How Prepared Are Your Pets for an Emergency?

If you and your family had to hunker down during a crisis, would you suddenly forget to care for your pets?

Or if you and your family had to evacuate your home due to a disaster, would you abandon your pets when you left?

Those questions are absurd to any pet lover. Of course we would continue to care for our pets if we had to hunker down. And of course we would take our pets with us if we had to evacuate.

So why is it that so few people consider their pets when they prepare for an uncertain future? Why do so few have pet bug-out bags stocked and ready to grab in an emergency?

Members of the family

I’ve heard many animal lovers say they consider their pets as family members. I couldn’t agree more. They love us because we do everything for them that they can’t do for themselves.

We feed them and water them. We provide shelter for them, take them to the vet and clean up after them. And we do it no matter how much time it takes.

I think their dependency on us is one of the things that makes us love them so much. Our hearts go out to those who need us and appreciate us.

If all that’s true, we need to have everything necessary prepared, in advance, to meet our pets’ needs should an emergency arise.

Pet bug-out bags

A pet should have its own bug-out bag. Or perhaps two or more pets could share one large bug-out bag. This bag should contain the types of things an animal will need to survive and stay occupied in a crisis.

You can use your own water supply for your pets. But the items that would go in a pet bug-out bag should include the following.

  • A large bag of the food they normally eat. The way to keep this food from becoming stale is to rotate new bags in an out of the bug-out bag each time you buy one. Better yet for dogs, acquire long-lasting survival food and be done with it.
  • Chew toys. Depending on how long the emergency lasts, you will want to keep your animals occupied. For dogs, this would include treats they can swallow and ones that they will only chew on.
  • Any medications your animals need. Ask your vet if you can stay at least one month ahead on their prescriptions. For items protecting against heartworm and against fleas and ticks, you should be able to stay six months to a year ahead.
  • Extra collars, leashes, harnesses and carrying cages. You never know when you might have to transport your pets on several occasions during a crisis, so make sure those carriers are sturdy and secure.
  • Papers proving your pets are current with their shots. In an emergency, you may not be able to acquire that information from your vet quickly. But you may have to prove to someone at a different animal clinic or a pet-friendly hotel that their vaccinations are up to date.

Tags and microchips

In addition, you want to have current ID tags attached to your animals’ collars. Ideally, those tags will include one or more of your cellphone numbers. These tags could be your pets’ lifelines should they become separated from you.

If your pets do not already have microchips, take care of that as soon as possible. The chip is usually implanted in the shoulder area and can be read by a scanner at most animal shelters.

Have a back-up plan with a trusted friend or neighbor who might be able to get to your pets if you can’t return home promptly in an emergency. This will work especially well if you have a reciprocal relationship with them and their pets.

Be sure to give your pets extra attention and love during and following a major disruption in their lives. A comforting voice ‚Äď not to mention hugs ‚Äď will go a long way to reducing their stress level.

Pet-friendly hotels

If a crisis causes you to evacuate with your pets, here are some websites providing information about pet-friendly hotels. 


Post-crisis considerations

If a crisis causes you to hunker down, it’s possible your normally safe backyard could now contain a variety of items that could hurt an animal stepping on them or eating them.

Do a thorough walk-through on your lawn, watching for anything harmful you think might be there. Including pieces of wood, nails and other debris.

Keep in mind that when they do go outside following a crisis, your pets could become disoriented due to familiar scents and landmarks having been altered.

Watch out for signs of changed behavior in your pets. Especially if they are acting more aggressively than previously. Allow for uninterrupted periods of rest and sleep until they are fully recovered. 

What’s in your pets’ bug-out bags?

Assuming you’ve prepared emergency food, water and other supplies for yourself, have you also done the same for your pets?

Feel free to let fellow readers know what types of things you have stored for your pets in case a disaster strikes.

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