Pets and Natural Disasters: Keeping Your Four-Legged Friends Safe

Pets and Natural Disasters: Keeping Your Four-Legged Friends Safe

A terrier prepared for bad weather in its raincoat.A terrier prepared for bad weather in its raincoat.
A terrier prepared for bad weather in its raincoat.A terrier prepared for bad weather in its raincoat.

Table of Contents:

  1. Preparing for a Natural Disaster
  2. Pet-Specific Considerations
  3. Recovering From a Natural Disaster

Hurricane season is here, but natural disasters can strike at any time of year. Tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, and other extreme weather events are stressful and dangerous for the entire family — including pets. Before, during, and after natural disasters, it’s crucial for pet owners to pay special attention to their four-legged family members. Careful planning and the right resources can’t prevent extreme weather, but both can make it much less chaotic.

Preparing for a Natural Disaster

Preparation is everything when it comes to making it through natural disasters. Don’t forget to take additional precautions if you live in an area where certain types of extreme weather are especially common.

Apply a Rescue Alert Sticker

Posting a rescue alert decal on your door or window makes it easy for emergency responders to locate pets who may be trapped inside your home. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) offers an alert sticker order form for pet parents. They note that similar decals may also be available at your local pet store.

Build a Trustworthy Team

It doesn’t quite take a village to raise a pet, but it helps to have some friends and neighbors who can lend a hand. Building a trusted team of animal caregivers can make sure your pet is always taken care of — even when you’re not around. Give them the keys to your house, as well as any relevant information related to pet care, to ensure they’re prepared to play their part. If you won’t be able to evacuate with your pets, identify a local veterinary clinic or shelter that can house your dog or cat.

Get Your Pet Microchipped

Microchipping is a quick and inexpensive way to ensure your pet can always find their way home. Your veterinarian can embed the chip with a simple procedure and allow you to register your dog or cat in a nationwide database. Don’t forget to keep your contact information up to date!

Create an “Evac-Pack”

The lead-up to a natural disaster can be an overwhelming period. If you wait until the last possible moment to gather necessary gear, there’s a chance you might forget necessities and get stuck without them for days or weeks. Experts encourage pet parents to create disaster response packs with both human and pet necessities, including:

  • Up-to-date identification tags
  • Spare collars, leashes, and harnesses
  • Dishes for food and water
  • Medical records and medications
  • At least a week’s worth of bottled water and food (be sure to replenish the food in your kit each month)
  • Recent photos of each pet
  • A flashlight and batteries

Worried you might be missing something? Check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s pet disaster checklist.

Pet-Specific Considerations

Dogs and cats aren’t the only pets that need care during natural disasters. The ASPCA offers additional considerations for bird, reptile, horse, and small pet owners. Bird owners, for example, should remember to pack a spray bottle to moisten their pet’s feathers during the warmer months.

Recovering From a Natural Disaster

The immediate aftermath of a natural disaster is often as hazardous and stressful as the event itself. Contaminated water, downed power lines, broken glass, and other new dangers can make recovery a harrowing experience. The CDC notes that even the loss of familiar sights and scents can leave pets feeling stressed. Keep a close eye on all of your pets as you return home and begin the disaster relief process.

Owners who’ve been separated from their pets have several options for getting reunited. Microchip manufacturers, animal shelters, and other pet-focused organizations can help you locate lost pets and bring the whole family back together.

Want to help the people and pets affected by this year’s hurricane season? Learn more about how you can join forces with organizations like the Humane Society here.

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