When you think about preparing for an emergency, we’re sure you and your family are well taken care of. But if you count pets as part of your family unit, you need a specific plan catered just for four legs.
Pets have their own specific needs, even in times of disaster. And first responders are obligated to help people and may not even have training in animal rescue and handling — which means you need your own pet-friendly action plan in case of emergency.
In honor of National Preparedness Month in September, sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, take the time to prepare a plan for your pets in case disaster strikes.
"We often find lost or stranded pets that have been left behind during a disaster,” says Dr. Dick Green, director of disaster response for the ASPCA's Field Investigations and Response team. "Have your disaster plan and emergency kit in place before a storm hits to ensure you aren’t separated from your pet. The more prepared you are, the faster you can get you and your pet to safety.”
Get a Rescue Alert sticker for your home, identifying your pets;
Make sure your pet's veterinary care and vaccination records are available;
Arrange a safe place if you have to leave your home;
Prepare an emergency supplies and traveling kit;
Choose designated caregivers; and
Some pets — including birds, reptiles, and small animals — have special needs, such as medications and diet.
Prepare an evacuation kit, which should include:
A pet first-aid kit and guide book (ask your vet what to include);
Three to seven days' worth of canned or dry food;
Disposable litter trays (like aluminum roasting pans);
Litter or paper towels;
Liquid dish soap and disinfectant;
Disposable garbage bags;
Nonbreakable pet feeding dishes;
An extra collar or harness, and leash;
Photocopies of medical records and a waterproof container with a two-week supply of medicine;
Bottled water (at least seven days' worth for each person and pet);
A traveling bag, crate or carrier;
Flashlight and backup batteries;
Recent photos of your pets, in case you are separated;
For cats: a pillowcase or Evacsak, toys, scoopable litter; and
For dogs: an extra leash, toys and chew toys, a week's worth of cage liner.
It is also important to keep your pets calm during a storm, according to the ASPCA.
“Animals may be more sensitive than humans, which can lead them to panic from the intense noises, dramatic visual stimuli and unexpected chaos of a storm,” says Dr. Pamela Reid, VP of the ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Behavior team. “Many pets experience anxiety or fear during severe storms and may even try to escape from their home. There are many ways pet owners could help their pets weather the storm by calming any storm-related nerves.”
Keep these tips from the ASPCA in mind:
Prepare a smaller area for pets, such as the bathroom or a covered crate — with all their favorite toys and extra bedding — where they can hide and feel safe. It’s helpful to teach crate training ahead of time so your pet is comfortable in a crate.
Make sure your skittish pets can’t dash out the door.
You can buy dog appeasement pheromone or synthetic feline pheromone, which can help ease stress, through your veterinarian or a pet product store.
For super nervous pups, invest in a ThunderShirt, which offers a calming pressure.
Close curtains or shades and play classical music or turn on a white noise machine.