a can opener. If you evacuate, you may not have access to a refrigerator where you can store partially used food cans, so you may need to take extra.
  • Food and water bowls — Bowls are an easy item to forget, but you will need them to easily feed and water your pet.
  • Crate or carrier — The container should be large enough for your pet to stand up and turn around inside. For cats, include a litter pan.
  • Sanitary supplies — A seven-day supply of cat litter is recommended. For dogs, take disposable plastic bags. Also take dish soap, paper towels, hand sanitizer, and a disinfectant to clean the crate.
  • Extra collar and leash — In case your pet’s permanent collar and leash get lost, you should have a replacement.
  • Identification — Have current pictures of your pet in case they get lost, and you need to post their picture around the neighborhood. 
  • Medication — If your pet takes prescription medication, have at least a two-week supply, in case you cannot refill the prescription.
  • Pet first aid kit — You can ask your veterinarian the items that they recommend for your pet’s first aid kit.

#4: Designate a caregiver for your pet

In case you are not home when a disaster occurs, you should find someone willing to take responsibility for your pet. When deciding who this should be, factors to consider include:

  • Proximity — You want someone who lives close enough that they can easily access your home.
  • Work schedule — This should be someone who is typically at home when you are at work.
  • Suitability — This should be someone who is comfortable around pets, and preferably someone whom you know your pet likes and trusts.

#5: Research lodging options for your pet

Never leave your pet at home if you evacuate. If the circumstances aren’t safe for you, then your pet will not be safe either. Not all shelters accept pets, so you should research your options in advance. Places to research include:

  • Boarding facilities — Contact your veterinarian for recommendations for preferred boarding facilities.
  • Local animal shelter — Ask your local animal shelter if they provide emergency shelter or foster care.
  • Hotels — Identify hotels and motels that accept pets.
  • Friends and relatives — Ask friends and family members if they would allow you and your pet to stay in case of an emergency.

#6: Practice your evacuation plan with your pet

Acustom your pet to being in their carrier and riding in a car, so they aren’t extremely frightened if you have to evacuate. You can leave the carrier in an easily accessible place, and feed them inside, so they become comfortable resting there. Once they are used to the carrier, you can take them on short car rides, gradually increasing the length as they become more comfortable.

Facing a disaster is a harrowing experience, but being prepared is the best way to keep you and your pet free from harm. If your pet experiences a medical emergency, or if they have a condition that requires a referral, contact our team at Pet Emergency Clinic and Referral Center, so we can provide the care they need.