PET EMERGENCY PREPARATION
Emergencies happen every day, from home/backyard dangers to natural disasters. Pets can’t fend for themselves. Leaving pets out of emergency or evacuation plans can put pets, pet owners, and first responders in danger. Never leave pets behind – they are likely to get injured, lost, or worse. Be prepared and develop an emergency plan for your pets. They are family!
Pandemics, natural disasters, weather occurrences, and normal everyday household hazards can negatively affect emotions and lives of our pets. Pets also tend to flee for own their safety when afraid of the unknown, which is their natural instinct. Regardless of the situation or type of emergency, we need to be prepared to keep them safe. Use the tips below to get started.
- Be sure your pet has some type of ID. A microchip and collar with ID tags are the most effective way to help lost pets find their way home.
- Develop an emergency plan for you and your pets. Determine how you will get your pet to safety in the event of an emergency. Find resources within your community such as boarding facilities, and hotels or emergency shelters that accept pets.
- Identify a family member, friend, or neighbor who is willing to care for your pet in an emergency. Make sure they know where your pet’s essential supplies (e.g., food, feeding instructions, leash or carrier, veterinary information, and emergency kit) are located.
- Keep written information about your pets handy. Include phone numbers for your veterinarian, pet service providers, emergency contacts. Also include written instructions on your pet’s care, feeding, behavior, and health conditions.
- Have photos of your pet(s), as well as photos of you with your pets, to prove pet ownership.
- Have emergency information on file with your veterinarian and keep a copy with you. Include alternative contacts such as family or friends who can authorize care or pick up your pets if you are unable.
- Keep leashes, carriers, pet emergency kit, and pet first aid kit in an accessible place near an exit in case you need to quickly leave your home with your pets.
- Have a pet emergency kit and first aid kit for your pets. Keep emergency supplies in one place – a container, backpack, or duffle bag work well. You can buy a pet first aid kit from several reputable retailers, or you can put one together yourself. See Items to Include in a Pet Emergency Kit and Make a Pet First Aid Kit for information on what should be included.
- Place a “Pets Inside” sticker at all entrances to your home. This will ensure that emergency responders will check for your pets.
Items to Include in a Pet Emergency Kit
Pet emergency kits are essential to have in the event that of a natural disaster or any other type of emergency, whether you are evacuated or have to shelter in place. We have listed important items to add when creating a pet emergency kit below. Be sure to keep items in a sealed container that is accessible and ready to go at any time.
Documents (keep sealed in a waterproof bag or container)
- Copies of veterinary records
- Rabies certificate
- Medical summery
- Most recent heartworm test result (if applicable – dogs)
- Most recent FeLV/FIV test result (cats)
- Copy of current pet license
- Copy of proof of ownership records (e.g., adoption records)
- Description of pet(s) – breed, sex, color, weight, and any identifying marks.
- Recent photographs of pet(s) – including photos with you to prove ownership
- Microchip information
- Your contact information – include information of any emergency contacts or people/places where you may be staying
Water, Food, Medications
- Food (2-week supply for each animal)
- Water (2-week supply for each animal)
- Non-spill food and water dishes
- Manual can opener & spoons (if feeding canned food)
- Feeding and medication instructions for each animal
- Medications and/or Supplements (2-week supply for each animal)
- Flea, tick, and heartworm preventative (1-month supply, if applicable)
- Pet first-aid kit (typically kept inside your home and separate from the pet emergency kit, add it to the emergency kit container should you need to evacuate)
- Leash, collar with ID, harness, and slip-lead
- Pet bed, blanket, carrier or crate
- Towels & washcloths
- Leather gloves (for protection when handling an injured pet)
- Muzzle (to prevent injured pet from biting while administering first aid)
- Pillowcase (to confine small pets)
- Poop bags
- Litter, litterbox, and scoop (cats)
- Grooming items
- Pet first aid book and first aid kit
- Cleaning supplies (paper towels, garbage bags, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, household bleach)
Make a Pet First Aid Kit
A first-aid kit for your pets is important not only in the event of a natural disaster, but any time a pet is far from home on a family vacation, camping, or even hiking. Always remember that any first aid administered to your pet should be followed by immediate veterinary care.
- Pet first aid reference book
- Animal digital thermometer
Temperature should be taken rectally – normal body temperature for a dog and cat is approximately 99.5-102.5° F.
- Petroleum jelly (to lubricate thermometer)
- Bandaging materials (cotton bandage rolls, non-stick bandage pads, gauze pads, self-cling pet bandage)
Non-adhesive bandaging materials can be used to help control bleeding and keep wounds clean.
- Cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs
Use for cleaning wounds, as well as for gently and more precisely cleaning in and around your pet’s eyes, ears, and other sensitive areas. Never stick cotton swabs into your pet’s eyes or ears.
- Bandage tape and blunt edge scissors
Bandage tape helps to hold layers of non-adhesive bandages together. Blunt edge scissors easily slip between skin and bandage material and not cut pet’s skin.
- Tick remover tool
For removing an embedded tick from the skin. Do not crush the tick body when removing and put it into a container after removal to have your veterinarian identify and see if any additional monitoring or treatment may be needed.
- Magnifying glass
- Grooming clippers or safety razor
Use for trimming fur around wounds.
- Disposable gloves
- Plastic syringe
For administering oral treatments or to flush wounds.
- Plastic card or old credit card
Use to safely scrape away stingers.
- Emergency warming blanket
To keep pets warm when they have sustained an injury outside in the cold or rain.
- Instant cold pack
Apply to decrease swelling and inflammation after a bee sting, sprain/strain, bruising, or other minor injury. Always use a cloth between the pack and skin and check frequently for redness or irritation.
- Hot pack
Helps to keep pets warm in the event of hypothermia. Always use a cloth between the pack and skin and check frequently for redness or irritation.
- E-collar (Elizabethan Collar)
Use to keep pet from licking or biting at treated areas.
- Liquid dish soap
Dish soap, such as Dawn, is very effective in removing toxins from skin and fur. Remember to rinse and flush pet with water after.
- Antibiotic ointment packs
Used on minor cuts, scrapes, and other skin injuries for protection against bacterial infections.
- Hydrocortisone cream
Calms inflamed, itchy, and irritated skin caused by dermatitis, flea bites, and allergies. Never apply to an open wound. Be sure to keep pet from licking hydrocortisone cream. Check with your veterinarian before applying.
- Saline wound flush
For cleaning and flushing wounds.
- Styptic powder
Blood clotting powder (also comes in stick form) for torn nails or minor cuts.
- Sterile saline eye wash
To flush eyes in the event your pet should have debris or smoke in its eyes.
- Artificial tears
Use to sooth eyes after using a sterile flush.
- Ear cleaning solution
Use for cleaning debris from pet’s ears.
- Benadryl – Diphenhydramine
Useful for bee stings and mild allergic reactions. Check with your veterinarian prior to ensure that your pet can be given Benadryl and for the proper dosage for your pet.
- Hydrogen peroxide 3%
Used to induce vomiting. Never induce vomiting without first checking with a veterinarian or animal poison control.
- Milk of magnesia or activated charcoal
Used to absorb poison. Never administer without first checking with a veterinarian or animal poison control.
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: 888-426-4435 ($60 consultation fee may apply)
Pet Poison Hotline: 855-764-7661 ($59 incident fee)
The content of this page is not veterinary advice. This information shared here is intended for reference use only.
American Veterinary Medical Association
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention