Preparation Tips for Pet Owners in Case of an Emergency

Ilene Segal
Issue Date: 
March, 2018
Article Body: 

Emergencies present themselves in numerous forms, and may require a response that varies from a brief absence away from your home to a permanent evacuation. Each type of disaster requires different measures to keep your pet safe, so the most important thing you can do for yourself and your pets is to be prepared in advance. Here are some simple steps to take to make sure you and your pets are ready before the next disaster strikes.
Get a rescue alert sticker and place it near the front door so it is visible. This will alert rescuers and first responders that pets are inside your home. It should include the number and type of pets, as well as the name and contact information of your veterinarian. If you have already departed with your pet, write “EVACUATED” on the sticker. To obtain a free emergency pet alert sticker, go online to You can also download the ASPCA’s free cellphone app which keeps your pet’s vital information conveniently at hand.
Arrange a safe haven. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND. Establish a buddy system with a neighbor or a friend--exchange keys and disaster plans so someone can evacuate your pets if you are not home. Designate a specific location outside of the immediate area where you will reunite. Identify nearby boarding kennels. Ask your local animal shelter if they provide emergency sheltering or foster care. Determine if there are pet friendly hotels or motels in your area. Ask relatives or friends in other communities if they can house your pets temporarily.
Prepare emergency supplies and a travel kit. If you must evacuate your home in a crisis, plan for the worst case scenario. Assume you may not be able to return for several weeks. Make sure all pets wear collars and name tags with up-to-date identification information, including medical needs. Include your name and contact information on their collar or crate. Microchips are a permanent form of identification and can easily be read by scanners at veterinary facilities and shelters. Make sure you register it when it is implanted. Check to see if your pet’s microchip is registered.
Assemble an emergency kit which should contain the following:
• 3 to 7 day supply of food. If canned, make sure they have pull tops or bring a can opener. If dry, place in airtight containers.
• 3 to 5 day supply of water, approximately 1 gallon per day per pet.
• Food and water bowls.
• Feeding instructions.
• Medical records and 2 week quantity of medication and administration instructions.
• Documents such as vaccination history and microchip number.
• Recent photograph of you and your pet together. Place in a waterproof bag.
• Extra collar, identification tags, and leash.
• Crate or carrier, bedding and toys.
• Sanitation supplies: litter and disposable litter boxes, paper towels, disinfectant, dog waste bags, garbage bags.
• Flashlight or glow sticks.
First aid kit:
• Clinic name and address and telephone number for your veterinarian as well as local emergency veterinary facilities.
• Absorbent gauze pads and adhesive tape.
• Cotton balls and cotton swabs.
• Hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting, but check with a veterinarian or animal poison control center prior to administering as it could be contraindicated in some situations.
• Reusable ice packs.
• Disposable gloves.
• Blunt tipped scissors and tweezers.
• Over the counter triple antibiotic ointment.
• Liquid dishwashing detergent for bathing, towels.
• Oral syringe or small kitchen baster.
• Alcohol wipes.
• Styptic powder.
• Saline eye wash and artificial tear gel.
• Digital thermometer and KY jelly or Vaseline.
Take time to adapt this information to your personal circumstances. With these simple preparations, you can be ready for the unexpected. Those who take time to prepare themselves and their pets will likely encounter less trauma in a stressful situation. Preparing your pets for emergencies makes sense. Get ready now!
Ilene Segal, DVM, CCRP, CVPP, is Past President of the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association. She resides in Norfolk.