Keeping your pet safe and healthy is a big responsibility. It means visiting your veterinarian regularly, keeping your pet updated on vaccines, making sure your pet isn’t put into dangerous situations, and arranging a way to pay for expensive veterinary care. It also means preparing for those big emergencies — such as natural disasters.
According to the National Climate Data Center, 2012 was the second-costliest year for natural disasters since 1980, causing $110 billion in damage.1 It’s important to prepare your family for these emergencies and to take your pets into consideration when formulating your plan.
Preparing a pet emergency kit
When you are forced to evacuate your home due to a natural disaster, typically you will not have the opportunity to pack a bag. It’s important to have emergency kits already packed and stored by the door for a quick departure.
Consider the following items for your pet’s emergency kit:
Food – Several days’ worth of your pet’s food will help bridge the gap before you are able to purchase more. Your pet will already be in a stressful state, so keeping his diet as consistent as possible will be important.
Water – During a natural disaster, clean water may be at a premium, so stock up on bottled water.
Collar with ID tag & leash – During an emergency, your pet may have the instinct to want to flee. Having an extra collar and leash are important to make sure you are able to secure your pet, and ID tags should always be attached in case the pet gets free.
Medicines – If your pet is on any medication for existing medical problems, it’s important to have at least a few days’ to a week’s worth in your emergency kit to cover you until you are able to get to a veterinarian. Make sure to consistently rotate these medications out of your emergency kit so the medication is never past its expiration date.
Medical records & other important documents – Keeping a copy of all medical records and other important documents (like purebred papers or city registration papers) in an emergency kit will ensure that any veterinarian you need to see will have a detailed history of your pet and you are able to clearly prove ownership in case there is a question.
Favorite things – Pets can sense stress, so to keep them as comfortable as possible, include items that are familiar to them — such as toys, treats, or blankets and smell like home.
Natural disasters by region
Creating your Pet Emergency Kit will help you in a variety of emergencies, from fires to floods. However, it’s beneficial to be prepared for those specific emergencies that are known to affect your region. The following is a list of the common emergencies specific to regions across North America.
Blizzards – Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Earthquakes – Arkansas, California, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Washington
Flash floods – Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas
Hail – Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Wyoming
Heat waves – Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington D.C., West Virginia, Wisconsin
Hurricanes – Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia
Ice storms – Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington D.C., West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Lightning – Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas
Monsoon – Arizona, New Mexico
Nor’easters – Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington D.C.
River floods – Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota
Thunderstorms – Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin
Tornadoes – Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas
Tsunamis – Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington
Volcanic eruptions – Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington
Wildfires – Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming
Earthquakes – British Columbia, Southeast Ontario, Yukon
Floods – Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan
Forest fires – Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Yukon
Landslides – British Columbia, Newfoundland, Quebec
Storm surges – British Columbia, Newfoundland, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island
Volcanic eruptions – British Columbia, Yukon
Tsunamis – British Columbia, Newfoundland
Further reading on emergency pet preparedness
“Preparing a Pet,” by Donna Childs