Disaster preparedness for your pets
Last updated: January 1
Your pet is a treasured member of your family, and during an emergency you'll want to make sure it is safe from harm. Here are some steps you can take before and during a disaster to help protect your beloved pet.
Create an evacuation plan
It's impossible to know exactly how a disaster would unfold, so it's a good idea to have an evacuation plan in place for your pets that you can adapt according to your circumstances.
Many emergency shelters don't allow you to bring pets due to public health concerns, so you'll want to start your planning by locating an animal hospital or shelter near your family's evacuation site. You may also take some time to research pet-friendly hotels along your evacuation route, Ready.gov says. If a hotel doesn't typically allow pets, you may want to ask them if they waive that policy during an emergency situation, says the American Red Cross. Another option? Reach out to a relative or friend who lives out of town and may be able to care for your pet in case of emergency.
Pack a pet emergency kit
Preparing a pet emergency kit can help you evacuate quickly with the supplies you will need. Ready.gov and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), recommend you include the following items in your kit:
- Three to seven days' worth of canned or dry food
- At least seven days' worth of water for your pet
- Water and feeding dishes
- A pet first aid kit
- Garbage bags and/or pet waste bags for cleaning up
- Dish soap, disinfectant and paper towels
- Two weeks' worth of pet medicines
- Recent photos of your pet
- Photocopies of vet records
- Extra collar with ID tags, a harness and a leash
- Blanket (to pick up your pet and cover its carrier while traveling)
- Travel carrier for pet
If you have a cat, also include a litter tray, litter and a scooper. Store this kit near an exit in your home and be sure all the family members know where it's located, ASPCA advises.
Microchip your pet
Another step you can take today is to microchip your pet. This can help you reunite with it should you be separated in an emergency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says. A microchip is a tiny piece of technology that a veterinarian or animal shelter can implant in your pet's skin, according to the Humane Society of the United States. It stores a unique code connected to the particular pet registry associated with the microchip. A vet or shelter can use a handheld scanner to read the code and then look up the code in the registry database to get your contact info.
Once you get your pet microchipped, you also need to register it with the company that provided the microchip, the Humane Society notes. In addition to that paperwork, you may have to pay either a one-time or annual fee. You may also receive a tag to place on your pet's collar with the registry phone number and the microchip number.
Check ID tags
In addition to the microchip, the ASPCA recommends confirming that your pet's ID tags include your current contact information. The tag should note the pet's name, your phone number and any urgent medical requirements the pet has. Also be sure the pet's carrier has both the pet's name and your name, as well as your contact information.
Take precautions during a disaster
If you find yourself in an emergency situation with your pet, there are steps you can take to help keep you and your pet healthy. Try to keep your pet in a carrier or on a leash, and away from other animals or wildlife, the CDC says. Stay away from stagnant water, particularly if flooding has occurred. And it's important to practice proper hygiene, so be sure to wash your hands after handling your pet and try not to let it lick your hands or face.
By taking these preparations today, you can help make an emergency situation just a little easier for you to manage and safer for your pet.