Pet Preparedness

Why is Including Pets in Your Disaster Preparedness Important?

  • Pets are part of your family and it is up to you to help keep them safe during disasters in emergencies! Pets cannot take the necessary steps to prepare themselves so it is important that you take your pet(s) into account when creating an emergency plan for yourself and your family.
  • If you don't take steps to help prepare your pet for an emergency situation, it will likely take longer to respond in such situations, therefore increasing the risk to yourself and your family as well.
  • There are plenty of resources out there to help you take the necessary steps to help prepare your pet!

Dog walking with person near a firetruck 

​Steps to Prepare Your Pet for a Disaster

It is helpful to create an emergency kit specific to your pets needs. This will help you in the event that your family and pets get stuck at home during a disaster and need supplies as well as if you need to evacuate your home quickly and take supplies with you.

Remember to check your emergency kit on a routine basis to ensure that you are replacing items that have expired.

Items to include for your pet emergency kit are:

  • Food (enough for at least 3 days per pet)
  • Water (enough for at least 3 days per pet in addition to the water you need for yourself and your family)
  • Feeding dish and water bowl
  • Medicine, medical records, and vet contact information
  • First aid kit and reference book (discuss with your vet the items you will  need and how to use them)
  • Extra collar with ID tag, harness, and leash
  • Photocopies and/or electronic copies of important documents (such as registration information, adoption papers, vaccination records, owner contact information, microchip information, emergency contact information, etc. in a plastic bag)
  • Create or pet carrier (if applicable)
  • Sanitation items (pet litter and litterbox if applicable, paper towels, trash bags, newspapers, disinfectant)
  • A recent photo of you and your pet together (to help identify your pet if you get separated)
  • Familiar items that will make your pet more comfortable (favorite toys, treats, and bedding)
  • A handout with boarding instructions/important information about your pet in the event you take them to a shelter for temporary housing during a disaster

There are a number of things you can pre-determine to help make dealing with an emergency or disaster with your pet easier. A couple of steps to take BEFORE an emergency happens include:

  • Identify a friend, neighbor, or family member who can help evacuate your pet from your home if you are unable to or temporarily provide shelter for you and your pet.
  • Pre-identify places your pet might hide when stressed so you know where to look for them.
  • Practice removing your pet quickly from their hiding spot if applicable.
  • Practice evacuation drills with your whole family, including your pets.
  • Review possible pet-friendly sheltering options in your area in case your family is unable to stay at home during an emergency.
  • Microchip your pet in the event you get separated (check out the Humane Society of Charlotte's Critter Care Wellness Wednesday where they offer low-cost services including microchipping).
  • Keep your pet up-to-date on all vaccinations (this is particularly important if you have to board your dog unexpectedly due to an emergency).
  • Download the American Red Cross Pet First Aid app for quick access to first-aid information for your pet.

Your pets may not act like themselves during an emergency due to the stress of the situation. Here are a couple of tips for how to handle your pet during an emergency or disaster:

  • Bring pets inside immediately - never leave a pet outside or tied up during a storm.
  • Do not leave your pet behind - their chance of survival is much less if you leave them.
  • Separate dogs and cats (een if they typically get along) and keep small pets away from cats and dogs.
  • Keep your pet on a leash when outside to protect them from hazards such as downed power lines, flood waters, snakes, debris, etc.
  • Know where you will go with your pet ahead of time.

​Additional Resources

For more information on ways to help prepare your pet for an emergency or disaster, check out these helpful resources: