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Prepping Pets for an Emergency

Article and audio introduction by Samantha Kennedy, Family and Consumer Sciences
Create an Emergency Pet Supply Kit

There are still three months left in hurricane season, and now that Hurricane Dorian has come and gone from Florida, it is time to revisit our emergency plans and procedures. Regardless of how quiet the season has been so far, it is not over yet, and it is important to have a disaster preparedness plan in place so we are ready for the next storm.

We may have our emergency supply kits in place for ourselves, but how prepared are our pets? Emergency pet kits are an important part of an overall emergency plan, and entails more than just packing a little extra food and water.

First, the kit itself. What should go into it? At least three days’ worth of food for each pet is recommended, though in our area of the state, it may be advisable to keep more on hand. Along with water for human family members, be sure to keep extra on hand for pets. A day’s supply of water for dogs under 50 pounds is one ounce per pound. Larger dogs need a gallon of water each day. Since cats are generally smaller, their daily supply is only 1/2 ounce of water per pound.

Clean towels or bedding should be included in the emergency pet kit to clean up after or to handle nervous or scared pets. It is important to help keep the pet as calm and comfortable as possible.

Always keep current medical records and medications close at hand in an emergency. Pet-friendly shelters will only allow pets who are current on their vaccinations into the shelter.

picture of a cat

In the chaos of an emergency, it can be easy to lose track of pets. Incorporating them into our disaster plan can help keep them safe during and after an emergency. (Photo source: Samantha Kennedy)

Extra litter and disposable litter boxes for cats are important as well, especially when staying at a shelter. Even cats who usually go outside should be kept indoors immediately after a storm or other emergency to prevent loss or injury. Having clean litter will be vital.

Having a separate first-aid kit for pets is recommended, though incorporating extra supplies in the family’s primary first-aid kit will also work. The same types of items, such as cotton bandages, tape, and antibiotic ointments used by people are also used on pets.

Besides an emergency pet kit, it is important to keep an updated list of friends, family, shelters, and hotels that will allow pets, preferably outside the immediate evacuation area. Include phone numbers, addresses, and driving directions in case GPS does not work. Keep a hard copy of the list in the emergency kit.

Unable to get to a pet in time? Make arrangements with a friend or neighbor who may be able to take care of any pets until it is safe to return to them.

Keep Pets Safe and Comfortable

Microchipping is important no matter what, but the likelihood of a pet becoming lost greatly increases during and after an emergency. Make sure the information embedded in the microchip is up-to-date. Veterinarians, shelters, and animal rescues can scan the pet’s microchip and hopefully get them safely back home.

In the chaos of an emergency, it is easy to lose track of pets. Getting them comfortable being in a crate or carrier before disaster strikes will make it easier to keep them safe during and after an emergency. Practice getting them used to it now so he or she will go easily into their safe enclosure when the time comes.

Pets are an important part life for many of us. Keeping them safe during and after an emergency should be of primary concern. Creating an emergency pet kit and building protocols for pets into our disaster plans can help ensure a smoother transition and recovery for everyone.

For more information about preparing pets for an emergency, please call Samantha Kennedy at 850.926.3931.

Additional Resources

Pet Disaster Preparedness & Recovery (American Red Cross)
Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies Makes Sense (FEMA)
Disaster Preparedness (ASPCA)

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