While you and your four-legged best friend are busy enjoying sunny days at the dog park, cooking out on the grill, or splashing around in their favorite lake, it can be easy to forget that, while summer weather can be gorgeous. it can also be a time for flooding, tornados, and wildfires. Luckily for us pet parents, June is National Pet Preparedness Month, giving us all a helpful reminder of what to do in case of an emergency or natural disaster. It only takes a short time to create an emergency plan for yourself and your pets and it can prove to be life saving. The following are some basic tips that will help ensure you and your pets are prepared in the face of an emergency:
Perhaps one of the most important ways to be prepared is to have your pets properly identified. Make sure your pet is microchipped and, if they do not have one yet, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to have one put in place. A microchip is a small device about the size of a grain of rice that is implanted between your pets’ shoulder blades. The device can be scanned at a veterinary office or animal shelter and will display life saving information like your address and phone number. Remember that if you move or change numbers to also let your microchip company know so that they can update their records! Make sure identification tags are current and easy to read. Another helpful tip is to include information such as whether they need medication, or if they do not like other animals, on their tag to help emergency personnel know what type of care they need while they work on reconnecting you. It is also a good idea to have a current photo of you and your pet tucked away in their emergency kit. It could come in handy should you have to show a shelter employee or emergency worker in order to identify your pet.
2. Know where to go!
If you area is prone to flooding, wildfires, or any other type of natural disaster where you may have to evacuate, it is important to find a place outside of the area where you can take your pets with you. Whether you bring them to a friend or family member’s home, or to one of many pet friendly hotels, it is a good idea to have a list of options and contact numbers for where you might go. And remember – if you need to leave your home because the electricity is out and it too hot or too cold for you to stay, it is the same for your pets, don’t leave them behind!
3. Stay together!
Natural disasters can be frightening for us and even more chaotic for our pets. When transporting them, and for a few days after a disaster, it is important to have them on leash at all times while you are outside. Often times your area may have different smells that may lure pets away, or dangerous debris that they can get into. If your home has been damaged, remember to keep cats in a carrier or confined to an undamaged area of your home, they can surprise you with how small of an area they can squeeze through.
4. Make a kit!
A premade kit can prove to be vital should you have to evacuate your home. Good items to keep in your pet’s kit include a few days worth of food, bottles of water, extra medication, copies of veterinary records, poop bags, cat litter and pan, sturdy leashes and collars, first aid kit (comes in handy for people too!), list of pet friendly hotels, dishes, and if they have a favorite type of treat or toy it never hurts to have an extra packed away for emergencies! There are many other items that are good to have; create your kit for your pet’s individual need and remember you can never be too prepared!
5. Know who to contact!
If a disaster hits while you are at work or away from your home, it is a great idea to discuss a plan of action in advance with a neighbor or nearby friend or family member. Agreeing that if one of you cannot make it back home that the other will bring your pets and their emergency kit will make the situation much less hectic. Make sure to have updated stickers on your front door letting emergency personal know how many pets are in the home should they need to get in to rescue them. Keep your veterinary clinic, pet friendly hotels, and the Pet Poison Helpline® numbers handy so you are prepared for any situation you may encounter.
No one likes to think a natural disaster will happen in their area but having these strategies in place will help ensure that you and your pets are prepared and able to enjoy all the wonderful activities that summer offers us!