Well, its been an all hands on deck week and I must admit I want to crawl into my bed for at least 72 hours and catch up on some well needed rest. And of course, it would be filled with a fluffy kitty, and two tiny terrors, oops, I mean Yorkie Terriers. I must admit every time I leave our house, there is a slight pull of guilt and worry for my little furry babies. What if something happens when I am not there. It’s not like they can turn a knob or get out of the house. They are pretty much trapped. So when I started this series on emergencies preparedness one of my biggest concerns was for them. I had already seen quite a bit on families and people being prepared but not much on pets. For those of you who have furry family members, this post is right up your ally.
Be Prepared for Their Needs Too.
Each pet should have their own emergency kit, just as you do for each family member. This should at least be a 72 hour kit but if you can swing a week kit, it is definitely better. I already did a brief list in my Emergency Preparedness: The 72 Hour Kit, but I have links below to RedRover for pet specific considerations:
Also be sure to check out the ASPCA for special considerations for birds, reptiles and small animals such as hamsters, rabbits, etc. Just make sure you scroll to the bottom of the page.
I do suggest that on top of your 72 Hour to 1 Week Emergency Kit for your pets that you add PHOTOS of you with your pet to prove ownership if they get lost and in case you need to make “I’m Lost” fliers. Its a good idea to also keep copies in your car, wallet and definitely on your cellphone. You will also want a temporary ID tag, the kind you can write on with temporary contact information such as your cell and that of a close friend or family member. Make sure to toss a Sharpie into your emergency kit so you can label the tag.
They Need First Aid Kit
Pets have some similar first aid needs as us – bandages, wraps, gauze but they also have some pretty specific needs. Take the time to talk to your vet and find out what your pet may specifically need and get a first aid book specific to your animal. A two-week supply of any medication your pet is taking along with copies of their current vaccinations and licenses is also important to include in their kits. In the case of a dog, you may also want to consider a muzzle. Animals react differently to change and stress so their normal behavior may not be how they act in an emergency. For example, my normally upbeat, bouncy cuddly little 4lb Yorkie turns into a bundle of shivers that cowers in the corner. My independent and sassy Persian found a hole in my box spring and hides in it!
Consider Your Geographic Needs
Your location also dictates some of the emergencies for which you need to be prepared. In the heavy and cold winter areas, making sure you have plenty of warm blankets for your pets is vital. If its a super hot area, like our summer last year, make sure you have plenty of water on hand. In fact, when ever I leave the house, I always check their water bowls to make sure they are full. I recommend leaving extra water whenever you leave. You may or may not make it back when you anticipate. They need water just as much as we do.
Pet Alert Stickers are VITAL!
Let’s face it. We can’t be at home all day, even if we wanted to. At some point we leave our home. At that point, our pets are alone. Pet Alert Stickers are stickers you can adhere to doors, windows, and sliders so emergency personnel know there are furry family members inside. You can get these through the ASPCA as well as make your own. Just make sure they are visible. I also like to add a note about where one might be if they are skittish. For example, my mother’s cat always hid in her bedroom while we were gone. My little girl kitty made herself his caregiver and companion, so she was always where he was. On my sticker at her place I wrote “Cats most likely in back bedroom facing backyard.”
And speaking of not being home, its a good idea to get a pet buddy. Pick someone relatively close in proximity, that you trust, who is comfortable with your pets, trustworthy, reliable and most important, is home in the day or time when you are not. Give them a key, a rundown of your emergency kit for your pets, including carriers and leashes.
Microchip your Pets.
These days you really can’t be too careful. Statistics show that pets that have microchips are significantly more likely to be returned to their owners. Just remember that getting the chip implanted is not enough. You need to register your pet and make sure you keep your contact information up-to-date. I rescued a dog once and he did have a microchip. However, his owners never gave notice of their new address when they moved from Arizona to California. Luckily, I found the owner but not updating their information made the chip obsolete.
Do They Have Their Tags?
You would be surprised how many animals I see without this basic of pet needs. Cats more often than dogs don’t have collars but all pets need them. During an emergency situation, they could accidentally get out of their home or away from you. For dogs, make sure you include their name and 2 contact numbers and on the back “Microchipped Call If Found”. For cats, “I am lost” and/or “Indoor Cat” on the front and “microchipped” and at least one to two contact numbers.
Plan Ahead – DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND!
Have a backup plan in case your local evacuation shelter does not allow pets. Create a list of pet friendly places to stay should you need to evacuate. Check out these links to start your list.
Bringyourpet.com (US/Canada locations)
Pettravel.com (International locations)
Doginmysuitcase.com (International locations)
Emergency Vet Facilities
I personally think it is important to know where your local emergency vet facilities are just in general. I can not tell you how many times my pet has gotten sick and how many times I drove to our afterhours emergency vet. And I have been to all three local facilities and one out of our area that was a specialist. That said, your vet and your standard emergency vet may be in an evacuation zone during an emergency. Its a good idea to find places out of your 30 mile radius.
I’m Lost. Where Do I Go?
Animals do get lost in emergencies. And many of them end up at shelters, which is a good thing. Have a list of shelters and emergency animal shelters that your pet might be taken to. Put it in their and your emergency kits.
Safety and Comfort
Make sure you have items that are necessary to keep your pets safe but also everyone safe from your pets. Its a good idea, especially for cats, to crate them. If you are at a shelter or location where there are many people, not only will the crate keep them safe but it will give them something familiar in an unfamiliar setting. Plus, given that most animals are not the same animal under stress, it protects every one else. I recommend getting your animals use to a crate as well. My Yorkies have been “crated” since puppies. Though like all “kids” they sometimes hate it when they get sent to their rooms and the door is shut, but they get familiar with it too. In fact, both will put themselves to bed and curl up inside.
Comfort is especially important when in an emergency. When you get to a point you can, give them some attention and comfort. Cuddle your dog, pet your cat, love your bird, etc. Just remember to do it on their terms. Some, like cats, maybe to stressed and may not want to be comforted. Follow their lead. And in line with comfort, making sure they have personal items like toys, blankets, etc. that they are familiar with is important.
Watch for signs of illness. Added stress can upset existing problems and can often affect animals in the same manner we feel adverse stress – upset stomachs, diarrhea, mood swings and more.
I hope this helps you and your furry family members (scaled or feathered). I know I was excited about finding out so much to make sure my furry babies stay safe.