Get Ready to Keep Your Pet Safe in a Chemical Emergency

Pet safety means you should have a plan to care for your pet in a chemical emergency. Taking care of a pet is not as simple as caring for yourself or a loved one. Plan ahead for your pet’s needs.

How do you get ready?
  • Prepare a pet Ready to Go bag.
  • Get a carrier or crate for your pet and train your pet to travel and sleep in it.
  • Write your name, your pet’s name, your address, and your telephone number on the carrier or crate.
  • Get a copy of your pet’s records from your veterinarian, especially shot (vaccination) records. Some shelters will not take pets that are not vaccinated.
  • Practice so everyone knows what to do
Where will you and your pet go?
  • Plan where you might go if you must evacuate. Look for pet friendly hotels or motels along specific routes you may take. Have another route in mind in case the first one is blocked.
  • Ask friends or relatives that live outside of your area if they will take your pet or if you can stay with them and bring your pet.
  • Find a local shelter or ask your veterinarian about pet hospitals or shelters that will take your pet in an emergency.
  • Develop a buddy system where you and a trusted neighbor can take care of each other’s pets if you or they are not home.
What if your pet is not a dog or cat?

This guide is primarily about dogs and cats. For tips on disaster planning for livestock, horses, birds, reptiles, or small animals, such as gerbils and hamsters, please visit Ready.govexternal icon or The Humane Society of the United Statesexternal icon, or The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animalsexternal icon.

What if your pet gets lost?
  • Get a pet sticker for your front door. The sticker lets first responders know if pets are in the house. Write EVACUATED on it if you must leave your home.
  • Make sure your pet has a collar, ID tag, and rabies tag. The tag should have the most recent information to reach you in case you and your pet are split up. Include your pet’s name and your phone number.
  • Have your pet microchipped, if able.
  • Keep a current picture of your pet and one of you with your pet on your phone for pet identification.
  • Put together a list of local animal shelters. Lost pets often end up at a local animal shelter. After the all clear is given, you can check local shelters for your missing pet.
What if your pet gets hurt?
  • Veterinarians are the best choice to treat a pet once the chemical emergency is over, or you have evacuated from the area.
  • Some shelters may have veterinarians on site or nearby. Ask at the shelter.
  • Pain and fear can make animals bite, scratch, or do things they normally would not do.
  • Touch your pet slowly and gently.
  • Give first aidexternal icon if needed.
Pet Ready to Go bag

A Ready to Go bag contains supplies and important papers for your pet if you need to evacuate.

  • Enough food and water to last 2 weeks.
  • Food and water bowls for your pet.
  • Litter box and scoopable cat litter along with plastic poop bags for cats. Disposable aluminum roasting pans are good as well.
  • Plastic poop bags and a week of cage liners for dogs.
  • A supply of large and small trash bags and several pairs of disposable gloves.
  • Medicines to last 2 weeks.
  • A pet first aid kit.
  • Extra pet collar, leashes, and harnesses.
  • Pet crate or carrier with pet pads. Add a t-shirt you have worn so your pet will have your scent for comfort.
  • A blanket.
  • Medical records, especially shot (vaccination) records in a waterproof bag.
  • Microchip number (if your pet is microchipped).
  • Your name, address, phone numbers, and the same information for close friends or relatives.
  • For cats: toys, a pillow case
  • For dogs: toys, chew toys
Microchipping Your Pet

Why should you microchip your pet?

  • Microchips are a permanent way to identify a pet. Collars can come off or get lost.
  • If your pet is lost and taken to an animal shelter, the shelter can scan for the microchip and read the information. They can reach you, let you know they have your pet, and you can get your pet back.

How is a microchip put in my pet?

  • A small electronic chip inside glass with a number is put under your dog’s or cat’s skin. The chip is about the size of a rice grain.
  • The chip can be put in your pet at your veterinarian’s office and is no more painful than your pet’s vaccinations.
  • Anesthesia is not needed. The chip is inserted under the skin like a vaccination.
  • After the chip is placed, you should register the chip with the manufacturer and provide your phone number and other information to reach you. It is important to register the chip and keep your information up to date in the manufacturer’s registry. There is no central registry. The American Animal Hospital Associationexternal icon has a universal microchip look-up database, but it is not a registry. There are free pet registries.
  • Your veterinarian should scan the chip once a year to make sure it is still working.
  • The American Veterinary Medical Associationexternal icon has more information about microchipping your pet.
Page last reviewed: March 31, 2022