Lifesaving Measures to Protect Your Pet During a Hurricane or Other Disaster

In the chaos of a hurricane or other natural disaster, it’s difficult to predict how you’ll react — let alone how your pet responds. Fortunately, there are ways to prepare, so you’re not caught off guard if the worst-case scenario strikes. Here are five lifesaving measures to protect your pet in a disaster.

1. Have a plan — and a few backup plans

Mother Nature can be wildly unpredictable. Some disasters, such as hurricanes, give you a little time to prepare, but even then the situation can change rapidly. So it’s important to have adaptable plans.

The most critical component of your plan is arranging a safe location for your pet. The ASPCA recommends contacting your veterinarian or local animal shelter for a list of pet-friendly destinations. In an ideal situation, you’ll be with your pet. But if you’re not able to get to your animal in an emergency, enlist at least one other person as a backup who is willing to take it to safety for you. “This may work well with neighbors who have pets of their own — you may even swap responsibilities, depending upon who has accessibility,” according to the ASPCA. Furthermore, if you board your pet, learn the facility’s emergency plan, so you know how to find your animal if a disaster strikes.

2. Prepare your pet

tabby cat resting in a carrier

Regardless of whether you have to evacuate for hours, days or weeks, there are certain things your animal needs to keep them safe at all times. Make sure your pet is always wearing a collar that includes a name and contact information, and periodically verify that the collar fits properly. “Since cell phones and landlines may be down for a while, consider adding the phone number of a relative or friend who lives outside of your area,” Best Friends Animal Society suggests. Additionally, have your pet microchipped, and make sure you know the microchip company’s contact information.

Furthermore, obtain a sturdy portable carrier for your pet that allows them “to stand comfortably, turn around and lie down,” according to the Humane Society of the United States. Familiarize your pet with the carrier because they might have to spend hours in it during an evacuation. Most importantly, at the first sign of a disaster, contain your pet right away. Don’t ever assume they can survive on their own.

And finally, make sure the animal is up to date on all their vaccinations, and have accessible copies of their records. If your pet is on medication, always have at least a one-month supply on hand, Best Friends recommends.

3. Make a disaster kit

Besides making sure your pet is always identifiable and in a safe location, there are several items you can prepare in advance to alleviate some worry in a disaster. According to the Humane Society of the United States, a basic pet disaster kit should include:

  • Food and water (and bowls) for at least a five days
  • Medications and medical records
  • Poop bags for dogs/litter, a scoop and a litter box for cats
  • Leashes and harnesses
  • Current photos of you and your pet (to prove the animal belongs to you)
  • Instructions detailing your pet’s feeding, medical needs and behavior, as well as your vet’s phone number.

Best Friends also suggests a first-aid kit, paper towels, a blanket, toys and treats. Just don’t forget to rotate perishable items, and adjust the kit if your animal’s needs change.

4. Learn animal first aid

A person is placing a blue bandage on a tan dog's paw.

In the chaos of a disaster, it’s possible your pet might sustain an injury that you’ll need to treat yourself. Don’t let that be the first time you discover what’s in your pet first-aid kit. Instead, familiarize yourself with animal emergency care, so you don’t waste time panicking.

“First aid care is not a substitute for veterinary care, but it may save your pet’s life until it receives veterinary treatment,” according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, which offers first-aid tips on its website. Many veterinarians and humane societies offer pet first aid courses, so be on the lookout for one near you to bolster your knowledge.

5. Get a pet alert sticker

A pet alert sticker could be the difference between life and death in an emergency. “Make sure it is visible to rescue workers … and that it includes the types and number of pets in your home as well as the name and number of your veterinarian,” the ASPCA recommends. “If you must evacuate with your pets, and if time allows, write ‘EVACUATED’ across the stickers.” There are no guarantees rescuers will see the sticker or be able to find your pets, but it’s certainly better than nothing.

Main image credit: Chalabala/Thinkstock


Marie W
Marie W3 months ago

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Carole R
Carole R8 months ago

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Peggy B8 months ago


Leo C
Leo Custer8 months ago

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