Emergency Preparedness Tips for the Family and Pets from PetFirst

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September is National Emergency Preparedness Month.

Source: olsenvet.com

Including your pet in your emergency preparedness plan is important. Always plan to take your pet with you or have arrangements made ahead of time for your pet’s safe keeping.

Flash flooding, tornadoes, fires, ice storms and power outages, all disasters families need to be prepare for, yet hope never happen. Everyone needs a plan in place for themselves and their family. And the plan should include their pets. When it comes to a disaster, the same rules apply to people and pets: planning ahead of time can save lives, including the lives of pets.

Including pets in an emergency preparedness plan is important. If the family has to leave the home for an undetermined amount of time, pets will need food, water and shelter. Always plan to take pets with you or have arrangements made ahead of time for the pets' safe keeping.

Planning and preparation for your family and your pets needs to be in place long before the disaster strikes. It can be done in three simple steps:

Prepare now for tomorrow:

This part of the emergency preparedness plan is the most overwhelming but sets the stage for all the other steps. A few things to do now include:

Get the pet’s identification in place. Options for pet identification include:
1) Facial recognition for pets is now available. This advanced technology by PiP is revolutionizing the process for finding lost pets. Photos of found pets uploaded to the PiP app are analyzed and matched with photos of pets identified as lost. When a pet’s photo and uniquely identifying features are registered in the system, PiP can quickly determine a match between a lost pet and any found pet in the area.
2) Microchipping pets and having contact information up to date.
3) Having pets wear a properly-fitted collar with imprinted tags with contact information (cell phone is recommended)

Put together a disaster kit with supplies needed. This should include:
1) Food and drinking water for up to 48 hours for each pet, and a bowl for each.
2) Litter for the cat.
3) Any medications pets takes on a regular basis.
4) If possible, include a toy or blanket the pet finds comforting. This may help with nervous energy or calming them in scary or unfamiliar situations.
5) The American Red Cross offers a tip sheet on items to pack.

Seek out safe shelter options that are pet-friendly ahead of time.
1) Call hotels and ask about their pet policy. In times of disaster, their policies may be flexible, so keep numbers in your emergency kit.
2) Can pets stay with a friend or family for a short time? Many friends and family want to help. Maybe keeping your cat or dog for a short time is their way of being of service. It never hurts to ask.
3) Consider a kennel for a short time if necessary. Knowing pets are safe and being well taken care of while you deal with other priorities will be one less thing to worry about.
4) A shelter may be able to assist with foster care partners as another option.

When disaster strikes, it is time to put the plan into place! A few things to keep in mind:
1) If you evacuate, take pets with you. If it isn’t safe in the home for the family, it isn’t safe for the pets either.
2) If you stay at home, keep safety in mind for everyone including the pets. Close off unsafe areas of the house or move hazardous items out of the pets' reach.
3) After the disaster, continue to be cautious. Don’t allow pets to roam in damaged areas. Debris scattered about may cause injuries to paws, legs, even their face.

Finally, post-disaster side effects may linger for members of the family and pets. Future storms or stressful situations may make pets anxious or cause them to act abnormal. Keep this in mind and work with pets during these times. Comforting them or allowing them to be in their safe spot in the house may be best. Don’t escalate the situation by becoming loud or scolding pets for their actions.

Additional resources and information are available on PetFirst's website at http://www.petfirst.com.

Protecting pet during any disaster is important. PetFirst offers guidelines and recommendations from veterinarians, veterinary technicians, trainers and other animal health experts on our website. For more information, visit http://www.petfirst.com.


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Lynne Choate
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PetFirst Healthcare
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