Making an emergency preparedness plan is important for everyone, and pet owners have the additional responsibility of planning for the care and safety of their pets during a disaster. Take some time to put your plan together, and use the following tips from The Pet Clinic of Salem to ensure you and your pet stay safe.
Plan proactively for your pet
When a disaster hits, your mind will be racing and you probably won’t be thinking clearly. Instead of waiting for an emergency situation, create a plan before a threat exists. Follow these steps to ensure you have prepared for your pet’s needs:
- Microchip your pet and place identification tags on collars — Microchipping is simple, and the only permanent identification form that can reunite you with your pet should they get lost. However, a microchip is only useful when registered with accurate contact information. To see the contact information for your pet’s microchip, ask your veterinarian for the registration information, or visit PetMicrochipLookup.org to access the Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool provided by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).
- Plan for where your pet will go — If you need to evacuate during a disaster, take your pet with you. Unfortunately, not all evacuation shelters accept pets, so plan in advance for alternatives that work for you and your pet. Create a list of friends and family who can care for your pet during an emergency and research pet-friendly lodging options in your area.
- Make a pet first aid kit — Your pet’s first aid kit should contain essential items they would need in an emergency. Review the kit regularly to ensure the contents—especially food and medicine—are fresh. Consider adding the following items:
- Cotton bandage rolls and gauze pads
- Bandage tape
- Scissors and tweezers
- Antibiotic ointment
- Disposable gloves
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Saline solution
- Ice pack
- Styptic powder
- Plastic eye dropper or syringe
- Small flashlight
- Liquid dish soap and antiseptic
- Emergency veterinary clinic contact information and your evacuation route
- Pet’s current medical records
- Gather pet essentials — While a pet first aid kit is important if you need to evacuate, it’s also a good idea to set aside essential items your pet will need if you shelter in place during a disaster. Keep the following items on hand:
- A week’s supply of food, water, and medications
- Crate and carrier for small animals
- Favorite toys and treats
- Potty patch and waste bags, or litter box and litter for cats
- Cleaning supplies
- First aid kit
- Calming aids, such as calming vests, catnip, and anti-anxiety medication
- Medical records including:
- Current vaccinations, especially those required for boarding. Ask your veterinarian about additional precautions, such as the leptospirosis vaccine to protect against bacteria that thrive in wet environments.
- Heartworm and parasite preventives
- List of current medications
Know how you will transport your pet in an emergency
Keep your pet’s collar on, and prepare a carrier that can be used to safely transport them. If your pet is too large for a carrier, secure them on a leash at all times when traveling from one location to another during an emergency. Keep some extra cash in your emergency kit to ensure you can evacuate quickly, if needed.
Plan how you will calm your pet during an emergency
Another part of emergency preparation includes planning how you will distract and comfort your pet during a disaster, whether you stay in your home or evacuate to another location. If sheltering in place, secure your pet inside their crate. Keep them distracted from the sights and sounds outside with the following:
- Toys and puzzles — Engaging toys and puzzles that require your pet to solve problems will focus their attention during a stressful situation.
- Jobs — Sometimes the best way to distract your pet—and people—is to give them a task. Lighten the mood and keep your pet’s attention on you by practicing tricks and commands. Having a job and receiving treats and praise will boost your pet’s confidence during a frightening time.
- Calming tools — Calming vests, pheromones, or prescribed medication can be helpful tools for your pet during an emergency. Remember, your pet looks to you for guidance, so try to stay calm during a disaster by using your own self-soothing strategies.
Take some of the stress out of a disaster for you and your pet by preparing in advance. Make an appointment at The Pet Clinic of Salem to get your pet microchipped, if necessary, and to ensure they are up to date on their vaccinations and parasite prevention.