A dog sitting near a flooded road

September is National Disaster Preparedness Month. Many of us have lived through some form of a natural disaster, whether that be a tornado, hurricane, earthquake, or ice storm. You might even have a disaster plan at home for your family. Our pets, too, need to be ready for anything, and there are special considerations during a natural emergency to be prepared for when it comes to your furry loved one.

Your friends at Parkside Animal Hospital are here to provide you with the right steps to better respond to the unexpected. Here are some tips for effective disaster preparedness for pets for their ultimate health and safety.

Disaster Preparedness for Pets: Have a Plan

Every emergency situation requires pre-planning. Knowing how to respond and what steps to take can greatly reduce your need to stall and try and figure it out during such an emergency. This plan ensures that you have a good understanding of what to do to keep your pet safe.

Your plan should include:

  1. Where will you and your pet go? There are many places, including emergency shelters, that do not allow pets. Find lodging outside of the affected area that is pet-friendly. Local kennels can be a good choice, but will incur a cost and separate you from your pet during this traumatic time.
  2. Microchip your pet. If you haven’t already, a pet microchip can help your fur-friend find their way home, should you become separated. Many pets get lost or are abandoned during a disaster, so a microchip – that is up-to-date with your current contact information – is your best chance of having your pet safely returned. It’s also a good idea to make sure your pet is fully vaccinated and on a good parasite preventative.
  3. Make a disaster kit. Keep your pet’s supplies in one convenient place in case you need to gather them quickly. These items include medical records, food, a leash and collar, crate or carrier, medications, and so on.
  4. Have a buddy system. Exchange numbers and keys with neighbors or other pet owners, so that these trusted individuals can evacuate your pet, if you are not there to do so.

Take It for a Test Run

Disasters come unexpectedly and time is of the essence when it comes to getting everyone out safely. Do a test run with your pet and track the time it takes to get everyone out the door and on the road. Take stock when you’re done and see if you’ve missed anything, such as your pet’s favorite toy or medications? 

You may also need to be next-level prepared if your pet suffers from fear and anxiety, or is prone to hiding. Know their hidey-holes, inside and out and don’t panic if it takes a few tries to find them. 

Other Pet Safety Considerations

During a disaster evacuation, everyone is under stress. Try and maintain a calm demeanor with your pet and exercise and play with them when you get to your safe destination.

Water is also important for everyone during a disaster. Keep a few gallons of bottled water in your emergency stash, enough for you and your pet for a week.

Never leave your pet behind. Many pets are permanently lost or perish in a natural disaster when they become separated. Do your best to keep them with you. If you cannot bring them, make sure you have “Pet Inside” decals on windows and doors, and notify local authorities that your pet is inside the home.

For more information on natural disaster preparedness for pets, please do not hesitate to contact us