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Disaster Preparation Tips For Pet Owners

May 1, 2024

The first week of May is Disaster Preparedness Week here in Canada. While this awareness event is aimed at people, it’s also something that is very highly relevant to pets. While we hope that none of you ever have to deal with a major disaster, this is one area where making a few simple precautions can make a huge difference. For pet owners, it’s also important to take some steps to get your furry pal ready for emergencies. Read on as a local Brampton, ON vet offers tips on emergency preparation for pet owners.

How Do You Prepare Pets For Natural Disasters?

Sometimes disasters strike with little or no warning. Here in Canada, we are more susceptible to blizzards, fires, and floods than tornadoes and earthquakes, which means that we usually get at least a little warning. However, disasters can occur at any time. 

There are a few steps you can take to get you and your furry bff as prepared as possible.

Make A Pet Emergency Bag

If you ever need to evacuate quickly, having some basics ready in advance can make a world of difference. We always advise pet owners to have bags ready for their furred, scaled, or feathered friends. This can also double as a travel bag for those who like to take their animal friends on adventures.

Here are some of the things you’d want to include:

  • Collapsible Dishes
  • Bottled Water
  • Food
  • Treats
  • A Harness
  • A Leash
  • Blankets
  • Comfort Toys
  • Pet Calming Products, Such As Sprays Or Treats. (If Vet-Approved.)
  • Wipes
  • Towels
  • Any Medications Your Pet Takes
  • Pet First-Aid Kit

Those are the basics. Exact items will vary, depending on the sort of pet you have. For example, Fluffy will need a litterbox and litter, while Fido would need waste baggies and a tie-out line. It’s also best to include a muzzle for dogs. You and your pup may not like it, but if a shelter requires it, it’s a small concession to make. If your canine buddy has thin fur, and wears coats in winter, put one in there for him as well. Birds, reptiles, and pocket pets also have slightly different needs. A thermal blanket isn’t a bad thing to include, either. Ask your Brampton, ON vet for specific advice.

Keep Up With Your Pet’s Preventative Care

To be fair, we always advise keeping up with wellness and preventative care: this is crucial for your furry pal’s health and wellness. This can also come into play during an emergency. 

One reason is that, in disasters, there will often be many lost or loose animals. That includes both pets and wild animals. Some of them may be carrying diseases or parasites. It’s entirely possible for a rabid animal to run into a suburban neighborhood while fleeing a wildfire, or for a stray dog with heartworms to wind up in a downtown area. Another reason is that many shelters and hotels require proof that your furry pal is up to date.

Ask your vet for more information.

Make Sure That Your Pet Has Current ID

Microchips and identification tags are both very small items that can have a huge impact on your beloved pet’s life. Disasters can be extremely chaotic and scary. Even the most loving pet is still subject to that old fight-or-flight instinct, and may very well run off if frightened. Making sure that your furry pal is both microchipped and wearing ID tags is crucial! These things form invisible lifelines, connecting you and your animal companion.

While microchips are generally a one-and-done procedure, it is important to make sure that your information is correct. Remember to update this any time that you move or change emails or phone numbers. 

Smart tags and GPS tags are also something to consider. These are great new inventions!

Have Your Pet’s Documentation Ready For Emergencies

It’s also important to have paperwork that proves your pet is current on those required vaccines and parasite control. This isn’t something you want to spend time looking for in an emergency, so we recommend getting this ready in advance.

We have a few tricks for this one:

Keep hard copies in your glove box. That way, you’ll already have them. This is also helpful if you are taking Fido to a park or going camping with him.

  • Take photos of them and keep the pictures in your phone gallery.
  • Email scanned copies to yourself.
  • Upload copies to a cloud drive.
  • You’ll also want copies of your pet’s medical records and any prescriptions they may need.

Ask your Brampton, ON vet for more information. 

Get A Pet First-Aid Kit

Disasters, by their very nature, are extremely dangerous. Just like people, pets are susceptible to injuries that can be sustained in fires, floods, and other events. It’s a good idea to have a pet first-aid kit done. Keep this in or near your pet’s carrier, so everything is in one spot.

You can find first aid kits for many types of pets online. You can start with a kit made for people and then add pet-specific items. You’ll likely need a bigger case, but a tackle box, overnight toiletry bag, or small backpack may work.

Here are some of the things to include:

  • Blunt-End Scissors
  • Popsicle Sticks
  • Pliers
  • Disposable Gloves
  • Penlight
  • Magnifying Glass
  • Nail Clippers
  • Tweezers
  • Wire Cutters
  • Corn Starch Or Styptic Powder
  • Non-stick Bandages
  • Gauze
  • Paper Towels
  • Cotton Swabs
  • First-Aid Tape
  • Syringes
  • Eye Droppers
  • Saline Solution (Eye Wash)
  • Chlorhexidine
  • Antiseptic/Alcohol Wipes
  • Iodine 
  •  Towels
  •  Hydrogen Peroxide
  •  Milk Of Magnesia
  •  Activated Charcoal
  •  Turkey Baster

Of course, even the best first-aid kit isn’t going to help if you aren’t sure what to do. Buy or print a good pet first-aid brochure and keep it in the kit. It’s also not a bad idea to download a pet first-aid app. The Red Cross has a good one. However, we still recommend having hard copy, as cell towers could be down in a disaster situation. If you don’t have a muzzle in your emergency bag, then put one in the first-aid kit. Even the sweetest dog can bite if they are hurt and scared!

Print A List Of Shelters

Having a plan in place before a disaster can make a huge difference. One of the best things you can do is print out a list of all pet-friendly hotels within a few hours’ drive. It’s good to keep this with a map, just in case cell service is down and you can’t use GPS.

Choosing An Emergency Pet Travel Carrier

You’ll also need a carrier. We always recommend traveling with pets crated, for safety reasons. This is definitely true in case of emergency. We would recommend getting a good hard-shell carrier: it will offer more protection than a fabric one. It’s a good idea to put your contact information on the carrier as well. You can use a luggage tag for this.

Pet Fire Safety

House fires also count as disasters. There are a few things you can do here as well. If you have kids, you’ll want to put window stickers on your windows that tell how many kids you have. You can also do this for pets: say what kind of pets you have and where they may hide.

Also, it’s a good idea to have an emergency plan with your household members. Make sure to include your pet in those discussions as well.

Contact Your Brampton, ON Animal Hospital

Do you have questions about caring for your furry pal? Contact us, your Brampton, ON pet clinic, anytime!