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Making Emergency Preparations for Your Pet

Our pets often become more than animals to us, they become members of the family! And just as we make emergency preparations for our families, we need to make emergency preparations for our pets. For the most part, pets need the same preparations and items that we need, including food, water, shelter, medications, etc as well as a few special items specific to just your pet. By making all of the following preparations beforehand, your pet will be ready to go in any emergency.

Evacuation Plan
Practicing your family evacuation plan is a great way to make sure that you are ready for an emergency. If you have a pet, practice evacuating with them so your family knows what to do when an animal is added into the mix. With smaller pets, get a carrier for evacuation. As you practice, your pet will become accustomed to the carrier.

*Always be sure to bring your pet with you if you need to evacuate. If it is not safe for you to stay in your home, it is not safe for your pet.*

Pet Rescue Alert Sticker
ASPCA offers free stickers that you place in the window of your home to notify rescue personnel of any pets on the premises. Include the name and type of pet so they can find and evacuate your pet. If you bring your pet with you when you evacuate, just write “evacuated” across the pet sticker.

FREE Pet Rescue Stickers for your house | beingstray.com

A good tracking device for your pet is a microchip. This chip will transmit the location of your pet to you if they were to become lost in an emergency.

Collars, Tags, and Leashes
A disaster can be a hectic situation and you don’t know how your pet will react. Make sure that your pet is always wearing a collar with tags in case you ever become separated from your pet. The tags should include the pet’s name, your name, and a phone number to call in case they were to get lost. Along with a collar, you should include a leash in your emergency kit. You may also want to include a harness or even a longer leash to be ready for living situations after an emergency.

Food and Water
These items are just as important for animals as they are for humans. As you prepare for your pet, make sure that you have at least a week’s worth of food, either canned or dry, and a week’s worth of water for each pet.


The Great Feeding Debate: Free Versus Scheduled Feeding

Emergency Grab Bag
The best way to contain all of the items your pet needs is in a pet emergency kit. This is similar to a 72 hour kit. The emergency bag can include things like toys, brushes, dishes, litter, and hygiene supplies that will help you care for your pet. You can keep this bag with your own emergency supplies so it is easy to access if you ever need to go.

Medications and medical records are important to keep in your pet emergency kit. Keep a copy of your pet’s medical record and include any medicines that your pet takes. This can include things for tics and fleas or stomach worms.

Not every emergency shelter accepts pets, The American Red Cross being one of them, so you will need to make arrangements beforehand to find out where your pet can stay. Some options are to call local animal shelters or your veterinarian to see if they accept pets during an emergency. You can also call hotels outside of your area to see if they accept pets or if they waive pet policies during an emergency. And if you have any friends or family who lie outside your area, you can always see if they would be willing to take your pet. 

Dog Sleeping Positions and What They Mean

As you make these preparations for your pet and practice them with your family, it will be easy to take the necessary steps if the time comes. Pets can be just as important to us as the other members of our family, and by preparing them for an emergency, you can ensure their safety and well-being no matter what happens.

20 thoughts on “Making Emergency Preparations for Your Pet”

  • Rebecca

    I think this is the one thing that concerns me the most. I *think* I am well prepared in my food, water, first aid, emergency supply area, for myself and my family, but not for my beloved pets.

    I have 2 large dogs and one cat (who rules the roost). My dogs (boxers) do not do well left alone, outside or in their crates. They are part of my family. I don't think I would leave them behind, (for instance, the Red Cross won't allow them). So, I have to plan. Maybe I will get a "backpack" for them and practice hiking with them using it. Thanks for the wakeup call for me. I need to make sure ALL my family members are taken care of.

    And for those of you who abandon your pets -- whether you have lost your home and can't take them with you (so you lock them in the home for a realtor to find a month later, starved to death) -- or whether you abandon them over to a shelter because the dog is too old, I do think you will go to hell for this. You will be judged how you treat people and animals -- especially those who rely on you.

    And, if you don't spay or neuter your animals, you are contributing to the overpopulation which results in millions of unnecessary deaths each year. Most states have a SNAP program (spay and neuter assistance) so not having enough money to spay or neuter your animal is NOT AN EXCUSE. I have been doing animal rescue for years and see what some humans do to these poor creatures. It makes me sick to my stomach. So PLEASE, be responsible, report any abuse you see, don't just let it slide by.

    Ok, I am sorry I went on a rant but with the Kisha Curtis case in court this week, I am just riled up. I don't know if you can see this picture, you may need to be on FAcebook to see it, but take a look: https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/p480x480/556208_3828395433524_1386976551_3490121_1514734713_n.jpg THAT is why I get so angry at folks who abuse animals. And in my rescue group, we have seen 3 similar cases in the past 2 years. And it breaks my heart, so much.

    So please, plan for your pets, too!

    • Sheila Myers

      Rebecca, thank you for your heartfelt and helpful comments. Animals should be treated like their human counterparts in emergencies and in life.

  • Beth

    I have a shipping barrell with a 6 month supply of my cats food and litter. I also keep all my pets vaccines current & even go the 3 year rabies vaccine. There is a carrier for each of my five cats.

  • Lin

    I work for a veterinarian and want to encourage everyone who has pets to give serious thought about emergency preparation for them. I especially want to point out that you can visit your veterinarian to get recommendations on 'natural' calming products which are now available to help keep your pet calm during stressful times, such as evacuations. Pets can and do feed off the emotions of their owners, causing stress to travel "down the leash". These products are very effective and may even be available right there in their office. Ask the staff for help in explaining what they recommend and how to administer properly.

