Natural disasters can be terrifying. Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, floods — all have the potential to destroy your home, threaten your life, and perhaps even worst of all, threaten your pets. Humans aren’t the only ones who suffer when a natural disaster comes rolling into town. Our furry friends can be pretty terrified, too.
That’s why we put together this guide, so you know what to do with your pet in case of a natural disaster. Read through and, most importantly, plan ahead. In fact, that’s the step that we’ll start off with.
Prepare ahead of time
A couple hours of preparation before the event of a natural disaster is often worth more than anything that you could do in the moment. Preparing a disaster plan ahead of time means that, in the event of a disaster, you don’t have to waste time scrambling to figure out what to do next — you can simply remember your plan, and act on it.
Know your safety status
First, it’s important to know what threats that are most likely to affect you. Do you live in a hurricane-prone area? Do wildfires often threaten homes in your town? Are there earthquakes near you? Knowing what disasters may occur can help you better know what to plan for.
Start by assessing your area, as well as following basic apartment safety guidelines, like locking doors, and knowing where your gas shutoff valve is located.
Have a carrier ready
Next, it’s important to have a pet carrier ready. Pets may be frightened and run off if there is a disaster, which could end up leading them to serious danger. Don’t let your pet get lost if a disaster strikes — have a pet carrier ready, and as you’re preparing to evacuate, put your pet inside before leaving your home.
Plan your evacuation route
It’s also important to know your evacuation routes. If you’re able to leave by car, know which highway to get on to get out of town in time to be safe. It’s also critical that you plan to take your pet somewhere. For instance, if you have relatives that live out of town who are willing to take in both you and your pet, be sure they know that you plan on evacuating to their house.
If you don’t have anyone whose home you can evacuate to, make a note of shelters and pet hotels that you can take your pet to if your home is damaged or destroyed. During a disaster, you don’t want to waste time seeking out a place to shelter your pet — be sure you know ahead of time.
If your furry friend happens to be a service animal, you may have more flexibility in terms of accommodations but it’s always important to check ahead of time and make sure you’re prepared.
Get your pet chipped
Sometimes disaster strikes faster than you can prepare for, and pets run away before you get the chance to get them safely in their carrier. That’s why it’s crucial that you get them microchipped. Some chips even allow you to track your pet with GPS, so once the storm clouds clear, you can set about finding your best friend.
Getting your pet chipped is easy and inexpensive; find a vet near you that can microchip your pet, and invest in their security.
Tend to your pet’s needs
Your pet will likely be scared and shaken in the event of a natural disaster, especially if you have to evacuate your home. Once you’re sure that you’ve made it to safety and that you are healthy and unharmed, make sure that your pet is well taken-care of.
- Food: If you can, bring along some snacks for your pet. If you have to shelter overnight somewhere, you’ll want to be sure that your pet has enough to eat.
- Water: Water is also important. Be sure that you bring enough for yourself and for your furry friend as well. Bring along a bowl, too, to ensure that your pet can comfortably drink.
- Blankets or towels: Pets that are scared may want a place to cozy up and feel safe and protected. Pad their carrier with blankets and towels that will keep them warm and safe.
- Medicine: If your pet takes regular medicine, bring along enough for a few days — or better yet, just pack the whole bottle.
Pro-tip: if you live in a disaster-prone area, it’s a good idea to have a go-bag with everything you’ll need when you evacuate. In addition to bringing along the supplies that you and your family may need, pack pet food, water, and other pet-related supplies.
If you can spare the time, it’s also a good idea to give your pet some affection and reassurance. Once you’re in a safe place where you’re sure they won’t be able to run off if they’re startled, like the home of a relative or friend, for instance, take them out of their carrier and pet or hold them; they may need comforting in a time of stress.
Know the nearest emergency vet
The last bit of advice is that it’s important to know where nearby emergency veterinarians are. If your pet has been injured during your evacuation, or was harmed directly by the natural disaster, it’s important that they receive medical care as quickly as possible.
If you know where your evacuation route takes you, be sure to look up nearby emergency vets, as well as the route you’ll need to take once you arrive. In the go-bag we mentioned before, it’s a good idea to bring along copies of your pet’s medical history. That way, if they need to be treated by someone other than their usual veterinarian, they have all the information they need to keep your pet healthy.
Thinking about surviving a natural disaster with your pet can be difficult and scary. However, by planning ahead of time, you make it much more likely that they will stay safe and be with you through to the other side. Make a plan, think ahead, and make taking care of your furry friend a priority!