The term “emergency” brings to mind many forms of crisis—tornadoes, hurricanes, fires, flooding, and terrorism top the list. You cannot predict when one of these events will affect you, but planning ahead will help ensure you weather the incident unharmed. The Animal Emergency Hospital and Urgent Care team wants to remind you to include your pet in these plans to secure their well-being.

Pet preparedness in advance of an emergency

Tension is high and emotions can be frantic when an emergency hits. Therefore, planning ahead can be crucial, especially if you have to evacuate. Create a check-off list that answers these questions:

  • Is your pet’s information current? — Always have your pet wear a collar and tags with current identification. You should also consider microchipping your pet, as this will provide the best chance of finding your pet if you are separated. Keep the microchip registration up-to-date, as well. Always ensure your pet’s vaccinations are current, because most hotels and boarding facilities will not accept dogs without proof of vaccination.
  • Where will you go? — Determine where you can stay that will allow your pet. If you will not feel safe at home, your pet is not safe there either. Research hotels and motels that accept animals. Make a list of friends and family members who have agreed to let you and your pet visit. Also, look into suitable boarding facilities if you cannot keep your pet with you.
  • What if you cannot get to your pet? — There is no guarantee that you will be home when disaster strikes. Therefore, affix a Rescue Alert sticker to your front door to alert emergency workers pets are in the house. Ask a close-by family member or a neighbor who is usually at home during the day to be responsible for your pet should you be away and unable to get home.
  • How do I prevent pet anxiety? — Your pet likely will be nervous and afraid during an emergency and may be hard to control. Practice your evacuation plan with your pet ahead of time to help them stay as calm as possible. Ensure they will accept the appropriate restraint. Take them on routine car rides, using the restraint, to ensure they will not panic during a crisis.
  • What should my pet emergency kit include? — Gather these supplies for a pet emergency kit:
    • Pet first aid guide book
    • Pet food to last three to seven days
    • Seven-day supply of bottled water for each pet
    • Feeding dishes and water bowls
    • Crate or carrier for each pet
    • Disposable litter trays and litter
    • Photocopies of veterinary records
    • Two-week supply of medication
    • Extra collar and leash
    • Current photo of your pet in case they become lost
  • How do I plan for my exotic pet? — Exotic pets need special considerations when planning for an emergency.
    • Birds — Transport your bird in a secure travel cage covered with a sheet or blanket and placed in the quietest area possible, to help reduce their stress and keep them quiet. Ensure that their leg band contains accurate and current information. Keep a recent photo of your bird with you in case they escape. 
    • Snakes — Snakes can be moved in a pillowcase, but should be moved as quickly as possible to an appropriate aquarium with a heating pad or hot water bottle, and a large bowl for soaking in.
    • Gerbils, mice, and more — Place small animals, such as gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, and mice in a secure carrier, and bring one week’s supply of food and water, bedding, a small box for hiding, and a salt lick. 

Pet preparedness during an emergency

You have your plan in place to evacuate, but what if you are not able to get out in time? When sheltering in place, always bring your pets inside. They can easily become panicked and disoriented if left to fend for themselves, and may become lost or injured. Choose a safe room, preferably an interior room with no windows, and shelter there with all the necessary supplies for you and your pet. Close off all unsafe nooks and crannies that a frightened cat or small dog may try to escape into.

Pet preparedness after an emergency

Hopefully, you and your pet are able to return home safely following an evacuation. When you do, follow these steps:

  • Inspect your home — Check your home carefully before allowing your pet to roam. Look for broken glass or exposed wiring that could injure your pet, and ensure that no  windows are open, or walls damaged, where your pet could escape.
  • Be patient with your pet — Your pet may continue to be anxious after experiencing a stressful situation, so be patient and understanding of any minor misbehavior until they settle down. If their behavior problems persist, contact our veterinary team for advice. 

Should your pet become lost, contact your local humane society, animal welfare organization, and animal control. Post flyers in the area with a current picture of your pet. If your pet is microchipped, alert the  company. The possibility of a lost pet, no matter the circumstances, demonstrates the importance of microchipping pets.

Staying calm in the face of disaster is never easy, but with these arrangements in place, you will be prepared for keeping you and your pet safe. Contact Animal Emergency Hospital and Urgent Care if you need help planning for a disaster, or if your pet has been stressed or injured during an emergency.