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Caring for Pets During an Emergency

While it’s important to have disaster preparedness plans in place for our human family members, it’s just as necessary to have emergency plans in place for pets as well. Because emergencies and disasters strike when we least expect them to, it’s important to develop these plans ahead of time and to always be prepared. Below are some of the most important aspects of a disaster preparedness plan for pets.


During an emergency, it is very important that you do not leave your pets behind. If you are unable to bring your pet with you during an evacuation, contact your veterinarian ahead of time for a list of boarding kennels and other facilities that will care for pets during emergencies. If you intend to bring your pets with you in the case of an evacuation, identify lodging options ahead of time that allow pets. You can search for hotels that allow pets with sites such as Pet Friendly Hotels and PetsWelcome. Another option is to identify friends or family members who would be willing to house you and your pet in the case of an emergency.


Preparing for disaster with your pets should include making a disaster kit. Some of the most common pet-related items pet parents include in their disaster kits are listed below:

  • Photos of your pets – Pets tend to get lost during natural disasters. Keeping up to date pictures of your pets with you will increase your chances of reuniting with your pets should they get lost
  • Food and water – Make sure you have enough food and water for at least five days for each pet. Don’t forget to include clean bowls. If your pets eat canned food, make sure to include a manual can opener.
  • First aid kit – During a high stress situation such as a natural disaster, pets are likely to become ill or injured. Keeping a first aid kit on hand will allow you to care for your pet should they become sick or hurt and you are unable to reach your veterinarian.
  • Leashes, harnesses and carriers – These items are especially important if you’ll be evacuating with your pets. Sturdy leashes, harnesses and carriers will ensure your pets do not get lost during an emergency.
  • Bedding and toys – Comfort is important during natural disasters, especially for pets that are prone to stress. Familiar, clean bedding and toys will give your pets a sense of peace during evacuation or sheltering.
  • Cat litter, litter box and trash bags – If you have cats, making accommodations for dealing with waste is important during an emergency, so don’t forget to include these items in your disaster kit.
  • Medications and medical records – Because disasters are never planned, make sure your pet’s medications are always up to date and filled. This way you can easily pack necessary medication should a disaster strike. Make sure to bring medical records with you as well, as lodging or boarding accommodations are likely to require vaccination history.


Because not all emergencies require evacuation, sometimes the best option in caring for your pet during an emergency is to designate a temporary caregiver. This person should be a friend or family member that is already familiar and comfortable with your pet. Make sure to arrange this relationship well in advance of any emergencies so the caregiver can be prepared to house and care for your pet if disaster strikes.

Emergencies can be scary and overwhelming, but when you have a disaster preparedness plan in place, you and your pets will be able to face disaster with confidence. 

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