Pet Safety and Emergency Preparedness (Canines and Felines)

Jason Belangoy
Jason Belangoy
Published on January 2, 2018
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There are many things you can prepare for ahead of time to ensure the safety of your pet canine and/or pet feline in case of emergencies.  Here are some top recommended tips to improve your family’s pet safety best practices.

PREPARING A PET/HOME FOR A NATURAL DISASTER

Have a securely fastened, well-fitting collar with up-to-date information worn by your pet dog and/or pet cat at all times.  That way, in case of a natural disaster, your pet dog and/or pet cat already has the collar on.

Have your pet already microchipped.  Microchipping is advisable so that your pet can be identified via an electronic device.

Dog booties and feline booties can be helpful in protecting paws.  In an emergency situation or natural disaster, there is likely to be debris — whether broken glass or hot ash/soot.  Have dog booties and/or cat booties protect your pet’s sensitive pads beneath their feet.

Invest in a canine/feline lifejacket.  If you live in an area prone to flooding, have a lifejacket for your dog and/or cat so that your pet stays buoyant and keeps their head above the water line even as their legs tire from trying to remain afloat.

Have waterproof Pet Alert stickers and decals on your windows and doors (front and back entrances).  That way, rescuers and neighbors are alerted that there are pets inside your home, so they can be rescued in case of a natural disaster.  Visit PetSafetyAlert.com for information on their recommended Pet Alert stickers and decals.

If an emergency situation involving a natural disaster, for instance, requires you to remain at home, prepare a room in your home, preferably without windows and at a lower floor.  Have it well-stocked with food in watertight containers, water, supplies, medications and first aid kits, as well as warming materials for every member of the family and for your pets.  Have the necessary things in place for human waste and pet waste collection and disposal.  Practice with your family and your pets in this room.  And always have the Red Cross 24-hour hotline number nearby along with an emergency radio already in place in this safety room.  Besides those, close off unsafe nooks and crannies (open fireplaces, vents, pet doors, etc) where pets might try to hide away in.  Also remove any dangerous items or toxic products.

PACKING A PET PREPAREDNESS KIT

Just as humans need a disaster preparedness kit already packed, so, too, do pet owners need to pack one for a pet.  Here’s a list of what is needed for when you are packing a pet preparedness kit:

1) At least a one-week supply of bottled water.  It is recommended that a pet canine and/or pet feline consume about 1 gallon of water every 2 days.  If you have more than one pet, make sure to pack enough for each of your pets.

2) Have at least one-to-two weeks’ supply of pet food, whether dry pet food or wet pet food.  Be mindful of the expiration dates.

3) Have collapsible pet bowls on hand — to hold either food or water for your pet canine and/or pet feline.  Remember, during an emergency situation, it is best to travel light, so think of light, collapsible bowls.  And always make sure to keep these pet bowls clean to help minimize germs or contamination.  During an emergency, after all, it is advisable to minimize risks of exposure to germs.

4) Have leash, collar, and ID tags.  These are all important at keeping your pet close to you — as well as helping to identify your pet at all times.

5) If your pet has medications, then take these with you, too.  The important thing is to keep every member of your party healthy and safe — and that includes your pets as well.

6) Have on hand all your pet’s paperwork.  In other words, have your pet’s vaccine records, medical history, veterinary contact information, medication lists, and pet emergency contacts.  All these must be kept sealed in a waterproof, ziplock bag.

7) Pack a basic pet first aid kit.  Your pet first aid kit must have bandages, elastic tape wrap, blunt scissors, antibiotic cream, and tweezers.  Flea and tick collars and preventatives (shampoo, spray, medicine) are highly recommended as well.

8) Bring along your pet’s favorite toy.  This is important at keeping your pet distracted, occupied, and comforted, especially during unsettling situations like natural disaster emergencies.

9) Have blankets at the ready.  Blankets are a must to keep your pet warm.  They also serve as a great comfortable surface for your pets to rest on.

