Natural disasters can happen at any time, and depending on where you live, you could be affected by any number of severe weather events or emergency situations – floods, ice storms, blizzards, power failures, water quality advisories, earthquakes, tornadoes, or fires are possible. As awareness rises about emergency preparedness, many people are prepared for such events for their family, but have not considered their pet. How many times have you dashed out to grab a bag of dog or cat food because you were nearly out? You may not have the opportunity or the ability to get to the store if you are in the midst of an emergency.
Pets are important members of the family and it’s important to have an emergency kit prepared, and a disaster plan in place for your pets before an emergency arises.
Make sure all of your pets are wearing identification tags that are up-to-date and consider microchipping. In an emergency situation, you may become separated from your pets, and microchipping increases the chance that you will be reunited.
Be prepared with everything you need to care for your furry companions for at least a week, and be sure to store your pet’s emergency kit where the rest of your emergency supplies are kept. Keep a list of the items you have included in the kit taped to the underside of the lid and update it as you add items to the kit.
Some items to include in your pet’s emergency kit are:
- A crate or carrier that is large enough for your pet to stand, turn around, and lie down in. Keep a blanket or crate pad inside. Label your crate with your contact information.
- An extra collar and leash for each dog (and cat if your cat will tolerate it).
- Non-spill food and water dishes (spill-proof travel dishes are available).
- A week’s worth of kibble for each animal stored in airtight containers. Canned food is an excellent option as it helps provide moisture for your pet and will reduce their thirst – remember to pack a manual can opener if the cans are not pop-top lids. **Switch this food out every two months so it stays fresh.
- A week’s worth of bottled water for each pet. Keep in mind that during hot weather, pets will need much more water, and you may not be in an air conditioned environment with your pet (dogs need about 8-17 ounces of water per ten pounds per day and cats need slightly less – bottom line – having more is better than not enough). **Switch this water out every few months so it stays fresh.
- Disposable pans to use as litterboxes (aluminum roasting pans work well) and litter.
- Paper towels, liquid dish soap, disinfectant, and garbage bags for cleanup.
- Toys and other familiar items – this could be a stressful time for your pet, so including familiar items can be helpful.
- Consider making and packing a pet first aid kit.
Be sure to keep copies of the following in a sealed container or bag
- Vaccination certificates
- Proof of ownership (recent photographs are good to have available as well)
- Microchip information
- Medical records
- Feeding instructions/medication instructions
- Before you leave your house, don’t forget to gather any medications and preventive medications that your pet may be taking – a label fixed to the lid of the emergency kit will remind you to get your pet’s medication before you evacuate.
Create a contingency plan in case you cannot make it home to get your pets. A neighbor, or nearby family member should have a key to your home, know where to find the emergency kit, and know your pets. Place a sticker on the front door to let emergency personnel know the number and types of pets that are in the house (if you evacuate with your pets, and time allows it, write EVACUATED across the sticker).
Don’t forget to have a plan in place for pocket pets, reptiles, and birds too. Litter, food, water, and a blanket to cover your pet’s cage are good items to have packed in an emergency kit.
Always take your pets with you if you have to evacuate. Often times, people think they will be gone for only a short time and leave their pets behind. Conditions can often worsen before they get better and you may be unable to get home to get your pets.