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Cats and Dogs, Safety

Disaster Preparedness for Pets and Pet Owners

The Paw Print

Essential Pet Blog

disaster and to fire men

by Dr. Brown

Long as I remember the rain been coming down.
Clouds of myst’ry pouring confusion on the ground.
Good men through the ages, trying to find the sun;
And I wonder, still I wonder, who’ll stop the rain.

– Creedence Clearwater Revival

This has certainly been an unusual winter for weather all over the world – hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires and earthquakes.  Unfortunately, these are all types of disasters that can potentially affect anyone of us, and may already have.  The most difficult part of any disaster is determining how best to react, especially whether to stay or leave. Unfortunately, means of communication may be disabled, and local authorities may not be able to provide enough information. However, if you’re specifically told to evacuate, do so immediately, but make sure the shelter you are seeking will accept animals. Planning ahead is the key to keeping us safe and critical for the wellbeing of our pets.

Disaster Preparedness for Pets and Pet Owners 

Prepare an Emergency Kit

Prepare an emergency kit with items that provide the basics for survival. Store a one-week supply of food and water in watertight containers and change them every three months to maintain freshness. If you feed canned foods, be sure to include a can opener. If your pet takes medication or supplements on a regular basis, keep extra in sealed containers. Include duplicates of medical records in case you are relocated to an area away from your regular veterinarian, and have a current photo of you and your pet in a plastic bag in case you get separated.

Have a First Aid Kit Ready

A first aid kit should contain latex gloves, cotton, bandages, tape, scissors, isopropyl alcohol, antibiotic ointment and a first aid manual.  Ask your veterinarian what other items should be included specifically if your pet has special needs.

Consider a Microchip

A microchip placed under your pet’s skin by a veterinarian acts as a tracking device and ensures that you and your pet will be reunited if separated. Your pet should always wear a collar with a rabies tag and identification, and keep a backup collar and leash in the emergency kit. Make sure that all contact telephone numbers are up-to-date for both collars and tags.

Pet Friendly Facilities

Determine in advance what pet friendly facilities exist away from your home.  Locate pet-friendly hotels or check with your veterinarian or local boarding facilities.  You might be able to house your pets temporarily with a friend.  Develop a plan with other pet owners, including where you can all meet if you must evacuate. Give house keys to trusted neighbors in case you are away from your house with an evacuation order is issued.


If you do need to evacuate, a properly sized, sturdy crate or pet carrier will help securely transport your animal. Don’t forget to stock it with paper towels, litter for cats, plastic trash bags and a disinfecting solution (nine parts of water to one part of bleach.) You can sanitize water for drinking by adding 16 drops of bleach per gallon of water.  Backup toys, treats and a favorite blanket may help reduce anxiety.

Any disaster can be extremely unnerving, especially for an animal that may not understand what is happening or the consequences. It is important that you remain as calm as possible, comfort and soothe your animal and spend time with them to help stop the rain.

a vet and his dogABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Brown holds a Doctorate Degree in Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from the University of California at Davis, a Master of Science Degree in Animal Science and Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Physiology from the University of California.  Following discharge from the Air Force as a Captain, he owned and operated the largest veterinary hospital on Cape Cod for almost twenty years. Brown is the past President of the Yavapai Humane Society Board of Directors, Branding Committee Chairman for National Animal Supplement Council and member of the American Veterinary Medical Association.  He writes and lectures frequently on the benefits of natural and organic foods and supplements for animals and lives with his wife and a Golden doodle named Charlotte.

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