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Pets and Emergencies: Plan Ahead

Our hospital cat, Lilly, is stocking up on supplies – just in case.

Picture this: you’re at home, relaxing with your pet after a long, rainy day at work, when suddenly, a storm alert blares across your TV screen and on your phone. A tornado has been sighted nearby, and your town lies directly in its path. Shortly thereafter, the power goes out, and you can see debris starting to fly outside. While you may have an emergency plan for yourself, you may not have one for your pet. How are you going to get your 90-pound Labrador retriever to the safety of the basement if you can’t carry her down the stairs? Do you have enough food, water, medication, and carriers for your six cats until first responders arrive? What if your pet gets injured or lost during the storm?

A disaster or emergency can occur at any time. In addition to a tornado, the disaster that leaves you panicking could be a hurricane, earthquake, volcanic eruption, wildfire, snowstorm, sinkhole, or flood. Even if these natural events are uncommon where you live, man-made disasters could manifest, such as faulty electrical wiring, which may lead to a house fire; a broken gas line, which may explode; or a water main break, which could cause a sinkhole. Emergencies that affect you and your pet exclusively could be just as devastating to you as a disaster is to a community. What if your dog ingests a toxic substance or chokes on his or her food? So, what can you do to prepare yourself and your pet for a disaster? Here are our top three tips to ensure that you and your pet have the best possible outcome in any disaster or emergency:

1. Microchip your pet and be sure to register your information and your pet’s microchip number with a national pet recovery database. Not only does this greatly improve your chances of reuniting with your pet if he or she gets lost, but it also provides you with additional proof of ownership. Also, be sure to keep your pet up to date on vaccines. Should you need to house your pet at a shelter after a disaster, you may be asked to provide a vaccine certificate. If you cannot prove that your pet is vaccinated, the shelter may not allow him or her to stay there.

2. Create a pet evacuation kit that includes, but is not limited to:

Enough food for 3-7 days and water for 7 days

Food and water bowls

Prescription medications

First aid kit

Carriers for small pets

Sanitation items, like litter boxes, litter, and scoop

Proof of ownership and medical records

Emergency contact information, including your veterinarian

3. Be familiar with basic safety training. Learn how to perform CPR on an animal, what to do if your pet has a seizure or starts choking, and how to tell if your pet is dehydrated or experiencing heat stroke. You can even take a class on emergency preparedness for pets. Also, know the signs of poisoning and have an emergency plan in place should your pet ever display them.

Don’t wait until an emergency happens to start planning for it. Be prepared in advance.

Sources:

https://www.avma.org/public/EmergencyCare/Pages/Pets-and-Disasters.aspx

https://vetmed.illinois.edu/pet_column/natural-disasters-plan-ahead-animals-safety/

https://www.avma.org/public/EmergencyCare/Pages/Pets-and-Disasters.aspx

https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/pet-owners/emergency/

https://www.healthypawspetinsurance.com/blog/2018/02/16/disaster-preparedness-for-pets

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