How to Protect and Save Your Pet in Case of an Emergency

You’re playing in the park together when Rover chokes on a ball. Do you know what to do? This April, animal welfare organizations are asking pet owners to think ahead when it comes to medical emergencies and disasters so they can act quickly to help their pets. You never know when a crisis might arise, and if you’re prepared with pet first aid skills, you might just prevent a tragedy.

Pets can injure themselves by choking, consuming household toxins, getting hit by cars, and in any number of other ways. Just like with humans, very fast action in an emergency can increase the chances of successful long-term treatment, which means you need to be ready with training and a first aid kit tailored to your pet and common emergencies. Luckily, there are lots of resources for you to prepare for animal emergencies.

Pet first aid classes. Veterinary clinics and animal welfare organizations often offer classes so pet parents can learn about what to do in emergencies, covering topics like helping choking animals, inducing vomiting in dogs who’ve ingested something they shouldn’t have, and using activated charcoal to counteract poisons. If a class isn’t available, interested pet owners could gather together to request one. Fees for classes and materials vary; you may want to consider helping organize a free or low-fee class for low-income pet owners.

Pet first aid kit. In an emergency, you want supplies ready at hand. Gauze, bandaging tape, antibacterial ointment, styptic pencils for snapped claws, antibacterial wipes, clean cloths and a thermometer are good things to have available. Does your pet have special medical conditions like allergies or diabetes? Keep supplies in your first aid kit!

Stick a waterproof label on the lid of your first aid kit with emergency phone numbers, including phone numbers for animal poison control hotlines (the ASPCA runs a fee-supported hotline at (888) 426-4435) and emergency veterinarians. Make sure you have a pet carrier readily available, along with leashes and other restraints for mobile pets.

Emergency kit. Sometimes your pet doesn’t need first aid, but you need to be prepared for the worst. If you receive evacuation orders or need to flee your house because of a fire, flooding, or other threats, do you have supplies ready for you and your pet? Make sure to keep copies of important documents including veterinary records, along with a supply of food, medications, toys and bedding. Think ahead so you’re ready to go in an instant, and make sure you have lists of pet-friendly shelters (applications for your phone can also help you locate local shelters and determine if they take pets).

Help your pet find her way home. While not strictly first aid related, Pet First Aid Month is a good time to remind you that you should make sure your pet has the best chance possible of making it home if she gets lost. That means your pet should have a collar and tags along with a microchip; and make sure you maintain a recent, well-lit picture of your pet in case the worst happens. Crisp, clear photographs can be extremely helpful when you’re asking neighbors, veterinarians and animal shelters if they’ve seen your furry, feathered or scaled friend.

Related articles:

Pet First Aid for Burns and Scalds

Japan’s Pet Survivors

5 Moving Dog Rescues

Photo credit: Army Medicine


B Jackson
BJ J5 years ago

Going to Emergency Animal Evacuation class in a few days. Your local emergency management service may have similar classes or may have info to give you.

Carrie-Anne Brown
Carrie-Anne B5 years ago

thanks for sharing :)

Alicia N.
Alicia N5 years ago

thanks for simple but great info.

.5 years ago

thank you for yhe interesting article

Elena B.
Elena Bonati5 years ago

Thank you for this helpful article.

Sheila Stevens
Sheila Stevens5 years ago

It's also a good idea to post a notice on your front door indicating the number and type of furry friends that reside with you. In case of a fire or other crisis that brings emergency personnel to your home or apartment, it is helpful for them to have this information. Cats particularly, disappear under beds or behind furniture, so you want to alert others to their presence in the home.

Marie W.
Marie W5 years ago

Good. With four cats evacuation is not likely though. Shelter in place.

Theresa K.
Theresa K5 years ago

Sue T. -- Some of us can't/won't have kids and consider our pets our children. I've four cats and, to me, they're my kids. So if I want to call myself a cat mommy, I can. I yell "daddy's home!" and all four of the cats come running to greet him, I say "momma loves you" and they purr harder and louder, and I buy them the best food and health care possible just as any decent parent would for their child. Really, you're the pretentious one. At least I'm not some snob that thinks she OWNS another living being like its no more than a piece of property. Give me your cats, god knows they'll fare better here.

Sheila M.
Sheila M5 years ago

@ Sue T - YOU are a bit overbearing and pretentious - what hubris to think you OWN a living being - shame on you. And your "clever" quip that your cat doesn't care - well your cat might not care but words DO influence thinking and when we say we OWN an animal that makes them objects - property.

Sue T.
Susan T5 years ago

the term pet parents seems a bit over bearing and pretentious.

I have cats. I am a cat owner. I don't think my cats care .