It is Hurricane Season — Emergency Preparedness with Pets

Posted - August 26, 2020

For pet parents living in certain areas of the country, planning for disasters such as hurricanes has become so commonplace that they have a plan in place for themselves and their pet(s). But for new pet parents, new fosters, or those living in a new geographic area, preparing for a crisis requires some additional thinking.  Whether it is a hurricane or another natural disaster, it’s important to have a plan to protect your pet. The following is some information you may find helpful in creating your emergency pet plan.

Make Sure Your Pet Has Identification

For those pets with microchips, make sure your contact information is up to date. Microchip services are not always available and it’s very important that every pet has a basic tag with your cell phone number, not your landline, on it. In addition to the tag, many pet parents have found it beneficial to write their cell phone number on the belly of the pet with a permanent marker.  It may sound odd, but it could make the difference in being reunited with your beloved pet in the event you’re separated from each other.  It is estimated that over 100,000 companion animals were separated from their families during Hurricane Katrina. Pet identification is extremely important.

Know Where the Shelters Are and Determine If They Are Pet Friendly

It’s recommended you have a list of emergency shelters where you can seek refuge with your pet. The American Kennel Club (AKC) often produces a list of shelters and the local news will often publish a list as well. For those preparing for Hurricane Laura, a list can be found HERE.

A resource for locating pet friendly hotels can be found HERE. 

To help your pet(s) feel more comfortable no matter where you end up, take their crate, favorite bed or blanket, a few toys and treats. This will help the pet feel “more at home” and stay calmer.

Have Your Pet Health Records and Current Pet Photos

Store copies of any photos and medical/vaccination records in a waterproof container.  Be sure to include your veterinarian’s name and telephone number. When sheltering with pets, many facilities will have steps in place to reduce the introduction of pathogens. Having your pet health records can be helpful in the event proof of vaccinations are required as well as outlining any medical conditions your pet may have.  Have extra copies in case you have to board your pet or place them in foster care. Don’t forget your pet insurance information, if you have it.

Food, Water, Medicines, and Skin Topicals

Be prepared with 2-3 weeks of food and water as well as 3-4 weeks of medicine. This is especially true if your pet is on a prescription food or has food allergies which may limit what diets are acceptable.  Purchasing wet food can lengthen the shelf life of your supply and can help minimize your pet’s water intake. Don’t forget the food and water bowls as well a manual can opener if you opt for wet food.  For those pets with skin allergies and those prone to ear infections, don’t forget your supply of soothing skin and ear topicals to keep your pet comfortable in the event you must evacuate your home.

Have a Leash and Carrier

Even for those pets who normally stay right by your side, an emergency can cause a pet to become excited. A leash is very important to have as well as carrier. Carriers may also be required in some shelters.

Create a Plan for Pet Waste

If you shelter in place during hurricanes and tropical storms, you should NOT allow your pet outside for ANY reason!  You will need a plan for them to potty and dispose of the waste.  Have a good supply of cat litter and designate an area for your dog. Have waste bags, newspaper, etc. It’s helpful to have a heavy plastic bag that can be tied shut to deposit your pets’ waste. Dog piddle pads are handy and can be disposed of easily. For cats, take a small litter pan or a few disposable litter pans which also make getting rid of waste a snap.

Pet First Aid Kit

It is important to have a first aid kit just in case your pet is injured or wounded. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA®) has recommended the following:

  • Absorbent gauze pads
  • Adhesive tape
  • Cotton balls or swabs
  • Fresh 3% hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting (always check with veterinarian or animal poison control expert before giving to your pet)
  • Ice pack
  • Disposable gloves
  • Scissors with blunt end
  • Tweezers
  • OTC antibiotic ointment
  • Oral syringe or turkey baster
  • Liquid dishwashing detergent (for bathing)
  • Towels
  • Small flashlight
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Styptic powder to help stop a small bleed
  • Saline eye solution
  • Artificial tear gel

Emergencies come in many forms. Developing your plan and having your supplies can help to reduce the stress of emergency situations. You can download and share the ASPCA’s disaster prep checklist. 

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