Are you prepared?

By Cassie Panning, CVT
Veterinary Information Specialist at Pet Poison Helpline®

First Aid Kit4For many of us our pets are a part of our family. We bring them along on vacations or car rides, provide them with the best foods available and even treat them to spa days at the groomers.  But are you prepared to provide for your pet if you face a disaster, emergency situation or an evacuation?  Did you know that if you are prepared that your pets can come with you during an evacuation?

Having a disaster preparedness kit is the first step in ensuring that you and your pets can be best prepared for any situation you may face.  While you might be thinking to yourself, “We don’t have natural disasters where I live so is the really necessary?”  The answer is yes!  Many of us think of being evacuated due to disasters such as hurricanes, wild fires or mud slides, but you are just as likely to be evacuated for things like gas leaks, train derailments, flooding or chemical spills which can happen anywhere.

The second step to being prepared is to familiarize yourself with the legislation on both a national and your state level regarding evacuation with pets.  The Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standards act (PETs Act) that was passed following the events of Hurricane Katrina outline regulations regarding bringing your pets with you when an evacuation is ordered.  By knowing how this law effects you and your pets can help you be prepared when faced with disaster.

During times of panic we are not thinking clearly and will most likely forget something important for our pet as we are running out the door, in fact you may even forget your pet.  Preparing a kit of items that can easily be grabbed can help you remain calm during times of stress.  A recommendation for disaster evacuations for people includes remembering to grab the 3 P’s; Your Purse, Your Prescriptions and Your Pets!

Suggested Items to include in a disaster preparedness kit include:

  • Updated vaccine records for your pet including a photo and microchip number if applicable
  • 1-2 week supply of food and any medications that you pet needs
  • Water
  • Food and water bowels
  • Litter and litter box (for your feline family members)
  • Leash and collar with tags (if your dog or cat doesn’t typically wear one)
  • Pet Carrier
  • Basket Muzzle for dogs who can not fit in a carrier
  • Treats or toys (to help keep them calm during times of stress)
  • First aid kit (see recommendations on our webpage at

Additional suggestions can be found in the Saving the Whole Family Brochure from the AVMA.  You can download a free copy by following the link.