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Tips for Creating a Pet Preparedness Plan

Avatar for Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: December 16, 2020
Tips for Creating a Pet Preparedness Plan

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Anyone who has been hanging out here for awhile knows that my little four legged friend, Tucker The Dog, is an important part of my family.  He is my constant companion and he brings me smiles when I am stressed and comfort when I am sad.  Life without him is unimaginable.

Something that all of us with pets need to face is that in the event of a disaster, our animals may be at risk.  Today I offer tips for creating a disaster plan and a disaster kit for your pet.

Tucker Apr 2012

Tucker the Dog

Before the Disaster – 8 Things You Can Do Now

1.  Make sure that your pets are current on their vaccinations.  This will not only protect them from the nasties, but will also insure that they will not be turned away from a pet or people shelter.

2.  Keep a copy of your pet’s license, vaccination records and a current photograph in your bug-out-bag, first aid kit, or on the flash drive that you carry on your person at all times.

3.  Make sure that the ID tags worn on your pet are current and that they include your emergency contact information.

4.  Micro-chip your pet.  A microchip is permanent and will identify your pet if he becomes lost.  The cost is low and virtually all shelters and veterinary clinics can read the information on the chip, greatly increasing the likelihood that you will be reunited.

5.  Invest in a properly-sized pet carrier for each animal.  Your carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand  and turn around and if possible, large enough for some food and water as well.  Be sure that your name, cell phone number and email address are marked on the carrier.  I know this is being redundant, but include another copy of your pet’s vaccination records and the contact information for your veterinarian taped to a bag on the outside of your pet carrier.

6.  Identify possible boarding facilities or shelters for your pet in advance. The possibilities include specialized pet shelters, animal control shelters, veterinary clinics and friends and relatives that live out of harm’s way. In the unlikely chance that you will need to evacuate and leave your home, you will need to know your options so it is best to do your research now, when you have the luxury of time.

Note:  Many emergency shelters cannot accept pets. One thing you can do in advance is identify which motels and hotels in the area you plan to evacuate to will allow pets.  If a hurricane or flood is predicted in your area, consider moving yourself, your family, and your pets out of harms way well in advance of the predicted storm.

7.  Find a trusted neighbor and give them a key to your house. Make sure this person is comfortable and familiar with your pets and knows our pet’s whereabouts and habits.  This way they will not have to waste precious time trying to find or catch your pet if you can not make it home during an emergency.  The best way to do this is to make a reciprocal arrangement so you can also keep watch for their pets.

8.  Have a window sign ready to go that includes a picture of your pet and the words “PET INSIDE”.  This will alert emergency personnel to the fact that there is an animal in your home that may need to be rescued.

During the Disaster

Bring your pets inside immediately.  Animals have instincts about severe weather changes and will often isolate themselves if they are afraid. Bringing them inside early can stop them from running away. Never leave a pet outside or tied up during a storm.

Be sure to have newspapers or puppy pads on hand for sanitary purposes. If you can, feed the animals moist or canned food so they will need less water to drink.

If you evacuate your home, try not to leave your pets behind. Pets most likely cannot survive on their own; and if by some remote chance they do, you may not be able to find them when you return.

If you have no alternative but to leave your pet at home, there are some precautions you must take, but remember that leaving your pet at home alone can place your animal in great danger!

  • Confine your pet to a safe area inside — NEVER leave your pet chained outside!
  • Leave them loose inside your home with food and plenty of water. 
  • Remove the toilet tank lid, raise the seat and brace the bathroom door open so they can drink.
  • Place a large notice in the window or outside your home  in a visible area, advising what pets are in the house and where they are located. (Use the sign you created before the disaster.)
  • Provide a phone number where you or a contact can be reached as well as the name and number of your vet.

Animals brought to a pet shelter will be required to have proper identification including, a collar, leash, and a rabies tag.  Be sure to bring with you an ample supply of food and water plus any special instructions and medication. It would not hurt to include a favorite toy or blanket.   And for goodness sake, take steps now to housetrain your pet!

Pet shelters, if available, are typically filled on first come, first served basis.  Be sure to call ahead and determine availability.

After the Disaster

Your pet may be disoriented and even aggressive after a major disaster.  Like you, they will be stressed.

Be patient and walk your pet around the premises with a leash on until they become re-oriented to your home – often familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and pets could easily be confused and become lost.  Also, downed power lines, reptiles brought in with high water and debris can all pose a threat for animals after a disaster.

If your pet is lost and cannot be found after a disaster, contact the local animal control office to find out where lost animals can be recovered.  Bring along a picture of your pet and if you can, assist in the rescue operation.

The Pet Survival Kit

You have prepared a survival kit for yourself, now get to it and prepare a kit for your pet as well.  The following suggestions are basics that apply whether you are bugging in or, in the case of an evacuation, bugging out.

