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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Richardson

5 Helpful Steps to Take Now to Secure Pets During Natural Disasters

Hey there, pet lovers! Did you know that September is National Preparedness Month? It's the perfect time to highlight the importance of being ready for the unexpected, especially when you have furry, feathered, or scaly friends to look after. Here's a startling fact: in times of natural disasters, approximately 10% of pet owners end up having to leave at least one pet behind. That's a statistic we want to change because our pets are more than just companions; they're family. In this article, we'll explore crucial steps you can take to ensure the safety and well-being of your pets when disaster strikes. So, let's dive in and make sure our four-legged (or finned) family members are well-prepared for anything Mother Nature might throw our way.

graphic depicting natural disasters of fire, flood, earthquake, and tornado and and asking the question, "When natural disaster strikes, will you be ready?"

What Happens to Pets During Natural Disasters

It's pretty eye-opening, isn't it? A whopping 83% of us pet owners live in areas prone to natural disasters like hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, or tornadoes. And let's face it, disasters rarely come knocking politely; they can strike when we least expect them. That's when things get tricky. With the clock ticking and chaos swirling, pets often end up left behind because there just isn't enough time to gather their essentials or secure transportation. Can you imagine the heart-wrenching feeling of being forced to leave your beloved furball or feathered friend behind, not knowing when or if you'll see them again? It's a nightmare scenario that no one wants to experience. What's even more concerning is that some studies suggest that animals abandoned due to natural disasters can continue to fill shelters for up to one year after the event. It's a sobering reminder of the importance of preparing our pets for the unexpected and ensuring they're not left to fend for themselves when disaster strikes.


1. Create a Pet Emergency Kit

Here at Nibbles & Yips, we've got your back when it comes to easing the stress of pet disaster preparedness. To get started, we've got five handy tips to help you and your furry pals stay safe and sound. First up, creating a Pet Emergency Kit. The American Red Cross suggests having a 3-day supply of essentials for evacuation and a 2-week stash if you find yourselves stranded at home during a disaster. We believe that's spot-on advice for our beloved pets as well. After all, a well-prepared pet is a happy and safe pet!


Pet Emergency Kit Checklist

cat eating food from proportioned bags

  • Water - A good rule of thumb for water stores is 1 cup a day for every 8 pounds your pet weighs. So if your dog weighs 40 pounds you would need to plan on 5 cups a day. In this case, 1 gallon would be enough to last your pet approximately 3 days.

  • Food - An emergency situation in no time to be dealing with digestive issues. Make sure to have your pet's normal food on hand and ready to go, preferably in a waterproof container with a handle. Remember that this food should be rotated through. Make a habit of replacing your everyday food stores from your emergency kit then putting the newly bought food in the emergency kit. This will ensure that your pet's food is always fresh.

  • Medications and Medical Records - Even if your pet only occasionally take a medication or supplement, be sure to have an emergency supply tucked away. Since you never know when a disaster will strike, consider keeping flea & tick and well as heartworm medication in this kit and replacing on a rotating schedule so you have it if you need it. Also, laminate your pet's most recent vaccination record and vet's contact information. Keep this with your medications.

  • Extra leash, collar, etc. - be sure to keep an extra restraining device in your emergency kit. Make sure it is one your pet is familiar with. If you don't normally use a head collar, don't rely on one in your emergency kit. I prefer to keep harnesses for my huskies. It provides a little bit more control which I might need in an emergency situation.

  • Comfort Items - You know your pet, what items bring them comfort wooden sticks, a stuffie, beef liver treats, or a fire hose toy? Pack a couple of those to make a stressful situation seem a bit more "normal."

  • Pet First Aid Kit - these can be purchased from a myriad of places. My recommendation is to pick a kit that is for "trial" as they are more comprehensive and have items that you may not need normally but could in case of natural disaster.

2. Pet Identification and Documentation

Proper identification and documentation for your pets are game-changers when it comes to their safety during emergencies. Let's break it down. First off, keeping up-to-date photos of your pets is vital. Snap pics that clearly show their unique markings using background images to show the scale of your pet. These images are invaluable if you ever need to prove ownership or if your pet goes missing.


Now, the old saying "better safe than sorry" definitely applies here. Always make sure your pets are sporting ID tags on their collars with your current contact information. But wait, there's more – consider getting your furry friend microchipped. It's like a built-in safety net, ensuring your pet's info is readily accessible should you become separated.