  • maggi

    this was a very eye-opening article. the comments left by others were great also. i am just getting my hurricane bag together and i was looking for info for my cat, malachi. this will be a big help in my plan and getting his bag and carrier ready.
    thanks for the article and all the great comments.

  • kevreg

    When the end comes, not a hurricane in utah (is that a pun?) or a power outage in Flagstaff, your pet will become a MRE. Ask your president about it's flaver.

    • The Ready Store

      Hey Kevreg, First things first: Yes, that is a great pun. Second, you haven't been banned from ordering from The Ready Store, are you having problems placing an order? We only ban Nigerian princes who are asking for us to bail their fathers out of prison. :)

  • kevreg

    Flavor. I hate sloppy spelling. Have I been banned, or can I still order from The RS?

  • Susan

    I have 7 rescued cats (not sure who rescued who) and their preparation plan and supplies are right alongside of ours. I keep approximately 6 months' worth of Taste of the Wild dry on hand (I rotate stock of course) for "just in case."

    My question is: would it be easier and better to store the six months' worth of kibble in lined storage buckets and not have to worry about the hassle of rotation or would it be better to just continue rotating stock? Storage buckets are sure easier to transport and take up less storage than those bulky bags and they are not subject to vermin getting in.

    Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.

    • Carla

      It is best to rotate the food for your pets. Any oil used in manufacturing it will turn rancid. I have even started checking the "best by" dates on pet food sold in stores. One local market carries dry cat food that is outdated or close to being so. No one needs puking cats when TSHTF!!

  • Northwoods Cheryl
    Northwoods Cheryl August 7, 2015 at 12:53 am

    One helpful thing... get your animals used to eating alternative foods. I have a few hundred pounds of rice stored to use for making dog/cat food. I also can up jars of meat scraps, chicken fat, etc off the meat cooked for people here. I add those things to a big pot of rice. The barn cats LOVE it, especially in colder weather, and my dog eats it without hesitation. Oatmeal works as well. Your animals will fare much better than if you have tried to stockpile bags of Kibble or catfood and either run out or feed nothing but table scraps. Rice or oatmeal add protein, and an animal doesn't need all their protein to be from meat sources. We fed either rice or oatmeal to all of our dogs when I was growing up and hey all appeared shiny and healthy, and lived relatively long lives.

  • Vicki

    Hi Beth. My husband and I have thought about food for our cats, mainly moist food but you mentioned litter and using shipping barrels. What kind of shipping barrel? Where would I find/purchase one? Our cats are family members and leaving them behind is not an option.

  • Mary

    Do you can the meat scraps and chicken fat a certain way? Would really like to know. Glad you mentioned the rice and oatmeal.

  • Northwoods Cheryl
    Northwoods Cheryl August 8, 2015 at 1:47 am

    I pressure can meat scraps and "junk" off the meat I cook for myself. I often add things like over ripe starchy peas, green beans, etc. I also put in small chicken bones. When pressure canned, they crumble like a cracker would.. No they are NOT harmful to the animals. Pressure canning softens them totally. I pressure can mine in quarts. I make absolutely sure the jar rims are clean of grease or anything else by wiping with a paper towel that has been moistened with vinegar. I can them at 10-12 pounds of pressure for 90 minutes. If you can in smaller size jars, you still have to do the 90 minute processing time. I fill the jars about 1/4" below the threads on the rim so it has expansion space without forcing the grease out when it vents, thus making a bad seal. Hope it made sense! Been doing this for probably 40-50 years now, and it WORKS! Also, very economical..

    • JB

      Northwoods Cheryl, I always learn so much from your posts. No matter which blog it is on this site, I have always learned something from reading your comments. Thank you!!!

      • Cheryl L Olson

        I used to go by "Northwoods Cheryl" but for some reason I had to re-subscribe and it made me change my name here. Thank you for your confidences. I appreciate knowing I helped even 1 person!

  • Rick Pollard

    I have always prepped for my pets, living in FL because of hurricanes, this is a absolute.
    Sence I do vacum pack many items, I also vacum pack pet food to provide for a longer shelf life,normally 1pkg per meal/ 2 cats, and to keep them from possibily getting wet and spoiling. This also makes them easier to carry and store. It also gives a proper amount for each meal with less waste.

  • edna

    I can scraps of meats with veggies too for my dogs and cat. I just don't add any salt as it is bad for puppy or kitty. Another thing I have done is looked for a dry food with 10% or less moisture dry food they like and sealed it in mylar bags with 02 absorbers. (use the resealable ziploc style) but one thing I've found works well is when you use the canned food or dry food with liquid you can throw in some unflavored TVP for a protein boost, It becomes flavored to whatever you've made them. Also when you cook them rice you can add TVP in and use a broth cube for flavor. The most important thing though is making sure you get them used to eating it upon occasion (once a week or so) so it doesn't cause diarrhea because the last thing you need is a sick dehydrated pet.


    One of our dogs came micro chipped from the shelter. That does not mean you can track the animal. That means when the animal is found by someone they can take it to a vet that has a scanner and can scan for chips that are encoded with the owners name and address. Most chips are placed on the back of the neck shoulder area. Chips can move slightly after being installed. Thank you. You can vacuum seal your dogs favorite daily food, place an appropriate oxygen absorber in there, then place that bag in a sealed 5 gallong bucket out of the sun, in a climate controlled preferably under 75degres location and have long term food storage for your dog. Do cats the same way.

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