Tips For Keeping Your Dog Safe When Disaster Strikes

May 10, 2024

Tips For Keeping Your Dog Safe When Disaster Strikes

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Tips For Keeping Your Dog Safe When Disaster Strikes

Pet parents must be prepared for unexpected natural disasters like hurricanes, tropical storms, wildfires, and flooding. With over 20% of pet owners having evacuated their homes during such emergencies, it’s crucial to have a plan in place to protect your pets.

To ensure your family is prepared, follow these tips when disaster strikes.

Microchip Your Pets

A microchip implanted into a pet’s scruff can significantly reduce the risk of separation during a crisis. A microchip scanner does not have personal information, as a unique number of 10–15 digits appears on the scanner screen when an animal is scanned.

This number is reported to a microchip database, where the number and contact information can be matched. The database will only release contact information to certain organizations, such as shelters, which will reconnect the owner with their pet.

It is important to periodically check the pet’s microchip contact information in the database, as the information is only as good as the last time it was updated. Microchips are not meant to replace personal information, but they can help protect the safety of pets during emergencies.

It is essential to be aware of the potential risks associated with microchips and to be cautious when introducing new pets to older dogs.

Make an Evacuation Plan

A well-prepared plan for both you and your pets can reduce stress and worry during emergencies. If local officials ask you to evacuate, your pet should also evacuate. It’s crucial to have an evacuation plan for your pet, as many public shelters and hotels don’t allow pets inside.

Develop a buddy system with neighbors, friends, or relatives to ensure someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets. Keep your pet microchipped and keep your address and phone number updated. If you’re unsure about how to care for your pet, contact your local emergency management office, animal shelter, or animal control office for additional advice and information.

Practice the Evacuation Plan

To prepare for a disaster, train your pets to stay in their carriers and transport them in a similar car. If you don’t have a car, arrange transportation with neighbors, family, or friends. Contact your local government for transportation options. Know your pet’s hiding spots and practice catching them if needed.

For cats, remove them from their hiding spot and use their carrier, pillowcase, or sturdy box to get them out of harm’s way. Have your entire family practice evacuating with your pets to ensure everyone knows what to take, where to find them, and where to meet.

Keep A Supply Of Food And Medicine

Though many pet stores remain open during the current crisis, it’s a good idea to avoid leaving the house if you can help it.

Making a single trip or ordering online to stock a supply of your dog’s food and medication for at least 14 days is always a good idea. Another option is to try a fresh food subscription service like Ollie that sends regular deliveries of fresh pet food right to your door.

Prepare a To-Go Bag

Pet readiness involves creating a “go-bag” with three to five days of self-sustaining food and water, at least seven days of medication, and instructions for dosage. This bag should be kept in an airtight bag with vet records of vaccinations and medical history. It should also include a first-aid kit, plastic bags for poop, an extra leash or harness, a food and water dish, and a favorite toy. An extra dog tag with up-to-date information is also recommended.

A human go-bag should include a current photo of your dog, prompting you to get your four-legged survivor micro-chipped and keep a physical record of the chip number. This will ensure that you and your dog can be reunited, even if your dog doesn’t need dramatic rescue.

Create a Safe Space

Pets can become stressed when their safety is at risk, so it’s crucial to provide a safe haven for them. Bring their favorite toys, a leash and collar, and a comfortable bed or cage.

If your pet is anxious, stress-relieving products like a dog anxiety vest or natural medications can help comfort them. Consult your veterinarian for the best care for your pet.

Find Shelter

During a disaster, it is crucial to prioritize your pet’s safety and avoid leaving them chained outdoors. Contact your local emergency management office for accommodations, veterinary clinics, boarding facilities, animal shelters, family or friends outside the evacuation area, or pet-friendly hotels.

Visit the Humane Society to find a shelter in your area and remember to bring your pet’s emergency kit. When sheltering at home with your pet, choose a safe room with no windows, remove toxic chemicals or plants, and close off small areas where frightened cats could get stuck.

Remember to take your pet’s emergency kit with you and learn what to expect if you take them to an evacuation center.

Familiarize Yourself with Local Shelters

Local research is crucial in preparing for emergencies, especially with non-human companions. Some shelters, like the Red Cross, may not accept pets, so research is necessary to determine where to go. It is essential to know if there are emergency animal shelters available. It is essential to have a written list of instructions for the shelter to provide necessary details.

Knowledge for others is also crucial, as there may be emergencies when you aren’t home. Pet rescue decals can be purchased at pet stores and placed on windows to inform passing rescue personnel of your dog’s need for help.

Be Prepared

A pet preparedness kit can be a valuable tool in case of a natural disaster. It provides essential supplies for the family to quickly evacuate or to stay at home. Some essential items to pack include food and water, a collar, leash, and ID, medications, important documents like licenses, registrations, and medical records, and toys and comfort items.

Food and water should last at least a few days, while a collar, leash, and ID should be packed as extras for easy identification. Medicines should be kept for at least a few days’ worth, and it is essential to cycle them out of the kit to prevent expiration. Important documents should include copies of the pet’s license, registration, and medical records, along with pictures of the pet in case of separation.

Packing toys and comfort items can help alleviate the stress of emergencies for pets, as emergencies can be anxiety-inducing. Setting these essentials aside in case of an emergency ensures your pet’s safety during times of crisis.

Diseases that Thrive in Natural Disasters

Natural disasters can lead to the spread of diseases, including zoonotic diseases, which can affect pets and people. Common disaster-related diseases include rabies, leptospirosis, and diseases spread by mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks.

Rabies affects the nervous system in both animals and humans and is transmitted through bites or saliva contact. To protect yourself and your pet, report any bite wounds to medical personnel, practice safe handling, keep your pet in a carrier or on a leash, and avoid interacting with other animals.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease found in infected animals’ urine, causing kidney damage and affecting other organs. To prevent illnesses, wash your hands after contact with urine, avoid stagnant water, and avoid pets playing in or drinking contaminated water.

Mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks are common pests of stray animals and can cause skin irritation and spread harmful diseases like Lyme disease and West Nile virus. To prevent these illnesses, keep your pet away from wildlife and stray animals, and consult your veterinarian about regular preventive treatment for fleas, ticks, and parasites.

Final Thoughts

Emergencies like fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, violent storms, and terrorism can pose significant risks to pets and their owners. It’s crucial to be prepared for the worst, including by creating a disaster kit and ensuring a safe place for pets. Leaving pets out of evacuation plans can put them, their owners, and first responders at risk. Creating a plan and preparing for the worst is essential for ensuring your dog’s safety.


Kate Barrington holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and is the published author of several self-help books and nutrition guides. Also an avid dog lover and adoring owner of three cats, Kate’s love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. Kate holds a certificate in fitness nutrition and enjoys writing about health and wellness trends — she also enjoys crafting original recipes. In addition to her work as a ghostwriter and author, Kate is also a blogger for a number of organic and natural food companies as well as a columnist for several pet magazines.
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