Friday, March 18, 2011

Is Your Pet Prepared if a Disaster Strikes?

          With the recent disaster in Japan, I thought it time I posted a pet education disaster plan. Many pet owners never think of putting one together until they see reports of a disaster on TV.

          In this post I am going to discuss disaster plans for dogs but please don't forget your other animals such as fish, birds, cats, amphibians & reptiles, small mammals, horses and other types of livestock. The information I have will be basically the same for most animals with the exception of supplies. Here is a link to find disaster plans for many animals include dogs. To find even more information visit or click here to go directly to the pet disaster information.

What to do Before a Disaster Ever Happens

1.)  Have a disaster plan. Depending on where you live will dictate what types of disasters you may possibly experience such as fire, earthquake, floods, tornados, and more. A disaster doesn't necessarily only mean ones that Mother Nature throws at us but also man made ones as well like power outages, gas leak explosions, arson, gas shortages, etc.

2.)  Have your dog up to date on all vaccinations and other medical procedures. A disaster is no time for your dog to be unprotected from diseases. Remember to keep your dog's medical information up-to-date and place it in a zip lock plastic bag or other air and watertight container.

3.)  Get your dog microchipped. If the unthinkable happens and you are separated from your pet the microchip will help in identifying your dog. A wet, muddy, or soot covered dog looks quite different then when clean. Keep this information in a zip lock plastic bag or other air and watertight container.

4.)  Make lists of veterinarians, shelters, boarding kennels, and pet friendly accommodations in your area and surrounding areas. If your pet gets injured you will need to be able to locate a veterinarian and knowing where there are shelters will help you find a missing pet. If your area is evacuated it will most likely be to a location that will not allow pets. Having a list of pet friendly accommodations will give you options for places for you to stay with your dog. However if you are unable to stay with your dog having a list of boarding kennels will help you find a safe place for your dog to stay. In emergencies, shelters will also help house your pets.

When compiling your lists include your area along with any surrounding locations, that way no matter what area is effected by the disaster you still be able to find help. Remember to keep this information up-to-date and place it in a zip lock plastic bag or other air and watertight container.

Find pet friendly hotels, bed & breakfasts, and campgrounds:
USA and Canada



5.)  Have current photos of your dog and make sure he is wearing his collar with ID. Also, make sure to have on your dog's collar his rabies and town tags. Here are some ideas on what you should have on your dogs ID tags:
Your address
Your house phone number
Your cell phone number
A landline phone number to relatives or friends house
Medical alert

Depending on the disaster, you may not be able to return home so your address and home phone number on your dog's ID may not be helpful to someone trying to return him. Problems with cell phone service can also prove be a problem however if you had a phone number on the ID to a relative or friend (that is not in your area) it will help in the return of your dog. Remember to keep the photos up-to-date and place it in a zip lock plastic bag or other air and watertight container.

6.)  Put together a first aid kit containing cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape, scissors, antibiotic ointment, flea & tick prevention, latex gloves, isopropyl alcohol, saline solution, styptic powder, hydrogen peroxide, tweezers, and dog first aid book. This is just a very basic list depending on how elaborate a kit you would like to have is up to you. There are many online resources to help you put together your own first aid kit.

If your dog needs medicine, make sure to have enough in the kit for 3-7 days. Remember to keep the kit and any meds up-to-date and place it in a zip lock plastic bag or other air and watertight container.

7.)  Have a supply of dog food for 3-7 days worth. Should the supply be dry or wet dog food?  That is up to you, each comes with their own issues both pros and cons. Dry dog food does not have as long a shelf life as can food and will need to be stored in an air and watertight container. Can dog food is more expensive, heavier, and needs a can opener. On the Pro side, dry food does not need a can opener and is cheaper to buy then can food. Can food stores much longer and is air and watertight. Stock dry, can, or perhaps have both on hand what ever works best for you.

If during a disaster you are feeding your dog moist or can dog food, you will not have to give your pet as much water to drink due to the extra moisture in the food.

You may also want to have some of your dog's favorite small treats. In a chaotic and stressful time having a familiar tasty treat can help relive some stress. Remember to rotate your dog food stock to keep it fresh, you don't want to be feeding food that is past code.

8.)  Have a supply of water for 3-7 days worth. How much water does a dog drink a day? I had so do some research on this myself and this is what I found:
The average dog drinks about 1/2 to 1 ounce per pound per day.
What an average dog drinks per day
Dog’s weight          Amount in ounces                   Amount in cups
10 lb dog                            5 - 10 ounces                            ½ - 1 ¼ cups
50 lb dog                            25 – 50 ounces                          3 – 6 cups

When you have worked out the math on what you need to store I would suggest that you add extra water to that in case water gets spilt or what have you. Like dog food this also will need to be rotated out to keep fresh.

9.)  Other dog supplies you will need are a food and water dish. For a water dish you will want a sturdy dish that can't be knocked over. To save space either use the water dish also for the food or include a collapsible food dish in your emergency kit.

If you are in an area that is prone to flooding, tsunamis, or other water disasters related disasters you may want to include a dog life jacket in your emergency kit. I have not seen this added to anyone else's list of emergency supplies, I however feel it should be.

Some optional items to have are a dog bed, which may be as simple as a towel or blanket to an actual bed. Also a small toy and a pin brush. Remember only to include these items if there is room and if they are easily portable.

10.)  You will need a way to contain your dog so have a carrier, kennel, harness, and or leash on hand. If you are using a leash, make sure your dog cannot escape out of it. A scared animal can wiggle out of a poorly fitted collar and leash.

11.)  Sanitation items, these will come in very handy in disasters in which you are restricted to inside of your home. These items include newspapers, paper towels, plastic bags, and household chlorine bleach.

Household chlorine bleach as a disinfectant, all you need to do is take 9 parts water an 1 part bleach. Bleach can also be used to purify water, take 16 drops of regular household bleach per 1 gallon of water. Do Not Use scented or color safe bleaches or those with added cleaners.

What to do During a Disaster

1.)  Assess whether the disaster calls for you to flee or stay put.  If you must leave remember to Never Leave Your Pet Behind. A pet left behind is less likely to survive.

However if you need to stay put this is when the newspapers and other sanitation items come in handy.

2.)  Separate your animals. Cats and dogs that normally get along fine may not when a disaster strikes. Scared animals can be very unpredictable. To separate them use carriers or kennels or failing that place them in separate rooms in the house.

What to do After a Disaster

1.)  When you are allowed or forced to leave remember to Never Leave Your Pet Behind. A pet left behind is less likely to survive.

2.)  Be careful when taking a pet outside because of downed power line, glass or other sharp objects, poisonous chemicals, or dangerous animals such as snakes that may have been brought in from floods, etc.

3.)  After a disaster, normally friendly docile pets will be scared and act differently. Give them time to recover, don't let strangers pet or hold them, and keep them away from other animals.

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