Are Your Pets Prepared for a Natural Disaster?

We’ve all seen the images on the news of natural disasters and the havoc they wreak on communities. As difficult as these images are, there are also those uplifting images of dramatic and heroic rescues of people and pets. Natural disasters come in many forms: floods, tornados, hurricanes, fires and earthquakes. Each are fearsome and difficult and they all leave behind their own brand of destruction. Sometimes we get a warning they are coming; other times they come with no warning at all. Regardless, it’s important to always have a disaster preparedness plan in place for you and your family and that plan should always include your pets.

We’re all familiar with FEMA, (Federal Emergency Management Agency); the government agency that offers assistance to communities that have been hit by a natural disaster. They also provide great resources to help you and your family plan and prepare for a natural disaster; including a pet preparedness plan. You can download the pet preparedness brochure, but we’d like to highlight a few of the points here.


Plan: As we mentioned above, we often do not get a warning that a natural disaster is about to occur, that’s why making a plan and being prepared ahead of time is so important. Part of planning is knowing which route you will take if your community is evacuated. Also, have a meeting place chosen ahead of time should you need to meet up with family members. As you make these plans, also compile a list of pet-friendly hotels so that, as you leave town, you know you have a place to stay that will welcome your pet.

Prepare: You likely have an emergency supply kit for your family; if you don’t you may want to consider putting one together. As you do this, be sure and include supplies for your pet(s). Supply kits should include the basics of food, water, and any medications that are needed for your pets (and humans). Keep your pet’s leash and kennel handy so they are easily accessible should you need to leave quickly. Be sure to include a few of your pet’s belongings, such as toys or a blanket and make sure they are wearing their collar with ID tag. Part of every emergency kit should include a container of household bleach. This can be used for pet sanitation needs as well as purifying drinking water. Something just as important for pets as it is for humans. In your preparedness kit, include a picture of you with your pet should you get separated from each other. Get your pet microchipped; if you do get separated, this will improve the chances of you being reunited with your pet.

Stay Informed: Depending on where you live, there may or may not be community systems in place providing updated information. Certain areas of the country, such as the Midwest, the Gulf Coast and Eastern seaboard, are much more prone to annual weather patterns that can leave much destruction in their wake. These regions have efficient warning and communication systems established for those communities most often impacted. However, for those areas where disasters are less common, it is important to know ahead of time how to receive updates for your community should something happen.

When it comes to our pets, remember, they are completely dependent on us for their care and survival; sadly, they can often be forgotten in the midst of a crisis as people panic and simply react to the situation. However, if a plan is put in place ahead of time and a supply kit is also assembled, then the chances of getting panicked and forgetting your pet is minimized if or when disaster hits.

For more information on pet preparedness, visit these resources:

Pets and Animals

CDC Disaster Preparedness for your pet

American Red Cross Pet Disaster Preparedness

Pet Disaster Preparedness Red Rover

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