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5 Ways Pet Guardians Should Prepare for an Emergency

No one wants to be caught in an emergency, whether it’s in the form of a natural disaster or a circumstance that means you need to leave home suddenly. To successfully navigate these unforeseen incidents, you will want to be adequately prepared, have a game plan that will lead you to safety, and have everything you need ready to go in the event you need to leave immediately.

After having seen what happened during Hurricane Harvey, it’s clear that the emergency situation can be even more complicated when you have pets. After all, you are responsible for them and their safety, and it means you have an extra few members to worry about when an emergency strike. Here are the ways pet guardians can and should prepare for an emergency.

1. Identification

Proper identification will your pup find their way home to you if you are separated for any reason, and its importance should not be discounted. I recently spoke with Aimee Gilbreath of Michelson Found Animals who explained how you can save your pet’s life simply by ensuring he can be IDed.

You’ll want to ensure that your pup has a collar complete with an ID tag that is up to date on your information. A clear phone number, email address, or both should be noted on that tag, and if your pup has a pre-existing medical condition, consider having that written on the tag as well. Do note that it may be safest to purchase a collar with an intelligent release function so that if it gets caught on something, your dog will not be stuck there.

But what if your pup’s collar gets lost during an emergency? This is where a microchip can come into play. Getting your pup microchipped will ensure that your pup’s identity and your information will be easily readable by most shelters and animal organizations. Just make sure your details are up to date.

2. Disaster kit

Create a special emergency evacuation kit that has all the times you need for your pets. You should enough of each item for each pet and Red Cross has a great guide for it. Briefly, here’s what to include:

  • A week’s worth of food (remember to change your stock regularly)
  • Two weeks’ worth of medication needed (remember to change your stock regularly)
  • Bottles of water
  • Can opener for canned food
  • Food and water bowls
  • Litter, tissues, or plastic bags for waste, and other cleaning items for bathroom accidents
  • Extra harness, leash, and collar
  • Medical records in a waterproof folder, including vaccinations, microchip ID, and prescriptions
  • Blankets or towels
  • Current photographs of your dog
  • Toy and chew toy
  • Sturdy crate, cage, or container
  • First aid kit
  •  Pet First Aid Kit and Pocket Pet First Aid Kit


Keep this kit near the door so you can quickly make a grab for it if you need to leave quickly.

3. Arrange Emergency Shelter

Even though many pet owners have done so during the recent hurricane disasters, you should not leave your pets home alone. For the most part, you shouldn’t - a situation that is not safe for you will likely not be safe for your dogs, either.

Therefore, it’s important for you to find a safe place that can agree to take your pets in, if you are unable to bring them with you for whatever reason. You can likely contact your vet to ask if they know of any facilities that would be happy to hold them and ask your local shelter whether they are able to provide emergency shelter for dogs if it is necessary.

You can also browse the local Humane Society’s website to find nearby shelters that can help you. If worse comes to worst, you may be able to leave your pets with trusted family members or friends.

If you can bring your dog along with you, then make sure that the places you may plan to head out to are dog-friendly. Look for motels or hotels that are accommodating of pets, and inform friends or family members who you may need to bunk with in advance that your pets will be coming along. Know there are many human shelters that may not allow pets in, aside from service animals.

In the extremely unlikely and extenuating event that you absolutely cannot take your pet out of your house, you will likely want to purchase a rescue alert sticker from the ASPCA (you can get it here). This will inform the emergency respondents that there are pets inside that need saving. Stick this sticker in one of your front windows so it is easy to see, and cross it out and mark “evacuated” if you are able to evacuate your pets with you.

4. Find Safe Spaces at Home

Keeping your home well-kept and organized can help keep your pets safer in the event of an emergency, especially if there’s a chance you will not be able to evacuate in times of emergency and will need safe spaces inside your own home. Ensuring your house is generally neat and tidy will prevent debris and other items from potentially harming your pets or forming a barricade that gets them stuck.

From the get-go, determine which rooms will be your safe spaces if you need somewhere to go where you and your pets can keep relatively safe and hold out until the emergency - whatever that may be - blows over. This means your home should also be well-stocked with emergency supplies, and it may be helpful to keep an extra emergency kit like the one you place near your front door in this safe room. Having a mobile dog crate for your small or medium sized pooch will make it much easier to maneuver with your pet as well, whether in or outside the house during an emergency.


5. Be Up to Date Medically

Some diseases and viruses in dogs can transmit themselves to humans, and natural disasters tend to increase the chances of that happening because of hygiene sacrifices and overcrowding. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure your dog is up to date on certain preventative care and vaccinations, especially for diseases that can be transmitted to humans. Here are the ones to prioritize.

  • Rabies. This condition is transmitted through saliva contact with rabid animals, including through their bites.
  • Ringworm. This fungus infects the nails, hair, and skin of animals and people, and is transmitted through direct contact.
  • Leptospirosis. This disease is bacterial and comes from infected urine. Contact with this infected urine can cause the bacteria to enter the body, leading to kidney and other organ damage.
  • Heartworms, fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. Preventative care is vital to ensuring the spread of disease caused by these insects during emergencies

Regularly washing your hands during emergencies, if possible, and adding hand sanitizer or baby wipes to your emergency kit can help to prevent yourself from contracting these diseases.



Samantha has been the Editor-in-Chief at Top Dog Tips for the past 5 years. She has been working in the pet industry for more than a decade, and enjoys helping pet owners provide the best care possible for their animal companions. In her free time, Samantha loves to spend time with her 3-year-old Labrador, Saddie, and her 2-year-old Beagle, Molly. She takes her dogs swimming, hiking and paddleboarding. They love finding outdoor adventures in their home state of Maine.

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