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Preparing For a Natural Disaster - Tips for Pet Owners

Sometimes natural disasters can force us from our homes. Wildfires, floods, tornados, and other events may require us to evacuate, and sometimes with little notice. Those of us with pets can put together a bag for these types of emergencies - a bag that's well stocked with what our pets would need, and easy to grab on the way out the door. Here are some items to include in an emergency kits for pets.

  • Food and water - at least one weeks' worth, if possible, for each pet. Try to stick with your pet's regular food / water to lessen the risk of an upset stomach.

    Periodically check food for freshness. Replace when necessary.

  • Bowls and utensils for food / water, can openers, spoons, etc. Portable or collapsible pet bowls are great if space is at a premium.

  • Medication and instructions / dosages. Aim for a couple of weeks' worth, since it may not be easy to get prescriptions refilled during an emergency. Keep the medication in its original vial if you can, and place the vial in a waterproof bag.

  • A pet first aid kit. These can be purchased or you can assemble your own.

  • Contact information for vet clinics. Keep the name of your vet clinic, their phone number, and your vet's name handy. Include the names and numbers for a few additional clinics, including a couple outside your immediate area, just in case your regular vet is unreachable.

  • Leashes and harnesses - include an extra in case one breaks or is chewed apart. Harnesses are the safer and more secure option since they are harder to escape. Don't purchase a dog harness for a cat - use one specifically designed for cats, who are much more adept at escaping.

  • Kennel or crate, plus pillow cases for cats. A sturdy crate is indispensable during an emergency as it is a safe place to keep pets. Collapsible kennels are popular too since they take up less space. A long, strong pillowcase (one per cat) is a good option for transporting cats when you are in a rushed evacuation situation.

  • Blank writeable ID tag. Your pet should always be wearing ID (with up-to-date contact information), but keep a blank tag available too - the type which you can write on. If you won't be reachable at the phone numbers listed on your pet's permanent ID, use the blank tag to put the temporary number where you can be reached. A small luggage tag can work in a pinch.

  • Vaccination records and recent photo for each pet. Boarding facilities will ask for vaccination records. Even if you don't intend to board your pet during an emergency, you just never know if it will become a necessity. A recent photo is good for identification purposes in case your pet gets lost.

  • Cleaning supplies. Bowls and crates should be regularly cleaned. Also bring poop bags and/or kitty litter box, plus paper towels for general clean-up. Keeping several disposable litter boxes by the door can be handy in an emergency. Don't forget the litter and the scoop!

  • A list of pet-friendly places to stay. Keep the phone numbers of friends or family who would be willing to house you and your pets during an emergency. Also keep a list of pet-friendly hotels and accommodations in both your local area as well as nearby towns or cities. Check pet policies to help ensure your pet will be permitted. Call ahead as early as you can to secure a reservation.

All of these supplies make up your pet emergency kit. Place everything in a bag by the door where it is easy to grab on the way out. Keep your pets with you if you have to evacuate - don't leave them behind! They are safest with you.

"My dog, she looks at me sometimes with that look, and I think maybe deep down inside she must know exactly how I feel. But then maybe she just wants the food off my plate." (Unknown Source)

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