A cat in a carrier

September is National Preparedness Month, which focuses on how to respond safely in any natural or manmade disaster. This education encompasses what to do in the event of a variety of disasters, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and so on. It also prepares you for the basics of an emergency evacuation.

At Conrad Weiser Animal Hospital, we want to encourage pet families to include their pets in any emergency plan. Here is an overview of disaster preparedness for pets, which will help you to feel more at ease in any emergency involving your furry loved ones.

Planning for an Emergency

Planning for an emergency seems somewhat contradictory, since by definition an emergency is often without warning or is unexpected. But if you live in an area that has seen hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, or any other natural disaster, you know that another can occur. 

Things to consider when planning for an emergency when you have pets include:

  1. Where you and your pet will stay. Most emergency shelters do not allow pets, so look for places like pet friendly lodging outside of your area, as well as animal shelters that can take in evacuees temporarily. Friends and family members are other great options.
  2. Make a list of things your pet will need. This includes extra water, bowls, food, medical records, pet first aid kit, medications, a collar with identification tags that are current, leash, carrier or crate, etc.
  3. Acquire Pets Inside decals for windows and doors. While you should never leave your pet behind when you are evacuated, a natural disaster or other emergency may occur while you aren’t at home. These decals alert rescue teams to your pet’s presence.
  4. Ensure your pet is microchipped and vaccinated. During an emergency, your pet may become frightened and escape the home or yard. Microchipping will help you reunite with them. Since there are many illnesses and parasites that are borne from standing water, which often accompanies a disaster, your pet should also be fully vaccinated and on parasite control.
  5. Store your pet supplies in a closet nearest to exits in the home. This will make it easier to get out quickly, while not forgetting anything that is essential to their care.
  6. Appoint a back-up guardian who will evacuate your pet on your behalf. If you cannot get to your pet because of unavoidable circumstances, ask a neighbor or nearby friend to go to your home and evacuate your pet for you. Discuss possible meeting spots where you can go to retrieve your pet safely.

The Evacuation and Recovery

During an emergency, time is of the essence. Follow the evacuation instructions from local authorities on getting to safety. Don’t diverge from the safest route and head directly to your destination. Once there, play with your pet and walk them, if possible, to help calm them (and you).

Be aware of any obstacles you may face with your pet. If they have medical issues that require daily or weekly treatment, consider what your options are. Get to know other veterinary clinics in your destination of choice and speak with them about continuing your pet’s health care needs when you are displaced.

If your pet has behavioral issues, especially aggression, figure out how this will impede your plans for lodging and how you can keep them separated from other animals. 

Exposure to toxins, flood water, and other dangers can set your pet up for a contagious illness or parasitic infection. Have your pet examined by your veterinarian as soon as it is safe to do so. This can rule  out anything your pet may have picked up, such as internal parasites, or any other exposure that can harm your fur friend’s health.

Disaster Preparedness for Pets

Knowing how to quickly respond to any disaster is an invaluable skill, especially when it encompasses preparedness for pets! There are special considerations when it comes to our pet companions that make it more difficult to evacuate. But with some planning and awareness, there is every reason why you and your pet can get to safety quickly.

For more information on disaster preparedness for pets, or to schedule a wellness examination, please contact our team.