Natural Disaster Preparedness: Five Things Pet Owners Should Remember

hurricaneIt’s June, and that means we’ve officially entered the Atlantic hurricane season. We in North Carolina are all too familiar with what these storms can do to our communities, so it’s a great time to make sure you have disaster preparedness plans and supplies in place.

If you’re a pet owner, you also have to consider the needs of your animals if a hurricane or other emergency situation strikes. It’s obvious that you’ll need water, food, and medications for your dogs, cats, or other pets. But there are some other things you should have on hand that might not immediately come to mind in these situations.

Here are five things you’ll want to obtain when planning for natural disasters:

Registration documents and current veterinary records

These files are important for establishing pet ownership, providing proof of vaccination, and documenting test results. Evacuation shelters may not let your bring pets inside if you can’t verify they’ve been vaccinated.

It’s a good idea to have both hard and electronic copies of these records. Keep papers in a waterproof container and have electronic copies accessible on your computer and cell phone.

Photos of your pets

Have photos of your pets available. These can be helpful if you get separated from your animals and need to quickly make lost posters or online posts. Make sure these pictures are clear and current.

Collar with ID

Make sure your pets have a secure but comfortable collar that includes an ID tag. Ideally, it should contain the animal’s name, your phone number, and address. If your pet has a serious health condition, it’s worth listing that on the tag as well. Make sure leashes are in good condition.

Keep in mind that collars can get damaged or lost, so you may want to talk with your veterinarian about microchipping.

First aid kit

Having a first aid kit during a natural disaster seems pretty obvious, but make sure you have one that works for your pets too. Some key items to include are antibiotic ointment, gauze, non-stick bandages or cloth, adhesive tape for bandages, and alcohol wipes. Saline solution, scissors, tweezers, and a digital thermometer are also wise to include in the kit.

This is not a comprehensive list, so you can get more details on pet first aid kits and disaster preparedness on the AVMA and ASPCA websites.

Sources of comfort

In life-or-death situations, dog and cat toys aren’t exactly priorities. But if you’re planning ahead, try to throw in your pets’ beloved toys, pillows, blankets, and/or other bedding. Being near something familiar may help bring some comfort to stressed animals, especially if they are having to live in a strange environment for a time.

We all hope for a calm hurricane season, but it’s always best to have plans and supplies in place before storms get near our state. If you need more information about planning for natural disasters, the site Ready.gov has several guides.

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