Critter Culture
Look Out for Your Pets With a Disaster Plan

Look Out for Your Pets With a Disaster Plan

Critter Culture Staff



Natural disasters are unpredictable, but some forethought can help you feel a sense of control in an emergency. Contingency measures will save you critical time and ensure everyone in your home will be as safe and comfortable as possible, given the circumstances. Whether your area is prone to hurricanes, earthquakes, or wildfires, you'll need a disaster action plan for your pets, including treats and supplies they might require in an evacuation. You may also need to train your pets to get used to portable kennels. Subscribe to local animal welfare social media accounts, and if internet access isn't affected, you'll be able to stay updated with the latest pet-related information.


Before a disaster

Vet checking chip implant on puppy dog olgagorovenko / Getty Images

Ensure your animals are microchipped and have instructive collars on. Keep a leash or animal carrier somewhere close to your home's exit so you can make a quick escape if necessary. And consider whether you have what you require to transport your pets by car safely. Pets are often not allowed in emergency shelters, so do your research to find animal accommodation close to your evacuation hub.



person packing box full of animal treats vejaa / Getty Images

Food and water should be number one on your list of supplies. You'll also need water for drinking and rinse-offs, so set an appropriate stash aside. Gather enough food for a week, and don't forget about non-spill eating utensils, a can opener, and storing the supplies in something waterproof and airtight. Buy spare tools to toss in your kit, so you can just grab and go if you need to.


First aid

Golden Retriever holding First-Aid-Kit PK-Photos / Getty Images

There's no telling what can happen during a natural disaster. You and your pets could end up with scrapes or burns. It's not easy to contemplate scenarios like this, but preparation can make all the difference on the day. Pack a first aid book and essential items, including but not limited to gauze, scissors, antibiotic ointment, cotton balls, nail clippers, and Vetericyn to clean wounds.



Close-up of hands searching in a file cabinet TommL / Getty Images

It's good to have your pet's vet records, registration info, and photographs on hand in a waterproof container. This step makes it easier to locate them if you're separated, and a picture of the both of you and proof of ownership eliminates any third-party doubt. The CDC has a boarding instructions form you can print and fill in to alert animal shelters about vaccine status, current food and meds, and any behavior concerns.


Business supplies

woman holding trash bag while cleaning after pet in park LightFieldStudios / Getty Images

Your pets will need to do their business at some point. Amid the anxiety-inducing upheaval, stomachs may be working overtime and not just when nature calls. You want things to be as sanitary and easy-on-the-nose as possible. Get affordable aluminum trays for portable litter boxes and pack poop scoops, dog waste bags, paper towels, and household chlorine bleach for disinfecting.



Young striped kitten laying in a carrier. DjelicS / Getty Images

When you're packing valuables into a vehicle, space is often an issue, and you might not have room to pack additional crates. Your carrier should be spacious enough to double up as a snoozing spot. Cozy bedding is a must, so pack a familiar blankie or a set of comfy towels.


Chronic meds

Woman giving the dog jack russell terrier with pill inside-studio / Getty Images

Like humans with health conditions, your pets might need access to their medication, and if their drugs usually stay in the fridge, you'll need to arrange an alternative. Your vet will be able to advise you on the process and must-haves. Pack any relevant paperwork and draw up a disaster to-do list on your phone for items that can't be stored beforehand. This way, you can efficiently retrieve these items during crunch time.


Grooming items

chihuahua on wooden table with towel on top and cans of skin and coat care product David Izquierdo / 500px / Getty Images

Even when there's lots of toil and trouble, there'll be a need for soap and bubbles. What does your pet usually use to look and smell inoffensive? Pack shampoo, conditioner, body wash, or some all-in-one products. There are waterless varieties that might come in handy in case of a water shortage. In general, if you're tempted to use items from the emergency pack when you've run out, note it and replace them ASAP.


Two options

Blue eyed Himalayan Kitten standing on a turquoise vintage suitcase. Kryssia Campos / Getty Images

A natural disaster might involve sheltering in your home for a while rather than evacuating. So, it's worth creating two packs. One is heavy and practical if you're hunkering down, possibly without power or access to grocery stores. And the other is much lighter and meant for a swift departure.


Creature comforts

Golden retriever puppy dog lying on sofa with teddy bear Elizabethsalleebauer / Getty Images

Pets need all the comfort they can get during a stressful time, so if they have self-soothing objects, try and get a second one if you can. Let them use the item and get their scent on it before placing it into the pack. If you rotate toys to keep your pets stimulated, rotate them into the disaster pack. Lastly, develop a backup plan with friends who live about an hour or so away.


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