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Tips for Pet Owners to Prepare for Disasters

May 1, 2024

In Canada, the first week of May is dedicated to Disaster Preparedness Week. This awareness event is mainly targeted towards people, but is also highly relevant to pets. We understand that dealing with a major disaster is something no one wants to experience. However, taking a few simple precautions can have a significant impact when it comes to keeping your furry pal safe in such situations. Continue reading for valuable advice from a local Burlington, ON veterinarian on how to prepare for emergencies as a pet owner.

How Can You Best Prepare Your Pets For Unexpected Disasters?

Occasionally, unforeseen calamities can occur without any prior indication. In Canada, we tend to experience blizzards, fires, and floods more frequently than tornadoes and earthquakes. As a result, we usually receive some advance notice before these natural disasters occur. However, disasters can happen unexpectedly. There are several steps you can follow to ensure you are well-prepared.

Create a Pet Emergency Bag

Having a few essentials prepared in advance can be incredibly helpful in the event of an urgent evacuation. We highly recommend that pet owners keep bags readily available for their furry, scaly, or feathered companions. This can also serve as a pet travel bag.

Here are a few key things to include:

  • Collapsible dishes
  • Bottled water
  • Food
  • Treats
  • A harness
  • A leash
  • Blankets
  • Toys
  • Vet-Approved Calming Products
  • Wipes
  • Towels
  • Medications
  • First-Aid Kit 

These are the fundamentals. The exact items needed may vary depending on the type of pet you have. For instance, Fluffy will require a litterbox and litter, whereas Fido will need waste baggies and a tie-out line. It’s highly recommended to provide dogs with a muzzle as well. Some emergency shelters require them. While it may not be your or your pet’s preference, conforming to a shelter’s rules is a simple compromise.

If your furry friend has thin fur and needs some extra warmth during the winter, make sure to provide them with a cozy coat. Ask your Burlington, ON veterinarian for personalized guidance.

Stay On Top Of Your Pet’s Preventative Care

We strongly recommend staying on top of your pet’s wellness and preventative care. This is essential for maintaining their overall health and well-being, but also become very relevant in a time of crisis.

One factor to consider is that during disasters, a significant number of animals tend to get lost or separated from their owners. Wild animals may also be displaced. Some of them could be carrying diseases or parasites.

Additionally, many shelters and hotels may ask for documentation to ensure that your pet is current on their vaccinations. 

If your pet is due for exams, wellness care, vaccines, and/or parasite control, contact your vet to make an appointment as soon as possible. 

Keep Your Pet’s Identification Up To Date

Microchips and identification tags play a vital role in safeguarding the well-being of your cherished pet. Disasters can be incredibly overwhelming and frightening. Even the most affectionate pet is prone to the innate fight-or-flight response and may run away when scared. Make sure that your beloved pet is microchipped and has ID tags on at all times!

It’s also crucial to keep your contact information up to date. Check your records at the AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup here.

Smart tags and GPS tags are also worth considering.

Keep Your Pet’s Paperwork On Hand

It’s crucial to have the necessary documentation to demonstrate that your pet is current on the required vaccines and parasite control. Prepare this beforehand to avoid wasting precious moments during an emergency.

We have a couple of suggestions for this one:

  • Have physical copies stored in your glove box. By having them in advance, you’ll be well-prepared. This is also useful if you plan on bringing Fido to a park or going camping with him.
  • Take pictures of them and store the photographs in your phone’s gallery.
  • Send scanned copies of the documents to your own email address.
  • Save copies to a cloud drive.
  • Include copies of your pet’s medical records and any necessary prescriptions.

Consider Getting A Pet First-Aid Kit

Disasters inherently pose significant risks. Both humans and pets are vulnerable to injuries that can occur during fires, floods, and other incidents. Have a pet first-aid kit ready. Make sure to keep this in or near your pet’s carrier for easy access.

Online, you’ll discover a wide range of first aid kits available for various types of pets. Begin with a kit designed for individuals, and then incorporate some items tailored for pets. You’ll probably require a larger case. An ideal option could be a tackle box, overnight toiletry bag, or a small backpack.

Here are some of the things you should consider including:

  • Round-Edged Scissors
  • Popsicle Sticks
  • Pliers
  • Disposable Gloves
  • Flashlight
  • Magnifying Glass
  • Nail Clippers
  • Tweezers
  • Wire Cutters
  • Styptic Powder
  • Non-Stick Bandages
  • Gauze
  • Clean Cloths
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Medical Tape
  • Syringes
  • Eye Droppers
  • Eye Wash Solution
  • Chlorhexidine
  • Disinfectant
  • Alcohol Wipes
  • Iodine
  • Towels
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Milk Of Magnesia
  • Activated Charcoal
  • Turkey Baster

Undoubtedly, even the most exceptional first-aid kit will be ineffective if you lack the necessary knowledge and skills. Purchase or print a high-quality pet first-aid brochure and store it in your kit. It’s a good idea to consider downloading a pet first-aid app. The Red Cross has a good one. Nevertheless, keeping a physical copy as a precautionary measure is advisable, considering the possibility of cell towers being non-operational during a disaster. If you lack a muzzle in your emergency bag, including one in your first-aid kit would be wise. Even the most gentle dog can become aggressive when in pain or feeling frightened!

Get A List Of Shelters

Printing out a list of pet-friendly hotels and emergency shelters within a few hours’ drive can be incredibly helpful. It’s also sensible to have a map handy in case you encounter any issues with cell service or GPS.

Get A Emergency Pet Travel Carrier

We always suggest traveling with pets in crates, for safety purposes. A hard-shell carrier is best, as these will provide much better security than a fabric one. Including your contact information on the carrier is highly recommended. To do this, you can use a suitcase tag. Or, use a mailing label and add some clear tape over it to make it waterproof. Keep this and your pet’s travel bag together. That way you only have one thing to grab on the way out.

Taking Precautions For Fires

House fires are also disasters. If you have children, it’s a good idea to place window stickers on your windows indicating the number of kids in your household. Additionally, you can apply this technique to pets by adding information about the types of pets you own and their potential hiding spots.

We would also suggest that you establish an emergency plan with the members of your household. Include your furry pal in those plans!

Reach out to Your Burlington, ON Animal Hospital

Do you have any inquiries about taking care of your beloved pet? Is your pet due for an appointment! Feel free to reach out to our local Burlington, ON pet clinic at any time! We are dedicated to providing top-notch care! 

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