10) Carry with you current photos of your pets.  Have these current photos stored in a waterproof ziplock bag.  These photos will prove helpful in case you need to distribute photographs of your pets, should they happen to get lost during the disaster.

11) Always have pet litter and litter box as well as sanitation cleanser that is environmentally safe.  For feline pet owners, bring along a bag of kitty litter as well as as a container for the kitty litter to be poured into.  For canine pet owners, bring along the canine scat plastic collection bags to keep the habit of remaining clean and responsible.  For environmentally safe cleanser, try Seventh Generation brand cleansers to help with sanitation clean-up.

12) Have a pet carrier or crate, along with plenty of newspapers, paper towels, and/or sanitation liners.  Make sure the pet carrier or crate is large enough for your pet to stand in, to move in, and to turn around and lie down in.  All the sanitation materials must be on hand for good hygiene practices.

EVACUATION PLAN PREPAREDNESS

*When you are not at home, but elsewhere, always educate yourself on the evacuation maps of the location you are at — especially the buildings you are in.  Hotels tend to have an evacuation map posted on doorways.  If no evacuation maps are around, then always be aware of where the possible exits are out of the buildings you are in.

*Always research ahead of time the possible locations that can assist you in times of disaster — animal shelters, veterinary clinics, even pet-friendly hotels.  These locations can assist in providing some measure of relief until the disaster passes.

*Keep your pet’s medical records on hand — especially since these pet-friendly emergency relief centers require proof of vaccinations for your pets to stay there.

 *Always have a family practice-run or drill of what to do in an emergency — and this includes having your pets participate in the evacuation preparedness.  This is also advisable should you happen to have an older or larger pet that is slower to move or has health issues already.  An emergency or natural disaster situation is very time-sensitive, so having every member of the family already trained and prepared with how to proceed will be very helpful.

*In the family vehicle, always be reassuring with your words.  Be generous with pats, touch contact, and praise.  Where possible, provide a treat for your pets.  And stop occasionally for everyone in the family — including pets — to stretch their legs and get some fresh air.  More importantly, have an emergency preparedness bag for every member of the family and for every pet as well already in the family vehicle.

*If, during a natural disaster or an emergency, your family along with your pets have sought refuge in an unfamiliar place, keep your pets close to you at all times.   Increase the amount of touch contact and pats for your pets, and always speak with your pets in reassuring tones.  Pets take their emotional cues from their humans, so the extra assurance and attention comforts them.  If possible, dole out a treat to your pet, but be mindful about making sure the treats last for the entire duration you are away from home.  Remember to allot time for the entire family along with the pets to get some exercise break time to stretch legs and get some fresh air together.  For canine pets, they will still need regular exercise to release their energy, so maintaining the family’s regular walk-the-dog schedule is highly recommended.

AFTER THE EVENT

*Don’t allow your pets to roam freely in case there are broken materials around that could cause injury, or toxic materials that are left exposed.  Besides, after a natural disaster, familiar landmarks and smells lose their familiarity, which could cause pet disorientation.  Additionally, be aware that sometimes wildlife take refuge in a home or its surroundings, so it is best not to let your pet roam around.  Wildlife will have to be evicted so that they won’t threaten you, your family, or your pets.

*After an emergency or natural disaster, be patient with your pet.  But try to get back into the normal routine.  Monitor your pet’s behavior.  If they fear potential danger, be gentle with them and don’t force them or pull them.  Instead, gradually ease them back into normal life.  Any destructive behavior or slow progress can be discussed with your veterinarian.

Learn more from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on how to prepare your pets for emergency.

Disaster Preparedness for Owners of Horses, Birds, Reptiles, Other Small Animals.

Disaster Preparedness for Owners of Large Animals like Farm Animals and Livestock — according Ready.gov, the federal website.

More on Disaster Preparedness for Horses and Their Owners.

More on Disaster Preparedness for Farm Animals.

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Pet Safety and Emergency Preparedness (Canines and Felines)
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