Whether it’s a flood or a fire when disaster strikes a home the pets that live there are affected every bit as much as the humans. The smart advice we give to everyone is that while no one wants to ever think that disaster could strike their home, it pays to be prepared by drawing up a formal plan to follow in the event that the worst does happen. And as for most of us our pets really are a part of our families then including them in your emergency plans is a must.
Your Pet’s Emergency Plan:
Just like you should have an emergency/disaster kit for humans you should also have one for the animals. Here are some tips for creating one:
Food and water for at least five days with bowls and a manual can opener if you are packing canned pet food. Usually humans need at least one gallon of water per person per day. Your pet probably won’t need that much, but keep an extra gallon on hand to use if your pet has been exposed to chemicals or flood waters and needs to be rinsed as soon as possible.
Medications and medical records stored in a waterproof container and a pet first-aid kit. A pet first-aid book is a good idea too.
Cat litter box, litter, litter scoop and garbage bags for dog waste
Sturdy leashes, harnesses and carriers to transport your pets safely and to ensure that they can’t escape. Make sure that your cat or dog is wearing a collar and identification that is up to date and if they are not already, considered having them microchipped. the pet carriers you choose should be large enough to allow your pet to stand comfortably, turn around and lie down, especially as they might have to be confined for quite a while.
Current photos of you with your pets and descriptions of your pets to help others identify them in case you and your pets become separated—and to help prove that they are yours once you’re reunited.
Notes about your pets’ feeding schedules, medical conditions and behavior issues along with the name and number of your vet in case you have to board your pets or place them in foster care.
Pet Safety During an Emergency
Animals have instincts about severe weather changes and will often isolate themselves if they are afraid. Bringing them inside early can stop them from running away. Never leave a pet outside or tied up during a storm.
Separate dogs and cats. Even if your dogs and cats are usually best friends , the anxiety of an emergency situation can cause pets to act irrationally.
If you evacuate your home, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND! Pets rarely survive on their own and if by some remote chance they do, you may not be able to find them when you return.
Make a back-up emergency plan in case you can’t care for your animals yourself. Develop a buddy system with neighbours, friends and relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for your pets if you are unable to do so.
After the Emergency
In the first few days after the disaster, always leash your pets when they go outside. Always maintain close contact, don’t leave them feeling like they are alone. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and your pet may become confused and lost if you don’t stick close by.
Be aware that the general behavior of your pets may change after an emergency too. Normally quiet and friendly pets may become skittish, aggressive or defensive. Watch animals closely and call your vet for help and advice if they really do seem to have been adversely affected.