Pet Disaster Preparedness: What You Need to Know
The month of June is National Pet Preparedness Month, which means it’s the ideal time to think about ways you can be ready in the event of a natural disaster.
Keep reading as we discuss what you need to know as a pet parent, and friend, on how disasters can impact pets and how you can become more prepared for your families’ safety.
Some natural disasters include events such as hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, tornadoes (even severe thunderstorms), and tsunamis.
Depending on where you live, you might be at risk for certain types of natural disasters more than others. Natural disasters are scary and can be deadly, and they impact our pets just as much as they impact us.
For example, according to Louisiana SPCA, when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in August 2005, it left 104,000 abandoned animals6 in its wake because there was no solid evacuation plan for families with pets. Many animals were eventually rescued, but sadly, many were not.
Out of the many animals who wind up in shelters after a natural disaster, it’s safe to say that a majority of them might never see their family again.
Create a Pet Disaster Preparedness Plan
Situations like these are scary and sad, but they’re also preventable.
What can you do to help your pet stay safely by your side if a natural disaster occurs? The first step is recognizing the importance of having a plan, which is what National Pet Disaster Preparedness Month is all about.
Too many pet parents don’t take the time to sit down and think about what might happen and what they’ll do if it does — but it’s an extremely important step to take because you truly don’t know what could happen.
What exactly should your family include in a pet disaster preparedness plan?
According to the American Red Cross7, it is recommended that you do your research ahead of time.
One thing to research in advance is the hotels along your evacuation route. Be sure to find out which hotels will accept pets in an emergency or natural disaster situation. If you are evacuating your home, always take your pets with you — it’s the best way to keep them safe and to know where they are.
Be aware, however, that pets (except for service dogs) are not allowed in Red Cross shelters due to health concerns. Another option when it comes to finding your pet a safe place to stay is to think about friends, shelters, and vets, and other clinics along your escape route.
Do you have an updated pet disaster preparedness plan?
What To Do and Know
Long before a natural disaster ever arrives, get into a habit of keeping your pet up-to-date on vaccinations. Having your pet’s vaccinations updated will help keep your pet healthy – especially if they are placed in a dangerous situation around dangerous debris and other pets and animals during a possible disaster or evacuation.
Having extra copies of these vaccinations are also an important way to know what vaccinations your pet has had if he or she needs to visit an emergency vet during a natural disaster.
Getting both your cats and dogs microchipped is an important step to take to protect your pet’s safety daily as well as if they were to get displaced during a disaster situation. Getting your pet microchipped can impact their return to you safely and more quickly.
You can also create a Pet Emergency First-Aid Kit so you’ll have everything you need for your pet if you’re forced to quickly leave your home.
This kit should include items such as food supplies for a few weeks, medicine, medical records, updated photos of your pet(s), (regularly rotate and update these items), blankets, a leash, a collar, a pet first aid kit, and a little cash.
Having a basic knowledge of pet first-aid tips can also be the difference in saving your pet’s life not only year-round but also during disaster situations.
Many places offer online Cat & Dog First Aid class that teaches the basics of pet CPR and also covers several other helpful topics (such as checking your pet’s vital signs, managing bleeding, and what to do in the case of a seizure). Your local vet or animal shelter might also offer pet CPR classes.
Check on Your Pet After a Disaster Situation
Finally, one thing that many pet owners overlook is what you should do to help your pet after a natural disaster takes place. Events such as storms and fires are scary for humans, so they can be even more terrifying for your pets — who are often small, vulnerable, and might be separated from you.
Animals can experience PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) just like humans.
“Pets can have situational anxiety because they do not understand the events that are taking place around them,” Alina Smith, CEO of a CBD oil provider for pets, told Pet Product News8.
If your pet experiences a natural disaster, your pet may begin acting differently. He or she could become more aggressive or act disoriented. Get in touch with your veterinarian, who can advise you on the best way to give your pet the love and care they need.
Keep Your Furry Friend and Family Safe Year-Round
Natural disasters are scary, but it’s important to always be prepared.
During National Pet Preparedness Month this year, read up on natural disasters and pets. Consider creating an evacuation plan for your whole family, pets included. You could also create an emergency kit to stash in a handy place in your home with important information and documents.
Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.