For pet parents, forgetting to include pets in a family's disaster preparedness plans can have heartbreaking results. The following tips can help ensure both people and pets are prepared if and when disaster strikes.
Avoid Losing Pets
- Keep pets inside. A pet left outside in the elements can be injured or die, or can become easily lost.
- Keep current photographs of pets with important documents. If a pet is lost during a disaster, a sharp, recent photo can be used to make flyers
- Keep an up-to-date identification tag securely fastened on pets. If a pet gets out or flees from a scary scene, this will greatly increase the chance they will be returned.
- Take this measure even for indoor cats. Use breakaway collars, and make sure cats can slip their head out if the collar gets caught on something.
- Having a cellular telephone number on a pets ID tag instead of a home number is recommended because if there is an evacuation, no one will be home to answer phone calls. Also consider getting microchip IDs for animals.
Keeping Pets Mentally and Emotionally at Ease
- When the family is stressed, most pets will feel it too. Bringing along their favorite blanket or toy can often help ease anxiety. There are also calming agents and products like the Thundershirt.
- Ten minutes of thinking play can equal 45 minutes of active, outdoor play for pets. During stressful situations such as evacuations or storms, keep pets mentally stimulated and entertained with food puzzles.
- During extreme temperatures, make sure a pet is comfortable. Make sure pets have a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy bed with a warm blanket or pillow can do wonders for keeping pets emotionally happy.
- Do not leave pets behind during evacuations. In case of an emergency evacuation, it is always a good idea to keep an extra harness in vehicles, as well as an emergency kit as an extra precaution.
- Make sure to keep a carrier and seatbelt harness for each pet in the car to ensure safe transportation of pets.
- Put the pet's name along with the pet parent's name and phone number on the crate that the pet will be transported in. This will ensure someone can reach pet parents that are separated from their animal.
- When transporting animals park or move the car close to the house and ensure the car is warmed up before putting an animal inside. When using a carrier to transport a pet, cover the carrier for transport to and from the car to help prevent exposure to the elements, but remove the cover once in the car for better ventilation.
- Plan travel routes in advance so animals are taken directly to intended destinations and take the animal inside the new location first prior to bringing in any other item.
- Make advance arrangements by checking with a veterinarian, local animal hospital, kennel or shelter to see if dogs or other pets can be boarded during a disaster. Be prepared to submit current medical records.
- Put together a "pet network," in which arrangements are already made with someone outside of the immediate area to care for each other's pets in a crisis.
- Make sure to have a pet "emergency kit" on hand. This waterproof bag should include pet food and dishes, bottled water, treats, a can opener, medications, potty pads, paper towels and cleaning supplies, copies of pets' medical records, toys, leashes, harnesses, collars, current photos and contact numbers. For cats, also pack disposable litter pans, litter and a scoop. It's also important to have a pet's regular medications.
- Keeping familiar beds and blankets in the emergency kit can help put pets at emotionally at ease if they are evacuated to an unfamiliar location.
- Always have at least one week's supply of water in storage for animals. If the drinking water gets contaminated in a disaster, it's not safe for people or pets.
For more information on caring for a pet's physical, mental, social and emotional health, during a disaster visit: www.petco.com.