How to Prepare Pets for Disaster


Plan | Stay Safe • Earthquakes | Extreme Heat | Floods | Hurricanes | Tornadoes | Tsunamis | Wildfires | Winter Storms

Pets are cherished family members, so it’s essential to plan for their safety and comfort as a part of your comprehensive family disaster plan.

Take inventory of your supplies and review all records periodically so your pet can be safe and cared for during any disaster.

Consider these options for your pet’s location during a disaster.

  • Take your pet with you to a friend’s or family member’s house or a hotel outside the threat zone. Make arrangements ahead of time to avoid last-minute surprises and confusion.
  • Keep your pet with you in a secure, storm-prepared shelter location. Find evacuation shelters that accept pets ahead of time. While many shelters will accept pets, some can only accommodate service animals or certain types of pets like dogs.
  • Leave your pet with a friend in a safe zone or make boarding arrangements with a veterinary clinic or kennel. Talk to the kennel about advance registration and requirements like shots.
  • Create a safe, quiet, and comfortable space in your home for your pet. Never leave them alone or behind.

Keep your pet prepared at all times.

  • Portable carrier (large enough for the pet to stand up and turn around)
  • Extra leash, collar and ID tag
  • Pet food: At least 2 weeks of dry food in a water-tight container or canned food (include a manual can opener)
  • Water: At least 2 weeks of clean water (large dogs need 1 gallon per day)
  • Up-to-date health and immunization records
  • Medications (flea and tick preventative, a two-month supply of heartworm prevention medication, all prescription medications)
  • Litter/newspapers for clean-up
  • Toys and treats
  • Towels
  • First aid supplies
  • A recent photo of you with your pet

How to prepare large animals for a disaster

Prepare your large animals such as horses, cattle, sheep, goats, or pigs before a disaster using the following tips from FEMA:

  • Ensure all animals have some form of identification.
  • Evacuate animals whenever possible. Map out primary and secondary routes in advance.
  • Make vehicles and trailers needed for transporting and supporting each type of animal available. Make sure experienced handlers and drivers are also available.
  • Ensure destinations have food, water, veterinary care, and handling equipment.
  • If evacuation is not possible, animal owners must decide whether to move large animals to shelter or turn them outside.

Take the extra time to observe livestock, looking for early signs of disease and injury. Severe cold-weather injuries or death primarily occur in the very young or in animals that are already debilitated.

Animals suffering from frostbite don’t exhibit pain. It may be up to two weeks before the injury becomes evident as the damaged tissue starts to slough away. At that point, treat the injury like an open wound, and consult a veterinarian.

Make sure your livestock has the following to help prevent cold-weather problems:

  • Plenty of dry bedding to insulate vulnerable udders, genitals, and legs from the frozen ground and frigid winds.
  • Windbreaks to keep animals safe from frigid conditions.
  • Plenty of food and water

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