Keeping Them Safe: Disaster Preparedness for Pets

A shaggy dog outdoors with a person in boots

Fires, floods, blizzards, hurricanes, and even tornados are a part of life in the Northeast. Although most of us know how to protect our homes and keep our human family members safe, protecting the family pet may be inadvertently left out of the emergency planning.

We know your pets are valued family members, which is why disaster preparedness for pets is something every pet owner should keep in mind when making their family’s plan.

Emergency Preparedness for Pets

It probably comes as no surprise that being prepared for a natural disaster or weather event ahead of time is the best way to protect your two- and four-legged family members. Yet, fewer than 20% of households have a disaster plan or emergency supplies, and even less include the family pet in the plan.

Planning is essential when it comes to ensuring your pet’s safety during a natural disaster, especially if an evacuation is involved. We offer you the following suggestions for emergency preparedness for pets:

  • Gather an emergency kit for your pet, and be sure to include their updated medical records, medications, extra food and fresh water, collar/leash/carrier, and blankets or towels. 
  • Make sure your pet’s ID tags and microchip information has been updated. If you haven’t had your pet microchipped yet, consider doing so as it will greatly increase your chance of being reunited if your pet is lost.
  • Many emergency shelters that are set up in evacuation situations don’t allow pets. Keep an updated list of pet-friendly hotels, boarding facilities, veterinary clinics, friends and family, and even campgrounds that allow pets.
  • Exchange keys with a trusted neighbor who can retrieve your pet if an evacuation occurs when you aren’t home.
  • Order a free rescue alert sticker from the ASPCA and place it in a clearly visible window in the front of your home. If a disaster occurs while you’re away from home, the sticker lets rescue workers know how many and what types of pets may be inside.
  • Never, ever leave your pet behind in an evacuation. If it isn’t safe for you to stay home, it isn’t safe for your pet.

Keep an Eye Out

New Jersey residents are no strangers to severe weather, but for your pet’s sake try to stay abreast of coming storms and weather systems. Bring your pet inside if a storm is on the way, and stay home with them to help keep them calm.

The Aftermath

It’s natural for animals to have some emotional repercussions following a natural disaster, especially if they were separated from you for any length of time. Do your best to stay with your pet, and try to keep their eating/exercise/sleep schedule as normal as possible to help reduce the impact of the changes in their environment. Keep your pet indoors during outside cleanup, as debris, downed wires, and standing water can put them at risk of illness or injury.

If your pet was separated from you during an emergency, please bring them in to your Barton Heights Veterinary Hospital veterinarian for an exam and parasite screening. As always, we are here for you, please don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions or concerns regarding emergency preparedness for pets.