Emergency Preparedness for Pets

Dog carrying a first aid kit in its mouth

Published on: May 31, 2019

When an emergency arises, the last thing you want to be worrying about is what do I do with my pets during an emergency. It is important to have a plan for all family members, including our furry members as well. The following are the four areas to focus on for emergency preparedness.

  1. Be Informed – Know how you will receive information during an emergency and know your local shelter and evacuation points in your area. Keep the phone number for your counties Office of Emergency Management for the most up to date information during an emergency. You will need to make sure your evacuation plan includes possible locations for your pets if you are planning to evacuate to a local shelter that does not allow animals.
  2. Plan Ahead – Make sure to practice your evacuation plan and make sure your pet is used to being in a crate or kennel. Make sure someone is designated to take care of your pets during the emergency. Prepare a disaster kit for your pet including:
    1. Re-sealable bag with pet license, microchip information, photo of pets and owners, proof of up-to-date vaccines and the name and number of your family veterinarian.
    2. Proper sized crate or carrier – metal or plastic
    3. Leashes, muzzles and obedience aids
    4. Food with easy-open lid or vacuum packed dry food and bowls (change out food every 6 months with new food)
    5. Water in a non-breakable container – enough for at least 3 days
    6. Medication with instructions
    7. Special items for exotic pets if applicable
    8. Newspaper, paper towels, can openers (if not pop-top cans), flashlight, blankets, litter and a litter pan for cats
  3. Evacuate – The best option if available would be a home of family or friend who is outside the evacuation zone. The next option would be a pet friendly hotel, followed by a public shelter. A public shelter will most likely not accept pets, so other arrangements will need to be made for them. Check for the County Animal Response Team in your area, as they provide a pet-friendly shelter. If you are able to remain at your house for the duration of the emergency, make sure to bring pets in immediately, separate dogs and cats and keep them leashed or crated, have a large supply of newspapers or pee pads for sanitary purposes, feed canned food if possible to minimize water consumption, and maintain fresh water.
  4. Return Home – There are a few recommendations after an emergency situation for returning home. Make sure to keep pets on a leash when outside as familiar scents and landmarks may have changed due to the event. There also may be hazardous material such as sharp objects, fallen trees, and other debris, or wildlife that may have entered the area due to the environmental changes. Ensure the water has not been contaminated during the emergency, and make sure to properly disinfect for water and mold damage.

Prepared by Dr. Lauren Fox


Seminerio, Christine CVT. “ Emergency Preparedness for Pets.” Atlantic Coast Veterinary Conference 2014. Veterinary Information Network (VIN). <https://www.vin.com/doc/?id=7079178>