While we can’t predict emergencies, we can do our best to prepare for the moments our loved ones — including our pets — need our help the most. Just as you keep emergency supplies at the ready for the people in your family, it’s always a good idea to stock up on medical supplies, food, water, and other pet essentials. When pet owners have to handle small everyday mishaps — or even major events such as natural disasters and evacuations — preparedness is key.
Here are four steps to creating a foolproof plan and pet emergency kit:
Step 1: Pack an Everyday Pet Emergency Kit
Make no bones about it — accidents can happen anywhere. It’s always a good practice to keep an emergency kit for your pet at home and in your car, particularly for very active pets. That way, you can immediately disinfect, treat, and address acute injuries that don’t require an immediate vet visit. These may include injuries from broken nails, cuts, eye scratches, ticks, overheating, frostbite, joint strains, or the ingestion of foreign objects.
You can purchase preassembled kits online or put one together yourself inside a waterproof case. The good news is many of these items are also recommended for human first-aid kits. Here’s what to pack:
Your Pet’s Everyday Emergency Kit
- Gauze pads
- Adhesive tape
- Cotton balls/swabs
- 3% hydrogen peroxide (for inducing vomiting, if your vet recommends it)
- Disposable gloves
- Blunt-edged scissors
- Tweezers (for ticks or splinters)
- Antibiotic ointment
- Flashlight (to help examine the injury site)
- Alcohol wipes
- Styptic powder (to stop bleeding)
- Saline eye solution
- Emergency blanket
- Digital thermometer
- Instant cold pack
- Phone number of vet and local emergency clinic
Step 2: Get Emergency Training
Just as it’s beneficial to learn CPR for humans, it’s good practice to take pet CPR classes, which are often held at local veterinary clinics. You should also learn to properly wrap scratches or scrapes. Always call your vet if you’re unsure how to care for your pet after an injury.
Step 3: Pack an Evacuation-Supply Kit
Hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, earthquakes … no one likes to think about these types of events and the impact or loss that may ensue. Many pets get separated from their owners during natural disasters. Take the time now to create a dedicated emergency evacuation kit for your pet. This way, you’ll be organized and have everything you need to keep your pet safe during the turmoil of an evacuation.
Your Pet’s Evacuation Kit
- Your Pet Emergency Kit (above)
- One to two weeks’ worth of water per pet. Refresh regularly.
- One to two weeks’ worth of food per pet. A mixture of dry food and canned food is preferable, even if your pet is accustomed to kibble. When unopened, canned food typically has a longer shelf life. Remember to check the “best by” date.
- Can opener (for canned food)
- Food and water bowls
- One to two weeks’ supply of your pet’s medications. Regularly check the “best by” date.
- Litter and litter box for cats. A cheap, lightweight alternative is a disposable aluminum pan.
- Something comforting, such as a blanket, pet bed, or toys.
- A carrier for cats or small dogs
- Spare slip leads in case your pet’s collar goes missing; you can often get these from your vet.
Documentation proving your ownership of your pets is essential in emergency situations, in case you happen to get separated. We recommend microchipping your pets upon adoption if possible. You should also always have your pet wear a collar with ID tags. Keep these items in a waterproof bag just in case:
- Photos of your pet
- Proof of vaccination
- Spare leash and collar with ID tags
Step 4: Create an Evacuation Plan
For each pet in your household, designate a specific person in your family to be responsible for that animal’s well-being during the evacuation. That way, you know everyone is accounted for.
If you are not able to care for your pets during an emergency situation, it’s helpful to have an emergency list of people you can call to care for them.
Another step you can take is to put a sign on your front door indicating to first responders that you have pets in the house. If there is an emergency and you do remove your pet yourself, remove the note so they don’t keep looking for the pet. If your pet is in the house, however, they’ll know to find it.
It’s never fun to think of an emergency situation, but with the right supplies and action plans in place, you and your pet can weather any storm together.