  • Proper identification including vaccination records, photo and micro-chip identification number
  • Food – preferably dry kibble if that is what your pet is accustomed to eating
  • Bottled water or a source of purified water
  • Pet snacks or treats
  • Collapsible food bowl
  • Pet carrier
  • Pet Medications, if needed
  • Collar, leash, and if needed, a harness or muzzle
  • Chew toys and a favorite blanket
  • Pet first aid kit (see suggestions below)
  • Puppy pads that can be used if the you are confined indoors
  • Baggies for waste cleanup
  • Sweater or jacket, especially in cold climates

Pet First Aid Kit

The topic of first aid for pets warrants an entire article of its own.  For now, however, I would like to share some suggestions from the American Veterinary Medical Association.

  • Gauze:  For wrapping wounds or muzzling the injured animal
  • Nonstick bandages, towels, or strips of clean cloth:  To control bleeding or protect wounds
  • Adhesive tape for bandages: For securing the gauze wrap or bandage.  Do not use human adhesive bandages (such as Band-Aids®) on pets
  • Milk of magnesia or Activated charcoal:  To absorb poison.
  • Hydrogen peroxide (3%):  To induce vomiting
  • Digital Thermometer:  To check your pet’s temperature. Do not insert a thermometer in your pet’s mouth—the temperature must be taken rectally.  Note:  you will need a “fever” thermometer because the temperature scale of regular thermometers doesn’t go high enough for pets
  • Eye dropper (or large syringe without needle):  To give oral treatments or flush wounds

The Final Word

Those little four legged furry friends we call our pets can easily be at risk when disaster strikes.  We need to do as much as we can, in advance, to insure that these special loved ones make it through the crisis so that you can successfully be united when the emergency passes.

Remember, the single most important thing you can do to protect your pets is to take them with you when you evacuate.  Still need convincing?

  • Animals left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost or killed.
  • Animals left inside your home can escape through storm-damaged areas, such as broken windows.
  • Animals turned loose to fend for themselves are likely to become victims of exposure, starvation, predators, contaminated food or water, or accidents.
  • Leaving dogs tied or chained outside in a disaster is a death sentence.

Your pets deserve better.

Even if you think you may only be gone for a few hours, take your pets. When you leave, you have no way of knowing how long you’ll be kept out of the area, and you may not be able to go back for your pets until it is too late.  If an evacuation is anticipated.  Don’t wait.  Leave early.  After all, an unnecessary trip is far better than waiting too long to leave safely with your pets.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

If you have not done so already, please be sure to like Facebook which is updated every time there is an awesome new article, news byte, or link to a free survival, prepping or homesteading book on Amazon.  You can also follow Backdoor Survival on Pinterest.

In addition, when you sign up to receive email updates you will receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-book The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

Bargain Bin:  The following items will assist you in putting together your own Pet Preparedness Kit.

Clean Go Pet Plastic Dog Waste Bags: Depending on the size of your dog, ordinary kitchen sandwich bags or even fee grocery store bags will work for poo-cleanup.

Collapsible Fabric Travel Food Water Bowl:  I prefer fabric bowls myself but plastic collapsible bowls are also popular.

Potty Patch: I use one of these on my deck for Tucker the Dog.  One thing I do is use a puppy pad on the bottom tray to add an extra layer for absorption of urine.  I replace the puppy pad and clean the unit once a week without a problem.  Tucker was housebroken on one of these porch-potty knock offs – I can not image paying $200 for the real thing.  This works great for my needs and would be suitable for any small to medium sized dog, indoors or out.

Puppy Pads: Puppy pads are not just for housebreaking.  They can be used indoors when the weather is bad or your pet is ill.  Or, you can do what I do and use them in conjunction with the Potty Patch.

Pet Bandages:  Specialized pet bandages and bandaging tape is available at a reasonable cost.  These items are non-adhesive so that your pet’s fur does not become a tangled mess. It is also a good idea to have some pet first aid ointment on hand.

PetSafe Healthy Pet Food Station: If there is a possibility that your pet will be left along for awhile, an automatic food dispenser will be a wise investment.

Kingston Digital 8 GB USB Flash Drive: This list would not be complete if it did not include a link to an inexpensive flash drive.  There is simply no excuse for not having a few of these loaded up with all of your important documents.

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3 Responses to “Tips for Creating a Pet Preparedness Plan”

  1. My wife and I started the basic course for the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) this weekend. Members of the Disaster Animal Response Team (DART) gave us some new information on pets and shelters.

    In the past, too many people refused to evacuate without their pets, or they returned to rescue them, creating more problems than if the pets had been taken. Revised disaster planning calls for people to bring their pets with them. While not all shelters will take pets, many now will. Locally, our DART team will set up animal shelters next to people shelters.

  2. Such a great article. Just touches my heart b/c I love my vany so much.

    The idea about putting copies of records in a bag inside their crates, is wonderful. I’ll definitely do that. My dog goes with me. Period. He’s only 10lbs (yorkie as well). I’ve even made a sling so I can carry him if need be.

  3. Good morning Gaye. I keep reading. on your ‘bargain bin’ about us buying from Amazon. My Chase Freedom card gives me 5% cash back from different venders at a 3 month interval. I am just coming off 3 months of gasoline and Lowes, and going to 3 months of ‘Amazon’. WOW. Am I going to go to my wish list that I have been saving for a long time. I don’t know how much you make off us for going to Amazon from your website, but you maybe owing me a hot dog or something.

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