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Disaster Preparedness: Pet Emergency Tips

Natural Disaster Planning Pet Emergency Tips

Natural disasters can happen at any moment and do not discriminate in their paths. Not only should you prepare for your family in case of a hurricane, tornado, or another serious event, but also have a special plan for any animals you own. Disaster can strike – without warning – anytime, anywhere. Here are a few tips from Jeffers to make sure your animals remain safe and prepared in case of a natural disaster, from updating their identification to putting together a pet emergency kit.

1. Know the types of natural disasters that are local to your area

Instances of natural disasters. A graphic image of a home being hit by a tsunami, a home by an erupting volcano, a home in a flood, a home in an earthquake, a tornado heading towards a home, and a forest on fire. Part of preparedness is knowing what to prepare for. What types of emergencies are likely to occur in your area? Do hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, flooding, blizzards, or wildfires affect your area? If you are unsure what disasters are common in your area, contact your local emergency management agency for more information. Also, consider other emergency situations, such as house fires or gas leaks.

2. Make sure all pets have identification

A close up of a person reading a silver dog identification tag on the neck of a black and white dog wearing a red collar with two ID tags attached.

The American Humane Association estimates that about 17% of all lost dogs and only 2% of all lost cats ever make it back to their owner. Nearly 10 million pets are euthanized each year because they cannot be reunited with their owner. The American Humane Association recommends using ID tags and microchips and always keeping the information up-to-date.

Jeffers Pet recommends that pets should have not one but two tags. Why is that? If a neighborhood was destroyed by a natural disaster and a pet was found, there would be no way to track where their home used to be until days or weeks later. With two identification tags, the process of finding the owner will be quicker and pets will be reunited with their family once again. Another method of identifying pets is microchipping.

Important Note:

If you do not register the chip, it will not help your pet be found.

“Micro-chipping is safe, effective, durable and dependable, but can’t absolutely guarantee that a lost pet will be found. The best way to keep your pet safe is to use more than one form of identification. Microchips are long-lasting and a wonderful means of identification, but there is a chance a shelter won’t have a reader, so a tattoo would be an effective backup form of identification. If kind strangers find your pet on the street, on the other hand, they won’t have a reader handy to check and won’t know where to call to match a tattoo to an owner. A tag with your name and address [and phone number] would allow them to bring your pet right back to your door. Another possibility would be a tag that informs readers that your pet has been micro-chipped or tattooed and give them the number to call to reach the ID number database. There’s always the possibility that one kind of identification could fail but if your pet has two or three kinds of ID, there’s a good chance that at least one will bring him/her home to you.”


3. Make arrangements

Two tabby cats lying in an open gray and blue small crate while snuggling with each other.

You should never leave your pets behind in an emergency unless your own life is at risk. Remember that though these animals once survived in the wild, we have domesticated them for generations and have trained them to overcome or ignore these natural instincts. If you must evacuate, take your pet with you. However, many shelters do not accept pets, so planning is again, essential!

Start with a list of options in areas surrounding your home (up to 100-mile radius). Options include friends or families out of harm’s way, veterinary clinics, pet boarding facilities, pet-friendly hotels, and animal shelters. Whatever you decide, make sure you thoroughly understand any restrictions or rules. For example, many boarding facilities require a copy of veterinary records before accepting your pet. Additionally, you will need to have a portable kennel for each pet.

4. Prepare a Pet Emergency Kit

A natural disaster and emergency pet first aid kit inlcuding treats, foos, copies of verterinary records, and a first aid kit laid out on the grass in front of a small white dog wearing a red bandana.

This kit should include, at the minimum, some bandages and flexible wrap, a blood-stopper, an antibiotic ointment, an antiseptic spray, a thermometer, sterile gloves, and scissors.

It is important to carry a couple days worth of food and clean water for your pet. Don’t forget to rotate stored food every month or two when your emergency kit is just sitting. If packing canned food, be sure it has a pop-top or you have a manual can opener with the kit.

  • Keep a couple of trash bags handy and collapsible or disposable feeding dishes or bowls made for travel.
  • An extra collar/harness/leash and some chew toys and snacks are a must as well as a blanket and/or bed and any necessary medications.
  • Keep recent photos of you with your pet available in case of separation.
  • Be aware of local laws that might require you to have some form of waste disposal.
  • If you live in or your “safe destination” is in a colder climate, keep a sweater or jacket and possibly boots for your pet. Snow, ice, and salt are harsh on paws.
  • Another consideration is the stress and anxiety of the emergency situation and travel on your pet. Consider a calming or anxiety relief treatment for your pet.
  • Be sure that your house has an emergency “Save Our Pets” stickers on every door and at least one window on each side of the house. Emergency workers don’t know and you might not be home or conscious to tell them.

Don’t wait until disaster strikes to think about what to do. You may literally only have a minute to worry about your own safety and that of your pet(s).

Information in this blog is meant to be helpful and/or educational. It should in no way supersede, challenge, or supplant the diagnosis, treatment, or advice of a licensed veterinarian.