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Pet Disaster Preparedness Is Important

Pets have become family members.

For those that like comprehensive checklists, the one below is a pretty good one.

“With the recent hurricanes and September being National Disaster Preparedness Month, I thought now was a great time to revisit this topic. Just as we need to prepare ourselves, we also need to make sure we're aware of the stress they can cause our pets.

“With that in mind, I'd love to provide the following quotes for you to use from Nicole Savageau, a veterinarian with The Vets ( - please link. Feel free to use any of this in any upcoming stories you're working on. Let me know if you have follow-up questions!

“What should I do for my pet's health and safety immediately after the storm has passed?

“After the storm, prioritize safety. Check your home for hazards before letting your pet roam. Assess their physical condition, looking for injuries or signs of distress. Provide fresh water and food if needed. Be cautious of debris, downed power lines, and contaminated water. Keep them indoors if the environment isn't safe yet. If your pet requires medical attention, consult a vet as soon as possible. Keep them calm and reassure them during the aftermath.

“Are there any common post-storm health issues that I should be aware of for my pet?

“Yes, there are several post-storm health issues to watch for in your pet. These include injuries from debris, exposure to contaminated water, stress-related conditions, respiratory issues due to mold and dust, and insect bites or stings. Monitor your pet for any changes in behavior, appetite, or physical condition. If you notice any signs of distress or illness, consult a veterinarian for proper evaluation and treatment.

“September: National Disaster Preparedness Month

“National Disaster Preparedness Month is an important time to raise awareness about being ready for emergencies, including the safety of our pets. When interviewing a veterinarian during this month, consider asking the following questions:

“How can pet owners best prepare their pets for natural disasters and emergencies?

“To prepare pets for natural disasters and emergencies, follow these steps:

  • Emergency Kit: Assemble supplies like food, water, and medications in a kit.
  • ID and Microchipping: Ensure proper identification and microchipping.
  • Evacuation Plan: Know where to go and stay during evacuations.
  • Medical Records: Keep records handy in the emergency kit.
  • Comfort Items: Pack familiar items to reduce stress.
  • Training: Train pets for carrier use and evacuation routines.
  • Emergency Contacts: List vet, shelters, and contacts.
  • Stay Informed: Monitor weather alerts and disaster news.
  • Safety Commands: Teach basic commands for safety.
  • Pet-Friendly Locations: Choose pet-friendly shelters or hotels.

“These preparations enhance pet safety during emergencies.

“What specific supplies should pet owners have in their disaster preparedness kits for their animals?

“A pet disaster preparedness kit should include:

  • Non-perishable food and water for a week
  • Pet medications and prescriptions
  • First aid supplies
  • Updated identification and recent photos
  • Secure carrier or crate
  • Leashes and harnesses
  • Sanitary supplies
  • Blankets and bedding
  • Familiar toys and comfort items
  • Emergency contact list
  • Copies of medical records
  • Flashlight and basic tools

“Tailor the kit to your pet's requirements and keep it easily accessible.

“Are there any special considerations for different types of pets (e.g., dogs, cats, birds, reptiles) when preparing for disasters?

“Absolutely, different types of pets have unique needs during disasters:

  • Dogs: Leashes, waste bags, and a sturdy carrier or crate.
  • Cats: Litter box and familiar hiding spots.
  • Birds: Travel cage, food, and water.
  • Reptiles: Heat sources, appropriate containers, and bedding.
  • Small animals (hamsters, rabbits): Enclosures, bedding, and familiar items.
  • Fish: Battery-operated air pumps and water maintenance supplies.

“Always consider your pet's species-specific requirements and plan accordingly.

“What steps can pet owners take to ensure their pets' identification and proper documentation in case they become separated during a disaster?

“To ensure your pets' identification and documentation during a disaster:

  • Microchip: Ensure your pet's microchip is registered and your contact details are up-to-date.
  • Collar and ID Tags: Have your pet wear a collar with ID tags containing your current contact information.
  • Photos: Keep recent photos of your pets in case you need to create missing posters.
  • Medical Records: Store copies of vaccination records, medical history, and prescriptions.
  • Emergency Contacts: Keep a list of emergency contacts, including neighbors, friends, and local shelters.
  • Pet-Friendly Shelters: Research pet-friendly evacuation shelters in advance.
  • Evacuation Kit: Place copies of your pet's identification and documents in your disaster kit.
  • Online Pet Profiles: Utilize online platforms that store pet profiles and medical records for easy access.

“Being well-prepared ensures that you can quickly reunite with your pets in case of separation.

“Are there specific first aid tips or medical supplies that pet owners should have on hand to address common pet injuries during emergencies?

“Certainly, having basic first aid supplies can be invaluable during pet emergencies:

  • Gauze and adhesive tape for wound care.
  • Antiseptic wipes to clean wounds.
  • Hydrogen peroxide for specific poisoning cases (as directed by a vet).
  • Scissors and tweezers for fur and splinters.
  • Tick remover for safe tick removal.
  • Saline solution for eyes and wounds.
  • Instant cold pack for swelling or heatstroke.
  • Cotton balls or swabs for ointments.
  • Pet-safe pain relievers under vet guidance.
  • Pet carrier or stretcher for transport.
  • Emergency phone numbers, including your vet's.

“Always consult your vet for guidance on using these supplies and seek professional care as soon as possible during emergencies.

“Are there specific hazards or health concerns that pet owners should be aware of following a natural disaster?

“After a natural disaster, consider these pet safety concerns:

  • Contaminated water sources.
  • Debris and sharp objects.
  • Downed power lines.
  • Chemical exposure.
  • Stress and anxiety.
  • Disease transmission.
    Insect and wildlife threats.
  • Displaced animals.

“Staying cautious and taking necessary precautions will help protect your pet's health post-disaster.”
Eric Holdeman is a nationally known emergency manager. He has worked in emergency management at the federal, state and local government levels. Today he serves as the Director, Center for Regional Disaster Resilience (CRDR), which is part of the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER). The focus for his work there is engaging the public and private sectors to work collaboratively on issues of common interest, regionally and cross jurisdictionally.