Preparedness and Pets – What Pet Owners Need to Know

30289994906_9b7d40c8ec_bWhen Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005, an estimated 250,000 dogs and cats were either displaced or died as a result. Today, the saunter states are still dealing with the aftermath of that storm, with stray dogs and cats that have been born from many of those animals who were once cherished household pets. Imagine how your family would feel if your pet were lost in a storm. While you can’t control Mother Nature, you can take measures to be as prepared as possible to avoid a disaster or tragedy for your own pets. Here are some tips to help.

Understand a Pet’s Reaction to a Storm

First, make sure you understand a pet’s natural reaction to a storm, earthquake or other disaster, so you can make the necessary changes in your disaster preparedness plan. During a storm, tornado or other weather event, your pets natural instinct is going to be to hide in a sheltered place. In most cases, giving your pet a crate or other safe place to hunker down is the best way for him to ride out the storm, and this plan will go along with these natural instincts.

In a fire, a pet’s natural instinct is to escape. The best thing you can do for your pet is to create an escape route, and to not go back into the home looking for him. Chances are he has already left the property, if possible, so you are only putting yourself at risk.

In an earthquake, your pet’s instinct will be to run for cover. Unfortunately, this can cause some pets to bolt from your home. The safest place would be a crate, if you have one, but the difficulty is in getting your pet into the crate safely. Many pets will bite, claw and scratch if you try to restrain them in an earthquake event, so keep safety in mind.

Gather Pet Supplies

As you create a disaster prep kit for your family, don’t neglect the supplies your pet is going to need. Make sure your kit contains the following pet supplies, as recommended by the Humane Society:

  • Three to five days’ worth of food and water, with bowls to feed the pets.
  • Pet medications and records
  • Cat litter box, litter and disposal bags.
  • Leashes, harnesses and pet crates.
  • Photos of your pet in case he is lost.
  • Extra rags or paper towels.
  • Necessary grooming items.
  • Bleach to clean up indoor messes.
  • A toy for pets who need daily playtime.

Remember, your pet is part of the family, so don’t forget to include him in your disaster preparation kit.

Find Pet-Friendly Lodging

If a disaster makes it necessary to evacuate, have a plan for somewhere you can go where your pets would be welcome. Research pet-friendly hotels in nearby states or cities, or find friends that would not mind you bringing your pet. Take your pet with you in an evacuation.

Proper Identification Is Key

Finally, make sure your pet is properly identified to ensure you can be reunited if you are separated during a disaster. While a collar and tags are a good option, remember that it’s easy for a collar to get lost. Instead, have your vet microchip your pet, and then ensure that the microchip information is up-to-date at all times. This is the best line of defense against a tragedy if a disaster separates you from your pet.

As you can see, planning for your pet in an emergency is not difficult. Keep these tips in mind, and your entire family, Fido or Fifi included, will get through an emergency safely.

photo credit: BC Gov Photos Master of Disaster via photopin (license)

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