Emergencies can strike when you least expect them. Whether you’re faced with a natural disaster, a sudden illness or even death, it’s important to be prepared. But if you have pets, you’ll need to do an additional level of planning to ensure their health and safety.
Putting together an emergency plan and kit for your pets can ensure they’re well taken care of if you are hospitalized or otherwise unable to meet their needs at home. While you hope you’ll never have to use it, it’s a good idea to have it prepared, just in case.
The importance of a pet emergency plan
Most pet owners don’t put together an emergency plan for their pets because they assume they’ll always be around to take care of them. But what happens if you get into an accident and nobody is home to give your pets food, water or medicine? Or, what would you have ready if a disaster struck and you needed to evacuate immediately?
If you already have someone who can go to check on your pets if you are unable to, would they know where to look for everything they need? If you don’t have an emergency kit prepared with everything in one easily accessible spot, they might miss something needed to give your pets the best care.
Creating an emergency plan, complete with paperwork, contact information and a supply kit, will help to ensure the safety and happiness of your pet, no matter what may happen to you, your family or your home.
Emergency plan must-haves
Every emergency is different, but having a general plan and kit prepared will cover your bases for most emergency situations. Follow these six steps to prepare your pet’s emergency plan.
- Consider different scenarios: There are a lot of potential uses for an emergency plan, and each might require its own unique items or directives. Before you begin formulating your emergency plan, consider the different emergency plans you’ll need. Most pet owners will want to create an evacuation plan to prepare for natural disasters, as well as a pet care plan in the event of sudden illness or death.
- Prepare your pets: If your pet isn’t microchipped and doesn’t wear a collar with an ID tag, it’s a good idea to take care of these things as part of your emergency planning. These preparations can help your pet be identified and rescued in case they run away from home or get lost during an emergency.
- Identify a caretaker: If something happens to you, you’ll want to make sure someone knows to check on your pets and care for them in your absence. Identify a go-to care person who isn’t part of your immediate family and ask them if they’d be willing to take your pets in either temporarily or permanently. Brief this person on where to find your pet’s emergency kit in your home and give them a spare key, if necessary.
- Help first responders identify pets: If your house was to catch on fire when you weren’t home, you’d want first responders to know that you have pets inside so they can be rescued. Talk to a few neighbors you trust and make sure they know how many pets you have at home, so they can inform emergency responders if needed. You might also want to purchase or make a sign that informs first responders how many pets live in your home. Hang this sign near your front door so it’s easy for them to see.
- Make a dossier: Make copies of physical records or documents for your pet and keep them in a single folder or box that can be found easily by another person. This dossier should include your pet’s microchip information, registration paperwork, spare ID tags and copies of your pet’s medical and vaccination records. It’s also a good idea to type up a document that includes your pet’s feeding information, medical directives (if they take supplements or medication), information about behaviors, preferences and habits, as well as your vet’s contact information. This way, if another person needs to begin taking care of your furry friend, they’ll have all the information they need in one place.
- Pack an emergency kit: Whether you need to evacuate during a natural disaster or a caretaker needs immediate access to your pet’s belongings, it’s helpful to have an emergency kit packed and ready to go. In a plastic tub, pack a 30-day supply of any medications your pet takes and a two-week supply of food, along with a leash or pet carrier and a toy, blanket or other comfort item. Also include emergency contact information for yourself, your pet’s vet and the caretaker who is designated to watch your pets. A small first-aid kit is never a bad idea, either.
When you’re proactive about planning for emergency or unexpected situations, you know that your pets will be well taken care of—either by you or someone you trust. If you don’t have an emergency plan in place for your pets, take time to create one as soon as possible.