Medical records are equally important. Keep copies of your pet's vaccination records and your vet's contact information. Most of us have this stuff on our smartphones, but redundancy is key to preparedness. So, think about uploading this info to a cloud-based service like Google Keep, Google Drive, or Dropbox – just in case your phone takes a tumble. And don't forget to keep laminated paper copies in your Pet Emergency Kit, sealed up in a waterproof container. Preparedness is all about covering your bases, folks!


3. Pet Evacuation Plan


Dog in travel crate prepared to evacuate during a natural disaster

Creating an evacuation plan for your family that includes your four-legged family members is an absolute must, my friends! So, here's the lowdown on what you should consider. First off, know where those travel crates are stored, and make sure they fit comfortably in your vehicle. You don't want to be figuring this out in the middle of a chaotic situation.


Next up, map out your escape routes – and not just the typical ones. Familiarize yourself with off-the-beaten-path routes, just in case traffic turns into a standstill. And speaking of roads, be in the know about pet-friendly shelters and hotels along your route. You want to ensure your furry pals have a safe place to hunker down too.


But wait, there's more! Have a designated meet-up point for your family in case you get separated during the evacuation. Communication might be spotty, so a predetermined spot can be a lifesaver.


Now, here's a pro tip: practice makes perfect. Get your pets used to the evacuation drill. It could be as simple as letting them watch you find those travel crates, load them into the vehicle, and then taking them on a little drive. The goal is to reduce their stress in case of a real emergency. So, remember, a well-practiced plan is a stress-buster for both you and your beloved pets.

4. Sheltering At Home

Not every disaster requires evacuation; let's talk about hunkering down at home with our furry, feathered, or scaly pals. When it comes to staying put during a disaster, preparation is key.


First off, make sure you've got enough supplies to keep your pets comfortable for up to two weeks. That means food, water, and everything else they need to thrive. Don't forget about puppy pee pads or litter box supplies – you want to keep things clean and comfy.


Now, accidents happen, especially in stressful situations. So, having cleaning supplies on hand is a must. Trust me; you'll thank yourself later.


Boredom busters are a lifesaver too. Extra toys can help keep your pets occupied and less anxious during the lockdown. Remember, a happy pet is a calm pet!



large fish tank in a living room wall

If you've got fish or reptilian pals, think about backup power to keep their homes humming along. They may not need Netflix, but they do need their heat and filtration systems!


Safety first, folks. Keep a comprehensive first aid kit for your pets handy, just in case. It's like having a mini animal hospital at your fingertips.


Last but not least, make your home a hazard-free zone. Remove any potential dangers that could harm your pets during the lockdown. Remember, preparation equals peace of mind, and that's priceless when it comes to taking care of your four-legged (or scaled) family members!


5. Training

Let's talk about a pet preparation step that often gets overlooked but is incredibly important: training your furry pals! Teaching them basic commands like sit, stay, come, and quiet might seem like simple tricks, but in an emergency, they can be total game-changers.


Think about it; when chaos hits, these skills can be lifesavers. Being able to call your dog to you and have them stay put can prevent them from getting into harm's way. And if you need them to hush for safety reasons, the "quiet" command can be a real stress-buster.


But it's not just about the basics. Familiarize yourself with your pet's unique quirks. Does your kitty get spooked by thunderstorms? Make sure you have their thundershirt, favorite stuffie, or any calming meds at the ready.


Here's a golden tip: offer heaps of love and interaction. Pets often pick up on our stress, so snuggles, playtime, and just being there for them can go a long way in helping them manage their anxiety during trying times. Remember, a little training and a lot of love can make all the difference when it comes to keeping your pets safe and stress-free during an emergency.


The Takeaway

To sum it up, folks, being prepared for disasters when you have pets is an absolute must. Start by creating a Pet Emergency Kit with all the essentials, from food and water to medications and toys. Compile vital identification documents and vet records, making sure your pet's info is readily available, whether it's on your phone or in a waterproof container in your kit.


Next, have a solid evacuation plan in place. Know your routes, have a meet-up point, and practice those drills with your pets. Remember, practice makes perfect, and familiarity can help reduce their stress during an actual emergency.


When it comes to riding out a disaster at home, make sure your place is pet-safe by removing hazards and securing backup power for fish or reptilian friends. And don't forget a comprehensive first aid kit.


Lastly, keep training and reinforcing those basic commands. It might seem small, but it can be a game-changer when disaster strikes.


So, folks, start preparing now to ensure that you and your pets are ready for anything. Being prepared significantly lessens the chances of having to abandon your beloved companions in a crisis. For fish and reptilian pals, it ensures they're still happy and healthy when you return to them. Remember, a little preparation today can lead to a whole lot of peace of mind when it counts the most.


human hands and dog paw in a stack to show teamwork in remaining safe with pets during a natural disaster




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