Disaster Preparedness for Your Pet
Pets are family – do you have a plan for your pet in an emergency? Including pets in emergency plans helps your family’s ability to respond to an emergency. Be prepared: make a plan and prepare a disaster kit for your pet.
Leaving pets out of evacuation plans can put pets, pet owners, and first responders in danger. Even if you try to create a safe place for them, pets left behind during a disaster are likely to be injured, lost, or worse. Before a disaster strikes, find out what type of shelters and assistance are available in your area to accommodate pets and include pets in your family disaster plan to keep them safe during an emergency.
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Start today by including your pet in your family’s preparedness plans to protect the health of yourself, your family, and your pet.
Be prepared: make a plan and prepare a disaster kit for your pet.
Make a Plan
To get started, familiarize yourself with the types of disasters that could affect your area and consider your options for providing care for your pet(s).
Disasters can happen without warning, so be prepared:
- Make sure your pet(s) wear collars and tags with up-to-date contact information and other identification.
- Microchip your pet(s) – this is one of the best ways to ensure that you and your pet are reunited if you are separated. Always be sure to register the microchip with the manufacturer and keep your contact information up to date with the microchip company.
- Purchase a pet carrier for each of your pets (write your pet’s name, your name, and contact information on each carrier).
- Familiarize your pet with its carrier before a crisis.
- Practice transporting your pet by taking them for rides in a vehicle similar to one you would be evacuating in.
- Practice catching your pet, if needed.
- Keep a leash and/or carrier near the exit.
- Make sure you have proper equipment for pets to ride in the car (carriers, harnesses, pet seatbelts).
- If you do not have a car, make arrangements with neighbors, family, and friends. You can also contact your local government to learn about transportation options during a disaster.
Sheltering in Place
When sheltering at home with your pet, make sure the room chosen is pet-friendly in the following ways:
- Select a safe room, preferably an interior room with no (or few) windows.
- Remove any toxic chemicals or plants.
- Close off small areas where frightened cats could get stuck (such as vents or beneath heavy furniture).
Sheltering During an Evacuation
- Contact your local emergency management office and ask if they offer accommodations for owners and their pets.
- If accommodations are needed for your pet(s):
- Contact local veterinary clinics, boarding facilities, and local animal shelters. Visit the Humane Society website to find a shelter in your area.
- Contact family or friends outside the evacuation area.
- Contact a pet-friendly hotel, particularly along evacuation routes.
- Remember to take your pet’s emergency kit with you.
- Make plans before disaster strikes for where you and your pets will go. Be aware that pets may not be allowed in local human shelters, unless they are service animals.
- Check with:
- Family or friends outside the evacuation area.
- Pet-friendly hotels
- Check with:
Prepare a disaster kit for your pet.
Prepare a Pet Disaster Kit
Prepare a disaster kit for your pet(s) so evacuation will go smoothly. Ask your veterinarian for help putting it together. Some examples of what to include are listed below; when making the kit, think about your pet’s basic needs, prescriptions, and paperwork.
Disaster Supplies for Pets
- Leash, collar with ID, and harness
- Appropriate-sized pet carriers with bedding and toys
- Food (in airtight waterproof containers or cans) and water for at least 2 weeks for each pet
- Food and water bowls and a manual can opener
- Plastic bags for dog poop and a litter box and litter for cats
- Cleaning supplies for accidents (paper towels, plastic bags, disinfectant)
- Medications for at least 2 weeks, instructions and treats used to give the medications, and a pharmacy contact for refills
- Flea and tick medication and heartworm preventative for 1 month
- Photocopied veterinary records (rabies certificate, vaccinations, recent FeLV/FIV test results for cats, prescriptions, etc.)
- Registration information
- Recent photos of your pet
- Contact information for you and friends or relatives
- Boarding instructions, such as feeding schedule, medications, and any known allergies and behavior problems
- Microchip information
- A pet first aid book and first aid kit
- Documents, medications, and food should be stored in waterproof containers
Make sure your pet has a tag with up-to-date contact information and other identification.
Protect Yourself from Injury and Illness
Emergencies can put stress on both people and animals, and natural disasters can contribute to the spread of some diseases. Exposure to inclement weather conditions, stagnant water, wildlife or unfamiliar animals, and overcrowding can put both you and your pet at risk for getting sick. Some diseases can be spread between animals and people, such as rabies, ringworm, leptospirosis, and diseases spread by mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks like West Nile and Lyme disease.
Knowing some practical skills ahead of time will help you be prepared to prevent illness and injury during a disaster.
How to Keep Yourself and Your Pets Healthy During a Disaster
- Wash your hands after handling your pet, its food, or its waste.
- Do not let your pet lick your face or hands.
- Keep your pet up-to-date on all vaccinations and heartworm, flea, and tick preventatives.
- Practice safe handling of your pet, because your pet may behave differently during a stressful situation.
- Keep your pet in a carrier or on a leash.
- Do not allow your pet to interact with other animals, especially wildlife and stray animals.
- Report any bite wounds to medical personnel immediately.
- Properly clean and disinfect cages and litterboxes. Wash your pet’s bedding regularly.
- Avoid stagnant water, especially after flooding occurring after natural disasters.
- Don’t allow pets to play in or drink contaminated water.
Bring handouts with identification information in case you are separated from your pet.
What To Do if You Are Separated from Your Pet
Make sure that your family is in a safe location before you begin your search.
- If you are in a shelter that houses pets, inform one of the pet caretakers. Give the pet caretaker your pre-made missing pet handout.
- Once you have been cleared to leave the shelter and return home, contact animal control about your lost pet.
- Last, call the microchip company to make sure all the information about you and your pet is updated and current.
- Healthy Pets, Healthy People
- Pet Safety in Emergencies
- Protect your Pets in an Emergency
- National Preparedness Month
- Emergency Preparedness and You
- Federal Emergency Management Agency: Considerations for caring for animals during a disaster
- Humane Society of the United States: Making a disaster plan for pets
- Louisiana State University College of Veterinary Medicine: Manual for Animal Shelters during a Disaster
- Ready Wrigley
- Page last reviewed: September 10, 2018
- Page last updated: September 10, 2018
- Content source:
- National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Division of Global Migration and Quarantine
- Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs