Preparing to protect your pets in a natural disaster.

by Dr. Marcy | 19th May 2011

Preparing Your Pets for a Natural Disaster

In light of our recent tornado damage, The Pet Doctor wants to help our pet owners to be prepared for the event of a natural disaster that could affect their pets!

Don’t Wait, Make Plans Early!

Preparing ahead of time and acting quickly is the best way to keep you and your family safe, including your pets.

  • Set up an appointment to talk to the doctors at The Pet Doctor about planning for your pets during a natural disaster.
  • Assemble an animal evacuation kit.
  • Familiarize yourself with each type of disaster that our area could be affected by, including a hazardous materials spill.
  • Develop an evacuation plan for all of your animals.
  • Keep written directions to your home near your telephone. This will help you tell emergency responders how to get to your home if you are in a state of panic and in need of rescue, or if a person unfamiliar with your area is the only person in your home during a disaster.
  • Identify alternate sources of food and water. Some local food and water sources may be disrupted or contaminated for extended periods of time following a disaster.
  • Keep all vehicles well maintained and full of gas.
  • Keep emergency cash on hand.

In Case You Are Not At Home

Place stickers on your doors to notify neighbors, fire fighters, police and other rescue personnel that there are pets in your home and where to find your supplies. Provide a list of the number, type, and location of your animals, noting favorite hiding spots, in order to save time.

Designate a willing neighbor to care for your pets if a disaster occurs when you are not at home. This person should have a key to your house, be familiar with your pets, know your evacuation procedures, and know where your supplies are kept.


Microchips, rabies and license tags, will help reunite you with your pets in the event that you are separated. Identification should provide your name, home address, a phone number where
you can be reached, and an out-of-state phone number of someone that you will be in contact with. You should also include The Pet Doctor’s location, and phone number.

Transportation and Housing

Have a leash, collar, and/or harness for each pet. Have a collapsible cage or airline-approved carrier for each pet, including proper bedding, for transportation or housing purposes.  Take the cage/carrier out several times a year and put dog or cat treats inside with blankets and toys. By doing this, you will reinforce positive feelings associated with the animal carrier.

Avoid transporting any pet outside of a carrier. Even the most well-behaved and loyal pet may become frightened during an emergency and try to run away or get in your way while you are driving. Also, the likelihood of serious injury in an automobile collision is much higher for unrestrained pets than those in carriers.

Health Records

Make copies of important veterinary documents to store in the evacuation kit. Important documents to include are vaccination records, a list of any known medical conditions or allergies that your pet has and a list of medications or a photocopy of the drug labels for any medications that your pet is taking.

After A Disaster

  • Survey the area inside and outside your home to identify sharp objects, dangerous materials, dangerous wildlife, contaminated water, downed power lines, or other hazards.
  • Familiar scents and landmarks may have changed, and this can confuse your animals.
  • Release cats, dogs, and other small animals indoors only. They could encounter dangerous wildlife and debris if they are allowed outside unsupervised and unrestrained.
  • Reintroduce food in small servings, gradually working up to full portions if animals have been without food for a prolonged period of time.
  • Allow uninterrupted rest/sleep for all animals to recover from the trauma and stress.
  • Physically check animal control and animal shelters DAILY for lost animals.
  • Post lost animal notices and notify local veterinarians and your neighbors of any lost animals.

2 Responses to “Preparing to protect your pets in a natural disaster.”

  1. Lori S.

    May 30th, 2011 :

    What should we put in an animal evacuation kit?

    Do you have any specific suggestions for preparing for a tornado?

    For example, there was one story of a boxer who would not get into the storm shelter with the family and they ended up having to shut the door and leave her outside. There are multiple ways that this situation could have been prevented — from kenneling pets in the basement/storm shelter PRIOR to a warning when conditions are favorable and severe storms are approaching — to leashing the dog as if you’re going for a walk or car ride then hustling them into the shelter with the family. (My dog would also be reluctant to get into a small, crowded room adn probably would not come when called so he often walks around dragging a leash when there’s servere weather approaching so that it will be easier to grab him and head for cover if needed.)

    I’m sure there are other good tornado tips out there. Possibly even some annecdotal evidence that would tell me — once in the shelter, is it better to have my dog leashed, kenneled or free?

  2. Dr. Kelly

    Jun 2nd, 2011 :

    Great questions, Lori!

    Check out the info sheet made by the US website The whole site has tons of information resources for what to do for any member of your family (including the furry members!) in case of a disaster. At my own home, we’re readying the basement with supplies of food and water as well as a first aid kit for humans and animals alike. Extra leashes on hand and a kennel are helpful. It would also be a great idea to get your pet accustomed to going into the shelter when it’s NOT an emergency so that, if the need arises, they don’t get freaked out and refuse to go.

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