September is National Disaster Preparedness Month. What most of us think about when we think about disaster preparedness is how do I keep my family safe? How many days of food and water should we have? How much water do we need per person? What important papers do we need to keep with us? What should we take with us if we need to evacuate?
You have prepared for your human family, but what about your pets? Here are a few things to help your disaster preparedness for your pets.
All dogs and cats should wear a collar and identification tag. It is a good idea to put more than one phone number on the tag if possible, in case you lose your cell phone. Pets can escape if your home is damaged or if you must evacuate and your pet gets scared and bolts out of an open door.
Collars come off for a variety of reasons, so it is a good idea to have your pets microchipped as well. Make sure your information is up to date with the microchip company.
Pet Rescue Sticker
Some emergencies require you to leave your home in a hurry and scared pets can be difficult to locate. A pet rescue sticker will notify rescue workers that there are pets in your home. This sticker should be placed where it is very visible and should be updated to include current pets in your home.
Pet-Friendly Places to Stay
If you must evacuate with your pets you will need a pet-friendly place to go. Don’t wait until the last minute to try and find a place to evacuate to with your pets. Not all emergency shelters accept pets and once the pet-friendly shelters are full they cannot take in any more people and their pets. Some boarding facilities and veterinarians will board your pets during a natural disaster, but if they are under mandatory evacuation you will once again be looking for a place for your pets. These facilities also fill up fast, so make arrangements well ahead of time. You can also talk to friends and family that are out of harm’s way and close enough to get to, ask if they will take your pets. If you want to keep your pets with you, here is a list of pet-friendly hotel chains.
Who Near You Can Help?
If the disaster happens while you are away from home who can you call to help you with your pets? Choose someone who lives near to you that will be able to get into your home and evacuate your pets if you can’t.
Have an Emergency Kit for Each Pet
Each of your pets should have an emergency kit that includes the following:
- Carrier – If you need to evacuate your pet you will need a way to contain them and easily move them. If you are going to stay in your home you should still contain your pets, in case your home is damaged.
- Collar or harness and Leash – While your dog or cat should always be wearing identification, you should have an additional collar with identification in case the collar your pet is wearing should break or get lost. An extra leash should always be on hand.
- Food and Water – You should have a week’s worth of food for each of your pets. This should be stored in airtight containers and stored with the rest of your evacuation items. If you feed dry food, make sure you change out the food every two months to prevent spoilage. Canned food should be changed out every three months. There is a possibility that authorities will declare the water unsafe to drink. Make sure that you have enough water for everyone including your pets.
- Litter and Pans – If you are evacuating it might be easier to have several disposable litter pans that you can take with you. Make sure you purchase the pans that have the litter included. If you are going to be staying home have enough litter for at least one week and store in an elevated area where it will not get wet.
- Pet First-Aid Kit – There are some great pet first aid kits on the market, but always check with your veterinarian to ensure your kit is complete. Your vet may suggest some items that are not included in a commercially available kit.
- Medication – Plan to have at least two weeks’ worth of your pet’s prescription medication. Your pet should be up to date on heartworm and flea and tick preventative too. If their next dose is looming near make sure you have those mediations on hand also.
- Photographs of your pets – If your pet gets lost you want to be able to post their picture on lost pet sites and make lost pet posters quickly. This is also important so that you can provide proof of ownership if your pet is found.
- Vaccination records – You will want to have proof that your pets are vaccinated.
- Small pets – If you have small pets such as gerbils or hamsters make sure you have enough extra bedding for their cages. Be sure to take a water bottle for them.
- Birds – Depending on the weather, have a misting bottle on hand to keep your bird cool in warmer weather. You may need extra blankets to cover their cage if the weather is cooler. Having a catch net and heavy towel or blanket on hand is a good idea.
Are your pets prepared for a disaster? Share your disaster preparedness plans with us. We would love to hear how you have prepared.