Disasters can strike at any time in any region of the world. Sometimes, like with hurricanes or snowstorms, we have advance notice, but other incidents happen without warning. You may have a disaster plan in place for your family and home, but what steps have you taken to prepare your pets?
1. Prepare a Pet Go-Bag
Having an easy-to-access pet go-bag is important if you need to evacuate quickly. The last thing you want is to leave at a moment’s notice and discover that your pet’s crucial medication was left behind. Be sure to curate a bag filled with each pet’s special needs. The CDC recommends your kits include the following for each animal:
- 2 weeks of medications
- 3-7 days of food
- At least 7 days of water
- Emergency contact list
- Extra blanket or bed for comfort
- Extra collar or harness and leash
- Flea and tick prevention
- Food and water bowls
- Litter and litter pan
- Medical records, including vaccinations
- Photo of you with your pet
- Proof of ownership
- Their favorite toys
2. Make a Pet First-Aid Kit
Just like humans, pets are at risk of injury in the event of a disaster, so be ready for anything by adding extra supplies for your pets to your first-aid kit.
- Anti-diarrheal liquid or tablets
- Antibiotic ointment
- Bandage tape and scissors
- Cotton bandage rolls
- Flea and tick prevention (if needed in your area)
- Isopropyl alcohol/alcohol prep pads
- Latex gloves
- Saline solution
- Towel and washcloth
3. Have a Backup Plan for Your Pets
Evacuations are tricky. The best plan is for your pets to stay with you at all times for their safety and comfort, but that’s not always possible. If you can’t take your pet with you for any reason, make a list of alternative options for keeping your pet safe.
First, know where you’re likely to evacuate to. If there is nowhere to stay that allows pets and you don’t have friends or family nearby, have a list of shelters, vet clinics, or pet boarding locations that will be able to care for your pet until it is safe to return home.
Because it is best for your pet and your peace of mind to stay together, consider evacuating early if the chance allows. This will give you more time to find a safe shelter that will accept you and your pet together.
4. Keep Your Pet Ready for Anything
Many hotels and shelters will not permit unvaccinated pets to stay, so keep your pet up-to-date on all of their vaccines, especially rabies. As mentioned earlier, keeping your pet’s medical records in a go bag is the best way to ensure you have proof of vaccination. Keep that paperwork in a plastic folder or even a zipper bag to keep it dry.
Check your pet’s collar (and back-up collar) and confirm that the information on their tag is up to date. Do the same for your pet’s chip, or get your pet chipped. If you are separated, rescue groups will check for a chip, so it’s vital that your contact information is accurate.
5. Think About Your Return-Home Plan
Just because the immediate danger has passed doesn’t mean your pet is safe to return to life as normal. Before bringing your pet back into your home, go through each room of your house to ensure everything is as it was. Clear any debris and make sure there is nothing sharp or dangerous your pet could step on or ingest.
Just like you, your pet is recovering from a stressful, traumatic event, so take time to rest together. Bond with play time, cuddles, and a nap or two before getting back to normal. Depending on your pet and the situation, you may want to introduce their normal food routine in small doses, so they don’t get sick. Getting back to normal is the main goal, so introduce your regular schedule as soon as you are able.
Being ready for anything is the best way to make sure you, your family, and your pet stay safe in the event of a disaster. Know the risks for your region and make appropriate plans for each type of disaster, and don’t forget to include your pet’s needs in the planning.
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