7 Things Pet Owners Should Do After a Natural Disaster Strikes

As Hurricane Matthew bears down on the coasts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, we hope that people and their pets have evacuated if ordered to do so or are hunkering down in a safe place.

But what should pet owners do to help keep their dogs and cats safe when the storm ends? Suppose your dog or cat goes missing or the power goes out? Many worrisome things can happen during and after a natural disaster, so it’s best to be prepared.

Whether thereís a hurricane, tornado or other natural disaster, hereís what pet owners should keep in mind in the aftermath.

Lost dog poster nailed to a lightpost

1. If your pet goes missing, get the word out.

Dogs and cats may become spooked during a disaster and run away. If this happens, you may want to take to social media to reunite with your lost pet. Post your petís information (a recent photo, his name, age and breed, a description of his markings or colorings, and any health issues he might have) on your own social media pages and keep an eye on local Facebook pages dedicated to finding lost pets. Learn more about†using social media to find lost pets.

If itís safe to go on foot outside, search your neighborhood and put up posters of your missing pet, including the information mentioned above. You should also contact local animal control centers, animal shelters and any temporary shelters about your pet. Check out our infographic to learn what other strategies are proven to help reunite lost pets with their families.

flashlight plastic body on reflected glass background

2. If the power is out, donít light candles.

If thereís no electricity, you may be tempted to use all the light sources available, but candles can pose a serious fire hazard. According to the National Fire Protection Association, from 2009 to 2013, candles started an estimated 9,300 home fires. Cat owners should be especially wary since felines might be more likely to jump to high places than dogs, where they can†knock over candles. Use a flashlight for light instead and make sure you stock up on batteries ahead of time.

portrait little puppy

3. Watch for signs of pet stress.

Thunder and loud noises may panic your dog or cat during the storm, so he may still be stressed when itís over. Familiar scents and landmarks may now be destroyed or altered and could disorient your pet. If youíve evacuated, he might have anxiety about being in an unfamiliar location filled with strangers. Be patient with your animal and give him space if he seems aggressive or fearful. If you have a dog, familiarize yourself with the signs of canine stress. Cat owners, this will help you decipher your felineís body language. To help alleviate stress, keep your pet’s usual bedding or clothing with your scent in his carrier and have some of his favorite toys on hand, so he has things that feel familiar to him. You may also want to consider using one of Dr. Marty Becker’s recommended products for bringing animals’ anxiety levels down.

Storm damage - German Oak

4. Keep your pet inside and secured.

After a natural disaster, there could be fallen trees, downed power lines and dangerous debris. And if you have a fence, it could be damaged. Due to these hazards, itís important to keep your dog on a leash at all times when he’s outdoors and to keep him inside as much as possible. If your home is damaged, keep your pets in a closed room or secure in their crates until it’s safe.

Close-up view of bottles of water

5. Don’t give your pet contaminated food or water.

Check with local authorities to make sure your tap water is safe to drink. If youíre informed that it is contaminated, then itís not safe for your dog or cat to consume either. In addition, if youíve lost electricity, throw out any leftover canned pet food thatís in the fridge as it may have spoiled. And donít even think about giving any spoiled human food to your pet. Throw it out.

Woman Taking Pet Cat To Vet In Carrier

6. If you need to leave your home, take your pet.

If you need to leave your home after a disaster and can bring your pet without putting yourself or family at risk, donít risk your animal’s life by leaving him at home. Thereís a slim chance heíll be able to survive on his own. Make sure to bring a large supply of pet food, water, his identification, medication, vaccination records and basic pet supplies. Learn more about evacuating safely with your pet.

Shelter Dog

7. Help animals in need.

In the wake of many natural disasters, such as Superstorm Sandy and the flooding in Louisiana, many animal rescues and shelters become overwhelmed with dogs, cats and other animals displaced by the disaster. If you are able to, consider donating supplies, food or money to shelters in need. Check with shelter and rescue social media pages to find out what they need most. Even a small donation can go a long way.

By Laura Cross | Vetstreet.com

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Sonia Minwer Barakat Requ

Great article with useful reminders and advices.Thanks for sharing

Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for sharing.

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla2 years ago

Thank you, shared as well

Freya S.
Freya S2 years ago

We all need to look out for humans and animals when disaster strikes.

Toni W.
Toni W2 years ago

Thank you for sharing and caring.

Toni W.
Toni W2 years ago

Great article but I think most of us who are true pet lovers already have these things in mind if God Forbid - they should be caught in bad storms, floods, hurricanes etc.,

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus C2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus C2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Justyna L.
Justyna L2 years ago


Sam Dyson
Past Member 2 years ago