A Pup Parent's Guide to Planning For an Emergency

A Pup Parent's Guide to Planning For an Emergency

Emergencies such as earthquakes, floods, and fires can strike without warning, leaving families—including our dogs—vulnerable and in need of immediate action.   Bella and I live in Southern California so we are no strangers to earthquakes, and while they don't happen often it is best to be prepared for them and that includes a plan for your pup!

1. Create an Emergency Kit for Your Pup

Just like you have a disaster kit for yourself, your pets need one too. Grab a plastic bin and keep it in a place where it will be easy to get.

Here’s what to include:

- Food and Water: At least a 5-7 day supply of food and water. This is important because depending on the emergency you may bot be able to get food for your pup from a store for a while.  Opt for portable, easy-to-serve options.  If your food requires a can opener make sure and include one in your kit so you are prepared.  Also make a note of the foods expiration date in your calendar so you can use it and replace it as needed.  You don't want to have an emergency and have food that has spoiled.  Keep a set of bowls in their kit so you have something to put the food in. 

- Medications: A week’s supply of any medications or supplements your pet needs, along with clear instructions.

- First Aid Kit: Include items such as bandages, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, and any other essentials.

- Documents: Copies of your pet’s vaccination records, adoption papers, and a recent photo of your pet in case you get separated.  The photo is important! Make sure you have a clear, bright photo of your pup! 

- Other items to include: extra poop bags, paper towels, a pair of multipurpose scissors.

- Comfort Items: Favorite teats, toys, blankets, or beds to help reduce stress.

2. Develop an Evacuation Plan

Your evacuation plan should consider your pets’ needs:

- Know where to go: Know in advance which emergency shelters accept pets. Not all do, so have a list of pet-friendly hotels or boarding facilities.  Make plans with family members or friends in the event your plan is to stay with them or for them to stay with you. 

- Leash and Harness: Ensure you have a reliable leash and harness for each of your dogs to keep them secure.  I keep an extra of each in my emergency kit!

3. Know Your Pets’ Hiding Places

During an emergency, animals can become frightened and hide. Be aware of your pups favorite hiding spots so you can quickly and safely retrieve them if needed.

4. Practice Makes Perfect

Conduct regular drills with your family and pets. Practice evacuating your home quickly and efficiently, ensuring that everyone knows their role, including who is responsible for gathering the pets.

5. Microchip and Identification Tags

Ensure your pets are microchipped and that their identification tags are up to date with your current contact information. In the chaos of an emergency, a microchip and ID tag are vital for reuniting lost pets with their owners.  This is good to have year round. I recently found a lost dog and couldn't reunite it because the phone number was disconnected. The pup was later found by its owners at the shelter. 

6. Stay Informed

Sign up for emergency alerts to stay informed about potential disasters in your area. Keep a battery-powered or hand-crank radio to receive updates if the power goes out.

7. Buddy System

Work with neighbors or friends to create a buddy system. Agree to check on each other’s pets in case one of you is not home during an emergency.  My dad lives across the street from me and I have a neighbor that has a key to my place so they know to check on Bella if I were not home and an emergency happened. 

8. After the Emergency

Once the immediate danger has passed:

- Assess Your Pet’s Condition: Check your pet for injuries and consult a veterinarian if needed.

- Keep Pets Contained: Even if your home is safe, keep your dogs contained until you’re sure the environment is secure.  I would keep their leash on too incase you have a reason to grab them quickly.  

- Watch for Stress Signs: Pets can exhibit signs of stress after a traumatic event. Look for changes in behavior, eating habits, or bathroom routines.  Make sure and give them extras love during this time as it can be a very scary time for them too! 

Planning ahead can make all the difference in ensuring the safety and well-being of your pets during an emergency. By preparing an emergency kit, developing an evacuation plan, and staying informed, you can provide the best possible care for your pups when disaster strikes. Remember, your dogs rely on you for their safety and comfort, so take the necessary steps today to protect them should there be an emergency.

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