Planning Ahead is Key to Disaster Preparedness for Your Dog

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 June is National Pet Preparedness Month. We might be tempted to put off thinking about the possibility of disaster striking, but taking the time to plan ahead, and knowing you are prepared, can help set your mind at ease. It might even save a life! 

Our pets are family, so be sure to include them as you create (or revisit) your household’s preparedness plan. Here are some tips to get you started:

Emergency Supply Kit

Starting with the basics is the best way to go. In fact, you may have a lot of these precautions in place already. For instance, do you have a dog emergency supply kit? Does everyone in the household know where it is? Is it easily accessible and well stocked with items that are not expired? Bare bones items include first aid supplies, five to seven day‘s worth of food and water, bowls, can opener, poop bags, toys, leashes, a harnesses (such as the TransPaw Happy Harness), carriers and bed (if easily transportable). Keep medications in a waterproof container and make sure that you have enough to last at least a few days. Have your veterinarian’s name and contact info handy and up-to-date. Keep in mind, in some scenarios, you may have limited or no access to your home for anywhere from a few hours to a more extended period of time.     

Evacuation Contingencies

In many instances such as fires, flooding, earthquake or hurricane, you may have to evacuate from your home for an undetermined amount of time. So, think about ‘TransPawtation.’ How will you safely, yet quickly, transfer your pets from your home to your vehicle and travel with them out of harm’s way? Remember, crate training plays a role in pet preparedness. Depending on where you go, some places might require that your pet be in a crate. As I teach my dog training clients, you want train it before you need it!  

Where Will You Go?

Before disaster strikes, while you have time to do the research, create a list of preferred boarding kennels and facilities in the event of evacuation. Not all shelters for humans accept pets, so be ready. Your veterinarian, trainer, dog walker, pet sitter or local animal shelter can help you research places to bring your canine BFF. There are also websites designed for this task, such as BringFido.com and GoPetFriendly.com. Additionally, consider looking for lodging (including at friends and relatives) outside of your area that will host you and your pet(s) if needed. Most importantly, do not leave your pets behind. If it isn’t safe for you, it definitely isn’t safe for them either.

Update Your Info

Another significant aspect of advanced preparation is making sure your dog has proper identification. Microchips are the gold standard of pet i.d., but are of limited use if not up-to-date. Most veterinary offices and animal shelters have microchip readers, so they can scan your pet’s chip and confirm that it is registered properly and reflects accurate contact information for you. This is especially important if there has been a recent change in pet guardianship or you have a new home address, phone number or email address. Likewise, consider your dog’s collar. Does it contain up-to-date license and i.d. tags? Why stop there? How about having your pet’s name and your current phone number embroidered directly onto the collar itself?

Be Proactive

In an emergency situation, pets may become frightened or disoriented and run away, seeking safety. Proper identification, as described above, is vitally important to returning lost pets to their homes. But, ideally it doesn’t come to that. At the first warning of a disaster or emergency, bring them inside. Being near you, especially if you are able to remain relatively calm, will help them feel safe, secure and loved.

The ASPCA has more detailed information on making your pets disaster ready. You may want to check out their rescue alert sticker too. 

Hopefully, you’ll never have to face an emergency or disaster. However, being prepared is the best way to safeguard you and your loved ones, including the furry ones, for whatever may come your way. 

Here’s to unleashing adventures (the good kind), harnessing fun and avoiding disasters!


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