Disaster Preparedness For Your Dogs

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Those of us who live with and love dogs and other animals found ourselves horrified in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Maybe it was a "wake up call" for us because certainly, disasters of one kind or another could happen to any of us. Images of dogs left behind or separated from the owners made many of us start to put more thought into what we could and should do to prepare for real disasters or emergencies in our own areas and to keep our dogs safe..

I've researched and assembled some common sense disaster plans from several sources on the Internet. I am going to put my own disaster plan into place and hope some of you might be inspired to do so as well. Of course, the more dogs you have, the more involved the planning. There's no better time to start than now.

Key Points

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disaster preparedness for people.

Pack a First Aid kit for animals Talk to your veterinarian. Pack several days supply of your dog's medications. Ask your vet what first aid supplies you should have in your kit. The American Red Cross has a list of supplies and also has a first aid book for pets available at some of their locations: http://www.redcross.org/services/hss/courses/pets.html Remember to include a muzzle in case a dog is injured. If you can get lactated ringer solution and syringes, include that. My vet gives them to me but you can also buy them online.

Prepare a crate for each animal. Check to see that all the fastenings are secure. If you have multiple dogs, plan how all the crates will fit into your vehicle. Use a permanent marker to write or tape a plastic covered list with your name; phone number; address; a description of your pet (distinguishing marks, age, sex, spayed, neutered, etc.); the name of your pet; microchip ID or tattoo ID. Include the address and phone number where you or a contact person can be reached if you are not at home.
Assemble each dog's records Include Registrations, Microchip/Tattoo information, and identifying markings of each animal. Place all of this in a waterproof bag or container. Include an alternate phone number if you cannot be located. Keep current photographs of your animals in the evacuation kit for identification purposes. Include yourself in some of the photos to help you reclaim your lost animals. Pack a list of phone numbers (including cell phone numbers) of friends or neighbors you may want to contact in the event of an emergency. Put it in the waterproof container with the animals' records.
Have identification on each animal. We use the White Pine fabric slip collar with my cell phone embroidered on it. Our dogs are microchipped but I found something on the web that sounds wonderful. Whether you microchip, tattoo or have tags on your dogs, this still sounds like a great idea to me. Check it out. One thing I like about it is that the price covers all your dogs with additional costs just for the extra tags. It includes a lot of other benefits that I havenít listed including a way to find your dog if it is stolen.  http://www.familysafety.com/product/howitworks.shtml
Take your pets with you. If you must leave while a warning is in place, take your pets with you. You may not be able to return. Evacuate early, or emergency/rescue personnel may not allow you to bring your pets. As we saw with Katrina, they run a high risk of injury, death or being lost without you. If you must leave them behind, confine them to a small room with water and food. If possible, leave a faucet dripping slowly into a container. Leave identification with instructions on the inside and outside doors. Place stickers on front and back house doors, barn doors, and kennel entrances to notify neighbors, firefighters, police, and other rescue personnel that animals are on your property and where to find your evacuation supplies. Provide a list near your evacuation supplies of the number, type, and location of your animals, noting favorite hiding spots, in order to save precious rescue time.
Develop contingency plans Develop contingency plans in case you are in an accident, become ill, or otherwise are unable to care for your pets. You should have a card on you, in your vehicle, and on the refrigerator that has your name; phone number; address; a description/photo of your dog and the address and phone number where you or a contact person can be reached if you are not at home. Also include information as to where your pets are (including favorite hiding spots), any medications they are taking, the name of your veterinarian, and who to contact regarding them. That contact person should know your vet, and know where you keep your pet's medications and where medical records are stored.
Listings Check hotel pet policies in advance Contact hotels and motels outside your immediate area to check their policies on accepting pets and restrictions on number and size. Petswelcome.com has an excellent database of "pet friendly" lodging throughout the country.  Ask friends, relatives, or others outside the affected area whether they could shelter your animals. If you have more than one pet, they may be more comfortable if kept together, but be prepared to house them separately. Prepare a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who could shelter animals in an emergency; include 24-hour phone numbers.  In general, pets will not be allowed in public emergency shelters.  Ask local animal shelters if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets in a disaster.
Keep directions and phone numbers by your phone Keep written directions to your home near your telephone. This will help you tell emergency responders how to get to your home if you are in a state of panic and in need of rescue, or if a person unfamiliar with your area is the only person in your home during a disaster. Keep a list of phone numbers (including cell phone numbers) of friends or neighbors you may want to contact in the event of an emergency.
Keep gas in your car It is a good idea to fill up your tank as soon as it is half empty.
Emergency Cash Keep enough cash on hand to get you where
 you're going and what you will need for a few days.

