Pets and Emergency Preparedness
Every good pet owner makes sure that pets are fed, groomed, exercised, sheltered, and sometimes even clothed, but one area of care that many pet owners forget is to prepare their pets for emergency situations. If you are in the process of gathering supplies and knowledge to get your family prepared for a disaster, don’t neglect your favorite furry, feathery, or scaly friend.
For the most part, pets’ needs in an emergency situation will be very similar to humans’ needs. The most important things you can do to prepare your pet for a disaster are to put together a basic pet survival kit, plan an evacuation location, and learn how to keep your pet calm during stressful situations.
Assemble a Pet Survival Kit
A good pet survival kit will include most items that a human survival kit will, with a few notable exceptions. Following are some crucial items to store to keep your pet happy and safe during any situation:
1. Food and water. When you are figuring out how much water to store away for your family, don’t forget to store enough water to keep your pet hydrated and clean too. When choosing emergency pet food, moist or canned foods can be a good option because they will help to quench pets’ thirst and thereby help you to conserve precious water resources.
2. Medications. Just like people, many pets have to take medications to keep them healthy. Don’t forget to store extra meds for emergencies.
3. Sanitation items. Store a brush or comb, pet shampoo, a blanket or towel, extra kitty litter, and whatever other sanitation items your pet needs to be clean and well-cared for.
4. First aid supplies. First aid supplies for pets will largely be the same as first aid supplies for people, but make sure to have a little extra of certain items, such as large bandages, medical tape, and gauze.
5. Portable food containers. If you have to evacuate your home, you will want to have some lightweight food containers to pack with you to feed your pet wherever you go.
6. Manual can opener if your pet eats food out of a can.
7. Leash or carrier. During chaotic situations, even regularly sedate and docile animals can become erratic and aggressive. It is vital that you have some way to keep your pet contained and calm until disasters settle.
8. A picture of your pet. Having a picture of your pet handy will be vital in case he gets lost and you need to ask people if they’ve seen him. It’s even better if the picture has you in it so that you can prove ownership.
9. A collar with ID tag, vaccination tag, and license tag. Also have veterinary records handy. These are all crucial in emergencies in case your pet gets lost, needs to be boarded, or requires medical attention.
10. A list of emergency numbers. Include the number for an animal emergency medical treatment center, your local kennel, your veterinarian, and the local animal shelter.
11. Comfort Items. Keep a favorite toy, blanket, or sleeping pillow close by, or whatever will help your pet feel more comfortable and relaxed. Don’t forget to store some favorite treats along with the pet food. Just as with humans, pets will need treats to give them a sense of normalcy in abnormal situations.
With all of these items, your pet will be well provided for in any disaster. You can also talk to your veterinarian to see what suggestions he or she has for you when preparing your particular pet for an emergency. In addition, the local animal shelter can be another good source for pet emergency preparedness tips.
Find a Sheltering Place
If you have to leave your home, know that many shelters will not accept animals. Most disaster experts warn pet owners against leaving their pets behind. Pets who are left to fend for themselves have very low chances of survival. One good option is to consider contacting a family member or friend now who lives outside of your area to see if you can evacuate to their house with your pet in case of emergency.
If you don’t have a family member who is willing to have your pet come to their house during an emergency evacuation, contact your local kennel to find out if they have a plan to board pets during an emergency. If so, see if you can reserve a spot in advance since space will be limited. Also call a kennel outside your area in case the disaster affects the one in your area and makes it non-functioning. Another option is to call hotels and motels that accept pets to see if they have a plan to shelter people/pets in an emergency.
If you absolutely have to leave your pet behind, don’t leave him chained up outside. Leave a note outside that says what kind of animal is in the house and where he is located. Also leave a number at which you can be reached. Remember that leaving pets at home puts them in serious danger. Avoid this alternative if at all possible.
Keep Them Calm
If a natural disaster begins to brew in your area, bring pets inside right away. Animals can often sense that a disaster is coming, and one of their instincts is to isolate themselves if they are panicked. To keep your pets safe and sheltered, it’s important to bring them inside before they can run away.
Remember that pets will be upset and emotionally weary too. Give them extra love. Expect them to be more than ordinarily needy and less than usually obedient. It will be an uncomfortable and unfamiliar situation for them, and stress can affect animals just like it affects people. Keep a close eye on them, pet them, snuggle them, and keep them close by.
For many pet owners, the family dog, cat, or parakeet is as much a part of the family as the kids are. As you prepare your family for emergencies, don’t neglect to prepare your pet too. Having a basic survival kit ready and an evacuation plan in place will save you from hassle and heartache in the event of a disaster.
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