On May 8, we call attention to National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day, although this special day deserves the spotlight all year long. When creating a disaster plan for your family, don’t forget to include your pet. As their caretaker, it’s up to you to ensure their safety by fully planning an evacuation route and step-by-step emergency plan. Don’t get caught unawares by a natural or man-made disaster, leaving your pet’s safety up to chance. Instead, follow these five steps to be prepared for your four-legged friend’s safety should a disaster hit.

Step 1: Keep your pet current on essential preventive care

Nothing is worse than looking for accommodations for your pet after a disaster, only to be turned away because their required vaccinations aren’t current. Avoid letting your pet’s vaccinations lapse, not only for boarding requirements, but also for their health and safety. Many boarding facilities require at least rabies, distemper, and bordetella for dogs, and rabies, feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia for cats. If you’re unsure when your pet is next due for their wellness visit, contact our Oliver Animal Hospital team.

Another key to your pet’s preventive care, as well as their safety in a disaster, is microchipping. A microchip is a permanent identification form the size of a grain of rice, which is simple to insert right under your pet’s skin. Your pet’s microchip is then registered with a microchip company and linked to your contact information, ensuring you can be reached if you and your furry pal are separated during an emergency. However, you must ensure that all your contact  information with the microchip company is always current.

Step 2: Learn pet first aid skills

When disaster strikes, your pet may become injured or fall ill, but a fully stocked first aid kit—and knowing how to use it—will ensure you can care for your entire family during an emergency. While your typical family first aid kit likely has most of the supplies needed for your pet, you should add a few additional necessities, like a muzzle and veterinary-approved anti-inflammatories. Once your pet first aid kit is complete, ensure you know how to use each item. Check out the American Veterinary Medical Association’s resources on creating a first aid kit, administering first aid to your pet, and handling them correctly. The AVMA also provides additional resources on caring for your pet during a disaster. 

Step 3: Plan an evacuation route

No matter the disaster, you need to plan an evacuation route, whether you will be going to the next town or out of the state. Check for pet-friendly accommodations and their requirements, such as certain vaccinations, or breed or size restrictions, along your evacuation route. To make searching for pet-friendly hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, and campsites easier, use BringFido, a website that helps you plan your entire route, and suggests lodging, and where you can get pet supplies and veterinary care along the way.

Step 4: Have a back-up plan

In some disaster events, you may not be able to get home to pick up your pet, so have a back-up plan in place. Trade house keys with a neighbor or nearby friend who can pick up your pet in an emergency. Print a copy of your evacuation route, along with your contact information and other possible contacts, to ensure they know where you’re going and how you can be reached. 

Step 5: Practice your disaster plan with your pet

It’s easy to panic in a worrisome situation, but practicing your disaster plan can help ensure the plan runs smoothly, give you time to iron out any kinks, familiarize your pet with the frantic hustle-and-bustle of an evacuation, and quell your own fears. By decreasing your anxiety level, and knowing how long it will take to load all the necessities into the car, you will feel well-prepared to handle any disaster with your pet.

Don’t be caught unprepared and unprotected. Ensure you have a disaster plan in place and keep your furry pal up to date on their essential vaccinations in case of an emergency. Contact our Oliver Animal Hospital team for an appointment if you need advice, or to vaccinate your pet.