How Would You Care for Your Pet in a Natural Disaster?

The media images coming from the floods in Texas and Florida and the wildfires in Montana are difficult to see. People are losing their homes and livelihoods in circumstances they are powerless to control. Perhaps you have even seen pictures of pets rescued from the floods without their families. This is an especially fitting time for National Disaster Preparedness Month, which the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) sponsors every September. The CDC encourages all Americans to create a disaster plan well before they ever need it, including families with pets.

How to Prepare a Disaster Kit for Your Pet
Few people are level-headed enough when a disaster suddenly strikes to plan how to escape with their pet. By preparing the kit in advance, you can just grab it and go. According to the CDC, a disaster kit for pets should include the following items:

  • Enough fresh bottled drinking water to last for two weeks
  • Regular pet food placed in a spill-proof and airtight container
  • Plastic bags for pet waste and/or a litterbox for cats
  • Brush, clippers, and other supplies for grooming
  • Two weeks’ worth of medication for your pet
  • A harness, leash, or both
  • Your pet’s favorite toys and personal bedding for comfort
  • A separate carrier for each pet labeled with his name, your name, and your contact information
  • Proof of your dog or cat’s vaccinations
  • Instructions for others to care for your pet if you become separated

Natural Disaster

Other Things to Remember in a Natural Disaster
If you have put off getting a microchip for your dog or cat, now is the perfect time to do it. Disasters are stressful and chaotic, which means your pet’s tag and collar could easily slip off. If you become separated and your pet has a microchip, the person who finds her can bring her to any veterinary clinic or shelter for scanning. The microchip stores your contact information so the veterinary clinic or animal shelter can get a hold of you.

Dogs or cats under extreme stress may run away when you call and put themselves in more danger. The CDC recommends keeping a leash or harness near each exit that you can place on your pet in a hurry if you need to evacuate. It will be less stressful for you because you know that your pet is right by your side.

When you create your written disaster plan, consider where you would evacuate to if necessary. List the names and addresses of shelters, hotels, or friends and family who could accommodate you. While it’s best to remain with your pet, that isn’t always possible due to restrictions at your temporary shelter. That’s why it’s important to include safe places you could temporarily bring your pet. If you don’t have to evacuate, try to keep your pet in a secure area of your home until you’re able to get back to your normal routine.

Disease Can Spread Quickly in the Aftermath of a Disaster
When a flood, fire, tornado, act of war, or another disaster occurs, escaping the immediate situation is the only thing on most people’s minds. One thing they don’t consider is how quickly disease can spread when hundreds or thousands of people and animals are gathered in the same space. This is especially true for animals who aren’t current on their vaccines. We encourage you to schedule a preventive care examif it’s been more than a year since we’ve seen your dog or cat. Our staff will ensure he’s up-to-date on vaccines and as prepared for an emergency as possible.

Image credit:  Akabei | iStock / Getty Images Plus

After-Hours Emergencies

After Hours Veterinary Care
1014 Dale Street North
St. Paul, MN 55117
(Inside Como Park Animal Hospital just north of downtown St. Paul)
24-hour care for multiple species

Animal Emergency & Referral Center of MN
1163 Helmo Avenue N
Oakdale, MN 55128


Animal Emergency & Referral Center of MN
1542 7th St. W.
St. Paul, MN 55012
(located 2 blocks east of 35E)