Pack dog food for several days Store the food in a waterproof plastic container and replace after a few months. Pack a spoon & can opening even if you have flip top cans. You may not e able to buy the same kind in an emergency.

Pack plenty of water You should take a gallon of water per dog per day, less for small dogs. Replace every 3 months.

Pack collars & leashes Check the sizes and condition of collars, leads and flexi's. Attach ID tags to each collar. We use the White Pine fabric slip collars which can be cut off in an emergency. http://www.highlanddals.com/Whitepine.htm Highland's E Zone can have them embroidered with your name and phone number. See the info on  The Finder System ID method further down the page.
Take A Scoop for Poop An alternative to a bulky poop scoop is a child's plastic shovel...or just the good old baggies.
Take coat care items Pack flea/insect repellant, brush, comb and waterless shampoo. Take along your heartworm pills and a couple towels.
Protect your dogs feet Consider packing dog boots or "New Skin" from your local drug store to protect your dog's feet from debris in an emergency.
Pack dog bedding Pack what you think your dog would need if cold or wet. I am thinking of packing all soft goods (pads, towels, etc) in those "space bags' advertised on TV to save valuable space. https://www.spacebag.com/spacebag/901715/ Put in some garbage bags to store dirty items.

The Leading ID to Safeguard Your Dog's Health and Protect All of Your Pets
 The Finder System ID method

The Finder ID method is an extraordinary product during times of disasters. Whether your pet wears tags, is chipped or has a tattoo, this product looks great. Here is a description from their site, but do visit their page for complete details:

Here is what they say.....

No other ID method offers these pet life-saving features:

(1) Allows for unlimited and immediate contact instructions 24 hours a day, anywhere in North America.
(2) Change your contact instructions immediately depending on your circumstances.

(3) Activates immediately.
(4) Allows the finder of your lost pet to immediately know your pet's health care needs.
(5) Microchip compatible.
(6) Superior functionality under all lost pet scenarios.
(7) Gives you complete control under hectic circumstances.
(8) Pet lifetime moneyback guarantee.
(9) And one other thing...ask us about the Finder System's pet theft prevention feature. Drop us an
email and we'll be happy to tell you about it.

The Multiple Dog Issue

As much as possible, pack all the dog items together in one or two plastic containers with lids so they can be gathered and carried to your vehicle quickly. Space becomes an issue, especially if you have multiple dogs. Unless you have a large truck or RV, consider how you can make everything fit. By the time we pack in all our crates, there isn't much room left for the water and supplies for us and several dogs. Maybe we will need a rooftop carrier and lots of bungees. We have started talking about storing emergency equipment in our 28 foot camper. We have a generator which would be helpful. In addition, we have an AC Anywhere device that plugs into the car lighter and can power crate fans or other items. Dog crates are always kept in the camper which would speed up our evacuation and give us all a place to stay on the road. Put some thought into how you can quickly load everything you need and still have room with "people necessities."

You can confer with your vet to decide what supplies are best for your dogs, but here are some general suggestions:

Your dogs' medications & heartworm meds
Pet first aid manual (see Red Cross manual listed above)
Names/addresses/phone numbers of local vet offices, including 24-hour clinics
Tape (vet wrap or masking tape.
Adhesive doesn't always stick to dog hair)
Gauze pads
Antibacterial soap
Cotton balls/gauze
Hydrogen Peroxide
General Antibiotics & pain meds from your vet
Lactated Ringers & syringes from your vet
Topical wound cream

Natural Remedies
These natural remedies are available at most health/natural food stores:


  • There are many websites offering suggestions for pet disaster panning.
    Much of my research was done from the following pages: