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Disaster Preparedness – A Guide For Dog Owners

Fires, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, storms are some of the many types of disasters. These disasters can happen at any time. In an emergency, your dog will be even more reliant on you than ever before. Having a pet emergency kit for dogs is vital to your dog’s survival should a disaster hit. Disaster preparedness is essential for your family and pets. 

Emergency or disaster preparedness begins at home. To be prepared for a disaster, you need to have an emergency plan, and that includes having one for your pets. We will go over everything you need to know to be disaster prepared.

Before an Emergency or Disaster Hits

Sometimes disaster can come with no warning, so be prepared.

  • Dog collars and tags should be up-to-date with contact information. The identification tags should be worn by the dog, at all times
  • Microchip your dog- This is very important. If separated from your dog during an emergency, then the chip will ensure that you are reunited. Register the microchip and update the contact info and make sure it is always up to date.
  • Collars, leashes, and dog carriers should be stored near the exit, next to your family emergency kit.
  • Keep a harness and pet seatbelt in the trunk of your car.
  • Make sure to prepare a pet disaster kit for that evacuation will be prompt for your family. The package should include your dog’s veterinary history.
  • Place a rescue alert sticker on your doors and windows. No one may be at home during an emergency, so a rescue alert sticker will let rescue workers know that there are pets in the house. If you are at home when disaster strikes, make sure to write EVACUATED across the sticker. You can find these stickers online or at your local pet shop. Here in Canada Petsmart sell Emergency Rescue Decals

Create An Emergency/Disaster Plan 

  • Figure out where you, your family, and the dog will stay in case an evacuation is necessary. Keep in mind that some shelters will now allow dogs unless they are service dogs. Red Cross and do not accept dogs or other animals
  • Research out of town shelters that accept dogs and other animals
  • Reach out to out of town family and friends and ask them if your dog can stay with them in case of an emergency
  • Research animal hospitals and boarding facilities near you. Record their contact information. If you do this, you will be in a more suitable position, if you are not able to return to your house for a while.
  • Buddy systems are a great way to ensure your dog and other pets will be safe in case you are not home when an emergency or disaster hits. Ask a neighbor whom you trust to check on your dog and take them to a safe place should something happen
  • Should you be living somewhere else temporarily, then you should research the area for animal hospitals and veterinarians. Make sure to add the veterinarian contact to your emergency kit  

Create a Pet Disaster Preparedness Kit

Preparing a pet emergency kit is highly recommend because, during an emergency or disaster, everyone maybe not thinking clearly. Having this kit already prepared is one less this for everyone to think about and ensures that your dog is taken care of during this stressful time. 

  • Carrier for your and other pets you may have. Include the dog and pet’s names on each carrier with your contact information
  • Two weeks of food and water for each pet
  • Disposable Litter box and litter if you have a cat. Aluminum pans work.
  • Poop bags for your dog
  • Two weeks of all medications
  • All Medical records including vaccinations prescribe drugs and medical history
  • High-quality leash and or harness depending on what your dog requires
  • Microchip number
  • Your contact information, including cell, work number, home number, and friends and relatives.
  • Pet first-aid kit
  • Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
  • Water and food bowls
  • Flashlight
  • Blanket
  • Recent photos of your pets just in case you get separated and need to prove you are the owner.
  • Extra leash, toys and chew toys, dog pee pads

Human Preparedness Disaster Kits

An emergency kit for humans should contain:

  • Batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Duct tape
  • Flashlights
  • Radio
  • Walkie Talkies with a good range
  • Multi-tool
  • Tarps
  • Rope
  • Spray paint
  • Baby wipes
  • Protective clothing 
  • Protective footwear
  • Cash 
  • Whistle 
  • Required medications
  • Copies of medical history
  • Significant phone numbers and contacts
  • Two weeks worth of water and canned food for each member of the family

Evacuating Practice- Part of Disaster Preparedness

It is a good idea to practice evacuating with your dog in case of an emergency or disaster. Being prepared is the best thing you can do because emergencies come on quickly, and you need to be ready. 

  • Ensure you make your dog’s carrier comfortable. Most dogs and cats do not like their carriers, so making it as comfortable as you can make it easier to get your pet into the carrier without any issues.
  • Get your dog used to rides in the car while being inside the carrier.
  • If you do not have a car, make arrangements with neighbors, family, and friends so that you, your family, and your pets have a ride. Your local government will have information about transportation during a disaster or emergency that requires evacuation.
  • Know the places where your dog hides when scared. Practice retrieving your dog from these places and placing them in the carrier and out to the car while making your dog feel secure.
  • Your entire family should be involved in the evacuating practice so that everyone knows where to find the pets.

During an Emergency

  • Leaving your dog and other pets behind in a disaster is not a good thing. If they are left behind, they could potentially get lost, injured, or even die. They rely on us to take care of them. Never leave them chained to anything. If you cannot get to them, remember the buddy system you previously have set up. Use it.
  • Call veterinary clinics, boarding facilities, local animal shelters, friends, and family that are living outside of the emergency area. Also, look for pet-friendly hotels on the evacuation route. You should have this already when you prepared your disaster plan.
  • Do not forget to take your PET EMERGENCY KIT with you. This kit should be with your emergency kit. 

Staying Put During an Emergency 

Some emergencies do not require you to leave your home. However, you still want to make sure you choose a room that is safe and pet-friendly.

  • Choose a room that has few windows
  • Remove anything that could be toxic to your dogs like cleaning chemicals or poisonous plants.
  • Areas were your dog might get stuck in should be closed off.

Staying Healthy During a Disaster 

It is essential to stay healthy during a disaster. That means keeping up with hygiene and keeping your haven clean and free from bacterias.

  • Always wash your hands after handling your pet, its food, or its waste.
  • Do not let your dog lick you.
  • Keep your pet up-to-date on all vaccinations and heartworm, flea, and tick preventatives.
  • Do not allow your pet to interact with other animals, especially wildlife and stray animals. You never know what they might be carrying that could put you, your dog, and your family at risk.
  • Report any bite wounds to medical personnel immediately.
  • Clean any wounds or bites immediately with a disinfectant like rubbing alcohol or wipes.
  • Carries to be cleaned and disinfected regularly, litter boxes included.
  • Wash your pet’s bedding regularly.
  • Do not drink stagnant water, especially after flooding occurring after natural disasters.
  • Don’t allow pets to play in or drink anything other than the water you provide for them. So this means to keep them out of any ravens, or rivers.

Returning Home After a Disaster

Once the disaster is over, and authorities have advised that it is safe to return home, there are a few things to consider. Scents and landmarks could have possibly changed, so therefore your dog may become confused or even lost. While transporting home, make sure you keep your dog on its leash or inside their carrier. Also, look out for downed powerlines, especially after a flood.

Once At Home

  • Search your home for exposed wires, and sharp objects even spilled chemicals
  • Keep in mind that the behavior of animals may be different or unusual after a major disaster like a flood, flash flood, thunderstorm, hurricane, tornadoes, or fires. Sometimes sweet loving dogs may become irritable and afraid
  • Keep a close eye on the behavior of your dog
  • If you notice anything different in your dogs like stress or illness, then contact your veterinarian right away.

You’ve Found A Lost Dog

You may find a lost pet near your home. Some people may not take pets with them in emergencies, which can get them in a lot of trouble. Or, an owner was not home when the disaster hit, and they did not have a buddy system, so the dog was left behind. Rember, if you find a lost dog, it is most likely scared and confused. Proceed with caution.

Tips for what you should/shouldn’t do if you find a lost dog.

  • Do not assume that the dog will not bite. It may be injured and is most likely scared and confused.
  • If the dog is injured, pain and fear make it dangerous for you.
  • Never try to hug a dog you are not familiar with, and remember to keep your face away from biting distance.
  • Perform any contact with the dog slowly and talk to the dog in a gentle voice.
  • Stop contact with the dog if it becomes stressed or seems like it may become aggressive
  • Call a veterinarian or shelter to come and pick up the dog.

Conclusion on Disaster Preparedness

There are lots of things to remember when in a state of emergency during a disaster. But if you are prepared and ready, it will make things easier for you and your family. Remember to keep your disaster preparedness kit or pet emergency kit with your human kits. That way, everything is together, and nothing will be left behind.  

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Disaster Plan For Dogs?

A disaster plan for dogs is a plan that you prepare in case of a disaster like hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and fires. This plan includes everything you will need for your dog in an emergency. You will need things like a dog carrier, leashes, at least two weeks of water and food for your dog. It is best if you and your family sit down and go over a plan.

What Can I Do With My Pet In An Emergency?

The best thing you can do in case of an emergency where you need to evacuate is to take your dog with you. Leaving your dog behind is not the right thing to do. Make sure you have a least the dog’s leash along with food and water for at least two weeks and the emergency pet kit.

Where Should I Keep The Emergency Pet Kit?

It is ideal for storing the emergency pet kit with your family’s emergency kit. It should be somewhere that is easy access for all family members. The perfect storage location could be somewhere, such as your front closet, garage, or even the trunk of your car.


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