How to keep your pets safe during a disaster

Your four-legged friends are members of your family. Your cat or dog is your buddy, your companion. They’ve snuggled their way into your heart, and the thought of something happening to them during a disaster is devastating. Your pet relies on you to take care of them and to provide for them, and this is even truer during a disaster or if you have to evacuate your home.

To help you keep your pets safe, we’ve put together some tips to follow if you ever have to weather a natural disaster or another emergency with your pet.

Tip #1. Plan ahead.

Preparation is everything. If you don’t have a plan in place ahead of time, you may have no choice but to go to a public shelter, and public shelters often won’t allow cats or dogs to come with you. This might mean leaving Spot at home, and that’s dangerous for him and heartbreaking for you.

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Know which of your family members or friends who live out of town (out of range of the storm) would be able to take your pets if you had to evacuate your home. Make these arrangements before you get hit by a disaster. Another alternative could be a boarding facility that’s out of town—you might want to do some research and find out where you can take your pet if you have to leave. Make sure you have updated vet records of vaccines and a picture of your pet.

You also might want to find out about any hotels outside of your area that allow pets. If you have to flee from a storm, it’s good to have a pet-friendly destination in mind. Likewise, look up some reputable vets outside your area so you know where you can take your buddies if they get hurt.

Tip #2: If you know a storm is coming but you can stay at home…

Try to keep your pet inside if you know that a storm is coming. Animals have very keen senses of danger, so they might run off, hide, or sequester themselves away if they feel a storm coming. Try to keep them as calm as possible and keep them snug inside. This applies not only to natural disasters but normal thunderstorms, too. Even if your cat meows at the door to be let out, tell him no and keep him inside if you know you’re due for a storm.

Tip #3: Include pet supplies in your disaster kit.

When you’re preparing a disaster kit for your home and family, stock it with some pet supplies. Know what you’ll need for your pet and be ready.

Some things to include…

  • Food and clean water
  • A leash
  • Any medications that your pet needs
  • Current vet records to show that your pet has their shots
  • Kitty litter and box
  • Can opener and food dishes
  • First-aid basics
  • Newspapers

Tip #4: Try to feed your pet wet food.

Wet food has more water in it, so it will do a better job of keeping your furry friend hydrated than kibble.

Tip #5: Make sure your pet wears his or her jewelry

Get a collar for your pet and make sure that you put an ID tag and a rabies vaccine tag on it. Your pet needs to wear their collar at all times in case you get separated. Microchipping is another option to keep tabs on your pet.

Tip #6: If you have to leave your pet at home, do everything you can for them.

Take your pet with you if you can. They’ll stand a much better chance if you include them in your evacuation than if you leave them in the house. They might not make it through the disaster if they’re left alone.

However, if you have no alternative, here are some things you can do:

  • Put them in a safe place—do NOT leave them tied up outside.
  • Let them roam in the house.
  • Open the toilet lids and brace the bathroom door open so that they can drink.
  • Post a note on the door about the location of your pets within the house. Include your contact information and your vet’s contact information. This will help disaster teams if they come to check your home.

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Your pets need you. If you’re faced with a natural disaster, don’t forget about them. Take the time to prepare now so that if it ever happens you’ll have a plan and you can make sure that Fluffy and Cookie are safe.

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