No matter where you live, there’s always the possibility that your family will be affected by an emergency or natural disaster. Medical emergencies, floods, tornadoes, wildfires and other events can find us blindsided when we neglect to plan for them. When you have pets, it’s even more important to plan ahead.
You don’t need to spend a lot of time or money to prepare kits that could save your pet’s life. With any luck, you’ll never actually have to use them.
Steps To Take Right Now
Approximately 15,500 pets needed to be rescued during Hurricane Katrina, and 80-85 percent of these pets were never reunited with their families. If your pets are ever separated from you, a microchip proves that you are their owner, and increases the chances that you will be reunited. Having your pet microchipped only takes minutes at your vet’s office for as little as $15.
Each microchip has a number registered with a company such as HomeAgain or PetLink. If someone finds your pet and has their microchip scanned, they will receive this number and look it up in the company’s database, which should have your current address and contact information. If this contact information is not correct, the chances of your pet being returned to you are extremely low.
You can look up your pet’s microchip number with the AAHA universal pet microchip lookup to make sure the information is correct, and call the company to make changes. The microchip number is on the tag that the company sent you when you registered the microchip. If you don’t have that tag, your vet can scan the microchip to get the number for you.
Also be sure to get your free pet safety kit from the ASPCA. It includes a window sticker that lets rescuers know that there are pets inside your house so they will not get left behind.
What To Include In Your Pets’ Emergency Kits
Your emergency kit can be made up of several smaller kits to accommodate different types of emergencies. You’ll need a first aid kit for medical issues that need immediate attention. You’ll also need supplies for staying inside your home during a natural disaster when you might not have access to clean water, electricity, or the ability to go to a store.
For your pet’s medical kit, you should have:
- 3% hydrogen peroxide, used to induce vomiting in case your pet swallows a toxic substance. It’s best to call your vet to make sure inducing vomiting is the appropriate course of action, and for dosage.
- Saline solution to flush out your pet’s eyes and can also be used to flush wounds.
- Gauze, medical tape, and scissors.
- Disposable gloves.
- 2% Chlorhexidine for disinfecting wounds.
- Pet first aid reference book.
- Muzzle, even gentle pets may bite when they’re in pain. A pillowcase or a towel can be included to restrain a cat.
You should also take the time to learn CPR and the Heimlich maneuver, and keep in mind that different techniques are used for different sizes and types of pets.
Supplies for when you won’t be evacuating:
Though you should never ignore an order to evacuate, you may be ordered to stay home in some cases. Travelling could be dangerous, or the storm may be mild enough to not warrant evacuation. You’ll want to have a good stockpile of the essentials so you won’t find yourself running to the store for supplies.
- Food for your animals, at least 2 weeks’ worth. Canned food is easy to store and can be consumed years after you’ve tucked it away. Dry food should be kept in sealed, waterproof, airtight plastic containers, ideally in the original, unopened bag.
- Bottled water.
- Medications, at least 2 weeks’ worth.
- Extra litter, puppy pads, as needed. Your pets might not be able to go outside to relieve themselves.
- Bleach for sanitation; can also be used to sanitize water.
Supplies for evacuating:
If it will not be safe to stay in your home, you’ll want a small, lightweight travel kit that you can take with you when you evacuate.
- Pet carrier to transport small pets.
- Extra leash, collar, and harness with identification tags.
- 3-7 days’ worth of food, water, and medication.
- Collapsible travel litter box for cats.
Planning For Evacuation
In case of a natural disaster, you and your family may have to evacuate your home to an emergency shelter or hotel. Many public shelters do not allow pets. Those that do will have a facility for pets nearby; it’s unlikely that your pets will be able to stay with you.
Find emergency shelters near you with the open shelter map on RedCross.org. You can call shelters to ask about their pet policy.
You should also find out which hotels and motels near you allow pets. Every Motel 6, Red Roof Inn, La Quinta and Kimpton hotel allows pets to stay for free, though some have limits on the number of pets you can bring, and how much they can weigh. You may also want to look for boarding kennels and vet clinics that may be able to hold your pets in case of an emergency.
Preparing for pet emergencies makes a lot of sense. Are you and your pets ready for an emergency or a natural disaster?