Prepping For Your Pets
Generally, if it is not safe for you, it is not safe for your pets. The heat, cold, rain, ice and snow will have the same affect on animals as it does on humans for the most part. Your pets need an emergency disaster kit just as you do, and they need to be safeguarded, as would any member of your family.
Getting Started On Your Pet’s Disaster Kit
1.) If you evacuate your pets should go with you. You simply cannot leave your pets behind if you have to flee a crisis. Therefore, you need a plan and you must plan well ahead of time. There are items along with certain information that should be in every pet’s emergency kit.
- Locate and record information about pet friendly hotels in the area and in the surrounding area and even disaster relief agencies before something happens.
- Keep the contact numbers of your veterinarian, of pet friendly hotels, local animal hospitals/shelters and any relief agencies located in your area in the kit. The Red Cross and other agencies have at times provided mobile shelters for domesticated animals during a crisis in certain locations of the country.
- Many local disaster relief shelters for humans do not allow you to bring pets of any type inside with you.
- Know before you end up at a relative’s home or crisis center that they are willing to take you along with your pets and that they have certain accommodations for your pets. Animals, like humans can become stressed during a crisis, thus they are not always looking out for dangers. It is important you are aware of any dangers at your new location and that you pay attention so your pets do not get into trouble at their temporary home.
2.) Ensure your pet is up to date on their vaccinations/shots and that you have a supply of any maintenance medications, such as flea and tick treatments on hand in the event you cannot get to the vet’s office.
- Rabies shots are important, and typically for the shots to be recorded they must be administered by a veterinarian in good standing with the state in which you reside. In most states, you are required to have a certified rabies tag attached to the animal’s collar or readily accessible.
- If your animal bites a human or another animal, and the rabies shots are not recorded and/or you do not have proof of those shots your pet can be taken from you. The results of this are too horrifying to mention here, so it is important your animals be given their rabies shots by a licensed veterinarian, and that you have all documentation and tags with the animal at all times when away from home.
- There are certain other shots, vaccinations or medications your animal may need routinely such as shots for “kennel cough” or for Canine Parvovirus (parvo) and for diseases spread by squirrels. Check with your vet on what your pet does need and how often.
- Flea and tick medication while somewhat expensive it is important. Usually you would treat your pets monthly (every 30 days) or as indicated by your veterinarian or by following label directions on the medication. Your home may not have fleas or ticks but shelters will have them and other temporary locations may have them.
- Some animals require allergy medications as well, and like humans, animals will need antibiotics for bacterial infections.
- Heartworm medication is important, because mosquitoes can pass the heartworm parasite to your animals and you will encounter mosquitoes in warm weather no matter where you end up. Even pets kept indoors can be bitten by mosquitoes. Remember if you have to evacuate your pet (s) may encounter things not normally present at home.
3.) Certain pet foods are refrigerated or you may feed your pets foods that you eat, but during a crisis, you may not have access to refrigeration or have a means to prepare foods. Canned foods or dry foods would be an acceptable substitute. Diets and food restrictions must be accommodated and your veterinarian would know what foods could be substituted for others. Typically, dried foods in the original packaging would be easier to pack. Canned foods can be bulky and will add considerable weight to any pack or kit. Have at least a seven-day supply in your pet’s kit.
4.) Humans typically need one gallon of water daily for hydration. Your pets will not likely need that much for hydration but you should still plan on one gallon a day for each pet. Pet bowls may need to be cleaned out and certain foods, dried for example, may need water for their preparations. Pets may also be exposed to flood waters or chemicals and would need to be rinsed or bathed with clean water. Have a seven-day supply on hand.
5.) Eating and water bowls, along with blankets, chew toys, leashes, collars, harnesses, bath towels and even clothing for certain animals should be in your kit. You can pack all of this into travel cages if you have one, and you may very well need one for emergencies to keep your pet safe and as a way of transporting your pets.
6.) Cats will need their litter and boxes and you must have scoops and bags to dispose of the used litter.
7.) Current photos and/or descriptions of your pets should be in the kit as well so others can help search for your pets if you become separated.
8.) Pet accidents will happen so to be prepared you can pack newspapers, plastic bags for waste, and rubber gloves for you, paper towels, bleach/soap and other supplies for cleaning up any pet accidents. Grooming supplies are needed as well, such as between baths cleaning powders or sprays for quick cleanup that do not require water or soap. Certain cleaning pads are available for poodles for example, because their fur especially around their eyes and face can be stained from tears, and their paws from the animal licking them, and by certain allergies.
9.) Pet and owner identification is important even though privacy is a big concern your pet should have tags attached with your information on them so that you can be contacted if your pet becomes lost, and is found by someone and/or ends up at a shelter. You can also have microchips imbedded so your pet’s information as well as yours can be accessed once at an animal shelter.
10.) What happens if disaster strikes and you cannot get back home right away? Have a trusted friend or neighbor you can call to look after your pet until you can back home. This is something that must be planned well ahead of time however. Any friends or neighbors must be introduced to the animal and get to know them over time, know its feeding and bathroom schedule and know where the animal’s food, leashes and harnesses are located. Of course, any caretaker would need to have a key or access to a hidden key.
You should not allow any pets to be immersed in floodwaters, or to consume floodwaters. Floodwaters can also cause wildlife to be displaced to include dangerous snakes and alligators in certain areas of the country. Your pet if left outdoors during a crisis may encounter dangerous wildlife that would not otherwise be in the area.