Top Things Pet Owners Should do to Prepare for Disasters

Top Things Pet Owners Should do to Prepare for Disasters

Dr. Kurt Venator, Purina Veterinary

Although it’s difficult to predict when natural disasters will occur, preparing for the worst can make the difference when every second counts. Below are five tips for pet owners to prepare for a disaster:

1. Know the common natural disasters that can occur: Though pet owners should try to be prepared for all types of emergencies if possible, depending on which U.S. region you reside in, there are certain natural disasters that are more common than others. For example, hurricanes and cyclones are more likely to occur if you live near the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic Coast, and tornadoes mainly hit areas like Kansas or Iowa in the Midwest. The West coast typically experiences wildfires, and flash flooding can take place in certain areas across the United States – such as the Southwest – after large storms. If you live in a region where hurricanes are common, it’s important to understand the elevation level of your property and whether it is prone to floods. This will help you understand how your property will be affected when a hurricane hits and can help you prepare a plan in advance for your pets.

Cami and I live in the desert of Las Vegas, so we don’t have to worry about flooding. But once in awhile there are crazy rain storms and because the city is not equipped for adequate drainage, the parks do accumulate a ton of water! Things we do have to aware of here are heat stroke, crazy windy days and spiders, scorpions and snakes!

2. Prep your home and pet: The first step to preparing your pet for a natural disaster is to make sure that he or she is wearing a securely fastened collar with up-to-date identification in case you become separated during a natural disaster. Pet owners can consider having their pet microchipped to assure that the pet can be identified and found via an electronic device as well. To prepare your home for natural disasters, talk to your local veterinarian who can provide waterproof, “Pets Inside” stickers that you can place on the front and back door of your house to alert rescuers that there are pets inside your home. In the case of a hurricane, try to cover all of your windows with permanent storm shutters or marine plywood and keep your pet away from them while the hurricane is passing through.

Cami has not been microchipped! So having a reliable ID collar with correct phone numbers on it is very very important. I recently changed my number to a Vegas one and her tags still have my old number on it! This is a great tip. Even though I am with Cami 24/7 and hardly ever apart from her. You never know what can happen and if she got lost, how could she get home?

3. Prepare a disaster kit: Your pet disaster kit should include basic pet essentials such as bottled water, cans of wet food, blankets, collapsible bowls, cat litter and pan, and a leash and collar. A one-to-two-week supply of food that your pet usually eats is an ideal amount to include in your disaster kit, however make sure to replace the food according to the expiration dates and call your pet food manufacturer to address any other quality and safety concerns. Have photos of your pet on-hand in case you need to distribute pictures if your pet gets lost, and make sure to include any important paperwork pertaining to your pet (e.g. vaccine records/medical history, veterinary contact information, medications list and emergency contacts). Finally, be sure to include a basic pet first-aid kit in your disaster kit.

I think this is so important to have. Cami is way too big to be carried now, over 85 lbs but we still try. I would pack this emergency kit just in case something happens. A doggy backpack can be perfect for situations like this and we like this one from Ruffwear. Lucky for me, a lot of her vaccines and info is online with her pet insurance app and also on my Google Drive. 

4. Develop an evacuation plan: Do your research and save precious seconds by identifying possible locations where you can take your animals should you have to evacuate. These locations can include animal shelters, veterinary clinics or even pet-friendly hotels where you and your pet can find relief until the disaster passes. Keeping your dog’s medical records on-hand is vital since some pet-friendly emergency relief centers require proof of vaccinations in order for your pet to stay there.

5. Recruit friends and neighbors: It’s also important to consider creating a buddy system with your neighbor, family or friend who can look out for your pet in case you are not home when a disaster strikes. Add this person to your veterinarian’s emergency contact list of people who have authority to approve necessary emergency treatments if you can’t be reached. Also, identify places where you can leave your pet while you are out of town to avoid leaving your pet alone. Always let your pet sitter and back-up person know where your pet’s disaster kit is stored in case of an emergency.

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