Pets and disasters
We always need to be prepared to take care of our animals, especially during disasters such as fire, flood, or other emergencies. In cases of fire or natural disasters, you need to be prepared in case your pet gets injured, lost, or has to be evacuated.
- A pre-determined plan in case of a disaster will help you remain calm and think clearly.
- Remember to communicate and cooperate with all emergency personnel.
- If you must leave the premises let someone know where you are going and try to remain in contact with that person.
Watch video: Saving the Whole Family: Disaster Prep and Your Pets
Planning for disasters
- The AVMA's Saving the Whole Family© brochure (also in Spanish: Salvando a la Familia Entera) offers a comprehensive list of what needs to be done to safeguard pets before, during and after a disaster.
- First Aid Tips for Pet Owners can help you prepare in advance by learning some basics of pet First Aid, including what to put into a First Aid supply kit.
- Wildfire Smoke and Animals provides important information to keep both pets and livestock safe from wildfire smoke.
Learn more by viewing the Saving the Whole Family: Disaster Prep for Your Pets video above on YouTube, or by visiting the following resources:
For pet owners
- Natural Disasters: Plan Ahead for Animals' Safety (University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine)
- Prepare Your Pets, Too (American Red Cross)
For horse owners
- Large Animals and Livestock in Disasters
- Emergency and Disaster Preparedness for Horse Owners (American Association of Equine Practitioners)
Pet evacuation kit
Be prepared for a disaster with a pet evacuation kit. Assemble the kit well in advance of any emergency and store in an easy-to-carry, waterproof container close to an exit.
Food and medicine
- 3-7 days' worth of dry and canned (pop-top) food*
- Two-week supply of medicine*
- At least 7 days' supply of water
- Feeding dish and water bowl
- Liquid dish soap
*These items must be rotated and replaced to ensure they don't expire
First aid kit
- Anti-diarrheal liquid or tablets
- Antibiotic ointment
- Bandage tape and scissors
- Cotton bandage rolls
- Flea and tick prevention (if needed in your area)
- Isopropyl alcohol/alcohol prep pads
- Latex gloves
- Saline solution
- Towel and washcloth
- Litter, litter pan, and scoop (shirt box with plastic bag works well for pan)
- Newspaper, paper towels, and trash bags
- Household chlorine beach or disinfectant
- Identification papers including proof of ownership
- Medical records and medication instructions
- Emergency contact list, including veterinarian and pharmacy
- Photo of your pet (preferably with you)
- Crate or pet carrier labeled with your contact information
- Extra collar/harness with ID tags and leash
- Flashlight, extra batteries
- Favorite toys and treats
- Extra blanket or familiar bedding
After the disaster
- Survey the area inside and outside your home to identify sharp objects, dangerous materials, dangerous wildlife, contaminated water, downed power lines, or other hazards.
- Examine your animals closely, and contact your veterinarian immediately if you observe injuries or signs of illness.
- Familiar scents and landmarks may have changed, and this can confuse your animals.
- Release equines/livestock in safe and enclosed areas only. Initial release should take place during daylight hours when the animals can be closely observed.
- Release cats, dogs, and other small animals indoors only. They could encounter dangerous wildlife and debris if allowed outside unsupervised and unrestrained.
- Release birds and reptiles only if necessary and only when they are calm and in an enclosed room.
- Reintroduce food in small servings, gradually working up to full portions if animals have been without food for a prolonged period of time.
- Allow uninterrupted rest/sleep to allow animals to recover from the trauma and stress.
- The disruption of routine activities can be the biggest cause of stress for your pets, so try to re-establish a normal schedule as quickly as you can.
- Comfort each other. The simple act of petting and snuggling can reduce anxiety for both people and pets.
- If you notice any signs of stress, discomfort, or illness in your pets, contact your veterinarian to schedule a checkup.
If your animals are lost:
- Physically check animal control and animal shelters DAILY for lost animals. Some emergency response agencies may also use social media (Facebook, etc.) to post information about lost and found animals.
- Post waterproof lost animal notices and notify local law enforcement, animal care and control officials, veterinarians, and your neighbors of any lost animals (utilize online resources for lost and found animals).
- If your animal is lost and has a microchip, notify the microchip registry that your animal is missing.
Always remember that any first aid administered to your pet should be followed by immediate veterinary care. First aid care is not a substitute for veterinary care, but it may save your pet's life until it receives veterinary treatment.